02/11/2014 at 04:30 PM EST
arrived at the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Gala – to a host of waiting fans and photographers – in Central London on Tuesday.
Pairing a deep blue silk gown by Jenny Packham – a designer the duchess relied on for her first big night out following the birth of Prince George
– with an intricate diamond necklace borrowed from Queen Elizabeth, the 32-year-old dazzled onlookers. With her trademark shiny hair curled, the young royal sported noticeably longer locks.
During her first official engagement of the year, Kate, 32, gave a short speech, welcoming guests to the posh event.
"The Gallery's achievements are exceptional. They hold the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, and their unique and brilliant exhibitions never fail to inspire us all," she said. "But, it is more than simply a world-renowned visitor's attraction – the Gallery's outreach and research programs makes it one of the leading centres for the important study into portraiture. I simply could not be more proud to be its Patron."
"Thank you for being here tonight and showing your support," she added. "I hope that you all have a wonderful evening."
Shortly before dinner, Kate was introduced to Grayson Perry, who is known for his colorful ceramic works of art as well as wearing women's clothes. (He wore a white-trimmed gown and black heels on Tuesday night.) They chatted for several minutes before Kate was escorted by Sandy Nairne, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, to a display of 200 mystery portrait postcards created anonymously for the gala by a selection of well-known artists including Perry, Julian Opie and Alex Katz.
The postcards will be sold as part of the fundraising effort.
Kate recently returned to the U.K. after vacationing with her young son and brother, James, on Mustique's west coast
During their stay, Kate and company relaxed in the $18,000-a-week, four-bedroom Rocina villa, which boasts sea views, luxurious verandas, tennis courts and a chlorine-free pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens.
Apparently, the downtime did her well!
Reporting by SIMON PERRY