10 February 2016

Royal Exhibition of the Day: February 10

It's going to be a banner year for royal style exhibitions in the United Kingdom. Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style will catalog the Queen's style over her 90 years in three separate exhibitions starting on April 21 - her 90th birthday - at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. You can also visit Kensington Palace (while popping in at Wills n' Kate's for tea, as you do) and check out their latest style showcase. Fashion Rules Revisited, opening February 11, includes outfits from Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the Queen and Princess Margaret.

It's a little too easy to call any given Diana dress "iconic", though her final Mario Testino photoshoot certainly gave this green velvet buttoned dress its place in history. She was said to have capitalized on the jacket styling by ordering a matching jacket made for Charles. The Catherine Walker dress sold for $24,150 at her 1997 Christie's dress auction.
Her love for velvet continued with the Catherine Walker gown on the right, where a black velvet top with red piping sets off a full silk tartan skirt. Unsurprisingly, the gown was originally ordered for dancing at Balmoral and was later worn elsewhere before bringing in $46,000 at the 1997 auction. In the background on the left, you can see an orange Hardy Amies dress worn by the Queen in 1979.

Another notable Catherine Walker on display is this ivory silk crêpe one-shoulder gown decorated in a floral pattern of sequins. Diana wore it in Brazil in 1991, and it's a dress I love more in theory than in execution. (That single full sleeve does make it seem like two dresses worn at the same time.) To the right is a Hardy Amies gown from the Queen and an ivory Bruce Oldfield and peach Catherine Walker from Diana.

The Diana dresses are certainly drawing the press for this exhibition, but what intrigues me the most are the items from Princess Margaret. The dresses and accessories from the Queen's late sister include a scarf hand painted for Margaret by Christian Dior himself. There were few more glamorous than Margaret in her heyday, so you know her wardrobe yields some true treasures.
Right?! The beading alone on this Norman Hartnell gown of Princess Margaret's is to die for. Would I still swoon if someone wore this today? Oh...I think it's a safe bet.

For more sneak peeks at Fashion Rules Revisited, see this fantastic Vogue article and gallery, or photos at the Daily Mail.

Photos: via Getty Images

09 February 2016

Royal Flashback of the Day: February 9

Because Crown Princess Mary just had a birthday, because birthdays should be celebrated with favorites, because any day should be celebrated with favorites, and mostly because I just felt like it, today we flashback to one of my favorite Mary dresses for the New Year's Court day receptions.
With an updo in 2010
Julie Fagerholt of Heartmade designed this rich outfit with a long dress and matching short jacket with three-quarter sleeves. This much of a fabric like this probably should be overpowering, but the soft silvery blue color is an understated choice that helps it avoid the Too Much territory.
In action in 2008
The flare of the skirt is perfection, and it sits just right an event like this, where she stands still for long periods of time. I love when jackets partly cover a sash, especially during these types of day events (and yes, that's an entirely appropriate thing to do, see Queen Margrethe's own ensemble in the video above), and the shorter length of this jacket means the Order of the Elephant sash is still plenty visible. Mary's worn this outfit several times, three of which are illustrated here, but these little details keep me interested time after time.
I must admit, there was a time when I wondered if this ensemble aged her. I'm over it now. (Obviously.) It is a classic design, something that wouldn't have been out of place in, say, our recent early 1960s Princess Beatrix flashback. But the classics have their place, and I imagine this one was designed to be worn for many more years to come.

Photos: via Getty Images

08 February 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 8

The Duchess of Cambridge was back in action yesterday, attending a 75th anniversary service for the RAF Air Cadets. She took over as their Honorary Air Commandant in December as a replacement for the Duke of Edinburgh, who had filled the position for over 60 years.
She made the perfect outfit choice for her first engagement in her new position, her repeated Alexander McQueen coat giving a nod to the belted blue uniforms without dipping into mimicry. She also wore a Lock & Co. hat, although all eyes were on one other major accessory.

The Air Cadets Dacre Brooch, as it is known, is made with diamonds and other gemstones, and is massive because it was originally used for another purpose. Per the RAF:
The Dacre Brooch is the highest award any female Air Cadet can achieve. In 1979, Mrs Elizabeth Dacre MBE TD JP presented to the Air Training Corps the dress sword of her late husband, Air Commodore G B Dacre CBE DSO DL RAF to be presented to the “ATC Cadet of the Year.” With the advent of girls in 1982, Mrs Dacre presented the Corps with a diamond brooch mounted on a sash, for presentation to the best female cadet.
The brooch was awarded annually until last year, when it was decided that a sword would be awarded instead, just like the male cadets receive. That works out rather well, now that they have the Duchess on board to wear the brooch for events related to the Air Cadets. It's one of the biggest regimental brooches I've seen in use in the royal family, and she showcased it well on a simple coat.

In other news, Kate's message of support for Children's Mental Health Week is out.
And this repeated Rebecca Taylor suit rounds out the run of outfits both blue and universally appropriate.

Photos: via Getty Images

07 February 2016

Sunday Tidbits for February 7: Triple the Baby News, and More

It's birthday season and baby season, what a coincidence...

--Baby news #1: Congratulations to the King and Queen of Bhutan! Queen Jetsun Pema gave birth to their first child, a boy, on February 5. The baby is known as His Royal Highness The Gyalsey. [Facebook]
His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Facebook

--Here's an excellent way to waste some time: The Dutch Royal Collection is now online, allowing you to search through all sorts of paintings and other objets d'art belonging to the various foundations of the House of Orange-Nassau. [Koninklijke Verzamelingen]

--A fairly sedate appearance for Crown Princess Mary this week at Copenhagen Fashion Week, though you can't see her excellent leopard print shoes here. (But you can in this small gallery, where you can also see Countess Alexandra making an appearance.) Mary turned 44 on Friday, so happy birthday to her! [nordjyske.dk]


--Baby news #2: Congrats are also in order in Jordan, for Prince Rashid bin Hassan and his wife, Princess Zeina, who welcomed their second son on February 1. The baby is named Talal. [Petra]

--Luxembourg's grand ducal family has a documentary coming out on February 14 with a behind the scenes look at a year in their lives. Luxarazzi has the trailer.

--Baby news #3: Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma and husband Albert Brenninkmeijer released a cute new family photo with their new son, Xavier, born December 16, and daughter Alaïa-Maria.

--If you haven't heard the depressing news yet, Spain has cancelled a planned March state visit to Britain. Per the Spanish Foreign Ministry: "Due to the process of forming a new government currently underway in Spain, the state visit has been postponed." Politicians, always ruining our tiara fun. #priorities [The Local]

--Here's some British sparkle anyway: The Duchess of Cornwall went out this week dripping in diamonds and a possibly dubious dress. [Jewel Vault]

--And finally: Harry, on cuteness duty once again. [Sun]

05 February 2016

Tiara Thursday (on a Friday): The Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara

This is an appropriate tiara to discuss around Princess Beatrix's birthday:
Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma wearing the Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara
The Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara is often labeled the oldest in the family collection (it's probably around 200 years old or so), which is appropriate for a tiara that happens to be a diamond interpretation of the wreath headdresses of ancient Greece and Rome. I've always felt the Dutch version has a sturdier look than some the other wreath tiaras out there, such as Mathilde's Laurel Wreath Tiara or Lilian's Laurel Wreath Tiara, probably in part because of the diamonds that highlight its base.
Princess Beatrix wearing the tiara to celebrate her 18th birthday in 1956
ANP - Benelux Press - Reuters /ANP Archief, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The antique tiara may have been acquired for Princess Beatrix's 18th birthday in 1956 by her parents, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, or it may date back to Princess Louise, sister of King Willem I. Either way, it became a staple of Princess Beatrix's younger tiara appearances after she turned 18.
Princess Beatrix wearing the tiara in 1958
ANP - ANP Foundation /ANP Archief, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
But eventually - as she gained access to other tiaras, it seems - Princess Beatrix's use of the Laurel Wreath Tiara tapered off. Others in the family continued to wear it, including Beatrix's sisters, Princesses Margriet and Christina.

Video: The wedding of Prince Constantijn and Laurentien Brinkhorst
Princess Laurentien wore the tiara when she married Beatrix's son, Prince Constantijn (and afterward); Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma (Beatrix's niece) also used it on her wedding day. Surprisingly, this remains one of the few Dutch tiaras that Queen Máxima has not tried out yet - though I would love to see it on her or back on Beatrix, just for a change.

Who do you think wears this wreath tiara best?