22 May 2015

Royal Style Twins of the Day: May 22

Okay, so here's what I think happened:
Queen Máxima and Queen Mathilde took one look at what was going on with the sculpture exhibition they were opening in The Hague this week...
...and their mission was clear: TIME TO SEUSS IT UP. And did they succeed? Yes they did indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
I think we can guess which of these brains decided they should be rhyming technicolor cartoons for the day. Sporting a millinery party platter of Seussical costume trimmings, Máxima was outfitted in a coral-y orange Natan coat dress with extra volume in the skirt and sleeves and coral pendant earrings. Obviously keen to live up to their Natan Twins moniker, Mathilde also sported the Belgian brand in an orange and blue print belted frock with a Fabienne Delvigne blue turban and pearl earrings.
I'm telling you, I LOVE this appearance and every bit of ridiculous contained within. Seriously! They made me laugh, they made themselves laugh, and - here's the important part - they did their best to be highly visible for all the onlookers hoping to catch the double queen show at an outdoor engagement. That's a job well done. They can bathe themselves in beige another day.

And in case you have any doubt that this was a plan and not a coincidence, note that Mathilde made an outfit switch just for her jaunt with Máx.
Earlier that day, she was sporting the same hat but with a repeated blue floral Dries Van Noten dress for a pit stop at the residence of the Belgian ambassador in The Hague. Definitely a color scheme designed for an easy flip into twin mode. Also, this:
A joint appearance in 2007
Classic. Oh, you two.

Photos: via Getty Images and Twitter as indicated

21 May 2015

Tiara Thursday: The Roxburghe Tiaras

A while ago I mentioned a Sotheby's sale including pieces from the estate of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, which included three tiaras. The sale was on May 12. Today, we're taking a closer look at those diadems. Buckle up, you're in for a triple tiara treat...
Our three tiaras in action, modeled before the sale
Born in 1915, Mary was the daughter of the Marquess of Crewe and his second wife, Lady Peggy Primrose. She was named after her godmother, Queen Mary. In 1935, she married George "Bobo" Innes-Ker, the 9th Duke of Roxburghe. Society life rolled on as usual for the couple, including a role for the Duchess as a trainbearer to Queen Elizabeth at the 1937 coronation, until 1953. Eighteen years after their marriage, her husband abruptly (and apparently without stated reason) tried to have Mary evicted from Floors Castle, his ducal seat. Thus began a marital feud that lasted six long weeks, Mary refusing to leave the castle while the Duke shut her out of as many amenities as he could, including telephone, electricity, and gas. She survived with the help of sympathetic neighbors including the Earl of Home, future prime minister, who stepped in to negotiate an end to the standoff. The Duchess of Roxburghe was granted a divorce in London. The couple had no children. (The Duke swiftly remarried and had two sons by his second wife.)

Video: On Mary and some of her auctioned jewels, including unrelated jewels at the sale. For a video showing West Horsley Place, click here.
Mary made her life in London after the divorce and eventually inherited a country estate, West Horsley Place, when her mother passed away. She did not remarry and did not have children of her own. When she died in 2014 at the age of 99, her estate passed to her nephew, television presenter Bamber Gascoigne. West Horsley Place is in desperate need of extensive repairs, and she assumed he would end up selling the mansion and estate. Mr. Gascoigne, however, decided to go the opposite route. The Sotheby's auction was designed to raise funds to keep the house and make the necessary repairs. It reminds me of the strategy Princess Gloria of Thurn and Taxis used to keep the family fortune afloat in the 1990s, selling things that can reasonably be bought again (such as jewels) and keeping those that can't (such as historic estates), which seems quite smart to me. As an added bonus for those that love jewels, this brings several wonderful pieces to our attention.

Among other gems, the auction included three tiaras:

The premiere piece in the collection is a unique diamond tiara by Cartier that dates from the 1930s. An Art Deco geometric treasure, it is set with circular-cut diamonds and topped by a series of 31 collet-set diamonds. The case from Cartier is stamped with the monogram and coronet of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe. This is the most expensive of the three tiaras, selling for more than $2.5 million.

A more imposing diamond tiara went for nearly $850,000, a piece that dates from the last quarter of the 19th century. The design features 20 swinging pear-shaped diamonds dangling amidst rose and cushion-shaped diamonds forming scroll and fleur de lys motifs and a base with lozenge and trefoil motifs. It feels like a cross between the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, with its lozenge base, and the Fife Tiara, with its dangling pear drops, which is a very good thing by my book. And this one has added flexibility: the tiara detaches from the bandeau base to become a necklace, while the bandeau itself breaks down into two separate sections.

The last of the three tiaras is a ruby and diamond diadem of a similar age to the older diamond tiara, dating from the later half of the 19th century. The tall piece features rose, cushion, and circular-cut diamonds in foliate motifs over ruby baselines, with a central lyre design set with diamonds and rubies. The older pieces in the collection, including this ruby tiara and the diamond tiara above, possibly belonged to Mary's maternal grandmother, Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery (you may remember her from our recent discussion on the Rosebery Pearl and Diamond Tiara). A matching ruby and diamond bracelet is inscribed on the back with a memorial to "my beloved grandmother Sara Cohen." This tiara brought in the lowest price at auction, just over $100,000. (See? You don't need a house. Or part of a house. You could have a tiara instead. Your loss.)

Which of these three would you most like to take home?

Photos: via Getty Images and Sotheby's video

Royal Trip of the Day: May 21

On Tuesday, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary kicked off their official visit to Germany. The trip ends today.
You know how Mary has the whole well put together schtick down so pat, it can even be boring? Yeah. That's what I'm feeling here.
Mary's Tory Burch jacket, and the evening event on day 1. 
Click here for a video, or here for a gallery/article.
She did repeat a David Andersen white dress of which I am quite fond, but other than that...meh.
Day 2 started with something very familiar - in two different countries, even - and ended with something that is not. Sound the Jumpsuit Alarm! (This one's from Ole Yde, per StyleofMary.)
It looks like a maxi dress with a belt and fluttery sleeves, but that's actually a sneaky pair of trousers, which puts us squarely in Jumpsuit Territory. Always cause for concern - not because jumpsuits are always bad (they're not my favorite pieces, but they can work), but because toning them down for royal dressing purposes can go so very wrong.
Oddly enough, this one isn't setting off as many alarm bells as the description alone does. Maybe it's because the trousers are loose enough to trick me into believing it's a skirt....or maybe I'm just still half asleep from the first part of the visit.

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated, FarFetch, BilledBladet video

20 May 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: May 20

Queen Letizia repeated in a big way last week:
Hello again, Felipe Varela worn to King Felipe's proclamation, dittoed right down to the small bow decoration of the Order of Charles III. I think it's improved this time by her updo, actually, which of course is the same thing I say regarding any old updo. At least I'm consistent.

I was surprised she wore this outfit again, just like I was surprised to see Queen Máxima repeat her own inauguration outfit this year. I guess I assumed the historic nature of these outfits would throw them under the one-and-done category, packed up and saved for an exhibit 25 years from now or something. Wrong then, wrong now. (CONSISTENCY.)

This was a ceremony for the delivery of the national flag to the 11th National Teach Zone of the Civil Guard, and it's a pretty formal event. She's wearing one of her most important outfits, but she's doing so because she's breaking with an even more formal dress code that existed for these types of events during the last reign. (Or so I am hypothesizing.)

To illustrate my point:
Letizia at a similar ceremony for the Civil Guard in 2005
All black with a mantilla and peineta (the large comb underneath) and a full length skirt used to be the dress code for this sort of thing. It is (it was) a nod to old formal dress, brought back by Queen Sofia over the years of King Juan Carlos' reign, something she settled into and passed to other female members of the family that took on these types of events.

Queen Sofia, similar ceremony in 2013
Queen Letizia's white suit last week was another sign that she will be doing things her own way. That's not surprising; there are certainly things that need modernizing and fixing in the monarchy, and she and Felipe have shown that they are ready to make changes. Not bad, just different.

Infanta Cristina, similar ceremony in 2006
That said, since this is a place for frivolous concerns and this is apparently my week to express my love for any sort of nationally specific sartorial thing - man, I hope the whole pieneta thing isn't gone from the royal scene for good now.

Letizia at another ceremony, 2006, also worn for a papal audience
It's just very regal, no? And special, something different from the norm to mark an occasion here or there. Oh well. Once again, my personal interests have been totally ignored in the decision making process of a monarchy in a country to which I don't belong. {DRAMATIC SIGH}

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated

19 May 2015

Royal National Day of the Week: May 19

Sunday was national day in Norway, and you know what that means...
It's Bunad Time! One of my favorite Times, second only to Tiara Time. And Big Gowns With Trains Time. And Royal Wedding Time.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their whole family - Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus, Marius Borg Høiby, and labradoodles Milly Kakao and Muffin Kråkebolle - gather outside their Skaugum home to watch the local children's parade go by. Traditional costume (bunad) all around, and even a festive bow for the pups.
The bunad Mette-Marit wore this year is from Vest-Agder, the county where she grew up. Each version is related to a specific area and M-M has several to choose from, which is a luxury as they are not at all cheap. The craftsmanship is wonderful, and I just love seeing these traditions alive and well.

Next, they joined up with the King and Queen to greet the Oslo children's parade from the balcony of the Royal Palace. Traditional dress is gone, and hats are in place instead. I never give the gents enough credit for upping their own game with top hats here. King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon, consider your brownie points awarded.
With her fedora and her shades, Queen Sonja looks like her efforts to go incognito were deviously foiled by a family that refused to give her the dark coat memo. Crown Princess Mette-Marit's in Prada, and against all odds (Prada = not usually my fave) I am COVETING that coat. Shame about that thing crawling up the side of her head.
Prada Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated and Style.com

18 May 2015

Royal Pre-Wedding Event of the Day: May 18

Yesterday, a service was held for the marriage banns of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist, followed by a reception. Similar services were held prior to the weddings of Carl Philip's sisters, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine, and they each yielded some interesting looks.
Group photo, with Sofia's family / Kungahuset.se
This time, around...we seem to be stuck in a sea of blergh, alas. (At least as far as the bride and ladies on the groom's side are concerned, that is.)

The bride and groom received gifts at the reception. Although I do like the thought of them just randomly posing with props.
This is a perfectly princess appropriate outfit on Sofia, which may just be my problem with it. It's appropriate-d itself (you know what I mean) all the way out of any sort of personality. But I'm also still a card-carrying member of Team Sofia, so I also kind of just want to pat her on the head for trying. (By the way, the court made it official: she'll be Princess Sofia, Duchess of Värmland after the wedding.)

Here are the King and Queen. Looking like they usually do. Silvia's outfit could be interchangeable with Sofia's, honestly.

I originally thought Victoria must have been wrangling Estelle at some point, resulting in a severely disheveled skirt and waist, but nope - the dress is indeed designed with that two level hem and loose pleats at the waist. Still, I'll take the dress any day if we could get rid of the forehead bolted Philip Treacy hat.
Dress by Filippa K
Also, Princess Estelle was in Marie-Chantal Children, the children's clothing line by Marie-Chantal of Greece. And Prince Daniel was in a suit.

Finally, Princess Madeleine (carrying Princess Leonore, also clad in Marie-Chantal). Not only does her Treacy hat mimic the curls of her hair in a fun way, she managed to keep it off her forehead, and thus is my default best dressed for the day.

Photos: via Kungahuset and Getty Images as indicated, and Filippa K

17 May 2015

Sunday Tidbits for May 17: Some Dresses, Some Sparklies

Lots coming up on the blog this week: pre-wedding business in Sweden, national stuff in Norway, happenings in Spain, etc. But first, a tidbit or two...

--Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist have a service and reception today for their marriage banns and we'll be looking at that later. For now, they've released some new pictures, and Sofia's wearing a Reiss dress. Happy birthday to Prince CP, by the way - he turned 36 this week!
Foto Mattias Edwall, Kungahuset.se
--The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing, and French actress Clotilde Courau - also known as the Princess of Venice and Piedmont, though she doesn't use the title professionally - always turns up. Her dress is Valentino Couture, and I'm in sheer disbelief that we didn't see it on Crown Princess Mette-Marit first. Probably waiting patiently in that Norwegian closet.

--I'm also intrigued by her jewels, from Bulgari High Jewellery's Giardini Italiani collection. I love mixing stone colors in modern pieces.

--Also in Cannes, minus the evening gown: Prince Félix of Luxembourg. [Luxarazzi]

--Prince Harry continued his cuteness assault in New Zealand following my post earlier this week. Here he is trying his hand at a Maori Haka:


--I am intrigued by the Countess of Wessex's floral dress worn to a ballet performance this week, and am waiting to see it without the jacket. In her down time, she and Lady Louise have been having a blast at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Savannah and Isla Phillips included. [Countess of Wessex Blog, Daily Mail]

--Over at the Jewel Vault this week, we talked about two of the Duchess of Cornwall's famous pearl chokers.

--And finally, here's a little something to drool over: stunning Cartier jewels auctioned at Sotheby's this past week. We'll be talking about some of the tiaras featured at that auction a bit later on. [YouTube]

Photos: via Getty Images and Kungahuset as indicated