19 December 2014

Year in Review: Mathilde, Letizia, and Mary's 2014 Bests

Our first batch of year end bests was hard to choose, but our second batch was eeeaassyyyyyy.

Queen Mathilde
Mathilde's luscious velvet number, worn to a dinner for the visiting Governor-General of Canada, is easily one of the most agreed upon dresses we've featured here and an easy pick for my favorite Mathilde outfit all year long. So much a favorite, actually, I'm having trouble even remembering anything else.

Queen Letizia
Her sublime white proclamation ensemble was instantly memorable and historical and all that jazz, but in the end, this Carolina Herrera gown with a perfect tiara pairing worn to the first state banquet of Felipe's reign easily surpassed it in my book (and maybe only in my book; opinions were pretty well split on this initial outing). If my patience ran low with the multitude of other lace ensembles we've seen in the past weeks, it's because my heart already belonged to this one. This was the year that Letizia got to know Carolina Herrera's designs, and I'm hoping for more of that (and less drawstring casual pants - easily my vote for her worst of the year) in 2015.

Crown Princess Mary
Another one so great I don't even have a runner up. (I do have a worst though, because I'm still puzzled by her strangely enormous shirt dress for the family summer photocall.) This sparkly navy Jesper Høvring gown worn to the BAMBI Awards was a moment of splendor to be sure. Perfection.

Your turn: Favorites for these three this year?

Photos:  @GGDavidJohnston, Pool and Matthias Mareyek via Getty Images, Carolina Herrera

18 December 2014

Year in Review: 2014's Tiara Moments

I'm in it for the tiaras, I think my stance on that is pretty clear. So it wouldn't be a Year in Review without a look at the tiara appearances we covered here and at the Jewel Vault in 2014 (and minus the ones that I forgot, because you know that's inevitable). You can click the links below or scroll through the posts on this blog by clicking here.

It won't surprise you to learn that I am officially crowning Máxima the Tiara Queen of 2014, with not only a large number of tiara events but also a large variety of tiaras worn for those events. Elsewhere, we saw a couple new pieces debuted, and a couple debuts of old pieces on new people. But perhaps the most important thing we saw in 2014 was the return of full state banquets (and thus tiaras) in Spain and Belgium, both countries having taken a few years off in the midst of economy and government problems. Grand returns ended up being the theme of my favorite tiara moments for the year.

The year started as it always does with glittering New Year's Court events in Denmark and Japan, giving us our yearly appearance of Mary's rubies, always a highlight in my book.

Tatiana Santo Domingo wore a fringe tiara for her religious wedding, although we didn't get a great look.

The Swedish royal court put out a new official photo of Crown Princess Victoria and the King, in which she sported her recent favorite, the Cut Steel Tiara. Princess Marie wore her new tiara for the first time for an official dinner, a piece we've been waiting to see in use since 2011. Tiaras came out again in Denmark for a state visit from Turkey, and tiara intrigue came to Sweden when Princess Christina wore the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara to an official dinner, bringing up questions about its ownership. Elsewhere, a state visit from China to the Netherlands brought out the pearls.

Tiaras returned to Belgium and Queen Mathilde again wore the bandeau of the Nine Provinces Tiara when the Chinese moved their state visit game over a country. King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia visited King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, and Máxima pulled together a pretty fab look with her favorite Dutch Diamond Bandeau.
Another of my favorite tiara moments came in April too, when the U.K. hosted an historic state visit from Ireland and the Queen used the occasion to bring the Cambridge emeralds back after a long absence.
And we must not forget, April also brought us what seemed like a genuine Tiara Miracle: Charlene finally wore her Ocean Tiara. For a magazine shoot, but we'll take what we can get.

May brought several tiara appearances: a look at the Diplomatic Corps reception in the Netherlands, new formal pictures marking Frederik and Mary's 10th wedding anniversary (again with the rubies), a state visit from Israel to Norway, and a state visit from Luxembourg to Poland.
Prince Albert visited the Netherlands, and there were tiaras even though Charlene stayed home. Plenty of state visits happened in June, including a trip to France for the British and the last state visit of King Juan Carlos' reign. The return of tiara banquets in Spain and Queen Sofia's use of the major Fleur de Lys Tiara as her farewell put this one on my list of best tiara moments for the year.


A state visit from Estonia to Norway brought us back to our tiara ways after the slow summer season.

Princess Noriko of Takamado kicked off the month donning her tiara for the last time as she bid farewell to the Imperial Family before her wedding. The Norwegians had two tiara events in a week, first with a state visit from India and second with their annual gala for parliament. (And in case you're counting, that adds up to a whole year of appearances of the Diamond Daisy Tiara for Mette-Marit, with no variety in sight.) A state visit from Singapore to Britain got thrown in the mix, and the month ended with dueling state visits: Felipe and Letizia hosting the first incoming state visit of Felipe's reign, and Willem-Alexander and Máxima traveling for a state visit to Japan. Máxima's debut outing of the Württemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara coupled with the return of Crown Princess Masako clock in jointly on my list of best tiara moments this year.

Amethysts and an excellent Elie Saab gown featured when Luxembourg hosted a state visit from Germany, but a dinner at the Swedish Royal Palace failed to wow me. Princess Margriet brought a tiara to America for the Stuyvesant Ball, wearing the star version of the Pearl Button Tiara for the first time, and a royal wedding in Morocco gave us a little sparkle variety.

The Duchess of Cornwall was resplendent in her family tiara for the Buckingham Palace Diplomatic Reception but obviously the main tiara event in December was and will always be the Nobel Prize Ceremony and the King's Dinner! Featuring the return of the Baden Fringe Tiara, another on my list of favorite tiara moments for the year.

Phew! Not a bad year, eh? (Remind me of that when we hit a tiara dead spot in 2015.) Now, over to you:

What were your favorite tiara moments in 2014?

Photos: Julian Parker/UK Press, Frank Van Beek/AFP, Pool all via Getty Images / RTE video / Hola / NewsJapan video / SVT video

17 December 2014

Year in Review: Kate and Mette-Marit's 2014 Bests

Each year, I like to pick a single Best of the Year outfit for each of the royal ladies we check in with most frequently. I chose these two royal ladies to kick things off because of one big similarity: I had a really hard time picking a best for both of them.

The Duchess of Cambridge
The thing about Kate is that she's a very consistent dresser. This works in her favor most of the time - nothing came to mind when I started pondering what her worst of the year would be, for example - but it sure did make it hard for me to pick any one thing that stood out as the year's best. I was tempted to name the recently reused Packham, but honestly that would have been because it gave us her two biggest jewel moments for the year and not because of the dress. So I flipped back through the year and emerged with this one in mind:
It almost feels too ordinary to be the year's best, if you know what I mean - and you will, once you see how many gowns make my list as we roll on - but I love the clean silhouette and the poppy print. It's also among the fruits of the Cambridge's New Zealand/Australia tour, certainly one of 2014's most memorable royal trips. So there you go: L.K. Bennett and blue poppies it is!

Crown Princess Mette-Marit
Mette-Marit stumped me for a different reason. You see, she usually turns up the volume and does her best sartorial work at international royal events, so I automatically start there when it comes to looking for her best of the year. But this year...we didn't really have any such events! So we're left with her events at home, which was a lot of similar day outfits, most of the Pia Tjelta by Ti Mo collection, and a handful of repeated gowns, sometimes revamped but leaving me longing for the original. Le sigh.
So I settled on a Valentino coat worn during the celebrations for the anniversary of Norway's constitution, a piece I like so much I picked it when it came time for her closet raid. I'm having a bit of a love affair with white this year, and nobody does it better than M-M, so it feels right after all. 

Your turn: What were your 2014 Kate and Mette-Marit favorites?

Photos: L.K. Bennett and CPL Shannon McCarthy / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence,  NRK.no/Style.com/Stortinget

16 December 2014

Year in Review: 2014's Royal Happenings

Now is the time when I look around and wonder when I forgot how to use a calendar, because once again the end of the year has snuck up on me. But here we are, with many of the royal families beginning to wind things down for Christmas holidays, and it is indeed time for our annual year in review posts. Today, a look at some of the year's main events.

I always look first for those events that bring together big groups of international royals, and as I tried to remember what happened this year (always a struggle), I had one thought: We have been so spoiled by the past few years. Seriously, 2013 capped a run of years packed with the kind of events - weddings! jubilees! inaugurations! - that bring us big fat royal gatherings. In comparison, 2014 has felt much quieter on the international royal front.

From the centenary of World War I to the 70th anniversary of D-Day (pictured above), this has been a year of remembrance. And when I thought back to occasions where royals from different countries came together, it was often for these memorials. So often a somber duty, but one they do particularly well.
Also tops on the list of Important Royal Events of 2014: King Juan Carlos abdicating in favor of his son Felipe, continuing the trend of throne swaps from 2013 and keeping us well stocked with introductory visits to chat about.

The past few years have been full of weddings, so I suppose it only follows that we are now in the years of BABIES. Prince George's first tour, Princess Leonore's birth and christening, twins for Monaco, a second baby on the way for the Cambridges, and more. Tiny humans, everywhere, running the show.

We did have a few weddings on our radar this year, though: in Monaco (well, actually in Switzerland, but you know what I mean), in Germany, in Japan, in Morocco. But the one that tops my list for Royal Wedding of the Year was that of Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este and Elisabetta (Lili) Maria Rosboch von Wolkenstein. Even in a sparse wedding year, we still get our share of Valentino couture gowns. And 2014 leaves us with the promise of at least one big royal event for 2015 in the nuptials of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist.

Stay tuned in the coming days, as we revisit the year's tiara moments and some of our favorite looks from our regulars. Until then:

What was your favorite 2014 royal moment?

Photos: Samir Hussein/Wire Image via Getty Images, RTVE video, Anna-Lena Ahlström/Kungahuset.se, Elisabetta Villa via Getty Images 

15 December 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: December 15

As we all know, Queen Máxima's looks can vary widely from elegant to...uh, not. The elegant ones are always worth a mention, and so we come to this:
Máxima opened a museum exhibit on Friday.
This is an oldie but goodie, if you will, a chocolate brown suit with velvet trim that's been around for several years (past appearances include the christening of Norway's Prince Sverre Magnus in 2006).
Neckline made to show of a strand of pearls: check. A wide brim hat that's a favorite and with good reason: check. An occasionally boring color made rich by fabric contrast and cut: check. One for the elegant winners pile, I say.
Some guessed she may have chosen the subdued color as a nod to Queen Fabiola's funeral, happening on the same day. Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but it's a cozy color choice for a dreary December day anyway. And it was the designated color of the day, apparently, as her evening event gave us a bit of the same:
I'm not as sold on brown with sequins as I am on brown with velvet, but my A grade for the day stands.

Also...last week, the Dutch royal family also gathered to celebrate Pieter van Vollenhoven (husband of Princess Margriet), who turned 75 this year, and the Victim Support Fund, which he started 25 years ago.
An entrance into the Shiny Fabric Danger Zone for Máx, but I'm loving the patterned purple theme on sisters Beatrix and Margriet.
The couple with their sons and their daughters-in-law
And even a bit of purple on the extended family too, on Princess Marilène (see? Make a lace dress purple, and I'm good). Lovely!

Photos: As indicated and  Het Fonds Slachtofferhulp

14 December 2014

Sunday Tidbits for December 14: Queen Fabiola's Farewell, and More

As we cap a busy week, a few items we haven't covered here and a few leftovers from last week. Tidbits, here we go:

-Queen Fabiola was laid to rest on Friday. It was an emotional ceremony, with Queen Mathilde among those in tears. A Spanish performance paid tribute to Fabiola's roots and some of the young members of the family took part in readings. It was a fitting memorial for a much-loved queen.

-Trouble in Thailand: Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is divorcing his wife amid talk of a potential succession struggle. [NPR]

-Allow these new photos of Prince George to put a holiday smile on your face. The little socks are killing me. [BBC]

-Here's Princess Benedikte looking resplendent in a red wrap with fur trim. [Billed Bladet]

-The Duchess of Cornwall wore this magnificent sapphire on her necklace again this week (she debuted it last year). Drool. [Zimbio]

-A couple items sold at Christie's in 2006 from the estate of Princess Margaret have been sold again. [Express]

-A Cartier sapphire and diamond ring that belonged to the Duchess of Windsor was also sold again this week. [Christie's]

-From a couple weeks ago, an interesting article on Cartier's Royal Tiara. The newly crafted piece includes a perfect natural pearl that belonged to Queen Mary (consort of George V and our magpie queen). Can't say I'm a fan of the tiara form. [Wall Street Journal]

Stay tuned for Monday, we're going Dutch.

12 December 2014

Royal Closet Raid of the Day: December 12

Congratulations are in order for the Monaco bunch! Prince Albert and Princess Charlene welcomed their twins on Wednesday. They'll be officially introduced to the people of Monaco on January 7. The announcement from the palace:
It is with immense joy that TT.SS.HH the Prince and Princess of Monaco have the great pleasure to announce the birth of Their children named:

- Gabriella, Thérèse, Marie (born at 17h04)

- Jacques, Honoré, Rainier (born at 17h06)

The births took place on 10th December 2014 at the Maternity of the Princess Grace Hospital Monaco.
The Princess and the Children are doing well.

The Prince Jacques, Honoré, Rainier is the Crown Prince. In accordance with the historic custom established by the treaty of Péronne (1641), He shall receive the title of Marquis of Baux (in Provence).
The Princess Gabriella, Thérèse, Marie, second child in the line of succession, shall receive the title of Countess of Carladès (in Auvergne).
Welcome to the world, Gabriella and Jacques! (I'm digging the names, by the way.)

In this particular corner of the world, we celebrate with fabulous outfits, and I've been saving up Charlene's day in the closet raiding spotlight for just such an occasion. Do you enjoy beige, hmm? How about black? Then it's your day in the spotlight too. As for me, I think you know what color I'm heading for.
I can still only echo what I originally said about this appearance: Char killed it. How could she not, in a dress so fab? I'd like to try it out for myself, so you can bag this one up for me.
Throw the gems in there too, pretty please.
On the Ralph Lauren runway. I approve of her color change.
Your turn: 
What are you coveting from Charlene's wardrobe?

One more piece of news from Monaco: Hello reports confirmation from an "insider" that Princess Caroline's son, Pierre Casiraghi, will wed his longtime love, Beatrice Borromeo, on April 20, 2015. We're still waiting to see if an official confirmation will be issued by the family.

P.S.: Yesterday's Nobel post was updated late with the second evening of festivities, so check back if you haven't already!

Photos: Michel Dufour/French Select and Pascal Le Segretain via Getty Images, Style.com

11 December 2014

Royal Fashion Awards: The Nobel Prizes, 2014 (UPDATED)

Phew. There’s a lot going on right now. We’ll check in with Monaco’s big news tomorrow, but for now, we have tiaras to deal with. The Nobel Prize ceremonies happened yesterday in Oslo and Stockholm and the Norwegian and Swedish royal families were out in force. Obviously these events are about the Nobel laureates and not the royals, but as usual, I'll stay in my wheelhouse. (With one exception: I will share this article about the gown worn by laureate May-Britt Moser and its special significance, which I think is pretty cool.) Now, to the awards – and this is a long one, so settle in…

Best in Standards: Non-Tiara Division
The Norwegian Royal Family
The Oslo ceremony is for the Nobel Peace Prize and understandably omits the fancy tiara-wearing dress code (it’s also held earlier in the day), and we usually get a pretty standard showing from King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Mette-Marit wore the same headpiece (we won’t call it a hat) with a white outfit just a couple years ago, but it’s one of her standards that suits her particularly well. She also stuck to her standards by wearing one of her floral prairie dresses for the evening dinner (click here to see), but somehow I don't mind this one as much as I usually mind her covered wagon business. Anyway, a passing grade to all.
A couple screencaps including a look at Mette-Marit's hairdo, and Sonja's velvet jacket from Emilio Pucci. Mette-Marit's coat is from Valentino.

Over in Sweden, the rest of the prizes are given out in one of the most formal events of the year and the Swedish royal family was up to the task, turning out in force.
So many family members were present (the King, Queen, all three children with their respective significant others, plus Princess Christina and her husband) that only four members were on stage and everyone else had to join Christina in her usual spot in the front row.

Best in Standards: Tiara Division
Queen Silvia and Princess Christina
Queen Silvia has worn a variety of tiaras for the Nobel ceremony, but her two most frequent choices are the Leuchtenberg Sapphires and the Nine Prong Tiara. She picked the sapphires this year for the main event and I am ever so thankful for that. Princess Christina also went with her usual, the Six Button Tiara. And as I always say, if someone has to wear ye olde buttons, let it be Christina, since she makes the most of them.
A very shiny and embellished dress for Silvia, also a standard (for better or for worse).

Best in Nobel Spirit
Crown Princess Victoria
Queen Silvia has toned down her Nobel looks as time goes on, and it’s nice to know that someone is picking up the slack. Hello, Victoria! This is a proper ball gown if there ever was one. You know I love it and all its OTT splendor, including the fact that she had trouble moving around in it. (Dedication to the splendor cause, man!) It was designed by Pär Engsheden, her wedding dress designer.
She also delivered on the jewel front, finally bringing back the Baden Fringe Tiara and continuing her recent streak of debuting something new to her for each Nobel season. This year, it was the large diamond cross from the family collection, worn by Victoria for the first time. She also sported a large diamond bracelet, ruby brooch on her front, small brooch on her back, diamond earrings, and diamond lozenge brooch in her hair.

Most Curious in Nobel Spirit
Princess Madeleine
I want to like this but I’m finding it so curious. She did go big for the occasion, opting for an embellished dress from Fadi El Khoury (a designer I’ve longed to see the royals wear more often). But the print is almost an animal print, but not quite; the dress is almost a full skirt ball gown, but not quite.
She used most of Queen Josephine’s Amethyst Parure (earrings, brooch, bracelet), but stuck to the Modern Fringe Tiara. Almost, but not quite.

Best Tiara Potential
Sofia Hellqvist
Let’s get this out of the way: the dress (by Ida Sjostedt), it’s not great. In these photos, I think it looks quite fine actually. But on television, under the lights, it suffered from a serious case of S.O.S. Yes, Sequin Overload Syndrome. And I say this as someone who would like nothing more than to see her show up looking classy as can be and blow all her haters out of the water.* But luckily, something else did catch my eye: that hair!
She hasn’t been issued anything from the family vault yet (that brooch, whatever it’s made of, is certainly not part of the historic pink topaz set, as some originally guessed) but she’s all ready to go, hair brooch and all. I’m looking forward to next year already!

For more Nobel fun:

The tiara fest in Sweden isn’t over just yet – this evening is the King’s Dinner for the laureates at the palace. Stay tuned. The Norwegians still have the Nobel concert to go. Until then…

Who was your best dressed for Nobel 2014?

*Since posts including Sofia tend to end up with comments that dip into personal feelings about her background, let me just issue a friendly preemptive note for my lovely commenters: Let’s not go there.

UPDATE: Night #2 of Nobel festivities!
In Sweden, the traditional King’s Dinner for the Nobel laureates was held at the palace. You can click here for a gallery.
Queen Silvia came down with a case of ADLD (Another Dang Lace Dress, it’s been going around. Like the flu, but prettier) and matched it with the Connaught Tiara. Sofia Hellqvist toned down her sequin dress for a grade of Most Improved and she wore another brooch in her hair – but like last night, the palace stated that she wore private jewels. (You can see her hair embellishment here.)
Both Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine repeated last night’s tiaras, as did Princess Christina (I FROWN IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION, LADIES) (THOUGH I AM ALSO GLAD TO SEE THESE AGAIN INSTEAD OF THE FOUR BUTTON OR THE CUT STEEL BANDEAU, SO MAYBE I’M NOT THAT UPSET). Madeleine gave us déjà vu to a dress recently worn by her sister, and Victoria stuck a bow on it.
How you wear that dress without feeling like the angel in the Christmas play, I don’t know (maybe that is what you feel like and maybe that’s the point), but I applaud her bringing back the corsage necklace used by Princess Lilian, even if it’s not the best with this neckline.

And over in Norway, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and their children attended the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. And Mette-Marit wore a dress adorned with frolicking magical creatures, because of course she did.
UNICORNS AND CHERUBS, people. And let me tell you something: I AM ALL FOR IT. (This busy royal week has driven me to caps lock mania. It’s not my fault.) This dress comes from British brand Mother of Pearl (via Minmote). Victoria went for a fairytale vibe with last night’s mega ball gown and now Mette-Marit’s going for a more literal interpretation. And I’m not kidding - I really am totally charmed by a dress covered in unicorns. The world needs more unicorn prints.

Photos: Getty Images as indicated, SVT video, Lyst, Kungahuset.se, Moda Operandi

10 December 2014

Royal Trip of the Day: December 10

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been on a trip to New York City this week, culminating in the St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner last night.
A trip full of new outfits (coats, mostly coats) and wouldn't you know - it's the repeat that catches my eye.
I liked this Jenny Packham the first two times we saw it, and now with added jewels and an updo, what's not to love?
The Duchess debuted new emerald and diamond earrings with a matching emerald and diamond bracelet. The pieces were private gifts. Based on new pieces given to other family members by Middle Eastern monarchies, I wouldn't be shocked to hear these have the same origin, but that's just guessing. They look pretty modern to me, and those are pretty big emeralds with a lovely bright color.
And there's that updo - aw, it's like she knew we'd demand a proper look at those earrings - with a bonus Princess Eugenie sighting! The NYC resident was kind enough to come and say hello to her cousins. A better look at her color blocked gown:
I really can't decide if all those angles help or hurt the situation, but I'm leaning towards a thumbs up. Et toi?

Photos: Pool and Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images; Jenny Packham

09 December 2014

Royal Outfit Grab Bag of the Day: December 9

'Tis time once again to pull a random assortment of recent outfits from some of our regulars, a little sampler platter of sartorial happenings, from which to pick and choose.

Been a while since we featured Mette-Marit here. But whenever she does pop up, there's a good chance she'll be sporting this dress, or so it seems. The By Ti Mo model (which she owns in another color/print too) must be on her list of personal favorites for 2014.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended the 75th Anniversary of the Norwegian People's Aid on Friday.

Queen Letizia brought back the oops-I-ran-out-of-fabric dress from National Day.
The Spanish Royal Family attended the National Sports Awards on Thursday.
"Listen, dear, I don't want to alarm you, but there's a different dress on the back of your dress." Felipe, clearly concerned.
And she's still making this the year of earrings, I see. (Which I am all for, though long time readers know overly matchy accessories make me twitchy and this plus the shoes it a bit much.)

Máxima stood outside in a shiny turban. As one does.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima attended a ceremony to award the Military Order of William on Thursday.
It's not so bad with the coat closed. It ties the whole thing together more than it does when the coat is open. She looks cozy, I'll give her that. If you want to see it the other way, you can click here for a gallery. Or you can leave it at this and I wouldn't blame you.

And finally, in Denmark, Mary hosted a Christmas reception for her foundation.
It's a new Dolce & Gabbana number (per StyleofMary) and I'm all over this. A simple red dress? Perfect. We'll end it on a high note.

Photos: As indicated and NOS Video, My Theresa

08 December 2014

Royal Closet Raid of the Day: December 8

It's shaping up to be a busy royal week, and I thought we'd kick it off with a little excitement for the sparkliest event coming our way: the Nobel Prize Ceremony, on the 10th. And to do that, another in our series of closet raids is in order. This time we're stealing borrowing admiring respectfully items from the wonder of Queen Silvia's wardrobe.

Silvia has all the age-appropriate daywear you could ask for, but she also has years and years of some of the most spectacular royal gowns around. There's a selection there no matter what your age - just ask her daughter Princess Madeleine, who borrowed one of the gowns worn to the Nobel Prize Ceremony for her wedding reception!
The Nobel ceremony dress archives are the real treasure trove here, and I think I might have to go with 1999's grand number from Jacques Zehnder (one of Silvia's favorite designers), a light pink silk brocade woven with gold roses and featuring a serious train at the back. Gotta have that train, that's one of the things Silvia's best at.
And I might also be swayed here by her use of the majestic pink topaz and diamond demi-parure from the family collection - drool. The set dates from the early 1800s in Russia, where it belonged to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Made of pink topaz stones surrounded by diamonds and set in gold and silver, the demi-parure includes a necklace with pendants, earrings, and two brooches (one smaller and one larger with a pendant). It's featured in the book Jewels from Imperial St. Petersburg by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, where its roots are described as such:
"The set was a gift by Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna to her daughter Maria on the occasion of the birth of her second daughter, Augusta. It was inherited by Augusta (1811-1900), later Queen of Prussia and Empress of Germany. She passed it on to her daughter Luise (1838-1923), Grand Duchess of Baden, who in her turn bequeathed it to her daughter Viktoria (1866-1929), Queen of Sweden."
And it has remained in Sweden ever since, where it is currently worn exclusively by Queen Silvia. She uses it as a grand accompaniment to her diamond tiaras, as illustrated in some striking new portraits recently released by the royal court:
Gorgeous. Just wrap those up and we'll be good, actually. But - back on track now - if you need gown inspiration, the Nobel organization has the details on the Queen's gowns, and here's a fun video with many of the Nobel years in a quick flash:
And now, my question to you...

If you could have one thing from Silvia's wardrobe, what would it be? 

Photos: Nobel Prize video, De Kongelige Julever video, Anna-Lena Ahlström / kungahuset.se

07 December 2014

Sunday Tidbits for December 7: Queen Fabiola, 1928-2014

Queen Fabiola of Belgium, widow of King Baudouin, died Friday at Stuyvenberg Castle in Brussels. She was 86 years old. Today's Sunday Tidbits are devoted entirely to the late queen, with pictures, videos, links to past features on this blog, and links to a few features in her memory elsewhere.
Baudouin and Fabiola
--The Telegraph's obituary details her journey from Spanish aristocrat and nurse to Queen of the Belgians, and how she and Baudouin became completely devoted to one another through it all, even their (ultimately unsuccessful) struggles to have a child.

The couple at their pre-wedding gala

--They married on December 15, 1960, and Fabiola's gown was a monumental creation that we have covered in depth in the past. Since Baudouin was already king, she went straight into her position as Queen of the Belgians, and the dress reflects that with its grand scale and regal use of fur trim. It was made by the great couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, a fellow Spaniard.

Video: British Pathé newsreel coverage of the wedding

--Queen Fabiola donated her gown to the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation, and it can be admired at the Balenciaga museum in Spain. [Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa]

Queen Sofia of Spain views Fabiola's wedding gown while at the official opening of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum

--At the wedding, Fabiola wore the Nine Provinces Tiara, which was given to her by her father-in-law, King Leopold III. This is the one Belgian tiara that has really been designated the queen's tiara - Fabiola passed it on to the next queen, Paola, after Baudouin died, and it has now been passed on to Mathilde.

Video: Scenes from the wedding, in color

--The Nine Provinces Tiara was one of three tiaras she wore and they've all been covered here individually. The other two remained in her possession: the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara, an extremely flexible piece that could be worn with different stones and in two different tiara configurations plus as a necklace and separate elements, and the smaller Wolfers Necklace Tiara, which could also (as the name states) be used as a necklace. Both were wedding gifts.

Using a piece of the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara on her necklace, 1978

--As for what will happen to Fabiola's estate, the palace confirmed reports that she left it to charity - specifically, to the Queen's Charities (Ouvres de la Reine). But they declined to share further details, as it is a private matter. It is of note, though, since her attempts to use a foundation to secure some of her assets in the past couple years resulted in accusations of tax dodging. The government cut her allowance in response to the uproar, and she abandoned her plans for the foundation. It speaks volumes about Fabiola, I think, that her solution was to give it to those that need it.

Fabiola dancing, just to put a smile on your face

--VTM offers a lengthy documentary feature on Queen Fabiola's life. Lovely and interesting footage, even if you don't speak the language.

--Fabiola was aunt to King Philippe and also to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Luxarazzi has Henri's official note of condolence.

--The Royal Hats Blog is posting on the late queen's hat style. She was known more for her serious devotion to one hairstyle than for her hats, I suppose, but she has some major millinery statements in her past. In the past few years, she was prone to ditching the hats, and the tiaras too. She made her own dress code. And to an extent, she had always done so - she may have had tiaras, but she notably avoided wearing almost all orders.

At the Spanish royal wedding, 2004

--And finally, Queen Fabiola's funeral will be held on Friday, December 12, at 10 a.m. in Brussels at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. She will be greatly missed!

Photos: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons,  Getty Images as indicated