31 October 2014

Royal Costume Ideas of the Day: October 31

It's Halloween, kids! I know it's not really a universal holiday, but if you're planning on celebrating and still need a costume idea, I've plucked two outfits from the royal fashion rounds this week that might help you out. Just being servicey here, folks.

Idea #1: How about going as a garden trellis, complete with scattered flowers?
On Day 2 of their state visit to Japan, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima attended a banquet with the Japanese prime minister and his wife.
All you need is a little Jan Taminiau couture, my friends, and you too could be the chicest lawn ornament on the trick-or-treat circuit. As an added bonus, not only is this color scheme universally flattering, it could also be reasonably repurposed for next year's Dolores Umbridge costume.

Idea #2: Are you a fan of the classic film A Christmas Story
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel visited Estonia this week for events including a dinner hosted by the Swedish ambassador.
Try this dark-toned take on the infamous Leg Lamp! All you need is the cash for a Stella McCartney mini dress, and you're in business. Sequin shoes from Saint Laurent will add some pizazz to the one legged-pose you'll need to strike.
This little number is the perfect option for all your Halloween party needs, because if you're not going to shake it in this dress, you're doing it wrong.

Aren't they just so helpful, our royals? Not only did they give us these two fresh costume ideas, they also saw fit to remind us this week that there's always option #3: Just wear a tiara. Happy Halloween!

Photos: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images, @Royal_talk, Net-a-porter, Bluefly

30 October 2014

Tiara Watches of the Day: October 30

Big stuff happening in Tiara World. BIG stuff. So, in lieu of our regularly scheduled Thursday posts, we're going to have one big, fat round up of state visity goodness - featuring tiaras from the Netherlands, Japan, and Spain! Read on for sparkle...

The Dutch King and Queen are on a state visit to Japan, and you know this is when Máxima brings it.
And it has been brought, my friends, starting with a fun full skirt dress in a pumpkin shade, totally brought to life by a gold belt and gold shoes. The dress is from designer Mattijs van Bergen, worn with another donut hat from Fabienne Delvigne.
This visit heralded the return of Crown Princess Masako to the state visit stage, and she was ready to go, even sporting an orange outfit to welcome her Orange guests (and matching her friend, Queen Máx). Awww.

In the evening, the Emperor and Empress held a state banquet, and Máxima continued to BRING IT.
Why yes, this is the first time she's worn the Württemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara, one of the family big guns that was one of Beatrix's favorites when she was queen. A perfect choice, stepping it up for her first state visit to another monarchy. She's also wearing a downsized version of the bow brooch from the Stuart parure. I'm not in love with the gown - a Jan Taminiau from Prinsjesdag 2013 - paired with this particular riband (the Order of the Precious Crown, awarded to her by the Emperor) but give me a mega tiara and I magically forget all of that.
The Empress did not wear a tiara, which was predictable; she's opted out of tiara-wearing in the past couple years, apparently for health reasons, the weight of a tiara being pretty substantial. The rest of the Japanese ladies were out in full force (even those that we don't see here), including Princess Kiko wearing the Akishino Tiara (bottom left, above).
Video, including the welcome and the banquet and some clips from past visits between the two families
Masako, who looked happy to be at her first state banquet in more than a decade, gave us the best look yet at the Japanese Pearl Sunburst Tiara (and its accompanying parure). There's a lot more detail there, an intricate center section and some variation  in the style of the fringes underneath the pearls, and a whole lot of sparkle. Fantastic.

Next! Over to Spain, where yesterday the King and Queen welcomed the President of Chile. This is the first formal state visit of Felipe's reign.
I think the suit Letizia chose for the official welcome belongs on Queen Sofia, to be honest. But! Once again we have redemption at the state banquet, with tiara in place.
Letizia wore the Spanish Floral Tiara, no surprise there - predictably, she didn't bust out anything reserved for the queen right away. On this occasion, it was the perfect match to her delicate gown. (Easy for me to say, it is my favorite Spanish tiara.)
She donned another Carolina Herrera dress, and this one is the best yet! Yes, we're back to the lace trend, but this is the kind that's right up my alley. I like delicate patterns and I like black and I like this, 100% like it. The trumpet flare at the bottom would be a disastrous silhouette on so many people, but for Letizia, it's fantastic.
I'm putting this under serious consideration for Letizia's best of the year. You've been warned.
And one hair shot, just for good measure.

Ahhhhhh. Talk amongst yourselves, I'll be over here, collapsed in a tiara-filled daze......

Photos: Getty Images as indicated, News Japan and ANN News video, Neiman Marcus

29 October 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 29

The Canadian Governor-General and his wife have been on a European visit, including a stop in Belgium that included dinner with the King and Queen. They also called on the King and Queen over in the Netherlands, but we won't speak of Máxima's outfit. We will, however, speak of Mathilde's outfit. We will speak LOUDLY of it, because Mathilde looked gooooooood.
Right?! Maybe all this lace of late has just put me in the mood for something sleek and chic, but I'm all.about.this.dress. She's repeating the look worn for this rather *gLaMoRoUs* portrait, which I didn't realize was a gown:
And she capped the accessories at a simple pair of emerald earrings, which was just the way to go for maximum sleekness, while still adding some interesting color.
Love. That's all.

Oh! And:
The commemorations of World War I continued yesterday in Nieuwpoort, Belgium.
We'll add in one royal gathering (with the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands), just for good measure. Somber yet elegant, just as it should be.

Photo: Belgian Monarchy/FPS Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Michel Gronemberger

28 October 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: October 28

Is it, like, Official Colored Lace Week or something? I'm starting to wonder.

Take Victoria, for example. A lace-topped gown followed by this Erdem dress on Friday, worn to receive the President of Pakistan:
The dress is more navy than this particular glimpse makes it appear (here's another look), and navy is better than electric blue as far as lace goes, methinks. But still, this criss-cross business on the top is a little dubious.

And then, Friday night, Victoria wore Flowy Dress with Intricate Top #2 for the formal gathering of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science. Which is a white tie occasion, but without tiara.
This one looks like it's sequins in a lace pattern instead, but the effect is the same so I'm counting it. (Official Colored Lace and Lace-Type Things Week. Catchy.) I'm all for two new gowns in a week, but...I'll take Flowy Dress with Intricate Top #1 over this one any day.

Photo: Kungahuset.se, Erdem

27 October 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 27

The annual Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony (from next year, the Princess of Asturias Awards) usually comes in as one of Letizia's greatest sartorial moments for the year.
This year, I am afraid to say, the streak has been broken. A new Felipe Varela as always, but this shade of blue just seems to fight with its darker overlay. It wants to be allowed to shine on its own, and it won't make do with a few neckline and seam details. You can't keep this blue down like that, man.
From the neck up, however, the Queen is killing it - fab hair, fab Bulgari aquamarine earrings, fab makeup. Maybe I'll just pretend the dress was aquamarine with a silver overlay or something like that. Yeah, I'm going with that.
The Asturias Awards are always a multiple-day event, so allow me to end with one appearance I was fully on board with:
It's the looks-like-separates-but-isn't dress again! With another pair of great earrings and a strut like she's having a good hair day and she knows it, this one was a winner.

Photos: Carlos Alvarez via Getty Images

26 October 2014

Sunday Tidbits for October 26: From Weddings to Mourning and Back

Happy Sunday to you! Here are some tidbits for your (hopefully) lazy day, and your chat thread for the week:

--Mark your calendars: The Swedish royal court announced that Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist have set a wedding date. The couple will marry on June 13, 2015, in the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace of Stockholm (the site of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill's 2013 wedding). It's a Saturday. No time has been released yet, but both Victoria and Madeleine had afternoon weddings. [Kungahuset]

--Crown Princess Mary was in Tajikistan this week as part of her role as patron of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Coverage has been a bit scarce, but here are some links with a couple pictures (articles are in Danish): children's hospital visit, being made an honorary professor, visiting a taekwondo center, a banquet on the first day, and the end. [Billed Bladet]

--I didn't realize that Princess Stéphanie, who celebrated her second wedding anniversary this month, has only just done her first solo engagement. Luxarazzi helpfully includes dates of first solo flights from other princesses as a frame of reference, proving that there is no one standard for these types of things. [Luxarazzi]

--In New York City? The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Anna Wintour Costume Center has an interesting new exhibit. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire explores the elaborate mourning practices of the 19th and early 20th centuries and features mourning gowns worn by both Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra. It runs through February 1, 2015. [Met Museum]

--The purple coat worn by the Countess of Wessex this week needs to be in my closet, please and thank you. [Countess of Wessex Blog]

--Still remembering Oscar de la Renta: I loved this slideshow of his greatest runway hits which doubles as an amusing look at fashion through the decades, plus remembrances from Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour. [NY Mag, Hollywood Reporter, Vogue]

--The adorable Empress Michiko turned 80 this week, and here's a look at her life in hats. I'm starting to think she had some sort of screw installed in her forehead just so she could get those wee saucers in just the right place, every single time. [Royal Hats Blog]

--This video, a behind the scenes look at what goes into creating one look from a Christian Dior Haute Couture collection, is a bit old, but it's been making the rounds this week. It's mesmerizing. [YouTube]

--In case you missed it, the state banquet from this week's British state visit was covered at the Jewel Vault and updated multiple times. Also, QEII is tweeting now. (Well, just the once. Still waiting for her to start live tweeting Downton.) [Jewel Vault]

Photo: Erika Gerdemark, kungahuset.se

24 October 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 24

So, this is puuurrrty:
Victoria's dress, I mean. Specifically speaking. Not that they aren't a good looking group overall. But - the DRESS! Very Jenny Packham-esque (I don't know whether it is or is not for sure, at the time I'm writing, though I'm sure it will turn up), with certain similarities to the Packham/Tadashi Shoji dress we've seen time and again. This muted teal color looks fantastic on Victoria and the delicate lace adds a lot of interest to an otherwise plain number.
If I could quibble - and you know me, that's what I do best - the beaded tassel earrings are not quite right. They are, however, from Oscar de la Renta, and of course this is being interpreted as a special gesture to the late designer's memory. Big statement earrings are definitely Victoria's style, special gesture or not. But as we can see in the video below, they're just a touch overpowering. There's a lot of swing happening there.
Anyway, I'm taking the earrings out of the equation and calling this a win for Victoria. Agreed?

Photos: Oscar de la Renta/Kungahuset video

23 October 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Russian Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara

It’s been a bit of an aquamarine week so far. Sunday’s post included the aquamarine tiara associated with the Duchess of Kent which is now up for auction, a polarizing piece due to the rather twee way it handles its floral motif; on Tuesday, the Countess of Wessex wore the Five Aquamarine Tiara for the Singapore state banquet. Aquamarine is a stone best shown off by (in my opinion) oblong cuts and large sizes, but those two tiaras are both examples of how difficult it can be to incorporate such stones into a successful tiara design (ahem, Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara). The topic of today’s discussion happens to be the aquamarine tiara that I feel handles that dilemma in the best fashion.
The Russian Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara
Made sometime around 1900, this tiara arranges rectangular aquamarine stones in a kokoshnik shape, a style based on traditional Russian headdresses, and accents them with lines and arches of diamonds all set in platinum. Not surprisingly, it has a Russian heritage – likely even an imperial Russian heritage. The tiara first surfaces when it was bought by Wartski in the 1920s, as detailed in Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey Munn, when it was one of many pieces sold off after the Russian revolution. It was said to have belonged to the last tsarina, Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918). Though no known images exist of the Empress wearing the diadem, this isn’t the only aquamarine piece to have a connection to her: a Fabergé brooch with an exquisite and large Siberian aquamarine was an engagement present from Nicholas II.
Alexandra Feodorovna and Nicholas II, at the time of their engagement
The tiara has surfaced a couple times since that original Russian sale, both times at auction houses. It was sold previously with a matching necklace and a matching pair of earrings at Sotheby’s in the 1980s, and this year it surfaced again offered at a private sale at Christie’s. They list it as the property of a European Noble Family.
The shape of this tiara is a wonderful solution that allows the rectangular aquamarines to shine in their best cut as they pave the middle of the tiara, and the simple design of the diamonds surrounding them allows the blue stones to hold all the impact. This model might just be my all-time favorite aquamarine tiara (if only we could see it in action!), and it ranked #2 when you voted for an aquamarine addition to your Ultimate Tiara Collection.

What's your verdict: Is this design a success, or no?

Photos: Christie's, Wikimedia Commons, Wartski's London

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 23

In which Queen Letizia, she of the Little Black Dress, totally shakes up her game with a Little Blue Dress.
The Spanish royals celebrated the anniversary of the El Mundo newspaper this week.
Okay, I lied about the shaking up the game part, but still! I like this a lot. Of course I do, it's got sparkle and ombré and an updo and these are a few of my favorite things.
We first saw a glimpse of this Felipe Varela dress when the couple visited in New York, and now we have a proper look. Instead of the dark strappy sandals she went for last time, this outing gets blue shoes and then transitions up to a darker clutch. Ombré accessories, we might say. I see what you did there, L.

Photos: Juan Aguado via Getty Images

22 October 2014

Royal Return of the Day: October 22

The Duchess of Cambridge yesterday returned to the royal stage for the first time since the announcement of her second pregnancy. It was a two-event day, and she returned to two of her favorite labels, Alexander McQueen and Jenny Packham. Getting back to your favorites is a bit of comfort for when you're feeling poorly, right? Sartorial chicken soup, in a way.

First up, she and William greeted the President of Singapore and his wife as they kicked off their state visit. The Cambridges were filling in for the absent Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who usually take care of this part of the visit. Outfit #1 was a new McQueen coat dress with a repeated gray Jane Taylor hat. I do enjoy a bit of Prince of Wales check.

The couple did not attend the state banquet in the evening (but you can discuss those that did over at the Vault). Instead, Kate headed to the National History Museum in a new Jenny Packham dress and repeated L.K. Bennett shoes.
If this double skirt situation doesn't come with a built-in solution for when you hit a Whitney/Mariah VMA moment, then I don't know what it's all about. (Am I the only one having that particular flashback? Probably.)
Also, I really need these shoes in my closet. You never know when it's going to be a bows-on-shoes sort of day. Best to be prepared.

Photos: WPA Pool via Getty Images, L.K. Bennett

21 October 2014

Royal Designer of the Day: October 21

Sad news from the fashion world last night: Oscar de la Renta has died at the age of 82. The legendary designer always produced elegant collections that were just beautiful, plain and simple, and his loss is terribly sad.

So today, we remember him in the best possible way - by celebrating his creations.

His pieces live on in several royal collections around the world. Queen Sofia, a personal friend of the designer, was his biggest royal fan. She wore many of his designs, including the flattering embroidered blue number below (shown with Mr. de la Renta himself, of course).

Her daughter Infanta Elena shares the love. Her Oscar pieces including stunning and vibrant gowns, but my absolute favorite is this too-chic-to-handle day suit.  

Queen Máxima's Oscar de la Renta outfits include a classic coat, and Crown Princess Victoria has a classic print dress.

Princess Lalla Salma has been spotted in some of his outfits, as has Queen Rania. Add this cozy jacket to Rania's collection:

Mary's contribution is princess perfect...

And Princess Madeleine's has a fresh edge, one that nearly made my pick in her closet raid.

And to Madeleine's pre-wedding dinner, Princess Marie-Chantal flew the Oscar de la Renta flag.

I could go on, and on, but I'll stop here and turn it over to you.
Some of the above royal looks on the runway and retail.
What is your favorite Oscar de la Renta look in action?
Photos: Getty Images, Avoord video, Kungahuset.se, Instagram, Twitter, Oscar de la Renta, Style.com

20 October 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: October 20

Queen Mathilde has been a busy bee lately. Let's catch up with a few of her sartorial highlights, shall we?

Together with King Philippe and Princess Elisabeth, who delivered a poised speech in each of the three national languages of Belgium, Mathilde attended a special service commemorating World War I. (Click here for a video of Elisabeth's speech, or here for a gallery.)
The Queen wore a blue gray coat from Natan, which was flattering in the way that these types of silhouettes are generically flattering. That sounds like damning with faint praise, I know, but I did like it - perfectly soft and muted for the occasion.

Prior to that, there was a run of printed day dresses, and it's no surprise that I'd argue the most successful of them all was a classic Diane von Furstenberg printed wrap dress.
Another generically flattering, classic-for-a-reason piece, but they usually suit her particularly well. A big geometric print was a good fit for an engagement involving design, anyway.

And finally, an evening look to ponder, for the Autumn Concert at the palace.
A black lace dress from Marc Philippe Coudeyre with big earrings and a lining that makes me do a double take. Do a double take and then promptly giggle, of course, because Mathilde of all people would have a lining firmly in place.
Also double take worthy: Princess Claire (on the other side of the King) and that top, which seems to be sparkly only on the front. If you're going to bring the disco, bring it all the way or don't bother, I say.

Photos: RTL video, @MonarchieBe, Diane von Furstenberg, Mark Renders via Getty Images

19 October 2014

Sunday Tidbits for October 19: Tuxedos, Tiaras, and Transatlantic Moves

Things to see, things to buy, and things to (not) wear - here's the week in random tidbits:

--There's been so much chatter over the possibility of a move back to Sweden or London for Princess Madeleine and her family that she gave a short interview to Expressen to clarify. A move to Europe is being considered, but in the future. [Expressen]

--From Prince Harry's speech at a fundraising dinner held by 100 Women in Hedge Funds: "I am not entirely sure who made the seating plan but I am sitting between two men. I thought it would just be 100 women and myself." Oh, Harry. [Telegraph, with video]

--Because there's never enough Harry: Buzzfeed presents 10 Photos Of Prince Harry In A Tux. [Buzzfeed]

--A dress that kind of looks like it's made from sweatshirt material, except it's sparkly, and a coat that doesn't go with a sparkly sweatshirt dress, and also SHOOTIES. I don't know, Victoria, I just don't know. [NT]

--The catalog for the Sotheby's auction featuring Queen Josephine's pearls also offers for sale an aquamarine tiara previously worn by the Duchess of Kent (see page 142). It was spotted on someone at the State Opening of Parliament in 2013, so it may have moved on from the Kent family prior to this particular auction. There are a few other jewels with royal connections in this sale too. [Sotheby's]

--If you put a long skirt on the outfit Queen Silvia wore to a luncheon this week, you'd get something straight out of Downton Abbey: The Early Years. Under certain circumstances that could be a great thing...but not these particular circumstances, I think. [Paris Match]

--Lover of windowpane print that I am, I'm trying real hard to love this recent ensemble on Princess Marie. I'm trying. [Stiften]

--The Victoria and Albert Museum has a few exhibits coming up that might be of interest: Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection (focusing on Indian jewelry; the Al Thanis are Qatar's ruling family) opening in November and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opening March 2015. [V&A]

17 October 2014

Tiara Watch of the Day: October 17

Oooh, I love it when we get to end the week on a tiara note. And the Norwegians provided last night, getting their tiaras out for the second time in a week to host their annual gala banquet for parliament. Crown Princess Mette-Marit turned up in a familiar look:
It's the return of the dress worn for last year's Dutch inauguration! This time, with her Norwegian order and her tiara in place (the Diamond Daisy, of course). It's an unusual dress, isn't it? Many of you commended her last year for wearing a dress that was reminiscent of Delftware to an important Dutch event, but the pattern fits right in with this ornately painted Scandinavian room too. There's a lot of pattern here, though. This might be the rare patterned dress that actually works better with the sash from an order in place, as it breaks up that solid wall of print.
That solid wall of print is probably why the dress was shown in a short version on the runway. It is, of course, bespoke Valentino.
So, which do you prefer? Version 2013 or Version 2014? Me, I would like to see Version 2013 with a tiara in place, because I always vote for tiaras and yet I love the color of that Dutch sash on this background. It just pops.

Also included: Princess Astrid, wearing her turquoise tiara from Queen Alexandra and the same dress she wore to the state banquet earlier this week, which also happens to be the same dress/tiara combination she wore to this event last year. Astrid's not bothered.

Worth a look for sparkle from Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, worn by Queen Sonja, and from the wee Diamond Daisy Tiara. It may disappear on photographs, but it does its duty in action.

Photos: Dagbladet video, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images, Style.com

16 October 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Topaz (or Citrine) and Pearl Tiara

The Topaz (or Citrine) and Pearl Tiara
Out of the grand ducal collection in Luxembourg comes this bandeau of oval stones in a warm orange-yellow hue separated by arcs of small pearls, all set in yellow gold. Exactly what type of stones those orange numbers are is unknown, with topaz and citrine being the two most popular guesses (Luxarazzi discusses the likelihood of each in their entry on this piece).
Necklace and earrings
Whatever they are, these orange stones also adorn matching earrings and a necklace to form a parure with the tiara; the earrings include a large round orange stone with a large pendant, all with a pearl outline, and the necklace is a twisted gold chain with up to five pendants, each an orange stone on a pearl-embellished clasp.
Maria Teresa, Joséphine-Charlotte, Alexandra
The precise history of this set is unknown, but it's been worn by the grand ducal ladies since at least the 1980s. For several decades it remained sparingly worn; Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wore it on occasion, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore it when she was the Hereditary Grand Duchess, and Princess Margaretha (daughter of Joséphine-Charlotte) borrowed it on at least one occasion. It seems to be experiencing a tiny resurgence in the past few years, though: Princess Alexandra (daughter of Maria Teresa and Grand Duke Henri) wore the tiara in 2011, Maria Teresa used it during a state visit, and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie used it to coordinate with her gold gown and her orange-trimmed sash at Princess Madeleine of Sweden's wedding in 2013.
This is quite a unique piece. This color of stone is not a popular material in tiaras, and to combine it with pearls is another unusual choice. It's perfectly suited to be a part of the Luxembourg collection, though, as they have plenty of tiaras to pick from - in particular, several smaller options with various colored stones. That variety allows them to save a piece like this for use when it really suits the outfit, which is the perfect showcase for such an intriguing tiara.

This stone combination in a tiara: yes or no?

Photos: Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons,Gammarapho, Cour grand-ducale, Place Royale screencap