29 July 2016

Royal Exhibition of the Day: July 29

Buckingham Palace just threw open their doors for summer tours, and this year's special exhibition is so perfectly tailored to this blog, I could cry.

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe is really an exhibit in three parts. The first opened at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in April, the second is open now through October 2 at Buckingham Palace, and the third opens at Windsor Castle in September. Between the three, more than 150 outfits from the Queen's wardrobe will be displayed.

Buckingham Palace has the Queen's two most famous outfits, her 1947 wedding gown and her 1953 coronation gown. Both highlights of Norman Hartnell's distinguished couture career and true showcases for British craftsmanship, they're on display together for the first time. (That Botticelli-inspired embroidery on her wedding gown's sheer train never gets old. It's so dreamy.)

I'd like a number on the tonnage of beads and other sparkly bits on display here, because no one does embellishment quite like Her Maj in the evening. The exhibit showcases the skill required to make these outfits as well as the thought and diplomacy behind them (above, blue and white with maple leaves for Canada, yellow with wattle sprigs for Australia, blue with Olympic ring-esque details for Montreal in 1976). The outfits span all the decades of the Queen's life, right up until today; above, you can spot the yellow outfit she wore for her 90th birthday service this year and the radioactive green she busted out at this year's Trooping the Colour.

There's a true mix of stuff on display here: the family christening gown, the dresses worn by Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret at their parent's coronation, military uniforms, jubilee outfits, outfits worn to family occasions, and more. Even the dapper Duke of Edinburgh gets a nod - one of his suits is included! (Above, a rousing game of match the outfit to the family wedding.)

Check in at the Jewel Vault in the coming weeks for flashbacks showcasing some of these special outfits and the events to which they were worn. I also recommend checking out the Royal Collection Trust's Instagram, where they've been posting fascinating close ups and videos. And if you're going - or have already been! - to these exhibitions, do tell: What are you most looking forward to seeing?

28 July 2016

Tiara Thursday: The York Diamond Tiara

On July 23, 1986, Sarah Ferguson arrived at Westminster Abbey to marry Prince Andrew with her veil covering her face and a large wreath of flowers on top. She departed the abbey as the Duchess of York, wreath and blusher removed to reveal a diamond tiara made of leafy diamond scrolls and diamond collets mounted in platinum. It was a grand introduction for the British royal family's newest member, and for their newest tiara addition.

The York Diamond Tiara
Original reports on the wedding noted that the new Duchess had borrowed the tiara from a family friend, information which was apparently released from Buckingham Palace. Soon enough, however, the tiara was said to have been purchased from Garrard for Sarah by the Queen. (I suppose there are many advantages to having then-crown jeweler as a “family friend”.) The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also purchased a diamond demi-parure from Garrard for their new daughter-in-law, a set that includes a necklace, earrings, and a bracelet.

Video: The tiara makes its big debut around 4:27. 
To see the wedding from the start, click here.
In her day, Queen Mary gifted her daughters-in-law parures from her own collection; the Queen today prefers to loan gems from the collection to family members as needed. This apparent purchase of a tiara for a new family member is an exception to the rule, and the possible motivation behind it has been the subject of much speculation in the years since. Some have tried to tie that in a negative fashion to the Queen’s personal feelings about the match. It’s a connection implied with the full benefit of hindsight, knowing that the marriage would end in divorce, and one with which I cannot fully agree.

Saudi state visit, 1987. The earrings and necklace are part of the demi-parure mentioned above, a wedding gift from Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Whatever the circumstances, this tiara became the Duchess of York's one and only diadem. She wore it for multiple events during her marriage – and this was a time when it was still the norm to take tiaras along on royal tours, a tradition that has sadly been almost entirely relegated to the past for everyone but the Queen - and the tiara remained with her afterward. She last wore it in 2001, attending Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara Ball.

Canada, 1987. Her ruby and diamond necklace and earrings are speculated to have been a Middle Eastern gift.
I’ve always thought she got pretty lucky on the tiara front, all things considered. It has a great all-purpose type of design, simple and pretty and easy to match with just about anything else. It also suited its wearer wonderfully, nestling in her red curls with just enough height to be seen. It made for a fantastic wedding tiara, and I hope we’ll see it again someday at a York princess wedding.

A favorite royal wedding tiara for you, or not?

27 July 2016

Royal Florals of the Day: July 27

Queen Letizia attended the 25th Annual FEDEPE Awards yesterday.
Well lookie here, my favorite living shampoo commercial is still killing it! She totally knows she's killing it, too, which is even better. Just strolling by, casually scooping up yet another Perfect Summer Queen trophy to put up on the mantel.

House of HM the King
The dress is from CH by Carolina Herrera, so no wonder I love it. It's a floral with a twist, in a subtle embossed texture instead of a colorful print. She emphasized the floral theme with earrings also by Carolina Herrera.
CH by Carolina Herrera
Just...you know. {contented sigh of loveliness}

Queen Letizia presented the National Fashion Awards last week.
Other florals have also been in the mix. She wrapped herself head to toe in Spanish fashion for this event honoring Spanish fashion - obviously - and pulled out an old Zara dress for the occasion. The showpieces here were the earrings by Anton Heunis, featuring brass, antique silver plate, Swarovski crystals, and amethyst drops with lions and...bugs.
Anton Heunis
Okay, but I'm just going to need some assurance here that we won't be taking the bug thing to Máxima levels in the future.

26 July 2016

Royal Dresses of the Day: July 26

Charlene's been getting her glam on. (Again! Keep it up, Char. We need the gowns now more than ever.)

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene attended the annual Red Cross Ball
in Monaco on Saturday.
Purplish floaty glam is probably the best sort of glam, scientifically speaking. Just a bit gravity defying at the top and simple enough everywhere else to let that shine. Also, HELLO, take a pause for those earrings. Adding a couple of diamond waterfalls to your outfit can never be a bad thing.
I feel, though, that the diamonds aren't the story here. (I KNOW.) It's the dress - or, more specifically, the dress designer, because Armani Privé is back! This is a bespoke design based on the Spring 2016 couture collection; you may remember the general idea from Queen Mathilde's debut of another such dress back at King Carl Gustaf's birthday bash.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene also attended the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation 3rd Annual Saint-Tropez Gala last week.
And this is another recent Armani Privé look, a bespoke number from the Fall 2016 Couture collection, something a little more along the clean lines I usually expect to see Charlene wear.

Armani was Charlene's constant go-to for special events in the run up to her 2011 wedding and for that stupendous wedding gown. But then she took a sharp turn, swapping in Akris as the favorite, while Armani was nowhere to be found. This has always intrigued me. Were there just several collections in a row that she didn't care for, or did something else go down? It's a mystery. As long as Armani's back in play, I don't really care. It's just a good fit.

25 July 2016

Monday Tidbits for July 25: Taking to the Sea, and More

In case you missed my note on Friday's post, we're swapping over to our usual summer schedule since things are starting to slow down on the current events front. All that means is Tidbits will be on Mondays and we still post Monday through Friday, with one post instead of the usual two on Thursdays for the rest of the summer.

And so, without further ado, some tidbits for your Monday:

--Prince George turned three, and of course there were some new snaps to celebrate. The family obsession with stripes lives on! [Hello]
Matt Porteous/KensingtonRoyal Twitter

--Those other Cambridges - you know, the ones with their names on the swing George commandeered - will not be attending the Rio Olympic Games, so they had to take to the sea at home to get in their mandatory matching team shirt time. [Zimbio]
Video: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the America's Cup World Series

--Over in Japan, Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, and Princess Aiko visited Nara and Kyoto. I rather like Masako's long gray dress, especially the wrap detail on the top. [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]
NNN video

--I bet you this "mishap" was the best part of Prince Charles' day. [Express]

--And finally, also taking to the sea and wishing everyone a good summer: Princess Ingrid Alexandra, in this beautiful shot shared by Crown Princess Mette-Marit on her Instagram.
A photo posted by @crownprincessmm on

Coming up this week: A little glamour in Monaco, and at Buckingham Palace too...

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!