29 April 2011

Royal Fashion Awards: Foreign Royals at the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding

We handled the Windsors, now it's time to move on to the visiting royals. Not as big of a turn out as we're used to with those wonderful Scandinavian weddings, owing to the Windsors' restricted invitation policy, but there's still plenty to chat about. So let's get rolling:

Best in National Dress
Princess Lalla Salma
Left to Right: Princess Mabereng Seeiso of Lesotho, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, the Queen of Malaysia, the Queen of Brunei, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand
I love when ladies bring their national dress, or the dress appropriate to their religion, to international events. All of these are intricate, with a hefty dose of color. Princess Mabereng looks fantastic in those bright colors, and both Queens are lovely in blue. But my best goes to Lalla Salma, whose gorgeous dusty rose ensemble is the perfect complement to her crowning glory: those red locks. Plus, she needs some love - poor Princess was identified as Lalla Salma of Thailand, Sheikha Mozah, and other variations in the press photos.

Best of the Simple
Charlene Wittstock
L to R: Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Charlene Wittstock, Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia
It's hard to get a nice clean line wrong, which is probably why Queen Anne-Marie usually turns up in some variant of this outfit and why Crown Princess Katherine chose this direction for her wedding ensemble. But for Charlene, now, I was surprised and fascinated. Her last turn at a proper hatted event was National Day, and after that I was expecting nothing less than over the top. Maybe that's why her simple turn ends up the best of the pack for me: it's surprisingly understated, elegant, and lady like, and Char looks pretty. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Best of the Worst
Queen Margrethe
 L to R: Queen Sonja of Norway, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Sometimes things are the worst because they aren't flattering - sorry, Maria Teresa, the flaps on that jacket need to have a pow wow with Sophie's situation from last night - and sometimes they're the worst because of incidentals. Like color, on Sonja, which I think was pale pink but looks a whole lot like white. Add in the white tights, and as soon as that coat closes over the red, she's Nurse Ratchet. And sometimes outfits end up on the worst list for reasons entirely apart for their appearance: I mean, seriously, Margrethe? This thing again? If you weren't even going to spring for a new outfit, you should have just sent Fred and Mary. Let them do it up right.

Best of the Almost
Princess Mathilde
L to R: Queen Sofia of Spain, Princess Mathilde of Belgium, the Princess of Asturias
Here we have the ladies that almost made the best dressed list, but for a few pesky details. Queen Sofia, for example, is in a great color with a cute little fascinator, but she's bedazzled her buttons with craft store rosettes. Letizia looks fantastic, that's a great color, and I do believe I could love the Depression era chic dress, but then she put on her hat. It's almost as though, for her first proper hatted experience, she got a little too excited and decided to smush every possible millinery element together: statement brims! nets! feathers and dohickeys! I know it'll be a long time before you get to wear another hat, but sheesh, Leti - pace yourself. Mathilde, on the other hand, gets the hat and outfit right, but the shoes are like a giant stop sign. So chunky, and so dark. Make it a sleek nude pump, and I'm sold, so she wins this one for me.

Best of the Best
Crown Princess Victoria
 L to R: Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Princess Ameerah of Saudi Arabia
Oh, this was a hard choice. So many lovely ladies at this wedding! Máxima looks fantastic in Valentino: perfect color, lovely lace, I even love the turban (only on Máx!). Ameerah is a new discovery for me, but I love her already. Beautiful outfit and amazing hair. Plus, Wikipedia tells me she's a women's rights activist back home, and bonus points are certainly awarded for that. Marie-Chantal came kitted out in a very M-C sort of outfit. Much like Máx, there are certain things that only she can pull off, and I think this is her at her finest.

But at the end of the day, the first one that stole my heart wins the game. How gorgeous does Victoria look? The color, the hat, the hair, the shape - every piece is working. Best of the best for me.

I'm not missing as many royals here as I am for the Windsors, but there are a few holes. Notably, my girl crush Sheikha Mozah was on the confirmed guest list but I haven't seen a sign of her. Let me know if you spot anyone I've missed!

Who makes your best- and worst-dressed among the foreign royals?

Photos: Getty Images/Daylife/AP/Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Zimbio/Bauer Griffin

Royal Fashion Awards: Windsors at the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding

SO much to talk about. So, I'm breaking this wedding up into multiple posts. Multiple awards shows, if you will. We'll get started with the Windsors, who haven't had a major royal occasion to get all dolled up for in quite some time. And they proved their point: they still got it.

Best in Traditional
The Duchess of Cornwall
Left to Right: the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth
Sometimes it's best to stick with what you know. There's nothing crazy here from these three senior family members, but it's fancy nonetheless. The Duchess of Kent was absolutely charming, and much happier in the footage than this photo shows. At one point, entering the Abbey, she grabbed her husband's arm, and it just gave me the warm fuzzies. They've been through a lot, but those two crazy kids will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year. All of which is a major sidebar just to say: she's pretty in pink, even though from some angles it looked like she plopped her fascinator/hat thing right on top of her head like a gift-wrapped Duchess instead of off to the side where it belongs.

The Queen stuck to what she knows too, in a simple but neat sunshine yellow frock. If she'd have added some shape to that hat brim so it looked less county sheriff and more proper Queen, she'd get the prize, but instead it goes to the Duchess of Cornwall. Big ol' Tracey hat like only she can pull off, simple but flattering coat and dress with just enough color to keep it out of "OMG she's wearing cream she's stealing the bride's thunder" territory. In short: the perfect understated outfit for a day on which the ghost of her husband's ex-wife was looming large.

Best in Shine
Zara Phillips
 L to R: Autumn Phillips, Princess Michael of Kent, Zara Phillips, the Countess of Wessex, Lady Frederick Windsor
Easiest way to get your fancy on: throw a little shine in the mix. These ladies brought it something fierce in the shine department, and they all have their merits. I loved the full skirt on Autumn's coat. It's a retro flair and a clever way to mold a post-baby figure. She brought shine and shape to the party, so she gets bonus points. Princess Michael's suit doesn't bring anything in the shape department, and she's clearly attempting to make up for it with her enormous chapeau. Don't get me wrong, if anyone can pull that hat off, it's Marie-Christine; but with that jacket? No, honey, no prize for you.

Sophie's doing alright in the shape department, but where she shines (amongst her shine...I'm really tired, guys) is in the details. Check out her sleeves in this picture. That's worth paying couture prices for. The other Sophie (Lady Frederick Windsor, of course) has no doubt also paid couture prices for her Armani ensemble, which would be boring and too old for her if it weren't for that fierce hat. 

And speaking of fierce: ladies and gentlemen, I give you our category champion, Zara Phillips. Just look at her. Yacht-sized hat, shiny coat with amazing back detail, high heels...even the bag is fierce. Don't get me started on that facial expression. You guys, I can't wait to see how she brings it at her wedding.

Best in Batty
Princess Beatrice
L to R: Lady Helen Taylor, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie
It doesn't take much to derail a good look, you know. Everything's going along all smooth, and then all of the sudden, you're plunged into crazy town. Case in point: these ladies. Now, Lady Helen's faring the best here. She's very classy (as always), and the scattered floral print thing is an Erdem hallmark. But the random flowers plus the lace at the top of the dress just feels like the battered remnants of a shut-in grandmother's house instead of a proper look. Princess Anne is also faring quite well - and HOLD THE PHONE - I think we have a new outfit on our hands. It's the angle of the jacket flare and the way that hat is so precariously perched on her barnet that takes her into batty territory. This is Eliza Doolittle, pre-makeover. I'm a little afraid Anne's going to start heckling people in a cockney accent.

On to the stars of the batty show: Bea and Eug. God love 'em, they couldn't even sit upright in the car with those hats on. I said it before and I'll say it again: I love Vivienne Westwood for Eugenie, and this is no exception. I just wish they'd left the bows off the jacket, because now it's all kinds of marching band chic, and I can't handle that. Well, I can handle it better than I can handle her sister, I guess. OH BEA. That Valentino coat is divine: princess-y, proper, and prim to the nines. And she goes and steamrolls the whole thing by plopping Medusa's cartoon hair on top of CRAZY EYES. Now she's like some Ursula Disney sea creature, out to get me. As if sleeping tonight wasn't going to be hard enough already. Thanks a lot, Beatrice.

Now, note this: I'm missing a LOT of Windsors. I've only been able to find pictures of the backs of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Viscountess Linley, and not a shred of evidence of so many more that I saw on the broadcast. I expect more will pop up as photos continue to roll in, so check back for updates. And if you see something, as always, let me know!

Who makes your best- and worst-dressed of the Windsor ladies on parade?

More ladies have appeared! Yay!

First, the Gloucester crew:
L to R: the Duchess of Gloucester, the Countess of Ulster, Lady Rose Gilman, Lady Davina Lewis
Well, this is one color-coordinated family. Isn’t that a fierce hat on the Duchess? Too bad about that 1980s redux dress. Looks like something whipped up for Diana by the Emanuels back in the early years. The Countess of Ulster’s got a strange layering thing going on; clearly the jacket (cardi?) wasn’t a born match for that dress. Also, she has a triangle on her head. Lady Rose is my favorite Gloucester. Sure, her coat could be a few inches shorter, but it has great detailing and is just plain enough for that hat. I should say, actually, she’s my favorite Gloucester that we can see, because Lady Davina’s still in hiding. That’s her in navy hiding behind her brother, and a blurry shot from the Abbey. Looks promising. 

Next up, the rest of the Duke and Duchess of Kent's clan:
L to R: the Countess of St. Andrews, Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, Lady Amelia Windsor (circled), Lady Nicholas Windsor
I’m all on board with the Countess here, but what’s happening on her skirt? Overkill, I think. But she’s classy and age-appropriate. Her daughter’s also age appropriate…if she weren’t 18. Did she borrow this from her mum? Still in hiding but also looking rather aged is Lady Amelia, circled there. Of all these, I think my favorite might be Lady Nicholas in her pale pink. Her fascinator’s fun and the waist detail is flattering. I’m a little concerned about her ankles, though. Those shoes can’t be comfy like that.

Now, some Ogilvys and a bonus royal...
L to R: Princess Alexandra of Kent, Julia Ogilvy, the Lady Saltoun
Oh, Princess Alexandra is doing her Princess Alexandra thing, and why not – it works for her. That’s class straight out of another era, and it looks like she’s passed  bit of that on to her daughter-in-law in her extremely refined suit and hat. The Lady Saltoun has gone for a bit of a youthful flair with her fascinator…and shades? Transitions lenses? Kicky.

And now, the ones I was most waiting for...
 L to R: Lady Gabriella Windsor (front and back), Viscountess Linley (front, close up, and back) and Lady Sarah Chatto (times 2, since we had to wait so long to see her properly)
Here we go, the three ladies that I most wanted pics of. How beautiful is Gabriella in these aqua shades? And how perfect is that hat-to-hair combo? J’adore. The Viscountess is also looking refined and chic with what must be a new short hair cut. There’s just enough detail on the front of this jacket to save it from blahs-ville. Last, but never least, is Lady Sarah. You know, she always works the minimalist angle. You’re more likely to see her in a beret and classic coat in either black or white than anything else. So the fact that she went retro with a swinging skirt and a fancy hat just makes this even better. Jumpy claps, am I right?!

Photos: AFP/Getty Images/Daylife/Reuters/Isopix/Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Rota

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding: The Bridal Gown

So much hype. So much speculation. The question is: did the final creation live up to expectations?
I'll be honest with you: my first impression was a big ol' no. She did go with Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, which I was rooting for. McQueen is known for creativity and intricate detailing. The problem was, on my television screen, all I could see was a lace top over a plain gown.
Good thing we have photos to help us out, because there is a tremendous amount of detail here that just wasn't visible in the broadcast, especially around the bottom of the skirt. In fact, the skirt and train are my favorite parts.
The shape is divine, and the length is perfect: 2 meters 70 centimeters, or about 8 foot 10 inches. Not too long for Westminster Abbey, and a great proportion to the dress. Both the skirt and bodice feature lace appliques hand made by the Royal School of Needlework from varying forms of lace. Lace trims the underskirt as well, a feature which was clearly revealed as maid of honor Pippa carried the train around.
The dress itself is ivory and white satin gazar, and Kate topped it with a fingertip veil of ivory silk tulle. She arrived with a blusher on, and her father threw it back during the first hymn to give us a clear view of the dress bodice.
The satin bodice is corseted with padded hips that open the skirt like a flower, a divine feature I didn't notice until the newlyweds were leaving the registry area, and a very McQueen touch.
The back is closed with 58 buttons, a detail that enhances the Victorian corset feeling.
In addition to her veil, Kate's bridal accessories included a new pair of earrings given to her by her parents and a tiara on loan from the Queen. The tiara we had previously known as the Scroll Tiara (see details here) has been named the Halo Tiara by the Palace. We now have more info, and will no doubt have even better pictures of this piece to drool over as the photos continue to roll in, so look for us to talk more about the tiara later this week. Kate did her own makeup and went with a demi-chignon hair style. (Looks like those of you that speculated that the couple's pre-wedding visit to Darwen might have been a hair dry run were at least partially correct!)
She also carried a tiny bouquet (seriously, if this wedding was supposed to be about the language of flowers, this thing doesn't speak loud enough to be heard) including myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth flowers.
The more I look at this dress, the more I discover the little details it has, the more I like it, yet I'm just not blown away. Don't get me wrong: she looks beautiful. It suits her, and the style we've come to know her for. But my hope (and, yes, it was quite possibly an impossible dream) was that the gown would be original. Epic. Though this is lovely, it is a great deal more Grace, or Margaret, than it is Just Kate. And that's where my hopes get dashed.

Were your expectations met by this gown? What sort of place in royal bridal history do you think it deserves?

UPDATE: Here's Kate's gown for the evening reception, also McQueen. It's strapless white satin gazar with a full skirt and diamante embroidered belt, worn with an angora bolero cardigan for the weather.
Really can't get past the size of that waist, myself.

UPDATE #2: The dress is included in the Summer 2011 exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

Source: The Official Wedding Website
Photos:  AFP/Getty Images/Daylife/Diez Minutos/Daily Mail/Reuters

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding: The Groom's Uniform

William had much to choose from when picking his wedding day attire: as we've previously discussed, he is commissioned in all three armed services (Army, Navy, Air Force). Many bets were on the groom wearing his Royal Air Force uniform, since he is an active duty search and rescue pilot at the moment. In the end, he accessorized his brand new titles (Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus) with a brand new uniform: that of the Irish Guards. The Queen approved Prince William's honorary appointment as Colonel of the Irish Guards earlier this year.
Specifically, this is the Irish Guards Mounted Officer's uniform in Guard of Honour Order with a Forage Cap. The uniform features a gold and crimson sash with gold sword slings, though William did not wear a sword. This bright red coat (tunic, actually), is Guards' Red.
He also wore, of course, the true blue sash of the Order of the Garter, the Garter Star, the Golden Jubilee Medal, and his Royal Air Force wings; these are the same decorations we see him in at events like Trooping the Colour.
Compared to the RAF uniform we usually see William in, the details here are much more intricate. The buttons are arranged in groups of four, a feature unique to the Irish Guards. The intricate fasteners have a Harp of Ireland on them, with the Crown Imperial over top.
The cap features the Star of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick.
Looking back, it probably should have been the front runner in speculation all along: we knew he was having a uniform specially made (fitting for one he'd never worn before), and this is the highest rank he holds. Makes sense, on such an occasion.
I can't say this is my favorite of William's uniforms, but it does have the greatest Prince Charming factor. It's the one most likely to be copied into Hollywood format, I'd say. But it was a lot of red alongside the red Abbey carpet, the red carriage interior, and the red balcony trimming. And the new Duke's occasionally red face (aww, blushing).

Throughout the ceremony, I found myself wanting to hop right through my television and rush up to Wills. And not because of my feelings about men in uniform, either.
It's because of the jacket/sash/waistband scrunching situation. It needed to be straightened out from the second he arrived at the Abbey, and it drove me nuts. As most noble commenter Alpa noted to me on Twitter during the festivities: we may have found a use for Letizia's infamous safety pin.

UPDATE: When William left Buckingham Palace, driving his father's classic car with his bride in the passenger seat, he wore his second new uniform of the day, which was hard to identify from inside the car.

We didn't get to see the details on this uniform until William and Kate paid their first visit to the Irish Guards after the wedding:

Were you a fan of the Irish Guards selection? Or are you still mourning the fact that he didn't pull an even bigger shocker and go for fan favorite Navy black?

Uniform Info: The Official Wedding Website
Photos: Reuters/AP/Daily Mail/Getty/Daylife

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding: The Bridal Party

So, Pippa Middleton: sexiest royal bridesmaid dress ever?
The Pips, as I've taken to calling her, wore Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen just like her sister, and it included much of the same button and lace detailing. The slim-fitting cowl neck dress in ivory satin-based crepe placed the showcase firmly on Pippa's wee figure, and revealed just a hint of the royal in-law cleavage.
All the better for accompanying the dashing Best Man, Prince Harry, I suppose. As expected, Harry wore his Army uniform. He is, of course, an active duty officer, recently promoted to Captain. (Specifically: it is a Blues and Royals officer’s uniform in Dismounted Review Order, with a Forage Cap.)
The uniform features aiguillettes (ornamental braided cords), a gold waist belt and a cross-belt. Like Prince William, he wore sword slings without a sword. He also sported Army Air Corps wings (since he's a helicopter pilot) and medals from the Golden Jubilee and from his time in Afghanistan.

And if he wasn't handsome enough with the uniform alone, they put him in the carriage with half of the wee members of the bridal party on the way home.
All together now: awwww.

The pageboys (Tom Pettifer, age 8, and Billy Lowther-Pinkerton, age 10) were dressed in the style of mini Foot Guards from the Regency period, featuring the insignia of the Irish Guards.
The bridesmaids (Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, 7, the Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, 8, Grace van Cutsem, 3, and Eliza Lopes, 3) came from Nikki Macfarlane, a childrenswear designer who hand-made the dresses in her home with her daughter, Charlotte. Using the same fabrics and details as the bride's gown, the ivory and white dresses with full ballerina skirts are finished with pale gold silk sashes tied in a bow at the back. Capes were included, just in case the weather required it.
The first thing I thought when I saw these dresses? Now, here's the Diana influence, right down to the yellow sash.
Actually, no. That's not the first thing I thought. The first thing was: SO CUTE.
Little Eliza Lopes, granddaughter of Camilla, probably won't remember this day, but I'm sure she had the time of her life.
Even a boost for a balcony view from Grandpa Charles!

What did you think of the bridal party? And was I the only one surprised we didn't see more of a Scottish theme? I was betting on kilts, heather colors of the highlands, or tartan somewhere in the mix.

Source: Official Wedding Website
Photos: Getty/Daylife/Daily Mail