27 December 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: Christmas with the Windsors

Merry Christmas, lovelies! Anybody get a tiara in their stocking? Seems I shall have to wait another year (or millennium) for a real one to pop up in mine. Le sigh. Anyway, let's travel back in time to Christmas Day and spend some time with those tricky Windsors at Sandringham, shall we?

Best in Surprises
The Queen
Not the color I would have guessed, and certainly not the brooch I was predicting. Just when I was getting really good at predicting her moves, she throws a curveball! That Lilibet is a sly one. (That's a new brooch, full details are of course available at the Jewel Vault.)

Best in Purple
The Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla has replayed this general tune in a few different ways, but this one is quite fetching. And also purple. Win win.

Best in Sherlock
Princess Beatrice
If Holmes wore Dolce & Gabbana and jazzed up his hats with depressingly black Christmas ribbons, that is.

Best in Watson
Princess Eugenie
This works quite well alongside her sister's outfit, even if it's not the best coat for Eugenie herself.

Best in Unidentified Millinery Objects
The Countess of Wessex
How nice of Sophie to be the one to sport some headgear for us to really chat about (someone's gotta do it, that's the Windsor way). Sneaky, this one: it's a bird riding shotgun on her back! It's a stray Christmas wreath! And it's surprisingly chic either way!

Prettiest in Pink
Lady Louise
Such a cherubic little wardrobe she has, bless.

Best in Standard
The Princess Royal
What can you say? Carry on, Anne, carry on.

Best in Beatrice
Autumn Phillips
I really feel like she wore Beatrice's back up outfit. Seriously - statement hat not at all related to the basic coat, totally Bea. I'm not saying that's a bad thing.

Worst in Shoes
Zara Phillips
Just because someone is willing to sell you your grandma's shoes does not mean you should buy them. Even if they promise to add some extra clunk to the heel, just for you.

Who do you say wins the Christmas fashion race?

P.S.: Yes, we're sticking to the ones at Sandringham.
P.P.S.: I will see you next when we have tiaras in Denmark at the New Year's Courts to discuss!

Photos: AP/Getty Images/Bauer Griffin

21 December 2012

2012 in Review: My Top 5 Jumpy Claps

To wrap up our wrap up of the year, my 5 favorite royal things from 2012. Ordered by awesomeness, naturally.

5. Baby sashes. Let 2012 forever be the year Sweden gave us the baby sash - and the year Estelle was utterly unimpressed by it. Bless. May was our month of dueling christenings, with Princesses Estelle and Athena officially welcomed into the royal world.

4. Overly excited Olympic royalty. As much as I love a good formal royal event, there's something particularly charming about seeing the royals lose their...ish. Just every once in a while.

3. Danish jubilees. This was the year of dueling jubilees too, and Queen Margrethe's 40th year on the throne brought us a particularly festive and sparkly celebration in January. Also, anything celebrating the awesomeness of Daisy is, well, awesome.

2. An Elie Saab wedding. Tiaras, tiara surprises, hats, and Elie Saab for days. Yeah, there's no way the wedding in Luxembourg wasn't going to make a good showing on the awesome list.

1. British jubilees. The great thing about QEII's Diamond Jubilee was that it just kept going. Trips and visits for the entire royal family throughout the year, a chunk of celebrations in May (including one massive gathering of sovereigns) plus a bigger chunk in June. Even unrelated events like the Olympics somehow ended up a lovefest for Lilibet and her 60 whopping years of queenly service. (I got in the spirit too, starting a new blog for Her Majesty and her baubles.) The most awesome thing in my years of royal watching, to be sure.

What was your favorite royal thing this year?

Programming note: We'll meet up to chat about royal Christmas outfits, but apart from that the blog is on hiatus next week. Happy holidays!

Photos: IBL/Getty Images/Aftonbladet/Cour grand ducale

2012 in Review: Princess Máxima

Best of the Year
Máxima's at her best when there's a mega royal gathering involved, and the Luxembourg wedding was her greatest (and practically only) such stage this year. So I'll call it a tie between the eveningwear and the church wear - I'm still not sure I really love either one, but they're so very Máxima it's hard to deny them.

Honorable Mentions
Ooof. You guys. Máxima was the hardest one of these to put together. Apart from large scale royal gatherings, her next great moments are usually found at Prinsjesdag, or on state visits where Queen Beatrix is present and she steps her game up a bit. Except this year...she didn't even grab me then like she usually does. This is a half-hearted assortment from me.

Worst of the Year
Words can not express how terrible an outfit I feel this is for Máx. It's doing all. the. wrong. things. Please, please, dear: retire this one. Forever.

What's your sartorial verdict for Maxima this year?

Photos: PPE/DutchPhotoPress/Getty Images

2012 in Review: Princess Letizia

Best of the Year
Well, it had to go to her single Gold Star for the year, didn't it? This lace effect is lovely, and bonus points: she's pretty much the only one that could pull such a thing off.

Honorable Mentions
Hmm. Apparently all Letizia needs to do to win my love is get a little lacy. That, and skillfully un-match her outfit.

Worst of the Year
We've elaborated on this at great length in the past, but my main issue with our dear Leti is that she can go entirely too casual at times. This was the engagement for the year that suffered the most from mismatched occasion-to-outfit syndrome: a cropped cardi during an official visit to Portugal.

What was your favorite Letizia outfit this year?

Photos: Getty Images

20 December 2012

2012 in Review: The Tiaras

You know what? 2012 was a truly excellent year for tiara lovers. Even though the Diamond Jubilee didn't yield any tiaras (oh Windsors, why must you toy with us like this?), the year had plenty of glittering events. And those glittering events seemed extra packed with new bits and pieces, tiara debuts, and tiara news and rumors. Get your jumpy claps ready for a review of the year in tiara surprises:

At the beginning of the year, Mary showed us the versatility of her ruby parure redesign by debuting the hair clips she made with extra bits from the tiara at the New Year's gala.

January also brought Queen Margrethe's Jubilee celebrations, with two wondrous tiara events. We got to see Princess Theodora borrow her aunt's Turquoise Bandeau and the return of the Alexandrine Drop Tiara on the first night, plus the reappearance of Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara on the second night (squee!). 

This year was officially declared the Year of Tiara Surprises in October when we delighted in the pre-wedding dinner in Luxembourg. Princess Stéphanie chose the larger of the two floral tiaras for her first tiara appearance, while Princess Tessy got to wear Marie-Adélaïde's tiara for the first time. Princess Sibilla wore Queen Victoria Eugenia's Aquamarine Tiara, tidily squashing rumors her family had sold it back to the Spanish royal family (and generously allowing Countess Diane the chance to wear her first tiara, borrowing Sibilla's Art Deco Tiara). Princess Caroline wore the Cartier Pearl Drop Tiara for the first time in a long time. The Countess of Wessex surprised with a new (to her) piece, the Five Aquamarine Tiara, and Crown Princess Victoria introduced us to another piece of the family's cut steel collection. Best tiara event of the year? INDEED.

And in one final tiara surprise for the year, Princess Madeleine wore Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara for the first time at the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony

Many had hoped for a larger surprise from the Nobel Prize Ceremony, because earlier this year a report surfaced claiming that a pink tourmaline tiara belonging to Countess Estelle Bernadotte (and prior to that, Queen Sophia, shown wearing it on the left above) was bought back by the Swedish royal family. Alas, we'll have to wait longer for visual proof. We do know for sure that the Danish tiara collection grew this year, as Queen Margrethe was given a tiara for her Jubilee from Greenland (center above). We also sadly saw a tiara collection shrink this year, when a thief stole a tiara from Princess Christina of Sweden (the one she wears above right).

Click here to see posts covering many of this year's tiara events.

What was your favorite tiara moment this year?

And as a bonus holiday treat... Last year's documentary on royal jewelry, De Kongelige Juveler, is again available for viewing online! The narration is in Danish, but there are interviews in English and French, so it's easy to understand. It's a rare chance to hear the royals talk about their jewels, so make some time to watch! Part 1 discusses the jewels of Empress Joséphine as well as the jewels of her many descendants in the royal houses of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Part 2 focuses on Russian jewels. (Note: these videos are only up for a limited time.)
(Thanks to the many readers that emailed me to make sure I knew it was up again!)

Photos: MSN/Getty Images/Cour grand ducale/Kongehuset

19 December 2012

2012 in Review: The Weddings

Since 2011 was so very much the Year of the Royal Wedding, I didn't have high expectations coming into 2012. But lo and behold, this little year held its own - and bless it for doing so! There were small weddings and lavish ones, plus the last wedding of a next-in-line European royal we'll see for a long time. Let's relive it, shall we? (Click the names to go back to the original post.)

Best in Pink

Best in Tiaras, Spiky Division

Best in Your Favorite Wedding Gowns
(Yes, this one made it to the #10 spot on your list of favorite royal wedding gowns!)

Best in ...uh.... Cousins
(Let's face it, that's likely the only reason we heard about this one around the world!)

Best in Bling

Best in Fairytale

(And we didn't even cover them all! There are other, smaller scale, weddings that weren't featured on the blog this year.)

Which was your favorite royal wedding dress this year?

Thankfully there are more royal weddings on the horizon, so we have lots to look forward to: Princess Madeleine of Sweden will mary Christopher O'Neill, Prince Félix of Luxembourg will marry Claire Lademacher, and Andrea Casiraghi will marry Tatiana Santo Domingo.

Photos: Petra/PPE/Getty Images/Reuters

2012 in Review: Crown Princess Victoria

Best of the Year
Victoria started out the year at a bit of a sartorial low point, during her black and blergh maternity wear period. But she flipped it and came out the glowing new mum in time for Estelle's christening, which wins the title of my favorite Victoria outfit of the year by a hair.

Honorable Mentions
The Nobels are always a highlight for Victoria, and though I'm not totally on board with her tiara choices from this year, both dresses get a thumbs up from me. As does the fun yellow number (plus a rare hair down moment!), some purple, and another chic understated number.

Worst of the Year
This comes from the same designer as the fun yellow party dress above, except this one is less "fun-yet-official royal business" and more "apron for my tiki-themed barbecue".

What was your favorite Victoria outfit this year?

Photos: Getty Images/Abaca/AllOver Press/IBL

18 December 2012

2012 in Review: Crown Princess Mary

Best of the Year
Mary started 2012 off on a high mark, and it ended up being my high point for her entire year. This reworked maternity gown is so princess-y it hurts. And bonus points: this was the first time we saw the hair clips she made from the remaining pieces of the ruby parure. New jewels always win.

Honorable Mentions
I still love the lace Collette Dinnigan that divided you all, plus the gold from Estelle's christening, some swishy orange, yet more princess-y New Year's Court goodness, more swishy stuff, and a ladylike gray and pink pairing. 

Worst of the Year
Sometimes a little print goes a long way, is all I'm saying. 

What was your favorite Mary outfit for the year?

Photos: EkstraBladet/Abaca/BestImage/Getty Images/Reuters

2012 in Review: Princess Mathilde

Best of the Year
Mathilde's never afraid to go for color, so that makes this (her outfit from Princess Estelle's christening) a weird choice for me. But blergh is okay when it's sweetly sparkled. Those are the rules.

Honorable Mentions
Here's the color! Hot red, bits of citrus stripes, muppet green, decked out blue, and icy white (which counts as a color when it's done right) to finish it off. 

Worst of the Year
Who puts a veil on a ski hat? Mette-Marit did it too, but thankfully this was not a trend with staying power.

What was your favorite Mathilde outfit this year?

Photos: Getty Images/BestImage/PPE/Abaca

17 December 2012

2012 in Review: The Duchess of Cambridge

The year is almost over! Gah! {Insert disbelief here.} Most of the royals have slowed down in advance of the holidays, and that means it's time to start wrapping it up - Year in Review style. This week, we'll have best and worst looks for the ladies we cover here each week, plus other features. Time to test your memories!

Best of the Year
Color, updo, glowing-ness, check check check. One of my very favorite appearances of the year, from any royal lady.

Honorable Mentions
A chic trio of Queen-centered appearances (a joint engagement, the Thames river parade, and the Jubilee service), a white suit (with a hint of a full skirt! But minus the shoes), and a spot of tour spontaneity also earn a dorky thumbs up from me this year. Plus the green McQueen gown from Sunday's Sports Personality of the Year Awards, because obviously.

Worst of the Year
Looking back through Kate's sartorial year, there wasn't much at all that really deserved a "worst" label, to tell you the truth. Sure, there were things that left me with a case of the mehs, but that's still not a hot mess. I ended on this one - the style was also worn by her mother, and...you can tell, I think. Not the best fit or style. And it doesn't really seem very "Kate" to me, if that makes any sense. But staying away from your mom's closet is a pretty easy resolution for 2013 (especially since we'll be talking mostly about maternity wear!). 

What will you remember from Catherine's 2012 wardrobe?

Photos: Getty Images/Bauer Griffin/BBC

2012 in Review: Crown Princess Mette-Marit

Best of the Year
Oh, I do like my Mette-Marit in pure white. And this (worn at Queen Margrethe's Jubilee banquet in January) is fabulously detailed, and there's a tiara on top. That's all I need.

Honorable Mentions
Told you I like her in white! Sadly, I had a hard time coming up with a roster of excellent appearances this year for M-M...there was some serious mismatching and meh happening up there. The end of the year redeemed her, though, with outfits worn on her recent trip with Haakon and the white gown she just wore to a charity gala in Berlin.

Worst of the Year
The Queen of the Frumpy Outfits, that's what this one is. One of the least flattering things worn by any princess this year.

What were your Mette-Marit favorites this year?

Photos: Stella Pictures/Getty Images

14 December 2012

My Ultimate Tiara Collection: Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara

Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara
The last spot in my dream tiara collection goes to one of the best surprises of 2012, Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara. This major all diamond tiara, featuring large rectangular diamonds set in circular foliage motifs, gets its name from its first owner: Princess Sophie of Prussia (1870-1932), who married the future King Constantine I of Greece in 1889. The tiara was a family wedding gift; some say it came from her mother, Empress Frederick (Victoria, Princess Royal – the oldest child of Britain’s Queen Victoria), and others say from her brother, Wilhelm II.
Queen Sophie
Sophie was pictured frequently with the tiara throughout her marriage. After her death, her daughter Helen, Queen of Romania, was pictured wearing it. But it gained its most famous owner in 1938, when another German princess married into the Greek royal house. Princess Frederika of Hanover was given the tiara on her marriage to the future King Paul I, and she wore it on her wedding day (behind it, she wore the tiny Hanover wedding crown).
Queen Helen
It became Frederika’s favorite tiara; she even allowed Queen Ingrid of Denmark to wear it on one occasion (Ingrid was in Greece to celebrate the centenary of the Greek royal house in 1963 - click here to see video). Though she handed over the family emeralds and rubies to her daughter-in-law Queen Anne-Marie, Frederika hung onto this one.
Queen Frederika
What exactly happened to the tiara after Queen Frederika’s death has been a favorite mystery for royal jewel watchers for years. She died in 1981, but I don’t believe she had publicly worn the tiara since prior to the Greek royal family leaving Greece in 1967. Though we continued to see tiaras on Queen Anne-Marie at international royal events, this tiara went missing for decades. Many assumed someone in the family had quietly sold the tiara; after all, exile can be hard on a royal family’s finances, and it has resulted in many royal jewels on the auction block. Anne-Marie did say in an interview at one point in time that the tiara was still with the family, but still it went unworn.
Princess Marie-Chantal
It went unworn until this year, that is. In January 2012, Princess Marie-Chantal (Anne-Marie’s daughter-in-law, wife of Crown Prince Pavlos) shocked us all by busting out Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara for Queen Margrethe’s Jubilee banquet. And despite the fact that we now have visual proof that it is indeed still with the family, the mystery remains: why was it unworn for so long? And why did it reappear on Marie-Chantal and not on Anne-Marie? Much has been speculated, including some complicated scenarios of inheritance, money, taxes, and just about anything else to explain how this could be left in storage for so many years. Personally, I also don’t understand how someone could have something like this and just choose not to wear it for 40+ years - but then I look at all the tiaras the Queen Mother neglected for decades, and it reminds me that you really don’t need any reason more complicated than personal taste and comfort to put a tiara in the vault for years. Anyway: all of this is speculation.
In my little fictional tiara collection, this baby occupies the “big gun” spot. It’s not as tall as other major tiaras like the Braganza or the Luxembourg Empire Tiara, but it has enough diamond power to take them on. And while it was mostly hidden in Queen Frederika’s hair, we can see on Marie-Chantal that it is indeed a huge tiara. Also: I just love it. It’s got mystery, and a shape that’s sort of like my all-time favorite Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara on steroids, and it’s just fabulous. End of story!
My Ultimate Tiara Collection

What’s in your ultimate tiara collection?

Photos: Getty Images/Life/Corbis/Royal Collection