29 June 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: The Bomber Command Memorial Unveiling

The Queen yesterday unveiled a memorial in Green Park dedicated to the tens of thousands of Bomber Command airmen that died during World War II. It was a moving ceremony, and plenty of royals turned out to witness it.
Ladies in hats and men in uniform, what more could you ask for?

Best in Standard
Queen Elizabeth
She's really spoiling me with all the purple she's sported in the last few weeks, but this is standard Queenie fare otherwise: dress, coat, hat, gloves, Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch. I'm a little surprised there's no nod to aviation mixed in here. A giant bejewelled fighter jet on the shoulder, that's what we need...or not.

Worst in Aviation Nods
The Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla picked up the aviation baton for both of them, with a brooch from RAF Halton (where she's Honorary Air Commodore) and a hat mimicing the dramatic effect of the propellors of a majestic helicopter on a grassy knoll in the summer time. Could also be representing something slaughtered by a turbine. Either one.

Best in Jubilee Repeats
The Countess of Wessex
L to R: The Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Gloucester
Dueling repeats from the Diamond Jubilee service earlier this month from these two lovelies. I'll give it to Sophie for shaking it up a bit with a hat switch and a jacket removal. (She also appears to be wearing an appropriately themed brooch.)

Best Hat
Princess Michael of Kent
Well, somebody's campaigning to get their picture put right under "fabulous" in the dictionary.

Best in Uniform
The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales
L to R: The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent
Look at all these sharp dressed Royal Air Force gents with their sassy gold waistbands! All we're missing is the Duke of Cambridge, who I suppose is probably out there wearing his RAF uniform doing some actual RAF flying somewhere, so we'll have to excuse him. I'm calling this a tie: one for Philip, because he's Philip, and one for Charles for being newly promoted to the honorary five-star rank (in this and the other two services as well, from his mummy this month in recognition of his support over the years).

Who do you say flies highest here?

PS: This post replaces our regular Flashback Friday for the day.

Photos: Getty Images/AP/Reuters

Gold Star: The Queen in Northern Ireland

Another day, another historic moment for the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year: a peace-making visit to Northern Ireland with the Duke of Edinburgh in tow. And as always, the Queen shows the royal world exactly how diplomatic dressing is done.

On arrival, her Wedgewood blue outfit was covered with lace which looked like shamrocks from afar. (And her hat totally looks like it has the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara wrapped around it, no? Now that's how we show 'em who's boss.) Her brooch, meanwhile, went the actual shamrock route: a cluster of three diamond shamrocks tied with a small ribbon of green which looks like emeralds. The Shamrock Brooch doesn't seem to have a known history or any other known appearances right now. Based on the specific nature of the design (shamrocks, very region-specific), I would imagine it was a gift from a group associated with Northern Ireland; since it doesn't appear she's worn it for any previous visit to this region, I'd guess it was a recent gift. Guesses, guesses.
The Shamrock Brooch

The second and final day of the trip, on which I desperately wanted to give HM a hug, included a headline-making handshake with Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and a former leader in the IRA. Lord Mountbatten and three others were killed by an IRA bomb in 1979. But true to form, both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh carried on with smiles on their faces.
And the Queen honored the area again in her outfit, this time by using the color green - but an acid green, which was a nice way not to dose herself in emerald like some comical drunk American pretending to be Irish for St. Patrick's Day. The outfit was covered in gold accents and was complemented by the Frosted Sunflower Brooch, a gold sunflower with a diamond center and diamond-studded petals which was made for the Queen by Garrard and appears frequently. I suppose it's not for nothing that some see the sunflower as a symbol of peace.
The Frosted Sunflower Brooch

For clever diplomatic dressing and sheer dedication to pushing on, this gets Gold Stars galore.

Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Images

28 June 2012

Tiara Thursday: Sibilla's Art Deco Tiara

Though she chose not to wear a tiara on her wedding day, Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg does have a gorgeous tiara to call her own.
Princess Sibilla's Art Deco Tiara
This lovely architectural Art Deco style diamond tiara is thought to have been a gift from her parents at the time of Sibllia’s wedding to Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg (she does indeed come from a wealthy family).
In the large setting
This large tiara isn’t just attractive, it’s handy too: it converts from its full size down to a more petite version by removing the top portion of the diadem. Just another reason why I personally am a big fan of this one.
Two angles of the small setting
We don’t get to see Sibilla in a tiara very often; she and her husband have taken a backseat royal role, even more so now that Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa’s children are grown and are playing a part in royal engagements. Though she was allowed to borrow the Belgian Scroll Tiara from her mother-in-law Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte, this is Sibilla’s only tiara. Now, we just need her to get out more so I can admire it more often.

What do you think of Sibilla’s architectural diadem?

Photos: Corbis/Purepeople/Abaca/Gammarpho/Getty Images

27 June 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Princess Sibilla's Gown

 HRH Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg and Sibilla Weiller
September 24, 1994
Versailles, France

In October this year, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg will marry his Belgian countess fiancé, Stéphanie de Lannoy. Today’s much requested gown comes from a wedding which has a few things in common with our upcoming one, apart from the grand ducal family ties. Both brides come from a privileged background: Sibilla Weiller’s father, Paul-Annik Weiller, was a successful international businessman; her mother, Olimpia Torlonia di Civitella-Cesi, is the daughter of Infanta Beatriz of Spain (these are the same Torlonias now in possession of Ena’s Aquamarine Tiara, if you recall). And obviously, both this groom and our upcoming one are named Guillaume: this Prince Guillaume is the youngest son of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg (and he is an uncle of the Hereditary Grand Duke).
The civil wedding
They were married civilly first, on September 8, 1994. Sibilla went surprisingly casual for the occasion in her simple dress, but she did it up in Valentino for the big wedding itself. The religious wedding was held on September 24 at the Saint Louis Cathedral in Versailles in France. It was presided over by the Archbishop of Luxembourg and witnessed by 1,200 guests, including many fellow royals.
Sibilla’s Valentino gown has several fine details, including a beautiful lace top with a wide neck and long sleeves. The lace tucks into a corset-like bodice which is accentuated by twin rows of silk-covered buttons on the bride’s waist. A white silk skirt billows out from under the bodice.
The skirt ends with the overpowering design feature of the dress: the large balloon of a ruffle traveling all around the base of the skirt, from the front to the end of the train and back again. This dust ruffle feature is my main qualm with this dress, as between the visual distraction at the bottom of the skirt and the bride’s large bouquet, you lose much of the rest of the dress’s details.
Thankfully, no ruffle is strong enough to overpower the beautiful lace veil which matches the lace on the top of the dress and floats on top of that ruffled train. Sibilla opted not to wear a tiara, but attached her veil with a simple headband which she left on after the veil was discarded for the reception.
In the years following their wedding, Guillaume and Sibilla have led a quiet royal life; these days even their royal engagements are hardly reported on. The couple were involved in a very serious car accident in France in September 2000. Both were injured, Guillaume critically; thankfully, he has since recovered. They have four children together.

Do you say yay or nay to Sibilla's giant ruffle?

Many thanks to Sydney from the Luxarazzi blog for helping with some info for this entry.

Photos: Hola/Corbis/Time

26 June 2012

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mary, 17-23 June

  1. Handing out the Crown Princess Mary Scholarship at the University of Copenhagen,19 June. Those are some serious shoulders. She looks like she could either take flight or take a tackle.
  2. a) Attending a garden party for Danish volunteers at Fredensborg Palace alongside other members of the royal family, 19 June, in b) Fendi. Not quite as garden party festive as Daisy with her floral ‘do, but it’ll do.
Photos: Kongehuset/Hello/Barney's

Week in Review: Princess Mathilde, 17-23 June

  1. Attending an awards ceremony, 19 June. Gorgeous color.
  2. At a reception for ambassadors, 20 June.
Photos: Svenskam/Getty Images

25 June 2012

Week in Review: Princess Letizia, 17-23 June

1. Day 1 of her official visit to the United States with Prince Felipe, in New York City, 20 June.
2. Still on day 1, 20 June. Máxima has this skirt too, who wore it best?
3. a) Day 2, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 21 June, in b) Oky ^ Coky which she also c) added a cardigan to.
4. Still day 2, 21 June. This seems to be the pink and white trip
5. Day 3, back in New York, 22 June.
6. Dinner for the XVII US-Spain Council Forum in New Jersey, 22 June. Odd dress there. Linebacker shoulders and a ruffle right in front...hmm.  A+ for the hair, though.
7. At the closing of the forum with secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 23 June, repeating from Armed Forces Day. An appropriate, if not thrilling, sartorial trip on the whole, I'd say.

Photos: Reuters/Getty Images/Daylife/Zimbio/Hoy Mujer/Mujer Delite

Event Roundup: Royal Ascot 2012

Links to all five days of Ascot racing and fashion fun:

Featuring Queen Elizabeth, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Eugenie, the Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Haya of Jordan, and the Princess Royal

With Queen Elizabeth, the Princess Royal, Princess Haya, Princess Alexandra, and the Countess of Wessex

With Queen Elizabeth, the Countess of Wessex, Princess Beatrice, the Princess Royal, Princess Eugenie, Princess Haya, and Princess Michael of Kent

With Queen Elizabeth, Princess Haya, and Princess Michael of Kent

With Queen Elizabeth, Princess Beatrice, Autumn Phillips, and the men from all five days

24 June 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: Ascot 2012, Day 5

And here we are, at the end of the five day Royal Ascot odyssey of hats and brooches and butt ruffles (regrettably). Saddle up, we have one last round of awards to hand out...

Most Predictable End
Queen Elizabeth
After a week of unpredictable brooch choices, the Queen ended with the one you were most likely to have predicted (the only one of this week anyone guessed during our Ascot predicting game, I believe): the Flame Lily. To be honest, it's my first disappointment of the week from her; like many of you, I thought we might see the Australian Wattle Brooch as a little tribute to Black Caviar, the Australian mare with an impressive record that won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and was the undisputed star of day five. But that's just a small quibble in an otherwise fun brooch watching week.

Best in Yorkish Excess
Princess Beatrice
Following in the footsteps of her mother and her sister, Beatrice just can't leave well enough alone. The standard fare coral outfit is not enough, oh no; we gotta add a butt ruffle up in here! And while we're at it, let's bedazzle it! And add a technicolor fortune cookie to the hat! Sure, why not? Part of me wants to see the York sisters turn into the chicest royals on the block, and part of me (the giggly part) hopes they never, ever change.

Best Repeat
Autumn Phillips
This was a surprise: Peter and Autumn Phillips showed up! Autumn appears to be wearing what was under the Sassi Holford navy coat she sported for the Diamond Jubilee service, and possibly the same hat with some changes made to it. The Linleys and Chattos were also present; Sarah repeated the outfit she wore to Zara's wedding, and Serena repeated the coat she wore to William's wedding.

Though I'm not sure she attended day five, I can't finish out Ascot without a tip of the hat to Princess Haya. She had another first place finisher, making three for the week, and she's had just as many fabulous outfits throughout the week. Apart from the Queen (who is sort of a default winner in these things), Haya wins my overall best dressed award.

Who wins your best dressed award for the ladies?

We've focused on the ladies for the past four days, but of course the gentlemen are worthy of some praise of their own. Save the best for last, right?

Best in Philip
Day Five
Left to right, days 1-5
The Duke of Edinburgh was so far and away my favorite gent at Ascot, it just wasn't sporting to lump him in with the rest. It seemed to me that each day he looked a little more like his old self, and thus day five comes out my winner. (Though matching his boutonnière to his wife's pink outfit on day two was mighty adorable.)

Best of the Rest
Prince Michael
L to R: The Prince of Wales, Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Kent
This is by no means a comprehensive review; other gentlemen spotted include Lord Nicholas Windsor, Viscount Linley, Charles Armstrong-Jones, the Chattos, Mike Tindall, Dave Clark (Beatrice's boyfriend), plus Sheikh Mohammed on multiple days and other members of the Dubai royal family.
L to R: Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke of York, the Earl of St. Andrews, Peter Phillips
But out of them all, Prince Michael wins it. Not only does he have style, he showed up both a black coat option with natty trim and the dapper gray option. Nicely done, sir.

Who did you admire most among the men?

Photos: Getty Images/Indigo/AP/Reuters/Contact

23 June 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: Luxembourg's National Day

Let's take a quick mid-Ascot break for a jaunt to Luxembourg, shall we? It's National Day over there, and the grand ducal family's been out for two days of festivities. On Friday, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited the town of Differdange while their oldest son, the Hereditary Grand Duke, and their daughter, Princess Alexandra, visited Esch-sur-Alzette. Friday night featured a torchlight procession and fireworks. On Saturday, the family united for the Te Deum; later, the Grand Duke, Grand Duchess, and Hereditary Grand Duke were present at a military parade. And all along there were fashions and hats and uniforms, oh my!

Best in Cute
Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Friday
In Differdange (left) and at the Friday evening festivities (center and right)
Oh, these two. More than thirty years of marriage, and they can still bring the awwws. Maria Teresa opted for a double dose of suits with waist ties: first, an orange accent, and in the evening, a metallic number.

Best in Repeats
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Saturday
We saw this Natan coat and dress and Jane Taylor hat last month at the British Jubilee festivities; it was elegant then and it's elegant now. Just goes to show you that Natan can do some lovely things, a nice reminder as we approach the October wedding of the Hereditary Grand Duke. (We don't know who is making the bride's gown yet but with the sheer quantity of Benelux ladies sure to be present, he'll be busy no matter what.)

Best in Birthday Boys
Grand Duke Henri, Saturday
National Day is the official celebration of the Grand Duke's birthday (his actual birthday is April 16th), and he was looking dapper as ever in his uniform for the Te Deum and the military review and parade afterward.

Most in Need of a Companion
Prince Guillaume
On Friday (left) and Saturday (right)
Apparently Guillaume's fiancé, Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy, the future Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, is going to stay incognito for the time being since she's not officially a member of the family. Sad. Anyway, we did get a bit of a taste of what the wedding will bring as the Te Deum was held at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City just as the wedding will be on October 20th.
Gorgeous, no? As a side note, the schedule for the wedding celebrations has been released! The civil wedding will be held in the afternoon on October 19th, followed by a gala that evening. The wedding will be the next day as previously announced, at 11 in the morning. (I'll cut to the chase: this means our best bet for a tiara event will be the gala on October 19th if at all. Guests should be in hats for the morning wedding.)

Most Improved
Princess Alexandra
On Friday (left) and Saturday (right)
Alexandra can occasionally look like she's stolen her mother's clothes, which makes this girlish pink Carolina Herrera a refreshing change for this 21-year-old. And even though I missed Stéphanie, it was nice to see Alexandra accompany her brother on Friday.

Best Villian
Princess Tessy
On Saturday
No, no, I'm NOT talking about Tessy herself, but...is this not just a wee bit like the love child of Cruella de Vil and Alexis Carrington? (Which lets me say this: the devil wears Prada.)

Best in Other Brothers
Prince Félix
Prince Félix (left) and Prince Louis (right)
Rounding out the family on Saturday were two more sons of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, Prince Félix and Prince Louis (Tessy is Louis' wife). Missing in action was the youngest of the five grand ducal kids, Prince Sébastian, but I doubt he could have stolen this prize from the handsome Félix anyway.

There is traditionally a gala on the evening of National Day complete with tiaras, though whether or not pictures are released is sketchy from year to year. Fingers crossed we'll see something later.

Who's your sartorial favorite this National Day?

Photos: PPE/Wort/RTL/Cour grand ducale

22 June 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: Ascot 2012, Day 4

Yup, Ascot is still happening. But we're nearly there; it's day 4 and as we reach the end, royal sightings are tapering off. Just three royal ladies were out today, but they were winners in every sense. (Click here for day 3 to catch up.)

Best in Brooch Whisperers
Queen Elizabeth
It's a great day for the Queen: her horse Estimate won today, and the Duke of Edinburgh presented her with the prize! {Pause for an obligatory awwww. These kids and their cuteness.} And it's a great day for us too: purple and amethysts, oh my! Coming off a week of surprise brooches and my happily fulfilled Garter Day earring request, I joked yesterday in the comments that I'd like to see Her Maj finish out the week with the Kent amethysts and the Williamson Pink Diamond Brooch; this may not be the Kent amethysts specifically, but it sure is amethyst! This is often said to have been given to the Queen for opening a bridge in Scotland once upon a time.

Best in Mystery and Intrigue
Princess Haya
 QEII's not the only royal winner today; Princess Haya found herself in the winner's enclosure once again! Her horse Newfangled won the Albany Stakes today, and Haya made her most intriguing entry in the fashion stakes in this bit of Dior couture. I'm dubious on the outfit as a whole, but I confess I can't resist a royal working the International Princess of Mystery angle as Haya was in this landslide of a hat.

Best in Backlash
Princess Michael of Kent
After her ensemble yesterday was among the nuttiest of them all, Marie Christine has jumped backward so far, in head-on shots you'll wonder if she's even wearing a hat at all. (Which turned out to be a smart move, as the wind proved to be hazardous to many an Ascot hat today.) But this is good old MC at her most elegant, and that's a refreshing jolt of reassurance after a baffling Ladies' Day.

Who comes out on top on day 4 for you?

Photos:  WPA Pool/Getty Images/Zimbio/Wenn/Daylife/Metro

Week in Review: Princess Letizia, 10-16 June

  1. In Poland for the Euro 2012 Championships, 10 June.
  2. Opening the Krakow branch of the Cervantes Institute while in the country, 11 June.
  3. a) At a meeting for the Prince of Asturias Foundation, 13 June.
Photos: Zimbio

Week in Review: Crown Princess Victoria, 10-16 June

  1. Visiting WaterAid, 15 June, in Marc Jacobs.
Photo: Kungahuset

21 June 2012

Royal Fashion Awards: Ascot 2012, Day 3

Hey laaaadies! It’s your day, Ladies’ Day, at Ascot. Day 3 is supposed to bring the wackiest hats of all, so let’s see how our royal ladies did. (And click here for Day 2 if you’re catching up!)

Most Refreshing
Queen Elizabeth
Nothing like a nice cool mint julep of an outfit on a summer’s day (even if it is a rainy one), right? And look at our Lillibet go, pulling out yet another brooch surprise: this is the Teck Corsage Brooch (more currently known as the Duchess of Teck’s Emperor of Austria Brooch), minus the diamond and pearl chain we normally see dangling from it.

Best in Last Minute Saves
The Countess of Wessex
 In which we say: thank heavens for the hat, or else the rest would’ve put us to sleep.

Best in Post-Makeover Eliza
Princess Beatrice
Erdem’s becoming a full-fledged royal trend: Lady Helen Taylor opted for the designer back at William and Kate’s wedding and again for this year’s Jubilee service, Kate’s sported Erdem a few times, and now Bea’s made her third Erdem-clad appearance in a month! I like it only because it’s sort of a patriotic version of My Fair Lady’s take on Ascot, and I haven’t made a single MFL reference in two whole days of racing. (Just you wait for the rest of this post, just you wait.) 

Worst in Pre-Makeover Eliza
The Princess Royal
 Here’s a disagreeable surprise: another 2011 royal wedding repeat for Anne today, this time her outfit from William and Kate's nuptials which one year later is still a batty pre-makeover Eliza number. Clearly she's picked the most cutting edge hat out of her closet and is daring you to continue your sniggering.

Worst in Meh
Princess Eugenie
Honestly, not even the crumpled piece of laundry north of her ears or the fierceness happening south of her ankles can get me to muster up any sort of remarks for this outfit. It’s the fit that’s done her in; it makes me too sad. She's so lovely! Enough with the business that doesn't do her justice. 

Best in Ladies’ Day Crazy
Princess Haya
 By George, she’s done it! Haya has shown us how Ladies’ Day should be done. Gargantuan hat: check. A little something out of the ordinary, just for the day: pink and orange, check and check. And yet, still elegant and not Olympic levels of famished attention seeking: check, check, check.

Best in Regular Crazy
Princess Michael
Marie Christine, I’m dashed. I have no idea what the neck ruff you heisted from an English courtroom has to do with your leftover 1987 party dress or the business blazer that has no business being on top of it. All I know is that none of it will do for the miniature bowling party you’re apparently attending later. (Surely she has a wee bowling ball in that bag, right?) But bless your heart anyway, Princess Mike, for bringing the LOLZ on Ladies’ Day, and finishing us off with your own ode to the Black and White Ascot.

Who do you say is the fairest on Ladies’ Day?

Photos:  Getty Images/Daylife/i-Images/Zimbio/Wenn/Corbis/WPA Pool

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mette-Marit, 10-16 June

  1. a and b) Celebrating the 25th anniversary of an HIV center, 12 June, in a jacket with some lovely detailing.
  2. At the opening of an exhibition with the rest of the royal family, 14 June, in one of the most depressing outfits I’ve seen in some time. She truly has raided Fräulein Maria’s closet – before she added in the zesty drapery.
Photos: Zimbio

Week in Review: Princess Máxima, 10-16 June

  1. Visiting the Children Making Music project, 12 June.
  2. Opening a new portion of the Jewish museum Sjoel Elburg, 13 June. Sparkle in the skirt – Máx is fancy.
  3. Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma’s wedding, 16 June.
Photos: Purepeople/Abaca/PPE/vd Werf/Zimbio/Getty Images