31 May 2013

Readers' Ultimate Tiaras: Your Emerald Winner!

It was a close race to start, but one tiara won out over them all...

The Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara!
The French crown collection has been vindicated following its runner up position in your ruby vote: the Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara wins, its provenance, design, and history surpassing the fact that we don't actually know what it looks like in use.

Your runners up:
2. Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara, my own personal favorite, and the one that gave our winner the biggest competition.
3. Empress Joséphine's Emerald Tiara. Despite the fact that many of you don't like the top stone, this one did quite well for itself.
4. The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, with emeralds, which has been a favorite in the past - but not so much, this time around.
5. The Harcourt Tiara, lesser-known, but with an intriguing design and shape.

Stay tuned for our next poll!

Photos: Louvre/Royal Collection/Getty Images/Corbis/Christie's

30 May 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Swedish Aquamarine Bandeau Tiara

While we wait to see what tiara Princess Madeleine will chose for her wedding day, let's travel back to her first tiara appearances as a young princess, in her very first tiara: the Aquamarine Bandeau.
The Swedish Aquamarine Bandeau Tiara
A petite tiara if there ever was one, this piece focuses on its large central aquamarine stone, surrounding it with delicate bands of diamonds on either side. It's a low profile, bandeau form, prone to disappearing in a hairstyle today but perhaps originally intended to be worn across the forehead. Supposedly it originates with Queen Louise of Sweden (1889-1965), the second wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf, Lady Louise Mountbatten, and it's not hard to imagine her wearing it in that fashionable style during the 1920s.
Princess Désirée
The tiara really enters our radar with those fashionable Haga Princesses, the sisters of King Carl XVI Gustaf, in their tiara-wearing heyday, when they nearly cleaned the vaults out of tiaras suitable for a younger lady. But the tiara didn't make a big impression even then, and wouldn't until it graced Princess Madeleine's head.
Princess Madeleine
The Aquamarine Bandeau was given to Princess Madeleine by her parents, the King and Queen, for her 18th birthday, and can be seen in her earliest tiara appearances. Eventually she moved on, adopting the Modern Fringe Tiara as her current favorite, and the bandeau was seen less and less.
Video: Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony, 2000, Madeleine's first time attending
Madeleine's use of the tiara makes complete sense to me; this is a tiara to grow from. It is a starter piece, for the years when a princess is so young that the larger tiaras are out of place. This tiara gets a lot of hate and a lot of labels as a classic "Cyclops tiara" for its large central stone, but I've never minded it. For a young princess, it can work. (And in my opinion it's certainly better than the one Crown Princess Victoria received for her 18th birthday...but that's another story for another day.)

How do you think this rates as a "starter" tiara?

Photos: Scanpix/Sjobergbild/Getty Images

29 May 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Haga Princesses, Part 2

We're picking up where we left off last week, with the weddings of the last of King Carl XVI Gustaf's four sisters, the Haga Princesses.

HRH Princess Margaretha of Sweden and John Ambler
June 30, 1964
Gärdslösa, Sweden
Princess Margaretha was the oldest of the four Haga princesses, but the third to marry - though according to reports, she had an earlier opportunity that wasn't destined to be. Her romance with Scottish aristocrat, pianist, and writer Robin Douglas-Home gathered plenty of press, but a reported proposal was shot down by Margaretha's family, chief among them her mother Princess Sibylla and her grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf. Douglas-Home said the Bernadottes looked down on his non-royal blood, though other perspectives dispute that (a book written by the princess' nanny said the proposal wasn't accepted because Margaretha didn't want to marry him). And indeed, when she did marry, it was to another British man, this time without the aristocratic connection.
Margaretha married businessman John Ambler at the end of June 1964, following her sister Princess Désirée's wedding at the beginning of that same month. In contrast to Désirée's royal wedding at Stockholm's grand cathedral, Margaretha's wedding was small by design, a quaint (by royal standards) Swedish summer wedding held at the Gärdslösa church on the island of Öland. She did not continue her sisters' tradition of wearing the same wedding gown by Märtaskolan, but the couture shop and school plays a roll in her wedding dress as well - Margaretha actually studied dressmaking at the school. She opted for an even simpler silk design, with a straight silhouette, short train, and long sleeves.
The simple dress was practically a requirement, given her chosen accessories. Like Désirée, she wore the lace family wedding veil from Queen Sofia, but instead of a family tiara, she wore the bridal crown belonging to the church she married in, perched atop a myrtle wreath. Bridal crowns are traditional, and occur in various forms in different cultures, but the height and size of this crown makes quite the statement.
As with all of her sisters except Princess Birgitta, Princess Margaretha lost her "royal highness" styling following her marriage to a commoner, and is known as Princess Margaretha, Mrs. Ambler. The couple made their home in Britain and had three children; they remained married but were separated for a time at the end, and John Ambler passed away in 2008. Margaretha did have occasional involvement in royal engagements, but we tend to see her mainly at large royal family events.

HRH Princess Christina of Sweden and Tord Magnuson
June 15, 1974
Stockholm, Sweden
Ten years passed before the wedding of the last and youngest Haga sister. Much had changed since the weddings of Princess Christina's older sisters; their mother, Princess Sibylla, passed away in 1972, and their grandfather, King Gustaf Adolf, passed away in 1973, leaving their little brother as king.
Princess Christina married Tord Magnuson in the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace in Stockholm (the same location where we'll see her goddaughter Princess Madeleine marry soon). As with her sisters, she wore a gown from Märtaskolan, but hers was the last of its sort to be made there, and it closed not long after. The white silk crepe gown seems easy to date to 1974, with its wrap-style top and v-neck, bell sleeves, and bands accenting the waist and the slim skirt. The gown also included an attached train.
She too wore Queen Sofia's lace veil, but varied from all her sisters in her choice of headgear: she wore the Connaught Tiara. The tiara was one of Princess Sibylla's favorites (so much so that it has been referred to as "Princess Sibylla's tiara"), so its selection could be seen as a tribute, due to her relatively recent passing.
Christina pitched in as first lady to her brother, King Carl Gustaf, in his first years as an unmarried king, and she stuck around. She takes on the largest royal role out of the Haga princesses today, and we do see her at events like the Nobel Prize Awards; she is known as Princess Christina, Mrs. Magnuson. The couple have three children.

Which of the Haga Princess gowns is your favorite?

Photos: Scanpix/IBL/Getty Images

28 May 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: May 20-25

Best in Turbans
Queen Máxima
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Sophia Children's Hospital; at the University of Utrecht; meeting with the Deputy-General of the U.N.; paying a one day visit to Luxembourg
Máx sure did have a turban-y week, didn't she? I don't mind turbans on her, really. Only her. I'm more bothered by the stiff construction of her green suit in Luxembourg, which I think is letting her down in major structural ways.

Best in Fresh
Princess Letizia, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Mathilde
Letizia visiting the APROCOR Foundation and holding audiences at Zarzuela Palace; Kate attending a garden party; Mathilde at the King Baudouin International Development Award Ceremony and supporting Philippe at the Brussels 20K run
There's something refreshing in all of these, I think: Letizia's cropped trousers (which I happen to love on the right royal, and she's it - plus, it's a nice break from things like her audience outfit), Kate's sunny yellow (which is an Emilia Wickstead I actually like as much as I usually want to like Wickstead on her), and Mathilde in casual wear for a change.

Best in Pastel
Crown Princess Victoria
Attending the release of Princess Estelle's Prayer Book; celebrating Enskilda Upper Secondary School's 100th anniversary; at the OECD environmental conference; visiting the Italian Cultural Center; attending a World Wildlife Fund meeting
The pastels are where Victoria's really been shining lately, I think. (And maybe it's catching: Crown Princess Mary was snapped wearing Victoria's pretty pink dress from earlier this month.) I will give her a non-pastel tip of the fascinator for the Missoni dress she wore to the Italian Cultural Center - see what she did there, eh?

Who was your best dressed last week? 

Photos: Getty Images/DutchPhotoPress/WPA Pool/AllOverPress/Stella Pictures/IBL/Kungahuset

24 May 2013

Readers' Ultimate Tiaras: Pick Your Emerald

I imagine many of you guessed where we were headed: to another birthstone-themed party! It's May, and it's time to...

Pick your ultimate emerald tiara!

The green member of the "big three" colored gemstones (rubies, emeralds, sapphires) offers you plenty to pick from, from most royal collections. Actually, the royal collections that don't offer an emerald choice have always seemed lacking to me (Sweden, I'm looking at you), that's how much of a staple the emeralds are. Here, just a brief selection of what the green category holds:

These two have always been popular, so we'll just get them out of the way first. That's the Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara on the left and Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara on the right.

Another permanent fan favorite: Grand Duchess Vladimir's Tiara, which does triple duty as an emerald tiara, pearl tiara, or all-diamond tiara (when worn with no drops). The tiaras at right above offer similar flexibility (from top to bottom): the Gloucester Honeysuckle can have an emerald, diamond or pink topaz at the center, Queen Fabiola's Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara has a green option in addition to rubies and aquamarines (though you may not believe those are emeralds - I'm not convinced myself), and the Dutch emerald tiara can also be outfitted with pearls.

Emeralds come in big gun form: Empress Joséphine's Emerald Tiara (left) is Queen Sonja's stand by for major occasions, the Danish Emerald Parure Tiara (right, above) owns a spot in the crown jewels and some prestigious outings from Queen Margrethe, and the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara (right, below) is often used by Queen Anne-Marie for her important tiara-wearing business.

Luxembourg has at least two options: the Chaumet Emerald Tiara (left), if you like your emeralds egg-sized, or the Van Cleef & Arpels Necklace Tiara (right), if you prefer an option to use as a necklace too.

Green being such a nature-iffic color (technical term), floral and wreath forms aren't uncommon (clockwise from top left): Princess Benedikte's Floral Tiara has one small central emerald (that can be switched out) for those that prefer emeralds in smaller doses, the Mellerio floral tiara formerly owned by the Leuchtenberg family (currently owned by the Albion Art Collection) is a little more balanced, the Boucheron emerald wreath tiara featuring emeralds set in black gold that's been worn by Queen Rania is for those that take their emeralds very seriously indeed, and and the wreath tiara worn by Archduchess Francesca of Austria is a more even distribution.

Emeralds were a popular stone in the Iranian crown jewel collection: Empress Farah's favorite tiara with emeralds as well as colored diamonds (left, top), the tiara worn by Queen Soraya during her wedding festivities (left, bottom), Princess Shahnaz's tiara (center, top), Princess Shams' tiara (center, middle), and Princess Fatemeh's tiara with emeralds surrounding a pink spinel (center, bottom). Queen Saleha from Brunei also has has a large emerald and diamond tiara (right).

The von Donnersmarck emerald tiara (left, top) set auction records when it was sold in 2011. The Harcourt tiara (left, bottom) was also auctioned in the past few years. And finally, at right, an emerald tiara worn by Alexandra Feodorovna.

And there are, as always, many more options out there for your review.

Ready to vote for your favorite?
-Vote for one tiara in the comments. (If you're mentioning multiple tiaras in your comment, indicate which one gets your vote, or I will just count the first one. One comment vote per person, please.)
-I will also count the number of "likes" or up arrows on those comments, so you can vote that way too.
-Non-royal tiaras and tiaras that no longer exist are fair game too.

The blog returns on Tuesday!

UPDATE: Thank you for your contributions, voting is now closed!

Photos: Geoffrey Munn/Wartski/Royal Collection/Getty Images/PPE/Bodilinner/Albion Art/Boucheron/Crown Jewels/Sotheby's/Christie's

23 May 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Chaumet Emerald Tiara

The Chaumet Emerald Tiara
It's been a while since we dipped into the expansive vault in Luxembourg for our Thursday discussion, and if there's a piece in there that deserves a discussion...well, this might be it. This is the Chaumet Emerald Tiara, a diadem which is probably better known by another name: the Wonder Woman tiara.
Grand Duchess Charlotte
Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg married Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma in 1919, and the tiara likely entered the Luxembourg vault either at that time or not long after (according to Crown Jewellery and Regalia of the World by René Brus, it was made in 1926 using stones from other jewels in the grand ducal collection). The tiara is set in platinum and was made by Paris jeweler Chaumet. It features one big egg of an emerald right in the center with an Art Deco diamond surround and one particularly large diamond sitting under the emerald. The shape is overwhelmingly triangular, and the piece culminates in a distinctive top point.
Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte (with Grand Duke Jean)
The tiara was worn by Grand Duchess Charlotte, who wore it across her forehead, bandeau-style, as was fashionable at the time the piece was made. It was next passed to Charlotte's daughter-in-law, Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa
Today, it is worn by Joséphine-Charlotte's daughter-in-law, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. She's worn it several times in conjunction with various other emerald pieces belonging to the family, but I think her success in wearing it has been mixed at best. The pointed top is a tricky thing to style; given the time frame in which it was likely made, it's probably best worn across the forehead as Charlotte wore it - but these days that would be the most Wonder Woman way to go about it! Still, I have an odd affection for this one. It's nowhere near my favorites list, but it's unique and that emerald is staggering, so it can't be completely disregarded.

What say you: Wonder Woman or wonderful? (Or...both?)

Photos: Getty Images/Cour grand-ducale

22 May 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Haga Princesses, Part 1

In their youth, they were known as the Haga Princesses: Princesses Margaretha (born 1934), Birgitta (1937), Désirée (1938), and Christina (1943) of Sweden, the four older sisters of King Carl XVI Gustaf. Born to Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla, they lost their father young - he died in a plane crash in 1947, returning from a hunting trip in the Netherlands - and grew up at Haga Palace, hence the nickname. (Haga Palace is now home to Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, who are raising a Haga princess of their own.) The princesses take a backseat to the King and his family these days, but this was not always the case. Their four royal weddings will span two of our Wednesday features.

HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden and HSH Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern
May 25 & 30, 1961
Stockholm, Sweden & Sigmaringen, Germany
Birgitta was the first to marry. The pretty princess was said to have rejected a proposal from the Shah of Iran, who was on the hunt for a third wife, before accepting one from Prince Johann Georg. Birgitta and Hansi, as he is known, met while she was in Germany to polish her language skills and married in two ceremonies: one royal wedding for Sweden, and one for Germany.
The civil wedding
First came the civil ceremony, held at the Royal Palace in Stockholm with all the trappings of a regular one day royal wedding. Birgitta wore her wedding gown, a creation in thick pale ivory silk duchesse with a wide neckline, three-quarter sleeves, and a slim waist above a full skirt and a train of around 4 meters. The simple dress was made by Märtaskolan, a dressmaking school that also produced couture creations. In Sweden, Birgitta wore the Cameo Tiara, becoming the first in the line of modern Swedish brides that have used the interesting diadem as a bridal tiara. She paired this with a simple but voluminous tulle veil.
The civil wedding (left) and religious (right)
For the religious ceremony, held in accordance with the strict Catholic beliefs of the groom's family, the festivities shifted to Germany. Birgitta brought her wedding gown and veil with her - though transferring a bridal ensemble proved to be a stressful affair, as her petticoat was forgotten in Sweden and had to be rushed to her in time for the wedding. She switched to a Hohenzollern tradition for her diadem, wearing the family's bridal crown.
The religious wedding
The couple are still married, though they are open about the fact that they live separate lives - him in Germany, her in Mallorca where she focuses on her passion for golf. They have three children together and can be spotted in Sweden for big royal family events.

HRH Princess Désirée of Sweden and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld
June 5, 1964
Stockholm, Sweden
Next to marry was Princess Désirée, whose beau was a member of the Swedish nobility. They wed in Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan - recently, the location of Crown Princess Victoria's wedding). Interestingly, Désirée's wedding dress was in fact a repeat: she wore her sister Birgitta's gown.
She too wore the Cameo Tiara, but added a second family tradition in the form of Queen Sofia's lace veil, which has been worn by multiple Swedish royal brides. She wore the precious lace veil under another layer of veil, in simple tulle.
Désirée lost the styling of royal highness following her non-royal marriage, thanks to the rules of the royal house at that time (Princess Birgitta was the only one of the Haga Princesses to keep that styling following her marriage). She is known as Princess Désirée, Baroness Silfverschiöld, and still lives in Sweden, though like Birgitta we see her primarily at larger royal family events. The couple has three children.

Which sister's take on this gown is your favorite?

Next week: the remaining two princesses.

Photos: Scanpix/TimeLife/Getty Images

21 May 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: May 12-19

Best in Brights
Queen Máxima
Mathilde visiting IOC Headquarters and opening a new area of Technopolis; Letizia opening an exhibit at the Prado Museum; Máxima attending the annual CGAP meeting, at the Appeltjes van Oranje 2013 award ceremony, and attending a dinner for the International Day Against Homophobia
Bright week for three of our major players, no? Máx gets all my love here. Because Mathilde just had to extend her Kermit suit to those atrocious shoes, and Letizia, well, she's bright for her but she can't play at this glow in the dark level (they both had less bright appearances as well, but meh). Máxima wins both the tame color of the week in her lovely lace, and the brights with her...whatever you call that pink number. If it wasn't Gucci, I'd swear she stole the sleeves from her mother-in-law.

Best in National Pride
Crown Princess Mette-Marit
The Norwegian royal family celebrate on May 17th, Norway's national day
This day always rocks because we get to see Mette-Marit in her bunad (her national dress), and that's ten kinds of lovely. But this year, we also got to see her in purple, which as you know sends me right over the moon. Jumps and claps. 

Prettiest in Pink
Crown Princess Victoria
Opening an exhibit on Princess Estelle's birth and christening, at a concert, and at the publishing of the banns of marriage for Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill with the families
Victoria was so lovely this past week, in all her shades of pink, was she not? So much so that she outshone her sister at her own event - I mean, not literally outshone, because Madeleine's Pär Engsheden creation took care of that with the fabric choice, but still. (And yes, should you need some cute, on Monday Princess Estelle - and the rest of the Swedish royal family, but c'mon, we know who the star of the show is - welcomed their world champion ice hockey team to the palace. Click here for a gallery.)

And an Honorable Mention to...
The Danish Royal Family
A gathering was held this weekend to celebrate the confirmation of Prince Nikolai, oldest son of Prince Joachim and his first wife, Alexandra. Look how they all color coordinated in their blues - now that's teamwork.

Who was your best-dressed last week?

Photos: Getty Images/Photonews/Nieuwsblad/ANP/DutchPhotoPress/Stella Pictures/NTB Scanpix/BestImage/Steen Brogaard/Kongehuset

17 May 2013

Flashback Friday: Madeleine's Recent Gowns

Just as I was starting to ponder what we might see Princess Madeleine wear for her wedding day (less than a month away!) and was starting to confuse myself with all the options - she's not overly attached to any specific designer, she has ample reasoning to wear an American or other international designer, and she's even been spotted in Paris recently - the rumors started to emerge. First, Expressen reports the commission has gone to Linda Nurk.
Linda Nurk is a Swedish designer who created two of Madeleine's memorable Nobel Prize gowns and is speculated to have made the frothy blue creation Madeleine wore to Crown Princess Victoria's wedding. I don't find the report hard to believe; certainly, a Swedish designer would be a smart move, and someone she's had experience with is an easy guess.
On the other hand, there's a rumor that Valentino has the job. The red gown above is Valentino in action on Madeleine, but still I find myself more convinced by the first rumor. I think a review of some of the evening gowns Madeleine's worn in the past few years is in order, just in case there's a hint (in designer, or in design) to be found.

Her Angel Sanchez gown actually comes from a bridal collection, so there's that. And though lace is eternally popular for bridal affairs, based on that Dolce & Gabbana number, I'm not a huge fan of the head-to-toe lace look for her.

From this row, I'd most like to see the fishtail silhouette on Madeleine, as seen in the black dress above, done in bridal.

I think the lilac Marchesa is my favorite from all the selections here - swishy and a little sparkly. (And lilac, obviously, but for the other reasons too, I swear!) Actually, my top guess for a non-Swedish designer for her wedding gown would have been Marchesa. She's clearly a fan.

After reviewing all these gowns, I think I have only one real wedding dress request: nothing anywhere near that bedazzled black Halloween castoff in the center there. That's all. Pleeeease.

What do you think we'll see on Madeleine on her wedding day?

Photos: IBL/Stella Pictures/Net-a-Porter/Reuters/Angel Sanchez/Getty Images/Abaca/Marchesa/Nordstrom/Jenny Packham

16 May 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara

You remember the Duchess of Angoulême from last week, right? She was the only surviving child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who returned to France when the Bourbon monarchy was restored and, as first lady of the family at that time, had use of the magnificent stash of crown jewels. Last week we touched on her influence on the crown ruby parure, but this week our topic is a tiara which has an even stronger association with the Duchess and which bears her name.
The Duchess of Angoulême (wearing a different tiara)
The Duchess' emerald tiara, a gift from her husband Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, was made in 1819-1820 by Evrard and Frederic Bapst and was designed specifically to use unmounted stones from the crown jewels. There are 40 emeralds in total, all set in gold and totaling about 77 carats all together; 14 of those were the largest emeralds available from the crown stash and the rest were added to match. They were joined by 1,031 diamonds (176 carats in all) set in silver. The diamonds, all set on a curved base, form a pattern of scrolling foliage which surround and incorporate the various shapes of emeralds available.
The Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara
Though made for the Duchess, the tiara was part of the crown jewels and was not her personal property. Before she departed for exile in 1830, following the abdication of her father-in-law Charles X and (20 minutes later) the abdication of her own husband from the French throne, she returned the tiara to the treasury. It remained a part of the French crown jewels through various changes of power; in particular, it was said to have been a favorite of Empress Eugénie, who had a special preference for emeralds and used the tiara during the reign of her husband Napoleon III (1853-1870). (Despite this, no representations of the tiara in use by either the Duchess of Angoulême or Empress Eugénie are available, to my knowledge.) Along with the rest of the crown jewels, it was displayed at the third Paris World's Fair in 1878 and at the Louvre in 1884. In 1887, it was sold at auction by the Third Republic along with most of the crown collection.
Following the sale, the tiara made its way to Britain, where it surfaces in the 1960s in storage in the vaults of Wartski - where, according to Geoffrey Munn, managing director of Wartski and author of Tiaras: A History of Splendour, it was simply an emerald and diamond tiara, stored without knowledge of its provenance. Once its historical significance was uncovered, it was allowed to be displayed at London's Victoria & Albert Museum from 1982-2002. In 2002, the tiara's anonymous British owner decided it was time to sell.
At the Louvre
When the tiara went up for sale, the British government interfered and placed a temporary export ban on the diadem to give someone in Britain the opportunity to raise the required funds and keep it in the country. (Interestingly, this process has recently been in the news, as a similar ban has been placed on a gold and peridot set of jewelry with an association to the Prince Regent.) The Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara is considered by many to be a masterpiece, not only because of its superior design and craftsmanship, but because it is a rare example of those skills that survives in its original form today - most tiaras dating back to this time period have been altered or redesigned since their creation. The rarity of this untouched craftsmanship was cited as a reason for the additional effort to keep it in Britain, but the export ban expired without a successful British purchase. A happy ending was in store, though: the Louvre was able to negotiate a successful agreement and acquired the tiara for their collection. The diadem returned home to France, where it joins other re-acquired items from the French crown jewels on public display.

What do you say: masterpiece, or not?

Photos: Geoffrey Munn/Wartski/Louvre/Wikipedia

15 May 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Duchess of Vendôme's Gown

 HRH The Duke of Vendôme and Philomena de Tornos y Steinhart
March 19 and May 2, 2009
Paris and Senlis, France

By pure coincidence, we seem to be in a bit of a French mode around here: last week, a look at one of the parures that belonged to the crown jewels of France, and this week, what would have been the wedding of the heir to the French throne (under a specific set of circumstances, I suppose - there is more than one claim out there to that nonexistent throne). The Duke of Vendôme is Prince Jean of Orléans. His father is the Count of Paris, who is the Orleanist claimant to the French throne. Jean is his heir, and claims the title of Dauphin of France.
Jean was first engaged to marry Duchess Tatjana of Oldenburg, but their engagement was called off just a few weeks before their scheduled 2001 wedding (issues of religion - he is Catholic, she is Protestant - are often cited). But luck was on his side when he tried again, and he married Philomena de Tornos in 2009. They wed first in a civil ceremony in March in Paris, when the bride wore an intricate white day dress and embellished gold shoes.
Their religious wedding in May was the main event, though, with a gown to match. It was held in the ancient town of Senlis, and the bride's ensemble had a certain historic flavor to it. The Christian Lacroix dress bore similarities to a gown that walked the runway in the Spring 2009 Lacroix couture collection, and was made not long before the fashion house went bankrupt. The gown was made of ivory silk taffeta. It featured a slim bodice with pleated detailing and sparkling embellishment covered in tulle and a voluminous skirt with a ruched back leading into a train.
A runway version
This entire ensemble is one signature piece after another. The gown and all its volume could stand on its own, yet it's covered by a bolero jacket with enough detailing to steal the show. The floral brocade was inspired by the silks in the Queen's Bedroom at Versailles and featured mother-of-pearl and gold embroidery by the masters at Maison Lesage, the famous embroidery house. The colors of the jacket are accented nicely by the sweet bow of blue ribbon tied around the waist of the dress.
The dress was accessorized with yet more statement pieces, starting with the tiara. The turquoise, diamond, and gold diadem is a modern design and was borrowed from Philomena's aunt Maria del Mar de Tornos y Zubiria, wife of the Earl of Povoa. The substantial veil, made of blonde lace, also comes from the bride's family, and is around 200 years old. As is appropriate for such a delicate piece, it rested on top of another layer.
Lacroix said he wanted to create a look that was both historic and contemporary, and I think that's exactly what he achieved. The pieces from the bride's family - a turquoise tiara and a lace veil in a color other than pure white - could have been seen as obstacles to a traditional bridal gown, but instead they are seamlessly incorporated into the gown through the styling and the light use of color. It's a refreshing change from the white-on-white looks we see time and again.
The couple now have two children, Gaston and Antoinette, and we see them at big royal events from time to time. (They do have ties to other royal families - the Duke and Duchess of Brabant were among the guests at this religious wedding, for example.)

Do you think this change from the white bridal standard is a success, or not?

Photos: Getty Images/Hello/Point de Vue/Isifa