30 September 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: September 30

Video: This weekend, Queen Mathilde and daughter Princess Elisabeth attended the Genee International Ballet Competition in Antwerp.
I should like this. Full skirt with an unexpected and interesting tone on tone enlarged snake print detail, killer earrings (look at the sparkle on video!). And yet. AND YET.
Click the link above for a gallery.
Well, this falls into all the sneaky traps of using shiny fabric, doesn't it? Each wrinkle, each area that could use better tailoring, it all gets magnified. The high neckline and unadorned front make one serious wall o' shine. It just seems...stiff, on the whole.
I'd probably love this in coat form, so you could have a non-shiny dress underneath to break things up, or maybe if the neckline wasn't so high and plain. What say you?

29 September 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: September 29

In Denmark, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess presented their annual culture prizes this weekend.
Oh, I do like when we get a spot of sparkle to start our week off right.
Bringing us the glitter is Mary, dutifully using her repeated pink Prada dress as an excuse to wear as many pieces of her ruby parure as she can get away with at an event where the dress code didn't even bother with tuxedos: the ring, bracelet, small pendant version of the earrings, and two hair pins.
All of which sounds like a lot, when you list it out, but it's really not too much in practice. I mean, right? I don't think I'm just blinded by my love of jewels here. It's just pleasantly glittery. (Her shoes were glittery too, which was the perfect choice.) You know I love it.

Photos: Jakob Boserup/Bikubenfonden and DR via Creative Commons; DR video

26 September 2014

Royal Closet Raid of the Day: September 26

We haven't played fictional dress up in the closet of our favorite Swedish crown princess yet! I didn't know that the Duct Tape Disco Incident was going to occur, but frankly I'm glad I saved this particular closet raid, because now I really need a dose of Victoria at her best.

If I could grab just one thing from Victoria's closet for myself, it would not be one of her Elie Saab gowns.
It would be one that is Saab-esque! Unpredictable, that's me. This is from Fadi El Khoury, a Swedish couturier who was pretty new to the Swedish couture game (after working for Lanvin and Dior) when Victoria chose to give him her support.
This masterpiece was described as “a greige rosé dress with aubergine accents. The dress is made from hand-dyed double-sided silk organza with layers of hand-dyed tulle in three shades, silk threads, Lurex threads, pearls and Swarovski crystals in amethyst and pale grey opal.” Victoria's bespoke gown featured an altered bodice, sleeves included.
I know some of you weren't as moved by this one as I was, but that's okay - more for me. Victoria has a whole closet of gowns and other delicious tidbits for your daydreaming pleasure. As for me, wrap this one up, and I'll wear it to the grocery store. Yup. Don't even care.

If you could have one thing from Victoria's wardrobe, what would it be?

Photos: Vittorio Zunino Celotto via Getty Images, Fadi El Khoury, Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons

25 September 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Devonshire Diamond Tiara

Sad news yesterday: Deborah “Debo” Mitford, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, passed away at the age of 94. She was the last of the famed Mitford sisters and the wife of the 11th Duke of Devonshire. Debo's life is fascinating, the Mitford sisters are fascinating, and the Devonshire family (particularly the line up of women that have held the Duchess title throughout history) is fascinating. I couldn't begin to do any of that justice here, so I'll merely say that if you haven't picked one up, you're long overdue to spend some time with one of Deborah's books. Entertaining and conversationally written, they are all worth a read. This one is my favorite:
What I will do is stick to what I know, and I’ve had many requests to feature a Devonshire jewel for our Thursday treat. In the late Dowager Duchess' honor, and since she provided the best anecdotes about this piece, we’ll do that today.
The Devonshire Diamond Tiara (source)

This is the largest and most imposing Devonshire diamond tiara. It was made in 1893 for Louise, Duchess of Devonshire (1832-1911), just a year after she wed the 8th Duke. (Louise is nicknamed “The Double Duchess”, having first been married to and widowed by the Duke of Manchester prior to marrying Devonshire, with whom she'd been in love for some 30 years.) The tiara has 13 palmette motifs separated by lotus motifs, set on a base of three rows. The base dates from slightly later than the top part, around 1897. Jeweler A.E. Skinner used nearly 1,900 diamonds set in silver and gold to make the piece, including 1,041 diamonds taken from other family pieces (including the Devonshire parure and the star from the Order of the Garter regalia belonging to the 6th Duke). Louise was an influential woman at court – her 1897 Devonshire House Ball, a costume gala celebrating Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, is still famous today – and on her head and the heads of Duchesses of Devonshire to come, this tiara saw many important events.
Evelyn, at left and center shown dressed for the 1911 coronation
Louise’s successor as Duchess of Devonshire was Evelyn, wife of the 9th Duke. Evelyn was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for 43 years, and wore this tiara to the 1911 coronation and for many subsequent events in Queen Mary’s company. (Deborah Mitford would later write that Queen Mary’s complaints about the weight of her own tiara after a long night had prompted Evelyn to remark, “the Queen doesn’t know what a heavy tiara is”.) The coronation of 1953 also included a Mistress of the Robes wearing this tiara: Mary, wife of the 10th Duke. Mary's husband had passed away in 1950, leaving the title to their son Andrew, husband of the lady to which we dedicate this post. As Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah was also a guest at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, but she wore the smaller of the family’s two diamond tiaras and wore an older set of peeress robes from the family collection. Her mother-in-law had the more important role to play in the ceremony, and thus had the more recent robes and the big tiara.

Deborah and her mother-in-law continued to use the tiara for many court and social events (Deborah can be seen wearing the tiara here or here). She wrote of her mother-in-law casually fetching jewels from the bank concealed in a Marks & Spencer bag, and she wrote of wearing the tiara out for the night and then hailing a cab on the streets of London, oblivious to the potential dangers of being out alone late at night with thousands of diamonds on display. Those tiara-filled days might be over, but the tiara is still with the family. They have exhibited it at Chatsworth House, their Derbyshire stately home.

Nadja Anna Zsoeks at her wedding to Alexander, Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe, in 2007, wearing a tiara similar to the Devonshire Tiara.
One final note about this tiara: a couple of doppelgängers are in existence. A similar tiara/necklace was auctioned by Christie’s in 2003, and a similar design is owned by the Schaumburg-Lippe family (as seen above), to name two. There are really no limits to the number of times a good tiara design might be used.

P.S.: Remember Thursday outfit posts have returned, so keep scrolling!

Photos: Amazon/Richard White, Gauis Caecilius, Flickr/NPG/Thomas Starke via Getty Images

Royal Trip of the Day: September 25

'Tis that time of the year when royals and dignitaries alike flock to New York City, drawn by the United Nations General Assembly session, the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, movie nights with their peers (maybe not), and so on. Of all the royals present, the new King and Queen of Spain seem to be making the most of their trip, so let's catch up on their sartorial adventures. (Okay, well, her sartorial adventures, really. He wore a suit. And also so did she - uh, spoiler alert? - because this is Serious Business, okay.)

Video: The Queen visits a school in Harlem
Letizia wore this basic suit from Hugo Boss - but hey, it's the color of the moment! I'd say she was right on trend, but I don't think a suit this basic has anything to do with trends. The video above is kind of awkward, but you can hear Letizia speaking English (first time I've ever heard her do that, not that I particularly seek out instances of her speaking), and I know some of you like to know what languages our favorites speak. Which is appropriate, since her visit was focused on teaching Spanish and bilingualism in American schools. (Click here for an article with pictures.)

More meetings were taken wearing a customized Felipe Varela suit with panels on the front and back of grosgrain stripes. Her version differs from the retail version in structure details and also in color, opting for a more subdued hue combination. I really love the panels of grosgrain here, adds so much interest to an otherwise boring suit jacket.
The purple Hugo Boss suit and the retail version of the Felipe Varela suit

I said there was a whole crew of royals in town: Letizia got an opportunity to chat with Queen Máxima too (was it about hair care? I hope it was about hair care).
Máxima, sporting one of her one-shoulder wonders, was in town because she is a special advocate for the Secretary General for inclusive finance.

And finally, while I lied about the movie night thing, there were some occasions for a bit of cocktail dress sparkle. There was a sparkly blue Varela number worn to hang out with the Obamas, and then this little LBD worn at another reception:
Look at the little braid in her hair! Hey, I meant she should talk to Máx about hair care, but if their chat inspired some fun from either one, I'm good with that.

Photos: CasaReal, Hugo Boss, Felipe Varela

24 September 2014

Royal Wedding Anniversary of the Week: September 24

A belated happy anniversary to Princess Astrid of Belgium and Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, who celebrated their 30th on Monday! Astrid, daughter of King Albert II and Queen Paola and sister to the current king, and Lorenz, from a branch of the sprawling Habsburg family, married in Belgium on September 22, 1984. This is a wedding dress that's either super 1980s or super 1890s, you be the judge.
Astrid's gown came from Belgian couturier Louis Mies, a confection in taffeta with a 5 meter long train and a high lace neckline. But you're not paying attention to any of that, because SLEEVES. Just SLEEVES, big ol' leg of mutton-style sleeves that end in lace. No chance here you'll lose sight of the royal bride as she waves from the balcony, so there's that.
Video: Clips from the couple's engagement and wedding
Of course, hers isn't the only dated ensemble to come out of this wedding - happens to the best of 'em - just check the number of sweatband/headband/veil setups on the guests in the video above.
Moving past the arms, if you can, Astrid anchored the antique Ruffo di Calabria veil (from her mother's family, worn by Paola and since worn by Astrid's sisters-in-law Mathilde and Claire) with a floral arrangement on the back of her head. Later on, both of those aforementioned sisters-in-law would wear tiaras on their wedding days, but Astrid went without. She did not use a Belgian tiara on that day, and she does not use any Belgian tiaras today - her standard diadem is the Savoy-Aosta Tiara, from her husband's family.
Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz have five children, the eldest of which was just married this past summer. Astrid takes on a steady roster of royal duties, and while she now opts for many classic pieces, she still loves the occasional eccentric sartorial selection.

Photos: Deradactie video

23 September 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: September 23

So, what's Crown Princess Victoria been up to lately? Quite a bit, as a matter of fact. Just a few selections:

In addition to giving her favorite dress a little more showtime, she had a new portrait released for the Pink Ribbon Campaign, of which she is patron.
Lovely. The blue is divine on her (just as it is on the Duchess of Cambridge when she wears her Stella McCartney shift dress which is the same or devilishly like this one).

And she paid a quick visit to Latvia, where she opted for a dress from one of Kate's favorite retailers, L.K. Bennett.
Lovely again, loveliness all around.
The dress from L.K. Bennett

I offer you these selected bits of loveliness as a sort of an advance palette cleanser for what shall henceforth be known as the Duct Tape Disco Incident.
I have nothing more to say on the matter. SIGH.

Photos: Andrea Björsell/Cancerfonden, Ilmars Znotins/AFP via Getty Images, L.K. Bennett

22 September 2014

Royal Color Scheme of the Day: September 22

Jordan's Queen Rania made a color-coordinated trip to France alongside King Abdullah last week.
To meet President Hollande, an aubergine dress from Bottega Veneta. You might think her jacket has just come partly off on the one shoulder, but no, it's a whole structural thingy (technical term).
Hmm. I've been pondering this outfit, and that's what I've come up with: HMMMMM. At the least, it's one of the more interesting dresses we've seen around here in a while, no? I'll always have some credit to dole out for that.

She was on a monochrome roll, so she kept it going for the next part of the visit, reusing her purse and the shoes from above.
A slightly sleeker take this time, from Elie Saab, who heavily featured aubergine in his Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear collection. Obviously you're not going to get an objection from me for a purple Elie Saab.
It's like a perfect Pinterest packing tip: How to Avoid Boring Color Shoes While Streamlining Your Packing! As long as we keep it purple-ish, I'm all on board.

Photos: Chesnot via Getty Images/Bottega Veneta/Queen Rania Instagram/Style.com

19 September 2014

Royal Wedding Anniversary of the Week: September 19

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary in Greece this week - they hit the big 50 year mark yesterday. They were young when they married, she was 18 and he was 24, but even then their story was a long one.
They first met in 1959. Anne-Marie was the 13-year-old daughter of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark, and Constantine was the Crown Prince of Greece, on a state visit to Denmark with his parents, King Paul and Queen Frederika. By 1961, a romance was in the works. Their engagement came early - too early, King Frederik thought, being concerned that his daughter was still just a teenager and still in school. He asked them to wait until Anne-Marie was 18 and had finished her education to marry, and so they did. They were intended to marry in January 1965, but things were moved up when King Paul died in March 1964 and Constantine took the throne. The wedding was set for September 18, 1964, just after the end of official court mourning. Less than a month after turning 18, Anne-Marie became a queen.
Her wedding gown has always been a sentimental favorite of mine, but then I'm apt to fall in love with any kind of simple, classic style paired with a lace veil. Designed by her mother's favorite couturier, Jørgen Bender, the gown has an elegant silhouette: a wide neckline delicately accessorized with a cross pendant, an empire waist, three-quarter length sleeves, and a split front skirt with a detailed edge and train behind. The whole affair was turned into a true queen's gown with a massive 20' long train flowing out from behind and requiring several royal bridesmaids to manage.
Video: Starting with the glittering pre-wedding ball. Attended by an enormous group of royals, in this clip alone we can see Anne-Marie in the Greek Emerald Parure, Queen Frederika in Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara, Queen Ingrid in the Danish rubies, Queen Juliana in the Stuart Tiara, and more! 
Queen Anne-Marie was the youngest of Frederik and Ingrid's three daughters but the first to marry, and she set in place several trends that would be echoed by other brides in her family. Dress designer Jørgen Bender would go on to design the wedding gowns of her sisters Margrethe and Benedikte, as well as Benedikte's daughter Alexandra and Margrethe's daughter-in-law Alexandra. Though she already had a tiara collection of her own by this time (the Antique Corsage Tiara from her family, as well as the Greek emeralds and rubies, turned over to her by Queen Frederika), Anne-Marie borrowed a diamond tiara from her mother for the wedding. Her use of the Khedive of Egypt Tiara started a tradition that continues today with Ingrid's female descendants. She also borrowed the family wedding veil, solidifying a tradition that is still alive in the family.
The wedding placed two young, glamorous, fresh faces at the helm of the Greek monarchy, but the institution had a turbulent past and a less-than-stable footing, and it wasn't long before things got rocky once again. In 1967, the young couple and their family left Greece; by 1973, the monarchy was abolished. They remained in exile for many years, eventually settling in England, but in recent years they have returned to live once again in Greece.
At their golden wedding party, with most of their children and daughter/son-in-law (not pictured: Prince Nikolaos and wife Tatiana)
They may be former monarchs, but thanks to their family connections, they show up at many royal events (in addition to the Danish ties, King Constantine's sister is Queen Sofia of Spain and they are related to many royal houses going further back). Family members have joined them in Greece to celebrate, click for more: the party at the yacht club (also shown above - loving Marie-Chantal's ribbon belt), and a gathering the evening before.

Photos: Keystone/Hulton Royals, Keystone France/Gamma-Keystone, and Milos Bicanski, all via Getty

18 September 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Baden Palmette Tiara

The Baden Palmette Tiara
Like several of its fellow Danish royal tiaras, the Baden Palmette Tiara had some travelling to do before it made it to its current home. Made by Koch jewelers, the diamond tiara was originally given to Princess Louise of Prussia (1838-1923) by her father, German Emperor Wilhelm I. It was a wedding gift, marking her 1856 nuptials to the future Grand Duke of Baden. It's a romantic tiara with a design of hearts created by palmette motifs, and so a fitting gift for a wedding. Small diamond flowers with yellow-toned centers sit at the base of the tiara between the hearts.
Louise of Prussia and Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden
From Baden, the tiara traveled to Sweden courtesy of Louise's daughter Queen Victoria of Sweden (1862-1930), the consort of King Gustav V. Victoria left the tiara to her granddaughter Ingrid, better known as Queen Ingrid of Denmark (1910-2000), wife of King Frederik IX. Ingrid brought the tiara to its current home in Denmark.
Neither Queen Victoria nor Queen Ingrid seem to have been photographed wearing the tiara, but the current generation of Ingrid's family has certainly made up for that. Ingrid's daughters Princess Margrethe and Princess Benedikte both wore it in their younger years, and Benedikte's daughter Princess Alexandra of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg also used it on at least one occasion. The tiara was left to Queen Margrethe when Queen Ingrid passed away.
This tiara is perfectly cute, but for some reason, I have never liked it. The heart motif is a bit too sweet for me, I think. Queen Margrethe has capitalized on that sweetness by using the tiara at a few royal weddings. Today, she uses it often for events like state banquets or black tie tiara functions, but it is not one that she wears for her most important events, and I can easily see how it comes to occupy that position in her collection.

Are you loving the hearts?

P.S.: It's a two post day! Keep scrolling.

Photos: AOP, Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons, Antony Jones/UK Press and Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Royal Outfit of the Day: September 18

This one's for those of you that complain that I think Mary never puts a foot wrong.
Video: The Danish royal family attended a dinner for the Red Cross last week.
Several steps wrong, this. A textured mustard dress is a hard sell on its own, if you ask me, and that's before you start throwing accessories at it. And the accessories are where I focus my scrunchy face: a statement cuff and a statement belt and a statement pair of earrings and a statement feather clutch. That's a lot of statements, my friend. (And they don't necessarily agree with each other, these statements, as the clutch and the earrings are frilly and intricate and the belt and cuff are strong and structural.) It looks a lot better in video, mainly because you have less time to see all of those accoutrements. (But click here for a gallery anyway, if you like.)
The dress, from Hugo Boss (per Styleofmary)
With that out of the way, we can talk about the outfit that really needs our attention: Henrik, of course. DaisyMobile-driving Henrik and his BOLO TIE. (Sidebar: The Wiki page on the bolo tie amuses me greatly. They are easy to make from attractive flat objects such as Christmas tree ornaments or refrigerator magnets! Excellent.) I hope he wears it for the fictional dinner party I plan on inviting him to, because I have QUESTIONS.
In other news, Joachim and Marie are there (bless her heart, she looks nice, but she's blending into the background) and Daisy pulls out the surprise best-dressed of the night with a dress that flatters her waist just right, each and every one of the thousand times she's worn it.

Oh, and by the way: Heads up, Canada! Mary and Fred have arrived on your fair shores for a visit. Catch 'em if you can, and report back if you do! Yesterday was day 1.
I love it when they do the classic family album pose. "And here we are in Ottawa, kids..."

Photos: Hugo Boss, BilledBladet video, Sonia Recchia via Getty Images

17 September 2014

Royal Event of the Day: September 17

Ah, Prinsjesdag: that wonderful September day when we all gather around and patiently explain old fashioned dress codes to each other (and when the Dutch sovereign gives a budget speech to parliament, but this is a shiny happy place, so we won't worry about that). I always look forward to events that keep the old court dress style alive (meaning long dresses and hats - but not tiaras, because this is not an evening event - for the ladies, once a common way of dress for formal royal events, but now growing scarce). But this year's event left me with a case of the mehs, I'm afraid to say. A bright red outfit shouldn't leave me with a mere shrug, and yet:
The flower arrangement next to the King is looking very Christmas tree-esque. You could hide a person in there. If this was The Princess Diaries 3, you would hide a person in there. Yeah, you can tell when the outfits aren't doing it for me, because I have drifted to the flowers. My floral musings typically don't extend past pretty/not pretty. Very sophisticated, I know.
Okay, to the clothes: Queen Máxima is wearing a Valentino silk-gazar gown with a Fabienne Delvigne hat and Miu Miu shoes. She is red from top to toe, including her gloves, and it is...a lot of red. It fits her beautifully, but the solid red background basically just reminds me that I'm not a huge fan of red together with the blue and orange of her Order of the Netherlands Lion sash.
I could have been on board with the red as an excuse to pile on the rubies, but Máx went instead with diamonds and pearls. This is a pretty modest level of jewelry for Máxima, really. Luscious, of course, but fairly average on the MAX scale.
Also present were Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien, and (per ModekoninginMaxima) Laurentien wore a dress from Talbot Runhof. A dress made from...wait for it...CORDUROY! About the least formal fabric I can think of, apart from denim. And yet, I gotta say, it absolutely works. Her modification of the dress to a shorter sleeve definitely helps. The dress is dark enough to pass for navy or black, but it is aubergine, a wonderful pairing with her Order of the House of Orange sash. She finished the look with a hat close enough to her own hair color to trick me into thinking she might have rocked up in a glorious faux bouffant 'do for about half a second.
Maybe a big old bouffant would have done the trick to pull me out of the mehs. I could just deal with the fact that I miss the presence of Princess Beatrix and Princess Margriet, and the King in his grand uniform, but suggesting a major fake hairdo seems a more logical choice. Yeah. 

Are you finding anything to fall in love with here?

Photos: Pool/Getty Images, NOS video, Net-a-porter, Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty Images, Talbot Runhof

16 September 2014

Royal Wedding of the Day: September 16

Royal wedding alert! Or, rather, princely/etc./whatever wedding...never mind: WEDDING GOWN!

Princess Maria Theresia of Thurn and Taxis married Hugo Wilson over the weekend in Germany. Maria Theresia is a daughter of the late Johannes, 11th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and his wife Gloria, a.k.a. the "Punk Princess" (in her earlier years). And it would seem Princess Gloria's penchant for quirky fashion is alive and well with this wedding - in the guests, mostly, as the wedding gown is a little off the beaten path, but also totally classic:
Classic Vivienne Westwood, that is. Westwood's abilities with draping and structure - so that something might look like it's bunching or maybe just about to fall off, but it's not going to do either thing because that's just the wizardry behind her talent with corsetry and underpinnings - is right on form. In addition to those classic Westwood signs, this one is adorned with a floral print and a bustle at the back.
The family does have a selection of tiaras remaining after they auctioned part of their jewel collection, but Maria Theresia opted for a headband-style piece instead. The buttery shades in the fabric do have me wishing the family still had their magnificent pearl tiara in hand (Empress Eugénie's, as worn by Gloria on her wedding day), but perhaps that would have been overkill for this bride.
A gown like this is probably a little too unconventional for some - it's not for everyone, and that's kind of the point - but I can't help but love that she put her own spin on the traditional bridal look. There are oh-so-many cookie cutter white dresses out there, right? Vive la différence!

Photos: Andreas Rentz via Getty Images

15 September 2014

Royal Birthday of the Day: September 15

Time for a Prince Harry day!
Not only is it his 30th birthday today, but he's just wrapped his greatest accomplishment yet: the Invictus Games. Organizing the competition for wounded warriors (inspired by the Warrior Games in the United States) has been, by all accounts, a labor of love for Harry, and it turned out to be a tremendous success.
The Invictus Games make everybody happy! Including a photobombing Crown Prince Frederik, who came to support the Danish team.
Video: Prince Harry's speech at the opening ceremony
Harry's been all over the place in the past week, sporting his casual prince uniform of jeans and a polo shirt or fleece. I do love Casual Prince Harry. I also love Soldier Prince Harry and Suit n' Tie Prince Harry, but I'm telling you that no prince does casual prince as good as Harry does.
Right? (Sidebar: I love that Charles doesn't even try the casual route. He knows he'd be all kinds of wrong in jeans and a fleece. Stick to what you know.) Do feel free to celebrate the birthday boy with your favorite version of Harry in the comments below. A celebration for us all...
Video: More snippets from the Games, including Idris Elba at the opening ceremony, because it's Monday and You're Worth It.

Photos: Chris Jackson, WPA Pool, Karwai Tang/WireImage all via Getty Images

12 September 2014

Royal Closet Raid of the Day: September 12

Earlier this week, we discussed something Crown Princess Mette-Marit might steal for her own closet, and now it's time to turn the tables.

I thought I might struggle to find something I'd steal respectfully borrow for myself from M-M's wardrobe, since a lot of her day-to-day stuff is, shall we say, less than distinctive. But in the end the choices were a little too plentiful for my wee brain to handle. Something froofy? (I'm not averse to a good ruffle every now and then.) Something from the shoe department? (She does have some fierce kicks.) Something from the national dress portion? (The artistry involved in a bunad, come on. That's amazing.) But no, I've settled on this one...for now:
A Valentino coat, all the better to mask the pile of shoes I just wouldn't be able to resist nabbing while I'm at it. Sure, why not.

If you could have one thing from Mette-Marit's wardrobe, what would it be?

Photos: NRK.no/Style.com/Stortinget

11 September 2014

Tiara Thursday: Princess Marie Bonaparte's Olive Wreath Tiara

Princess Marie Bonaparte's Olive Wreath Tiara
Using wreaths as head ornaments is a tradition dating back long before the creation of the tiaras we know today. But it is a tradition that continues on in the form of the wreath tiara, a classic tiara design category, often depicting laurel or olive branches in diamonds and other precious stones and metals. Cartier's production of floral and foliage design tiaras really kicked in after 1900, and today's tiara is a grand example of the work of that famous French house from the Belle Époque period.
Marie Bonaparte
It was made for Marie Bonaparte in 1907, for her wedding to Prince George of Greece and Denmark. Bonaparte became a psychoanalyst, scholar, and author with close ties to Sigmund Freud later in life, but the trousseau set out at her wedding was geared for a more expected path as a royal bride. The amount of jewelry was lavish enough that Cartier devoted a window to the display, this tiara included. The olive branch design was a perfect fit for this particular situation, being both a symbol heavily linked to Greek history (the groom was the son of King George I of Greece) and bridal history (brides wearing olive wreaths can be found dating back to ancient Greece), and being reminiscent of the styles popular in the Napoleonic era (the bride was the great-grandniece of Napoleon I). In the photographs that exist of her wearing the tiara, she tends to wear it with the branches close to lying flat on the sides of her head - as worn above, she uses it in the fashion that would have been popular in those times.
The window at Cartier displaying Marie Bonaparte's wedding jewels. To the right of the tiara on the top shelf sits a small hair comb of a similar wreath motif, accented with pearls. That comb was eventually placed on a frame as a tiara.
In this tiara, two olive branches of pavé set diamonds in platinum meet to surround a large central pear-shaped diamond pendant. Dotted throughout are large diamonds representing the fruit of the branches. These diamonds can be swapped out for emeralds set in gold (in fact, it was originally displayed in the emerald version), or even possibly rubies. The central pendant can be removed at will; for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Princess Marie wore the tiara with a diamond star in the central spot. (Marie her husband were in attendance to represent their nephew King Paul, but showing where her true interests lay, she spent the ceremony engaging the man next to her in a round of psychoanalysis. Her seatmate happened to be the future President of France, François Mitterrand.)
With emeralds
Marie Bonaparte passed away in 1962, and the tiara was eventually sold. It was acquired by the Albion Art Collection, which generously loans out their collection for exhibitions around the world. They show it in its diamonds-only version. It was included in Cartier's mega-exhibit, Cartier: Style and History, in Paris earlier this year, and I heard from a few of you that were blown away by its sparkle in person. With this amount of diamond power and this type of tried-and-true design, it would be hard to go wrong.

Are you a wreath tiara fan? Where do you rank this one?

Photos: Albion Art/Cartier

10 September 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: September 10

Question: If you saw this dress - just the dress on its own - to which royal wardrobe would you guess it belongs?
Tiered lace dress from the H&M Conscious Collection.
If you answered a) Crown Princess Mette-Marit or b) the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, I’m right there with you. But no! Crown Princess Victoria is the proud owner of this tiered lace dress, in the black version (I gather it might actually be a deep navy, but it’s dark enough not to bother splitting hairs). It is possible that she owns every item in the most recent H&M Conscious Collection, judging from this year’s appearances.
She paired it with a kicky costume piece in her hair. I wasn’t too sure about the pairing, but I do think a bit of fun is needed here. Runs a bit too close to a bride in mourning otherwise, no?
Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine (with Chris O’Neill) were also present – actually they were much more the main event, despite my interest in Victoria’s dress, since Silvia founded the organization and Madeleine now works for it. Princess Madeleine is wearing her second recent gown from Ida Sjöstedt. It’s worth a look at the linked video; Madeleine’s sheer overlay is much more pronounced in movement, and Victoria’s skirt moves like a froofy bell as she picks her way over the cobblestones. I'm not sure that I like this H&M dress, but I would like to twirl around in it for a bit. The twirl factor is quite high, to put it in scientific terms. I shall wait to see what Mette-Marit makes of it before I issue my yay or nay. (Because we will see it on Mette-Marit, right?! Ruffles and a t-shirt top, that’s practically screaming her name. I’m still shocked she didn’t get to it first.)

Photos: H&M, Expressen video

09 September 2014

Royal Outfit (and News) of the Day: September 9

Cambridge baby #2 is on the way! You probably hadn't heard. (Breaking news is all part of the service here. You're welcome.) Congratulations and such are in order. Okay, let me dig some fabulous maternity fashion out of the pile for our daily outfit...
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the service marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation last year.
Yes! Here we go. This Jenny Packham ensemble tops my list of Things I Would Like To See Repeated Unless She's In The Mood For All New Stuff Because That's Even More Fun. (Good thing there's not a character limit for list titles.)

Here's Harry's reaction. Spoiler alert: He's happy.

And possibly most happy of all about being knocked down one more rung on the succession list...? Slow claps for that awkward question.

Photo: WPA Pool via Getty Images

08 September 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: September 8

Two royal ladies back in black for our Monday:
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia visited Málaga.
Another little black dress for Letizia - she's got to be our most LBD-prone royal, right? There must be a whole section of her closet devoted to 'em - and this one gives a new definition to the classic mullet dress: business in the front, party in the back. Click here for more pictures.
A similar retail model is available, but Letizia's Felipe Varela dress has been customized.

Video: Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary marked Flag Day in Denmark. Click here for pictures.
Mary's take mixes black with a full floral skirt for a more successful version of what we saw Victoria try last week, though this one is made much easier with a shorter skirt and less volume.
Mary's skirt is from the H&M Conscious Collection and her top is from Hugo Boss.
This is Mary doing her usual remix of repeated pieces, but what elevates this - and Letizia's simple LBD too - is some excellent chignon action. That will catch my eye on just about any old outfit, guaranteed, but you already knew that (#TeamUpdo, hey).

Photos: Daniel Perez/Getty Images, STV video, Felipe Varela, BilledBladet video, H&M, Hugo Boss

05 September 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: September 5

Crown Princess Victoria has been out and about several times recently, with varying levels of sartorial success. I think she might be trying to step out of her comfort zone a bit, and at the very least, that gives us something to chat about. A big helping of Victoria appearances it is:

Attending a Baltic Sea Seminar last week.
The first problem with encouraging the abandoning of the comfort zone is that the best look here is this one, and it happens to be the safest choice of all. Can't go wrong with a simple sheath dress, can you?
The dress is from Ril's.

Celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Skara Diocese last weekend.
Mixing patterns and prints can be fun! And it can also be risky! Like, uh, this right here. The dots and the stripes have declared war on each other and my eyes are the primary victims.

Awarding the Junior Water Prize in Stockholm this week.
Also a risky move: tea length skirts. I like the skirt, but I think everything else needs to be even simpler than this to make it work, starting with the Wilma Flintstone necklace. (The shoes can stay, I suppose. They're Ralph Lauren, also worn by Princess Madeleine for a magazine shoot.)

Attending a seminar in Stockholm yesterday.
First: She wore this skirt last week too! Reuse. See, and you thought no one was listening to Mette-Marit. Second: I absolutely had a moment, when first seeing this in tiny thumbnail format, where I thought this might be an acid wash jean skirt. Now that would be a step out of the comfort zone.
Lace and grosgrain banding/acid wash denim, same/same. Skirt from By Malene Birger.

Photos: Ragnar Singsaas, Anna Lu Lundholm, and Ivan da Silva via Getty Images/Ril's/By Malene Birger

04 September 2014

Tiara Thursday: Princess Fawzia's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara

Princess Fawzia's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara
The 1939 wedding of Princess Fawzia of Egypt (1921-2013, daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt and Queen Nazli, sister of King Farouk) and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (then the crown prince of Iran, the son of Reza Shah, and soon to become the Shah himself) was an elaborate affair, and this elaborate tiara was commissioned for the occasion by the bride's family. Van Cleef & Arpels finished the tiara (and its accompanying parure of jewels) in 1938. Made of diamonds set in platinum, the tiara features two rows of upright pear-shaped diamonds, each underlined by multiple rows of baguette-cut diamonds. The design is a rather exuberant arrangement of carat power, quite distinctly in the Van Cleef & Arpels style. And it certainly is overflowing with carat power: the 54 pear-shaped diamonds weigh 92 carats all together, and the 530 baguette diamonds add another 72 carats to the piece. The set also included a double row necklace of baguette and round diamonds and two pairs of earrings.
A design like this could be overpowering, but given Fawzia's striking Hollywood beauty, that was never a concern. She wore the tiara in the course of her duties as a member of the Persian imperial family and as Queen, but she didn't last long in Iran. The marriage was a match of political and dynastical advantage conceived by the groom's father; the bride and groom were teenagers who hadn't really met until the nuptials were underway. They had one daughter together, but Queen Fawzia never adjusted to life in Tehran. She was depressed, and her health suffered to the point that she shocked the Egyptian court representatives that had been sent to check on her. She departed for Egypt to convalesce and never returned, eventually obtaining a divorce that was finalized in Iran in 1948. Princess Fawzia married again in 1949 and had two more children. The Shah would marry twice more.
Fawzia and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. She is wearing the double row necklace that is part of this parure in addition to a longer diamond necklace.
This set of jewelry apparently returned to Egypt with Fawzia. It was not part of the crown jewels of Iran that remain, following the overthrow of the Shah, in Central Bank of Tehran today. Jewels from the Egyptian royal family were confiscated after their monarchy was brought down, but the set seems to have escaped that fate too, at least. Princess Fawzia died in 2013.

Are you a fan of this modern design?

Photos: Van Cleef & Arpels, Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons/سبأ