30 October 2015

Royal Costumes of the Day: October 30

The Windsors can attest to the potentially disastrous results of a royal costume/fancy dress party, but if you get the right group, it can also be awesome. (And Halloween appropriate, hello!) Leave it to the Scandinavian monarchies, who can put the theatrical sense required to nail a tiara appearance to work in costume mode if they so choose:

Sweden: Princess Madeleine, Princess Lilian, Crown Princess Victoria, King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia
Riiiight?! As part of the festivities for King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia's silver wedding anniversary in 2001, they decided to hold one such shindig, and the results were glorious. You have to love King CG and his "this wig is ridiculous, deal with it" stance, don't you?

Norway: Princess Märtha Louise, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit (actually, this was a couple months before their wedding), King Harald, Queen Sonja
The Norway bunch were also willing to play the costume game. Not all the royals in attendance chose to play along (and we have no time for party poopers here), but you know who did it the best, right? I don't need to tell you, do I?

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark, with Queen Anne-Marie and King Constantine of Greece behind
These two crazy kids. Of course Daisy, the costume designer, and Henrik, perhaps the royal male with the most sartorial flair (not always the most successful sartorial flair, but still), did it up right. They spread the love to all the family, too.
Princess Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg
The only thing surprising here is that Margrethe and Henrik didn't come up with a reason to have a big royal costume event like this every year at home. Maybe someday...

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated

29 October 2015

Tiara Thursday: The Iveagh Tiara

The Chinese state banquet in Britain last week provided us with a good, albeit brief, look at the Duchess of Gloucester. The Gloucesters are regular attendees at such functions but they aren’t always pictured, which is a shame for several reasons. One of those reasons? My need to see the wonderful jewel collection of the Duchess in action, of course.
The Duchess of Gloucester (Birgitte) wearing the Iveagh Tiara
The wedding gifts of Queen Mary (1867-1953) are truly the gifts that keep on giving, keeping the Windsor women sparkling for over a century and counting. One of the tiaras given to Princess Victoria Mary (“May”) of Teck, as the bride was known before marrying the future George V, has since become one of the best known tiaras in the British royal collection: the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. She also received this diamond tiara, a tightly packed design of scrolls and foliage in a kokoshnik shape, from Lord and Lady Iveagh. The holders of those titles at the time of Mary’s marriage were Edward and Adelaide Guinness. He was then Baron Iveagh, later to be named Earl of Iveagh, and thanks to the family brewing business, he was one of the richest men in the land.
Queen Mary (as Duchess of York) and the Duchess of Gloucester (Alice)
Mary appears to have enjoyed her Iveagh Tiara; at least, she managed not to tear it apart to provide diamonds for new designs, as she was wont to do. She kept this one until she passed away, at which time it was inherited by her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Gloucester (Alice, 1901-2004). Alice later passed it on to her own daughter-in-law, the current Duchess of Gloucester (Birgitte). It remains with the family today.
Lady Rose Gilman
The Iveagh Tiara is actually a pretty big tiara, though it can easily be hidden in the hair. Its true size was probably best shown by Lady Rose Gilman (née Windsor), daughter of the current Duke and Duchess, who wore it on her 2008 wedding day. Her styling of the tiara combined with her soft Franka Couture wedding gown is my favorite use yet, but any appearance is a treat.

Which Gloucester family tiara is your favorite?
(Others previously covered, though this is not all: the Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara, the Teck Turquoise Tiara, and the Cartier Indian Tiara)

P.S.: Two post day! Keep scrolling. 

Photos: British Pathe screencaps, and via Getty Images

Royal Trip (and Royal Sash) of the Day: October 29

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel continued their South American trip in Colombia last week, where Victoria continued to hit it out the park, maternity-style, drawing from ASOS Maternity and Seraphine in particular. And this continues to be a wonderful surprise for those of us that followed her through the Estelle pregnancy, so let's celebrate with a few highlights:

I do love a bold floral print, something a little different than the occasional upholstery effect you can get with florals.

Remember when I said, at Prince Nicolas' christening, that I liked Victoria's Seraphine dress even better with the matching coat? WELL HERE WE GO.

Photos: Kungahuset.se
You know I love these prints. I can't help it. And I actually even like the addition of the bow on the dress (which The Royals and I confirmed from Seraphine is something Victoria added after buying the jacket from them. Maybe she borrowed it from Estelle).

Back home, Princess Sofia had a big first moment in her royal life: her first time wearing her sash and star from the Order of the Seraphim! And...it looks like she's new to this, basically.
Carl Philip and Sofia attended the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences' Formal Gathering on Friday. These formal gatherings include white tie and orders but do not include tiaras for the royal women.
Wearing the star on your chest is something you see occasionally (in Spain, for example), but not in Sweden, where the ladies wear the star at the waist and their portrait brooch from the King on their chest (Sofia, who debuted that honor at Prince Nicolas' christening, left hers off for the night). And the sash is usually more at the hip and not so much in front. Just a leeeetle bit off, you see. These things must be weird to wear at first, but a quick chat with her mother-in-law or sisters-in-law would fix this right up. The dress, on the other hand, is gorgeous, so points for that. Her next sash-wearing occasion should be next week for the state visit from Tunisia, so we'll see...

28 October 2015

Royal Gowns of the Day: October 28

These are Kate's recent evening appearances, and this is also the post in which I reverse all my prior opinions:

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry attended the premiere of the new James Bond film, Spectre, on Monday
First, she threw a 1930s curveball at us with this belted Jenny Packham gown. And she threw in an updo and a fabulous pair of blue topaz and diamond earrings, which would normally be enough to make me swoon over anything. However. But. Well...
Robinson Pelham earrings (as identified by Anna, and worn by Carole Middleton to her daughter's 2011 wedding party), and a Jenny Packham gown (modified from the Spring 2011 runway)
As much as I love the idea of her going all Old Hollywood, I think that's the sort of theme that needs a bit more commitment. Maybe starting with a sleeker hairdo. Yeah, mark this down as the rare occasion an updo didn't win me over. I give the whole thing...three blinks and a shrug. (I'll still take the earrings, though.) (And the dates, hey-o.)

In other reversals of opinion...

The Duchess of Cambridge attended the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala at the V&A
Given my well-documented dislike of Crown Princess Mette-Marit's famous prairie dresses, I should not take well to an attempt to usurp that Nordic pioneer throne. But against all odds, I kinda like this particular change of pace. (What's not against all odds: me disagreeing with most of you, probably.) The dimension and movement of that ruffle intrigue me - yeah that's right, I STAND WITH THE RUFFLE - and it's nice to see her in a bold Erdem floral that strikes closer to the designs for which the label is so well known.
Erdem, available at Net-a-Porter. Earrings, available in your dreams.
The sapphire and diamond earrings here are A+ too: more jewels debuted from the stash of the late Queen Mother! Naturally, I have a post up on them over at the Jewel Vault. And also naturally, I'd totally copy and paste the previous evening's hair here, because these babies deserve to be shown off. (Some things never change after all...)

27 October 2015

Royal State Banquet of the Week: October 27

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima were all of one day into their state visit to China before the Queen was forced to call in sick with a kidney infection. Trouper that she is, she did manage to turn up for the state banquet, because what else is she going to do with all those emeralds and a brand new dress?
Modified a runway version, her Mattjis van Bergen gown is a Van Gogh painting brought to sartorial life. Between this and her Prinsjesdag gown inspired by a room at Huis ten Bosch Palace, she's developing a knack for tossing a little Dutch pride into her outfits without draping herself in flags, which I love. (She is walking a fine line, though. I mean, it's all fun and games until someone shows up with a working windmill on their head and calls it a hat.)
Click here for videos.
As further proof that Máx knows what she's doing when it comes to state banquets, the Van Gogh print works beautifully as a focal point for the quick posed full-length shot, but it disappears for the table shots (of which there are usually more). She kindly added a second focal point so as not to bore anyone while dining, and nothing says focal point quite like GIANT EMERALDS.
Máxima is not only showing off the rocks, Easter egg emerald drop included, she's showing off the flexibility of the family collection and of the Dutch Emerald Parure. This is what she does best, and I love seeing her magpie sense at work.

Photos: NOS video screencaps, Mattjis van Bergen, Twitter

26 October 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 26

As they do every year, the King and Queen of Spain headed of Oviedo for a few days of engagements, all surrounding the main event: the Princess of Asturias Awards ceremony. Sartorially speaking, it tends to be a highlight in Letizia's year (and in Felipe Varela's year too, since the designer usually provides a new outfit for her). So it is in the past, and so it is in the present:

House of HM the King
This year's dress is a scroll-down party, all prim and proper up top, just a black sleeveless dress with some belt action, but flirty at the end, with tiers of silk cady in shades fading from black to white.

House of HM the King
And flirty it is, with a movement that is downright flippy, if you see what I mean. (You should see what I mean - click here to see the arrival on video, plus the rest of the ceremony if you like.) The slight asymmetry of the back hem dipping below the front doesn't make much sense standing still, but makes all the sense when you see it in motion.
Note that the pearl necklace she wears is actually attached to her the zipper area so that it sits just right on the neckline.

Actually, the part of Queen Letizia's most worth noting is not the dress, new though it may be. It's all about the pearls.
CasaRealTV screencap
Her huge pearl necklace is thought to be the Russian set of pearls given by Alfonso XII to his bride, Maria de las Mercedes of Orléans, as a wedding present in 1878. Maria de las Mercedes passed away just five months after marrying the King. But her pearls, originally a length of 41 pearls later shortened to 37, have remained with the Queens of Spain. They were included in the list of jewelry Queen Victoria Eugenia designated the joyas de pasar, the jewels that are passed from queen to queen. The list includes some of the most important pieces the Spanish royal family has, including the Fleur de Lys Tiara, and these pearls are considered by some to be the most valuable. It's the first time Letizia has worn any of those jewels. Either a subtle way to inch into it or a mega splash, depending on your point of view.

25 October 2015

Sunday Tidbits for October 25: All the Tiara, Coat, and Swishy Skirt News You Need

First, a little housekeeping: If you stopped by the blog yesterday and found comments closed, that was due to an attack of spam comments. In order to help out with these problems for now, comments containing links will go into moderation before posting, so expect delays if you're including a link.

Now, let's get to our tidbits:

--Tiara Watch: Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik are visiting Indonesia for a state visit. Margrethe got right in the spirit at the state banquet with a shawl that tied her dark blue dress to her turquoise jewels (the Danish Turquoise Bandeau paired with the earrings and pendant brooch given to her by Prince Henrik). The hosts' traditional shirts and other outfits set the tone for the evening, and a small tiara with opaque stones really was the perfect choice for a queen here. The Danish monarch was quick to quiz the President on batik when she arrived, so I'm sure she was delighted with this state banquet scene. [Kongehuset, Jakarta Post]
Billed-Bladet video screencap. Click here to see video.

--Raf Simons is ending his successful run at the creative helm of Christian Dior after three and a half years. I wasn't always a fan of his celeb creations, but he knew just what suited the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Charlene, and Queen Mathilde (who no doubt started her relationship with Dior specifically because Simons is Belgian). [New York Times]

--I'm pretty sure the Duchess of Cambridge has some sort of grand scheme involving plans for the opening of a future Royal Coat Museum. She'll have an entire wing dedicated in her name, and it will be a site of pilgrimage for coat devotees who will come to thank the one that did so much for the outer garment cause. The newest addition to the collection, worn for a day of engagements in Scotland Friday, is another custom coat from Scottish designer Christopher Kane. [Hello]

--Prince Harry attended a service to honor the 75th anniversary of the armed forces' explosive ordnance disposal units. And he's about to head stateside, visiting Fort Belvoir, Virginia with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on October 28th in support of the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando. [White House]

--Swishy Skirt Alert: I think I may have just found the one thing I'd covet from Queen Sofia's wardrobe. She got all fancy in a full black skirt (which makes me want to play dress up all over again) with an ivory jacket to receive the Hadrian Award in New York. [Hola]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault, we ended the state visit shenanigans with another new brooch debut for QEII, and talked about one very glittery pair of the Duchess of Cornwall's earrings.

Coming up this week: Sashes and trips in Sweden, awards in Spain, probably some more state visit shenanigans, etc....

23 October 2015

Royal Color Scheme (and Tiara Watch!) of the Day: October 23

Hey, remember this?
Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon attended the gala banquet for Queen Margrethe's 40th Jubilee in 2012.
Guess what? It's baaaaackkk! And spoiler alert: it's still glorious. In Norway last night, King Harald hosted his annual gala dinner for parliament. Queen Sonja was pretty standard in repeated blue and Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, but I was saving my kudos for the second wave of the royal party anyway.
Firstly: Crown Princess Mette-Marit in that fab white Peter Dundas for Pucci gown and the Diamond Daisy Tiara. There's nothing better than M-M in white, man. Secondly: Princess Astrid getting all gown'd and tiara'd up (in her antenna aigrette), despite her crutches. That's some true dedication to the cause. And thirdly: Yes, that is Crown Prince Haakon carrying Aunt Astrid's purse for her. PRINCE CHARMING ALERT.

Mette-Marit wasn't the only one in the mood for a white gown last night. Crown Princess Mary was too, but since she was presenting a design prize, she did her thing and decided to be all design-y about it. With feathers!
This is perfect. It is! You see, I've been waiting for someone to fill the Odette role in my upcoming production of Royal Swan Lake. We've got two Odiles already lined up, courtesy of Queens Máxima and Mathilde in their dark feathery cocktail dresses (they both have the same model in slightly different colors, because of course they do):
Queen Mathilde wore her feathery version again this week, what a coincidence - to an autumn concert at the palace.
Photo: Belgian Monarchy Twitter
And now we finally have the other half of the ballet dream (and a froofy gown to discuss on a Friday, so win/win). Leave it to Mary to be the final piece of the puzzle. She knows just what we need.

22 October 2015

Royal State Visit of the Day: October 22

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been front and center for the Chinese state visit to the United Kingdom, thanks to Prince William's trip to the country earlier this year. As the state visit continued yesterday, they accompanied President Xi and Madame Peng for a Lancaster House event focusing on creative collaboration between the two countries.

Dolce & Gabbana may have been a surprise selection for the Duchess (even if a lace dress of any sort was anything but surprising), but she was hopping on board a royal mini-trend for these D&G dresses. Her guipere lace dress in a plum shade was paired with accessories in similar shades.

Dolce & Gabbana dress, at Net-a-Porter
The dress itself, I love. I don't find it too evening-ish (not any more so than the rest of her lace dress collection, really), but at the same time, I'm waiting to see it at an evening event with an updo so that lace turtleneck collar can breathe, and also for maximum Edwardian flair.

The state banquet on Tuesday was handled at the Jewel Vault with full coverage and full jewel identifications for all family members, but since I like babbling about tiara stuff and since it never hurts to look at pretty gowns more than once, let's sum up the big Cambridge state banquet debut.
Kate's first state banquet appearance proved she paid particularly close attention to the Sartorial Symbolism section of her How to Royal It Up: The Right Way handbook. Her bespoke Jenny Packham gown is red, the color of joy and good fortune in China. And while I rejoice that she wore the Lotus Flower Tiara again just because I like it so much more than her wedding tiara, there's more to it since the lotus symbol has significance of its own in Chinese culture.

Video: Short look at the state banquet. A longer version, including the royal family's entrance and both speeches, is posted at the Vault.
Those seeking some internal royal family symbolism in the form of a royal family order for Kate were in for a letdown when she turned up order-free. (Count me among the unsurprised; the rest of those yellow-bowed brooches were handed out to those doing the "full time royal" gig, and we know the Queen doesn't give honors out like candy. Kate's future holds plenty of RFO-wearing, anyway.) But if jewel loans are anything to go by, all is copacetic between Cambridge #1 and the Boss Lady: the tiara, her diamond chandelier earrings, a diamond bracelet from Queen Mary via the Queen Mother, and the bracelet Prince Philip designed for the Queen as a wedding present were all on loan to the Duchess. The Wedding Gift Bracelet, known so well as a personal  part of Her Maj's collection, was an extra special surprise.

Now that we have all that blah blah blah aside, did ya like the look? For me, well, it has a swishy skirt. And you know my stance on Things That Are Swishy. (Which is, to be clear: WANT.)

Photos: via Getty Images, Net-a-Porter, Telegraph video screencap

21 October 2015

Royal Trip of the Day: October 21

Hey! Where's the Chinese state banquet and a certain Cambridge in a tiara?! I'm glad you asked. Full coverage, including jewel identifications and discussion, is at the Jewel Vault, so click on over. State visit shenanigans continue today, so we'll probably touch on that here tomorrow (with some final thoughts on the banquet, I'm sure!).

Meanwhile, in other red dress news...
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel arrived in Peru on Monday to start an official visit that will also take them to Colombia. They were received by the President of Peru, Ollanta Humala, and his wife, Nadine Heredia, and Victoria had an audience with the President.
The first lesson we have learned on this trip is that the Crown Princess is a big fan of the custom dress she ordered from Seraphine for the christening of Prince Nicolas. This is the same one, just in red. Stock up, why not? She paired it with floral print shoes, a repeated Malinda Damgaard hair ornament, and a small dragonfly brooch. It wasn't an entirely cohesive look, but you gotta give her some credit for bringing it hat+brooch style on her first day. That's a queenly way to kick off a trip. (Here's a gallery from day 1, including the evening event with a voluminous coat from Baum und Pferdgarden.)

Day 2 featured more red, this time a dress in a star print. Star prints are a little bit tricky, I think, in that it's hard not to look like you've been attacked by a group of flags with a grudge to bear.
But this one from ASOS maternity seems to manage it fairly well, no?
ASOS Maternity in the same print, though Victoria's is obviously a shorter length.

20 October 2015

Royal Jewels of the Day: October 20

Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction on November 10th in Geneva holds some special royal (and should be royal) treasures. There are more than a few pieces that deserve a close look, so our weekly sparkly indulgence is here early to get you through your Tuesday.

The headline piece of royal provenance is a spectacular emerald and diamond necklace that belonged to Princess Hélène (Elena) d’Orléans (1871-1951), who was the daughter of Prince Philippe d’Orléans, Count of Paris, a claimant to the French throne. The young princess was considered a desirable candidate for marriage for several of Europe’s most eligible princes. She fell in love with Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria and eldest son of the future Edward VII, before her Roman Catholic faith put an end to their affair and she married the Italian Prince Emanuele Filiberto, 2nd Duke of Aosta instead.
The necklace is Lot 399, worn by Hélène
Like most royal brides at the time, her wedding gifts included a considerable amount of jewelry. From her godfather, Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, she received this diamond and emerald necklace along with an emerald and diamond tiara. Among other luxuries he collected, the Duke of Aumale had an eye for fine jewelry, and these pieces likely came from his own collection. The necklace may date from the early 19th century, and has similarities to others from the great French jewelers during the Napoleonic Empire; it particularly resembles the necklace from the Empress Joséphine Emerald Parure now worn by Queen Sonja of Norway.
High quality Colombian emeralds are the star of this piece, in graduated clusters of square green stones set in diamonds with a series of pendants between and below. At some point, both the wedding gift necklace and tiara left the Aosta family and were acquired by Sybil Sassoon, Marchioness of Cholmondeley (1894-1989), herself the owner of a significant jewelry collection. After the Marchioness passed away, the emerald necklace was among jewels offered for sale at Christie’s. It went into a private collection and has now surfaced once more, with an estimated price of $1.5-2.5 million. (Updated final sale price: $2,625,522)

Lot 398, worn by Queen Elena
Another high price tag is attached to a double strand pearl necklace of royal provenance. These large, natural saltwater pearls belonged to The Pearl Queen, a.k.a. Queen Margherita of Italy (1851-1926). (Her love of pearls has been seen here previously in her large and flexible Musy Tiara.) The pearls passed down through the family from there: to Margherita’s daughter-in-law Queen Elena (1873-1952), to Elena’s daughter Princess Maria of Savoy, and then to her daughter Princess Chantal of Bourbon-Parma. They are now offered with a pre-sale estimate of $500,000-$700,000. (Updated final sale price: $634,160)

Lot 396, worn by Princess Joséphine
Royal pearl earrings are also at this auction. This pair of natural button-shaped pearl pendants in old-cut diamond surrounds were favorites of Princess Joséphine of Belgium (1872-1958), the sister of King Albert I and wife of Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. They’re estimated at $48,000-$68,000. (Updated final sale price: $160,787)

Lot 369
This bangle has a simple elegance to it, and well it should, considering it was made by Fabergé. The yellow gold band has two trefoil motifs of diamonds and green demantoid garnets at either end. It was presented to the last Emperor and Empress of Russia, Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, during a city visit in 1896, and it has an estimate of $26,000-$32,000. (Updated final sale price: $29,960)

Oh yes, I did save the best for last. Or at least the one that most makes me wish I had a few spare hundred thousand lying around…
Lot 397
We’ve talked about this one before, and it makes a splash whenever it comes up: the Chaumet Westminster Tiara. This beautiful tiara puts its own spin on the popular kokoshnik shape by using a background of curved translucent blue plique-á-jour enamel panels with lines of old-cut diamonds in forget-me-not floral motifs on top and lines of collet-set diamonds between. The Belle Époque design has a central motif with cushion-shaped diamond openwork and is mounted in platinum and gold.

The tiara was commissioned from Joseph Chaumet by the 2nd Duke of Westminster for his wife, Constance (1876-1953), who was known as Shelagh. The commission came in 1911, when the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary and all its accompanying events would have brought out the finest gems the aristocracy had to offer. The tiara later left the family until it surfaced again and was returned once more to the Westminster collection. The tiaras of the current Duke and Duchess of Westminster (which we’ve covered here in the past) are still an impressive lot, despite pieces that have been sold over the years, such as the Rosebery Pearl and Diamond Tiara. It's hard to imagine letting this one go again, but it's also understandable given the rare occasions today for tiara use. I can only hope the enamel kokoshnik makes its way to another home that will continue to allow it to be exhibited and studied, because it is far too beautiful to be tucked away. The Chaumet Westminster Tiara is marked as “sold by the order of the trustees of the Duke of Westminster” and has a pre-sale estimate of $380,000-$550,000. (Updated final sale price: $676,104)

Photos: Courtesy of Christie's, with thanks to the Jewellery Department

19 October 2015

Royal State Visit of the (Last) Week: October 19

Queen Mathilde made up for a lackluster opening outfit for her Polish state visit last week with a double tiara appearance on day 1. She continued to bring it on day 2, so let's catch back up with the Belgian couple and see how they finished out their trip:

Ahhhh. A muuuuuch better day outfit this time around. This is a repeat from an earlier trip to Italy with a new matching hat added, and it is peak elegance. Added bonus: brooch action!

Photo: Belgian Monarchy Twitter
For the evening event on day 2, Mathilde made a successful play on volume with this striking red gown. This outfit comes with another added bonus: more jewels from Queen Fabiola! Her multi-colored earrings are from what is typically called the Tunisian set, and they mix green and red jewels (here they are on Fabiola). Mathilde has worn these since 2013, before Fabiola's passing. These gems are a matter of personal taste, but when used right, they really shine. And this qualifies as the right kind of use in my book. Gorgeous. (Click here for a gallery from day 2.)

And on the third and final day, the Queen delivered a sneak peek of my upcoming game show, Máx or Mathilde? Take away the face, and sometimes you just can't tell the difference. Meanwhile, this is yet another time when a politician or spouse warrants a rare comment here, because First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda is killing me with her chic little tartan wrap. Print this out and mail it to all our royal shawl lovers, because that's how it's done. (Click here for a gallery from day 3.)

18 October 2015

Sunday Tidbits for October 18: Five Royal Women, One Bonus Tiara

Updates from some leading ladies that don't always cross our sartorial radar make up this week's edition of tidbits:

--The most interesting royal outfit this month (well, without a tiara involved) goes to Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, for wearing a long kimono made of recycled aluminum pull tabs - oh yes! - by Walleska Ecochicc. I could tell you that this was for Sustainability Day, but you probably already guessed that, right? She was at a school, reading a children's book about sustainability that she co-wrote, and this is one sneaky sartorial move to get kids to talk about her cause. Put those kooky fashion powers to use for the greater good, I say! [ParisMatch]
Urgenda screencaps. Click here for video.

--The Duchess of Cornwall's work with rape victims is getting some much-needed attention this week. She also got to present the Man Booker Prize (which must be a favorite engagement for a book lover such as herself), so yeah, Cams had good week. [Telegraph, Zimbio]

--In other top-notch royal engagement news, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence joined Princess Astrid of Belgium in Brussels to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Edith Cavell. Cavell was a British nurse who helped advance modern nursing in Belgium and whose efforts to help Allied soldiers escape occupied Belgium in World War I ended with her execution by a German firing squad. This particular royal pairing seems the perfect choice to honor this heroine. [Telegraph, Facebook]
Photo: Guy Goossens - Sénat de Belgique. See an additional gallery here.

--Over at the Jewel Vault, Queen Elizabeth II has returned to action after the Balmoral break. She had engagements with Prince Harry and with horses, so that's a banner week. We also talked about who's doing what for the upcoming Chinese state visit.

--And finally, here's a bit of non-royal tiara news for you: In China, actress/model/singer/megastar Angelababy borrowed a diamond and pearl tiara from Chaumet to wear with her Dior haute couture gown at the lavish celebrations for her wedding to actor Huang Xiaoming. This particular tiara was previously worn by the Countess of Paris. Angelababy also wore another diamond Chaumet tiara for photographs. [Chaumet, Pinterest, Harper's Bazaar]

Coming up this week: The rest of the Belgians in Poland, and more...

16 October 2015

Royal News Update of the Day: October 16

I had planned to return to Queen Mathilde's trip to Poland today (and we'll still get there later!), but then Sweden dropped a happy bit of info on us yesterday:

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia are expecting a baby! Princess Sofia is pregnant with the couple's first child, and the baby is due in April 2016 (the month after Crown Princess Victoria is due). Congrats to the happy couple!
Photo: The Royal Court, Sweden
2016: The Year of the Baby Sash. Brace yourselves.

Since we're chatting Sweden, a couple more things:
Photo: Mattias Edwall, The Royal Court, Sweden
Official pictures from the christening of Prince Nicolas have arrived! That green background picks up the colors in the top of Princess Madeleine's dress perfectly, but isn't quite as kind to everyone else.
Photo: Mattias Edwall, The Royal Court, Sweden

And a royal gathering for good measure:
Crown Princess Victoria traveled to Luxembourg, where Grand Duchess Maria Teresa hosted a meeting for the Honorary Board of the International Paralympic Committee. Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Margriet of the Netherlands were also there, and of course Grand Duke Henri was on hand.
Victoria wore another Seraphine Maternity dress, and I can't help it: I am forever in favor of polka dots on all the things. It's cute!

15 October 2015

Tiara Thursday: Queen Nazli's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara

When we looked at Princess Fawzia's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara last year, many of you made note of its large size, classifying it firmly in the "big gun" category. Amusingly, though, Fawzia's tiara was actually not the big gun tiara in that particular jewelry order.
Queen Nazli's Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara (sketch)
Princess Fawzia's tiara was ordered from Van Cleef & Arpels in 1938, in advance of the wedding of the Egyptian princess to the future Shah of Iran, but it was part of a larger commission from the esteemed French jeweler. Fawzia's mother, Queen Nazli (1894-1978), took the opportunity to order a parure for herself, a set even more elaborate than the one created for the bride. Van Cleef & Arpels: Treasures and Legends by Vincent Meylan details the set of a tiara with more than 700 diamonds in platinum and a matching necklace with well over 600 additional diamonds, each item boasting between 200 and 300 carats. The tiara could also be worn as a necklace itself, and features bursts of baguette diamonds topped with rolling rows of brilliants. This design has always reminded me of the marquees topping old Art Deco movie theaters - with a sign screaming QUEEN instead of a list of coming attractions. There's no way not to make an impression in pieces like these.
Queen Nazli's story is not a happy one, but it is intertwined with the tale of her tiara. She was born Nazli Sabri, the daughter of a politically-inclined Egyptian family. She was 25 years younger than Fuad I, who married her 1919 after spotting her at the opera. It was the second marriage for both of them, and an unhappy one, but it did last until he died in 1936. Nazli was Queen Mother by the time this tiara was created. She left Egypt for the United States in the 1940s and settled in the Los Angeles area. With an unhappy marriage and a divorce in her own past, the Queen Mother supported her daughter Princess Fathia's desire to marry Riyad Ghali, a commoner and a Christian, in 1950. The marriage was against the wishes of Nazli's son, King Farouk, and he reacted by stripping his mother and sister of their royal titles and allowances and banning them from Egypt.
Financial trouble was not far off for the banished royal women. The former queen still had her valuable jewel collection, and they had to put it to use. In 1975 these pieces were among jewels placed for auction at Sotheby's, the tiara and necklace selling for $127,500 and $140,000 respectively (per Jewels du Jour), but Nazli and Fathia still ended up in bankruptcy court. The worst was yet to come: Fathia was murdered in 1976 by the man she had fought to marry (and had later divorced) just as she and her mother regained their passports and were able to return to Egypt. Nazli died two years later.
The necklace (sketch and actual)
As for the jewels, the tiara has not been seen since. The necklace, however, just reappeared: Sotheby's will auction it again in the Magnificent Jewels sale on December 9, 2015. The overwhelming opulence of rows upon rows of brilliants is even more stunning in current pictures, and I can't help but wish we'd get another look at that tiara - if it even still exists.

What do you think: too much, or never enough?

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

Photos: Van Cleef & Arpels, Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons, Sotheby's

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 15

Queen Máxima marked National Renter's Day on Saturday.
It's possible my love of anything nearing a check or windowpane print has gotten out of control, but I'm digging this.
The dress from Spijkers en Spijkers
Granted, I would change...well, most of the rest of the styling here, such as choosing the blue boots or the black hat, and you know I can't abide by more buggy brooches (she wore two from the runway look, a collection from Spijkers en Spikjers and Bonebakker; there's a gallery linked in the tweet below with more views of Máx's look).

But still: this dress, it has potential.

14 October 2015

Tiara Watch of the Day: October 14

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde headed out for a state visit to Poland yesterday. I wasn't sure if we'd see any tiaras, but Mathilde proved she was prepared to BRING IT while visiting her mother's home country.

First things first, though: arrival time.
With Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda
I see where they were trying to go here - volume at the back and a cinched waist at the front, a silhouette she's experimented with in the past - but going there with this heavy of a print accidentally spreads that volume all over the place. (View it from multiple angles in this gallery, plus more looks at the evening event.) Also, these topless hats drive me nuts.

I'm ready and willing to forget all that, because then it was time for TIARAS! And yes, that is tiaras plural, despite the fact that Queen Mathilde was the only one tiara'd up. She wore two tiaras, one of which was new to her. Attagirl!
Wearing her pink Armani dress from Crown Princess Victoria's 2010 wedding, Mathilde donned her Laurel Wreath Tiara as a necklace and added the Wolfers Necklace Tiara on top as a tiara. This is the first time we've seen her in the diamond Wolfers piece. (We've covered these in depth in the past, so click their names for more.) The tiara belonged to Queen Fabiola, who received it as a wedding gift from Belgian industry, and I can't help but smile when I see the volume of Mathilde's hair magically increase to accommodate a piece once perched on Fabiola's famous bouffant.
Fabiola left her estate to charity when she passed away last year, but Mathilde has been slowly reintroducing jewels that belonged to the late queen, including the pearl and diamond earrings she wore at this banquet. Apparently advance gifts or some other planning must have occurred with at least part of Fabiola's jewel collection, which is lovely to see since Mathilde and Fabiola were close. The wait continues to see if other pieces, such as the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara, are also in Mathilde's possession.
It's also exciting to see Mathilde wear another tiara, period. She's never had much of a selection at her disposal, and she's been sticking with the Nine Provinces Tiara since Philippe took the throne. And seeing her inner magpie come out to play? Priceless. Keep it up, Your Maj.

Photos: via Getty Images, Twitter