28 February 2017

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 28

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a reception for the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture at Buckingham Palace yesterday, with other members of the British royal family.
This dress has done it again. The last time we saw this Erdem metallic lace frock was in Canada last year, worn by Crown Princess Mette-Marit. (I'd ask you who wore it best, but without a huge difference in the way the two women styled it, it's pretty much a six of one, half a dozen of the other situation.) Now, it's Kate's turn.
Erdem dress in silver metallic lace
Back then, I noted that the dress was saved from the dreaded Just Another Lace Dress designation by its touch of disco shimmer. In this case - in this lighting - the blergh-y color stands out more than the lace. But YET AGAIN I am smitten by the shimmer. Charmed into a thumbs up.
The Queen's purple look, with the Kent Amethyst Brooch, has been covered at the Jewel Vault.
Royal Family
Shimmery shoes from Oscar de la Renta never hurt anything, either. (Nor do earrings from Indian designer Anita Dongre, a slight nod to the occasion.)

27 February 2017

Monday Tidbits for February 27: One Mermaid, Several Sparkles

A little bit of royalty, a little bit of celebrity, here to kick off your week right:

--More Swedish birthday pics, this time on the occasion of Princess Estelle's 5th birthday:
Both Photos: Anna-Lena Ahlström, The Royal Court, Sweden

--As the Japanese government figures out abdication for Emperor Akihito, Crown Prince Naruhito expressed his readiness to take the throne in a press conference marking his 57th birthday. [Japan Times]

--Over at the Jewel Vault, a double sapphire day ends with a rather chic lace dress for the Queen.

--I think the color of Queen Sofia's dress - worn to receive the Gold Medal of the Circulo del Liceo - would best be described as "mermaid". Her diamond and ruby pendant belonged to her mother, Queen Frederika. [YouTube]
House of HM the King

--And finally, let's have a little Oscar glam, because why not? My best dressed at the Oscars last night: Taraji P. Henson in Alberta Ferretti and one amazing diamond necklace. It's a little like Diana's famous navy velvet amped up SEVERAL notches for the red carpet, no?
On the jewel front, I'm giving nods to Ruth Negga for wearing a tiara made of oxidized 18-karat gold and Mozambique rubies, and Charlize Theron's amazing Chopard earrings (one 25-carat pear-shaped diamond, one 26-carat heart-shaped diamond. Phew!). Who were you loving on the Oscar red carpet? Here's a quick glance at a bunch of looks, if you're so inclined. [Zimbio, Pinterest, Instagram, Buzzfeed]

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

24 February 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: February 24

Put on your biggest hats and your loudest jewelry, it's time for a Máxima update.

Queen Máxima opened an exhibition in Dordrecht on Saturday.
Ten bucks says she matched colors on purpose. On the jewelry front, she's managed to find the least obtrusive spot for a waist brooch - it takes a second glance to even notice there's a jewel there - which puts the focus on her repeated Ole Lynggaard earrings.
Ole Lynggaard Gipsy earrings

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima made a regional visit on Tuesday.
No need to be bothered if the dark clouds roll in when you've come equipped with a glow in the dark dress, see. I do love this color on her. I'm dubious as always about the coral wreath growing around her neck and ears, but the color can't be beat.

22 February 2017

Breaking Tiara News of the Day: Queen Letizia Wears La Buena

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Thursday tiara programming (and also our usual posting time schedule) for this important news flash:

The King and Queen of Spain welcomed the President and First Lady of Argentina to Spain for a state visit today, and hosted a state banquet in their honor.
CHECK. OUT. THAT. TIARA!!!!!!! Queen Letizia went all of 2016 without wearing a tiara, but she does wear tiaras at home when hosting state banquets, which gave her an opportunity to come back with a BANG  in 2017. The Fleur de Lys Tiara, known as La Buena, is the resident big gun diadem in the Spanish jewel vault. Made by Ansorena, it was a wedding present from King Alfonso XIII to Queen Victoria Eugenia in 1906. The fleur de lys symbol depicted in the tiara is a symbol of the House of Bourbon.

This is Letizia's first time wearing the Fleur de Lys Tiara; it was last seen in 2014 on Queen Sofia for the last state visit of King Juan Carlos' reign. It's among those jewels designated to pass from queen to queen per Queen Victoria Eugenia's will (the "joyas de pasar"). The large diamond earrings and hefty double diamond bracelets are also part of that group, and this is also Letizia's first time wearing those. When she goes big, she GOES BIG.

House of HM the King
The simple black Felipe Varela dress was really a master stroke here. Not only does Queen Letizia need to let those diamonds take center stage, she doesn't want to compete with the extra wide sash of Argentina's Order of the Liberator General San Martín. (Some sashes have skinnier versions for the ladies - like Spain's Order of Isabella the Catholic, worn here by first lady Juliana Awada - but this one apparently doesn't.)

Video: The gala banquet
I don't know about you, but I'm SWOONING. She totally carries off this enormous tiara. Regal to the max.

Man, this week is trying so hard to break my keyboard.

Royal Outfits of the Day: February 22

We don't always check in with the second day of a state visit - because, let's be honest, once the tiaras are done, so is my attention span - but in the case of Sweden/Canada Day 2, I have some Thoughts.

Princess Sofia attended the lunch on Day 2 of the state visit.
And those Thoughts are, in their entirety: NOOOOOOOOOO. The stripes and pleats might want to be a sporty tennis thing; the collar and lace are leaning down the Victorian widow path; that print wishes it was jazzy enough to be a Fresh Prince throwback. This dress just doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up.
Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini Printed Twill And Lace Dress, h/t to Laura

The day's neck bow trend wasn't nearly over.
Princess Sofia attended the dinner on Day 2 of the state visit.
I want to like this dress. I feel like I should be able to tap into the undying love I have for any sort of Elie Saab-ish embellished garment (right?!) - this version done by Ida Sjöstedt - I'm just not quite getting there.
Dress by Ida Sjöstedt
Ah, well. We'll always have the amethysts.

21 February 2017

Royal State Visit of the Day: February 21

The Swedish royal family welcomed Canada's Governor General for a state visit yesterday with the usual array of not-hats and tiaras, plus some surprises up their sleeves. Surprise #1 (which was not really a surprise because it was announced in advance, but work with me here): Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill stepped in for Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, who are on holiday with their family.

Click to enlarge. Photo: Kungahuset.se
For the arrival, Princess Madeleine repeated her perplexing Giambattista Valli dress (if I could just get past the feeling that she hastily slung her headphones around her neck when they interrupted her pre-event study session, I might be able to find the lovely floral dress beneath). Princess Sofia went simple in white and delivered Surprise #2: a version of the Ole Lynggaard gold brooch Crown Princess Mary wore to King Carl Gustaf's birthday dinner last year in her hair. It's definitely an improvement as a hat alternative instead of a tiara alternative (because nothing's preferable as a tiara alternative, duh).

And then there was Surprise #3: Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara on Princess Sofia!
More! Exclamation! Points!! Sofia's on a role: this is her third new pick from the family vault (and her fourth tiara overall), after giving us two different tiaras during the Nobel festivities. This has always been a tricky tiara to style because it has such a large circumference. It sits pretty high and is tilted pretty far back here to compensate, and I really do think it looks splendid on her. I'd probably find it splendid on anyone, but that's beside the point.

As if that weren't enough, Princess Madeleine delivered my other favorite colored stone tiara from the Swedish family, the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara. She wore it with aquamarine and diamond earrings from her personal collection (the aquamarine stones can be swapped for pearl pendants).

Temperley London dress (h/t to Heaven)
She wore a new gown from Temperley London, with gathered sleeves and a cut out back. My mind immediately flashed back to Queen Silvia's sleeveless gown from the Nobel Prize ceremony in 1979, which made me wish that this one had ditched the sleeves too, at least for a gala occasion. They'd be great without the orders and stuff.

Last but not least, the Pronger (a.k.a. the Nine Prong Tiara) was present and accounted for. I cannot see Queen Silvia's dress without remembering the glory of it paired with the Leuchtenberg Sapphires at the Nobel ceremony in 2012, but I've always been the greedy sort.

Check out a full gallery from the banquet here.

20 February 2017

Monday Tidbits for February 20: Verdicts and More

Headlines from Spain headline our Tidbits this week:

--A Spanish court handed down verdicts on Friday in the lengthy trial of Infanta Cristina - one of the elder sisters of King Felipe VI - and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin. It's a scandal that has plagued the whole royal family for several years. The Nóos case accused Urdangarin and his business partner of using their Nóos Institute sports foundation to obtain no-bid government contracts, and of channeling the profits through tax havens for their own personal use. Infanta Cristina was found not guilty of tax fraud complicity. Urdangarin was found guilty of several counts of tax fraud and corruption and was sentenced to six years and three months in prison. Both must pay fines. The King stripped Infanta Cristina of her Duchess of Palma de Mallorca title in 2015; the family has been living in Switzerland since 2013. [El País, New York Times]

--The Danish royal family hit the slopes in Switzerland for a little vacation, so Crown Princess Mary shared some photos she took of the kids. [Facebook]
HRH the Crown Princess/Kongehuset

--A major new dress exhibition opens at Kensington Palace on February 24. Diana: Her Fashion Story tracks the fashion journey of Diana, Princess of Wales and her image as we approach the 20th anniversary of her death. [Guardian]

--King Harald V turns 80 on February 21, and with Queen Sonja turning 80 herself in July, celebrations lie ahead. (The government will hold a gala dinner for the couple in May!) They've kicked things off by releasing a new series of photos of the royal couple and their family. [ParisMatch]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault: a little bit of green and a whole lot of orange.

Coming up this week: State visits in Sweden and Spain will await our judgment...

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

17 February 2017

Royal Outfit Grab Bag of the Day: February 17

A feast of leftovers to round out your week:

Queen Máxima attended a dinner last week during the annual working visit she and King Willem-Alexander make to Germany.
I see you trying to distract me with your magnificent diamond necklace, Máxima, but it will not work: I know you're sporting a formal jumpsuit with an elastic waist. It may have a cape back and it may be Valentino, but still. I see you.
Valentino Cape-Back Silk Jumpsuit, per ModekoninginMaxima
Most of their trip was solid repeats for our Máx, which is why we haven't paid the trip much attention here. ParisMatch has a gallery of every outfit she wore in Germany, should you be so inclined.

Princess Madeleine opened the 'Room for Children' at the Southbank Centre's 'Imagine' Children's Festival in London on Tuesday.
I guess I haven't had the opportunity to yell about SHOOTIES much lately, so...there's that. (SHOOTIES - the caps lock is important - is my generic term for any boot-ish thing of this nature that chops the line of the leg in such a brutal fashion, you see.)
Miu Miu boots worn with a Vilshenko blouse and a Valentino skirt, per Swedish Royal Fashion
All of these pieces have great potential. Let's try again. In three separate outfits, pretty please.

Queen Letizia and King Felipe attended the 'El Valor Economico del Espanol' conference on Monday.
PALATE CLEANSER. (Kind of a familiar palate cleanser, actually. Anybody else remember Queen Rania during her 2015 trip to Spain? I suspected it would be better without Rania's distracting shoe choice,and so it is.)

16 February 2017

Tiara Thursday: Queen Maud’s Turquoise Tiara

Queen Maud's Turquoise Tiara
One of the largest turquoise tiaras still in use belongs to Princess Astrid of Norway, sister of King Harald V, with royal roots that go back even further. The tiara comes from Queen Maud, Astrid’s grandmother, and from Maud’s mother, Britain’s Queen Alexandra, before that. It’s a tall diadem with scrolling diamond elements of alternating heights accented by multiple turquoise stones. It’s also a circlet, meaning that it connects in the back to form a complete circle. Princess Astrid usually wears it with diamond and turquoise earrings, a necklace, and a bow brooch.

Princess Astrid
There’s little photographic evidence of the tiara in use before it came into Princess Astrid’s possession (here’s a rare example of Queen Maud wearing it), but it is the largest tiara in Astrid’s collection and she has used it for some important occasions. She wore it for the 2001 wedding of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit; she gave a nod to the tiara’s history and the genealogical ties that bind the Norwegian royal family and the British royal family by wearing the tiara during a 2005 visit to London to mark Norway’s 100th year of independence.

Princess Astrid wears the tiara in a portrait released for her 85th birthday, standing between portraits of her parents
Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen/The Royal Court, Norway
To me, this turquoise tiara has a sort of theatrically medieval flair to it - which I love - thanks to its height and circlet design. Given that Princess Astrid’s tiara collection includes the most unusual pieces the family has to offer, this one fits right in.

Does this have a spot on your list of favorite Norwegian tiaras?

15 February 2017

Royal Gown of the Day: February 15

We talk about a lot of gowns here, but it's still pretty rare for us to get a legit ball gown in action. I'm talking one of those sweeping skirt, let's-go-waltzing kind of things, you know?

The Prince and Princess of Monaco attended the 2017 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco yesterday.
I would not have pegged sleek Charlene to be the one to give us a proper ball gown, I must say, but I am HERE FOR IT. Especially a Carolina Herrera red ball gown, of all things. (This is not so far from another Herrera red gown that I've admired for a long time, so I am admittedly even more biased than usual.) (I also can't be the only one noting the similarity between this and one of Crown Princess Mary's all time great gowns, that red Uffe Frank from her pre-wedding gala, which means you might as well triple my bias level.)

Red silk faille off-the-shoulder v-neck dress from Carolina Herrera
Princess Charlene opted for long, skinny earrings for her glam appearance, and my one note - because you  knew there'd be one - is that I think this could have handled a wider, more substantial earring. My love for the skirt, however, far outweighs that note. Do you have notes, or are you sold?

14 February 2017

Tuesday Tidbits for February 14: Pets and Portraits

Instead of chocolates and flowers, I got you these tidbits:

--Princess Astrid of Norway, sister of King Harald, is celebrating her 85th birthday! The royal family held a dinner for her at the palace and released this lovely group shot:
Morten Brun/The Royal Court, Norway

--An updated portrait published for Princess Astrid's birthday features the princess and her dog Pepita, a Japanese Chin. Why don't we have more official portraits including royal pets, huh? (They also published a gala portrait, but I'm going to save that for our Thursday tiara chat.)
Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen/The Royal Court, Norway

--Here, have some art: “Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World” is at the Yale Center for British Art in Connecticut through April 30th. The exhibition will also be at Kensington Palace this summer. [Vogue]

--I love a good mystery: Researchers are trying once again to find a concealed chamber in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, which may or may not contain the remains of Queen Nefertiti. [Chicago Tribune]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault: the Queen is back to work (in purple!) and Camilla has remembered that she has a plethora of colored gems at her disposal, bless.

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

13 February 2017

Royal Gown of the Day: February 13

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the 70th EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) on Sunday. Prince William is President of the Academy.
You know what Kate's dress reminds me of? Some of the gowns QEII wore in her youth, with floaty full skirts loaded with heavy floral embroidery (such as this one, which was even divided into tiers by ribbon on the back).

The Duchess wore a customized version of this black mix violet jacquard dress from Alexander McQueen, with a tiered skirt of layered organza.
I think the Queen would've changed the straps and so would I (personal preference and all that), but the comparison is a good thing. A GREAT thing, in fact - definitely a front runner for the Best of 2017 list. A bit of romance loaded with diamonds and crowned with an updo? As if I would ever object.

And oh yes, let's talk about those diamonds. These earrings have been around since 2011; apparently they are not a loan from the Queen. If they are indeed the real deal, a wedding gift might be the best guess at possible provenance. Kate also borrowed the Queen's Wedding Gift Bracelet once again - really, who can blame her for falling in love with that?

10 February 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: February 10

One week, two suits with full skirts.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Guild of Health Writers Conference on Monday.
It's Kate in Oscar de la Renta (which I love) and a rich jewel tone (also love), so why don't I love this more? I think I'm going to blame the pleats on the skirt for this one.

Crown Princess Mary opened an exhibition of silver jewelry in Aarhus on Wednesday.
This skirt's a little more my speed. I know, it's a shocker: I prefer the outfit with the purple hat. Add a purple hat to just about anything and I'll be on board, that's just the way it is. (Also, I'm adding "opening a jewelry exhibition" to my running list of royal duties I'd actually volunteer for, just FYI.)

09 February 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Ruby Peacock Parure, Revisited

For me, one of the delights of following royal jewels is the surprise that comes when pieces reemerge after long, mysterious absences. The Dutch Ruby Peacock Parure has given us two such surprises, once in 2009 and again in 2017. It is, therefore, time for a revisit.

Wilhelmina wears the Ruby Peacock Tiara
In 1897, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands commissioned Johann Eduard Schürmann & Co. to make a diamond and ruby tiara using rubies that once belonged to Queen Sophie, the first wife of Wilhelmina’s father Willem III (Wilhelmina's mother was Queen Emma, Willem's second wife). The result is this tiara filled with swirls around a central element resembling a peacock tail.

The Ruby Peacock Tiara and Necklace
The peacock motif can be removed from the tiara and worn in the hair as an aigrette. Matching jewels in the parure include a necklace, which is close to a mirror image of the tiara and can itself be worn in several configurations, and a large brooch. The pieces are often combined with jewels from the family’s other large ruby set, the Mellerio Ruby Parure.

Left to Right: Juliana in the necklace and pieces of the Mellerio Ruby Parure; Irene wears the central motif as an aigrette; Irene in the tiara and brooch. Her earrings also match the set.
Wilhelmina’s daughter, Queen Juliana, wore the necklace on the day she took the throne, and she also wore it occasionally as a headpiece. In the years that followed, it was Juliana’s daughter, Princess Irene, who became the Dutch royal associated most with the Peacock Parure. While most of the major Dutch royal jewels are wrapped up in a family foundation, it was often said that the Peacock Parure had been gifted to Irene.

Video: The Ruby Peacock Tiara in action
Princess Irene wore the parure often as a young princess and during her controversial marriage to Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, but she eventually stopped wearing it. For decades, the Ruby Peacock Tiara and its necklace went unseen. Many assumed that Irene had quietly sold it at some point (as is often speculated when royal jewels disappear from public view for years on end). Leave it to Queen Máxima - who genuinely seems to love showcasing jewelry and often plays around with new combinations from the family collection - to solve the mystery.

Máxima in 2012
In 2009, during a state visit from Sweden, then-Princess Máxima surprised everyone by appearing in the Ruby Peacock Tiara. She has used the diadem on several occasions since, and it has also been worn by Princess (formerly Queen) Beatrix. For those interested in ownership of royal jewels, their use of the tiara seems to indicate that the set is in the family collection now, and raises questions about whether it was really gifted to Irene in the past or not.

RVD/Vincent Mentzel
Even as the tiara made its way back into regular usage, the matching necklace remained a mystery. It also hadn't been seen in decades; was it still with the family? Once again, Queen Máxima has the answers. She wore the Ruby Peacock Necklace while hosting a dinner for the President of Germany earlier this week.

Máxima wears the Ruby Peacock Necklace, 2017
Questions about the long absence of this parure may remain, but we know these pieces are still around, and that’s what counts. I hope to see the necklace and the tiara worn together again soon, because this is a set that deserves to be seen all at once.

Which do you prefer: the Peacock Tiara or the Mellerio Ruby Tiara?

08 February 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: February 8


King Felipe and Queen Letizia presented the National Design and Innovation Awards this week.
Oooooooooooh! A cape!!!! Give me allllll the letterrrrssss and allll the exclamation points, because Letizia looks fabulous.

All the swashbuckling drama of a cape in a not-too-scene-stealing olive color, smartly accessorized with her snakeskin pattern pumps. Tremendously well played. Have we an early entry for her Best of 2017 pick? We have indeed.

The King and Queen of Spain also attended the 30th anniversary of the Expansion newspaper last night.
And also, oooooooooh! There's actually a lot to digest in this ensemble - braids in the hair and maybe the first Carolina Herrera outfit I'm not 100% sold on - so here's a gallery for your exploration, but right here and right now I will just say: EARRINGS. I don't recall seeing these before, and, well, wow.

07 February 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: February 7

A pair of looks from birthday girl Mary (she just turned 45!) for your consideration:

Crown Princess Mary opened Copenhagen Fashion Week last week.
Mary has a tendency to go "edgy" when fashion week comes around, which is understandable. ("Edgy" of course means barely that in most royal cases, this one included.) I think the YDE Copenhagen coat is meant to be the story here, though I find the pairing with this particular white blouse to be the distraction.

She also presented an award for the Cancer Society.
An off the shoulder bell sleeve top is not something I would've fallen for on description alone, AND YET - here we are. Whereas the fashion week appearance was a bit overloaded, this is divinely simple. She's playing towards the boho sleeve detail with her necklace choice, but I think it could be even more sophisticated with statement earrings instead. Yay or nay, huh?
Iris & Ink top (h/t to European Royals Fashion)

06 February 2017

Monday Tidbits for February 6: Sapphires and Warm Fuzzies

This week's warm fuzzies come in the form of sparkly jubilees, fuzzy hats, artistic kids, and rescue dogs. Something for everyone!

--Queen Elizabeth II's Sapphire Jubilee is today, marking an incredible 65 years on the throne. Naturally we are all over this at the Jewel Vault, where I am counting down my top five sapphire jewels from her collection. The top sapphire jewel will be ~revealed~ today.
David Bailey/Buckingham Palace

--Here is Princess Benedikte opening a trade fair in Germany wearing a giant furry purple hat. You're welcome. [Bild]

--Cuteness alert in Sweden: New photos of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel's family include this sweet snap of Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar. I enjoy how intently Oscar is taking notes, prepping for his own future moments of coloring glory.
Photo Anna-Lena Ahlström, The Royal Court, Sweden

--The Spanish royal family are the latest to join in a classic royal tradition: skiing vacation photocalls. [Hola]

--The Duchess of Cornwall was named the new royal patron of the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, taking over from QEII. She brought along her dogs for her latest visit; Beth and Bluebell are both rescue dogs that Camilla adopted from the charity. [Express]

--And finally, a Greek society wedding in London brought out several royal guests, including Queen Máxima wearing an Elie Saab dress previously seen on Crown Princess Victoria. You know how I love an unusual brooch placement, but I think this one's a miss.

Coming up this week: Catching up with Crown Princess Mary, and more...

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

03 February 2017

Royal Wedding of the Day: February 3

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary yesterday, and I never miss a chance to revisit their fabulous wedding. We've revisited it a few times and we will continue to for as long as this blog thing lurches along, just because it brings me joy. Allow it to bring some joy to your weekend too:

RVD / Jeroen van der Meyde
Queen Máxima, then Máxima Zorreguieta, chose royal wedding gown veteran Valentino for her gown. The result was a couture creation in luxurious ivory silk Mikado with a high cowl neck, three-quarter length sleeves, and a flared skirt. The skirt had panels of lace on the sides and extended back into a five meter train. Valentino also created the lace veil, which is magnificent enough to compete with some of the heirloom lace veils used by other monarchies.

A "new" tiara was created for the occasion by swapping the pearl elements on the Pearl Button Tiara for some of the family's diamond star brooches. It was a prescient move, forecasting the fun that the bride continues to have with the Dutch jewel collection, and a perfect choice to anchor her intricate veil. (I just realized that our Tiara Thursday for that tiara was done for their 10th wedding anniversary. I told you I  never miss my chance to come back to this one.)

I've always loved this dress because it is, to me, a truly royal affair. What I mean is that this ensemble has such a grand scale to it, it belongs in a massive cathedral for a televised wedding ceremony, and I can't imagine it - and don't want to imagine it - in any other situation. As I said when this dress took the number three spot on your list of favorite royal wedding gowns, sometimes that's exactly the charm of a royal wedding gown.

02 February 2017

Tiara Thursday: Queen Margherita's Mellerio Floral Tiara

Queen Margherita's Mellerio Floral Tiara
On a visit to the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy spotted a lovely diamond tiara with a flower at its center and wreath of pavé-set leaves and berries to either side. The tiara was made by French jewelry house Mellerio dits Meller, which was particularly adept at creating jewels with the natural motifs that were so popular at the time. It was on display with several other Mellerio jewels, including the Mellerio Shell Tiara now in the Spanish royal family. The Princess recommended the floral tiara to her father, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. (This is my kind of window shopping.)

The 1867 display of Mellerio jewels, the featured tiara on the left
The King's son and heir, Umberto, was to marry Margherita of Savoy-Genoa (1851-1926) in 1868, so the King bought the Mellerio diadem as a gift for the bride. Wreath designs in tiaras are nods to the wreath head ornaments of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, making this tiara the perfect gift for a future Italian queen consort.

Queen Margherita, as she became when Umberto succeeded to the throne in 1878, wore the tiara throughout her life. She often paired it with multiple strands of pearls, which was her signature style. (She was nicknamed The Pearl Queen.) Margherita was also pictured wearing the Mellerio tiara with another diamond floral jewel positioned above it (seen below).

The tiara remained with the Italian royal family after Queen Margherita's death and stayed with them when they went into exile in 1946. Queen Marie José (1906-2001), the wife of exiled King Umberto II (Margherita's grandson) and herself a Belgian princess, wore the Mellerio tiara on several occasions.

Marie José
Queen Margherita's Mellerio Floral Tiara is no longer with the Savoy family. It was sold, and was last known to be a part of the Albion Art Collection. It remains a superb example of the style of its time. (Plus, it's a great why not both? option for when you're trying to make that super crucial decision between the wreath tiara and flower tiara categories. As we all must do from time to time.)

Where does this rank on your list of favorite florals?

01 February 2017

Royal Flashback of the Day: February 1

Something very familiar floated down the runway during Haute Couture Week in Paris in January. For its Spring 2017 Couture collection, the House of Schiaparelli revived one of the most famous dresses the maison has ever created: the Lobster Dinner Dress.

The Lobster Dress, from 2017 (left) and 1937 (right)
Vogue and Philadelphia Museum of Art
The original dress was created in 1937 and was a collaboration between innovative couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and legendary artist Salvador Dalí. Dalí's lobster rested on a silk organza skirt along with parsley sprigs. It was a provocative design; lobsters were known to have a sexual connotation in the surrealist's work (see also: his Lobster Telephone) and this one was strategically placed, plus there was a sheer panel at the rib cage and some sheerness to the skirt. An order for the dress was quickly placed by none other than Wallis Simpson, the future Duchess of Windsor and one of Schiaparelli's most famous clients.
Wallis in her lobster dress
Wallis gave the dress a place in royal fashion history when she wore it in a series of Cecil Beaton portraits for Vogue. They were taken during her engagement to the recently abdicated King Edward VIII and were intended as a public relations move to sort of soften her public image. The choice of dress basically overrode that, though it did prove her to be a fashion-forward dresser. The portraits also helped to solidify the dress as one of Elsa Schiaparelli's most famous creations. The designer included an original Lobster Dinner Dress in her donation to the Philadelphia Museum of Art; at the 2012 Met Gala celebrating the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibition, Anna Wintour paid tribute to it in a Prada gown embellished with a giant gold lobster.

The 2017 lobster
Eighty years later, the lobster is once again walking down the runway. The new dress is a one-shoulder crepe gown with a lobster applique handsewn onto its bias-cut skirt. Creative director Bertrand Guyon told Vogue that the creation took six people 250 hours to complete - an haute couture piece that looks simple but exhibits advanced construction technique. Shall we start the countdown to Queen Máxima discovering this? She does love a good lobster embellishment. (Come on, Máx. Let's have some fun.)