11 January 2019

Programming Note

Friends, it's time for a hiatus. The blog is going to take a break for a while.

I'll be closing the comments on Wednesday.

In the meantime, posting continues as normal at the Jewel Vault and you can catch me (sporadically, at least) on Twitter.

Thank you!

09 January 2019

Readers’ Favorite Outfits of 2018, Evening: Results, Part 2!

This is it, the last installment of the results from your favorite royal outfits of 2018 and the remainder of your top 10 favorites from the Evening Divison. Drumroll please... 

#5. Princess Eugenie at her Wedding Reception in Zac Posen
Alex Bramall/Royal Family
Zac Posen's still dishing out little peeks at this dress on his Instagram, that's how much detail there is to absorb in this creation. Eugenie had a great year and I hope we see more royal looks from this designer in the future.

#4. The Duchess of Cambridge at the Diplomatic Reception in Jenny Packham
Embed from Getty Images
Kate's sparkly and floaty Jenny Packhams are all starting to run together for me, if I'm being honest. Not for many of you, though! Her last tiara offering for the year won her a spot in your top 5.

#3. Crown Princess Mary at the New Year’s Gala Banquet in Soeren Le Schmidt
Mary got all three of her entries in this category into the top 10! I do believe that's a record. She captured #8, #6, and #3 - a reminder of the greatness she brings to the New Year's Gala.

#2. Queen Mathilde at the French State Banquet in Armani Privé
It was a good year for royal Armani Privé, no? I couldn't agree with this pick more and landing both of her possible entries in the top 10 is a great result for Mathilde.

#1. Queen Máxima at the British/Dutch State Banquet in Jan Taminiau
Embed from Getty Images
Máxima and her main man Jan didn't just take the top spot, they absolutely ran away with it. Maybe it was the dress, maybe it was THE JEWELS, maybe it was the fact that it all went down at one of the year's most anticipated royal events - whatever the combination, this one wasn't even close. Máxima is by far your favorite evening look of 2018.

That's a wrap on the best of 2018! Thanks to everyone who played along. (And a reminder for those who will inevitably take the absence of their own favorites a bit too personally: this is just for fun. Lowest possible stakes here, friends.)

08 January 2019

Readers’ Favorite Outfits of 2018, Evening: Results, Part 1!

And now for the results of your vote for your favorite royal evening outfit of 2018. The countdown of your top 10 begins like so:

#10. Queen Mathilde in Portraits in Armani Privé
Royal Palace
This is an old dress (first worn in 2011) given new life - or perhaps just new affection - in a series of stately portraits released by the Belgian royal family in 2018. Nothing says queen quite like a big ol' gown and a big ol' tiara.

#9. The Duchess of Sussex at her Wedding Reception in Stella McCartney
Embed from Getty Images
Wedding gowns themselves got their own separate vote, but wedding reception dresses were fair game here and the simple chicness of a white halterneck earned Meghan a spot among your faves.

#8. Crown Princess Mary at Crown Prince Frederik’s 50th Birthday in Lasse Spangenberg
Keld Navntoft/Kongehuset
Frederik's big birthday bash was one of 2018's royal highlights, and the couture level of Mary's banquet dress lived up to the occasion and more. I'd love to see this one make a New Year's Gala appearance some day.

#7. Crown Princess Victoria at the King’s Dinner for Nobel Laureates
Sara Friberg, Kungl. Hovstaterna
Red dresses ruled the countdown of your 2017 favorites, a tradition Victoria is happy to carry on for 2018.

#6. Crown Princess Mary at a Gala Banquet in Jesper Høvring
Had we done this voting game back when the "Bambi" dress (top and skirt, technically) debuted in 2014 - or perhaps even when it got slightly remixed for the New Year's Gala in 2016 - I suspect it would have swept the field. It's still got the magic to land at #6, even in repeat mode.

Stay tuned for the final part of the countdown...

07 January 2019

Royal Outfits of the Day: Day Formal with Mary and Letizia

The year's first fancy events rolled on last week in Denmark and over the weekend in Spain. These all involve what I call a modern sort of court dress for the royal women: formal outfits with long skirts for day events. It's something that used to be more common in the royal world, but is now limited to a few events in a few countries.

In Denmark, Queen Margrethe and the crown princely couple hold two days of New Year's Court receptions. They greet specific groups at each event.

Crown Princess Mary is fond of repeats for these events and many of those repeats have been redone over the years. This year featured a pair of remixed repeats.

Embed from Getty Images
First up was an old Heartmade outfit that's had many appearances at the New Year's Courts over the years. In 2017, she ditched the original jacket and had a new top put on the outfit. I'm still hoping we'll see that jacket again. (Queen Margrethe, by the way, is tremendously fond of repeats for these events; she wears this blue outfit for both days and has done so for many years.)

On the second day, Mary wore the dress she wore to attend the evening New Year banquet back in 2006, which was her first time attending. The Henrik Hviid dress turned up again in 2012 with its long train chopped off to serve as an option for the day events. Not my favorite, but she did give us some of the Danish Ruby Parure we were missing at this year's gala, with the brooch at her neck and the stud earrings.

In Spain, the King and Queen attended Pascua Militar, a military ceremony and their first formal event of the new year.

Embed from Getty Images
Even I - with my well-documented love of a winter velvet outfit - must admit that this Felipe Varela version is a bit of a snooze. Okay, it's a total snooze, unless you choose to look at it as nothing but a backdrop for some brooch action.

House of HM the King
That's a brooch, alright. This one is from the joyas de pasar, the Spanish royal jewels passed from queen to queen, and it is a debut for the Queen. (She wore a different pearl brooch with a pendant for National Day in 2017. Both are a common style found in multiple royal collections, including the Cambridge Pearl Pendant Brooch in Britain.)

Embed from Getty Images
It's interesting that when she adds a brooch - a jewel some might consider old fashioned today - she goes with outfits that feel like classic royal standards. That National Day outfit I linked above gave me strong flashbacks to a young Queen Elizabeth II; now we've got a brooch on a bouclé jacket, which is about as classic as it comes. I'd be interested to see her to put more of a modern Letizia spin on it, if ya know what I mean?

04 January 2019

Readers’ Favorite Outfits of 2018, Day/Cocktail: Results, Part 2!

Yesterday, we counted down the first five from your top 10 favorite royal Day/Cocktail outfits. Now we move right along to your final five…

#5. Queen Máxima at the Appeltjes van Oranje Awards in Natan
Embed from Getty Images
Máxima’s worn this dress in a few ways. This year’s cocktail-style appearance with a big ol’ brooch and some good hair thrown in landed the #5 spot on your list.

#4. The Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace in Emilia Wickstead
Kensington Palace
A little bit of tartan, some snow machine action, and a well fit cardigan grabbed Kate a spot on your countdown.

#3. Beatrice Borromeo at Monaco’s National Day in Armani Privé
Embed from Getty Images
Chocolate velvet accents and a bit of couture made for one of the chicest winter hat outfits I’ve seen, and secured a princely spot on your countdown for Beatrice.

#2. The Duchess of Sussex in Australia in Oscar de la Renta
Embed from Getty Images
The comments were full of quibbles but none of that could stop Meghan’s fairy tale moment from swooping in as your second favorite of 2018.

#1. The Duchess of Cambridge at the V&A in Erdem
Embed from Getty Images
Whether you loved it for the swish or the fabric or the accessories or any other reason you please, the results are clear: Kate takes home the grand prize in your Day/Cocktail Division!

Did your picks make the cut?

03 January 2019

Readers’ Favorite Outfits of 2018, Day/Cocktail: Results, Part 1!

You placed your votes for your favorite royal outfits for 2018 – Day/Cocktail and Evening Divisions – and now it’s time to count down the results!

Starting with the Day/Cocktail Division, your top 10 favorites are:

#10. The Duchess of Sussex at the Sentebale Polo Cup in Carolina Herrera
Embed from Getty Images
I think I forgot about this one entirely myself, but I’m glad many of you mentioned it. Set off by perfectly selected accessories, this denim dress is a little dose of Carolina Herrera magic.

#9. Princess Madeleine at Princess Adrienne’s Christening in Giambattista Valli
Erika Gerdemark, Kungahuset.se
The Swedish christenings have been such a reliable source of some of the best outfits in recent years. Princess Madeleine continues that tradition this year, with her floral dress and headdress accented by her debut of pieces from the Cameo Parure.

#8. Queen Mathilde at the French State Visit in Natan
Belgian Monarchy
A little bit of cape action and a dash of contrasting accessories are just the things to elevate a plain gray outfit to something worthy of a spot on your 2018 favorites list.

#7. Crown Princess Mary in Seattle in Preen
Preen/Danish Ambassador
Sometimes a little bit of black and white is all you need. It’s certainly all Mary needed to display the midi-length trend at its best and land herself a spot on your top 10.

#6. Lady Sarah Chatto at Princess Eugenie and Jack’s Wedding in Jasper Conran
Embed from Getty Images
Lady Sarah expanded her trademark streamlined aesthetic in a pastel direction for the second British royal wedding of the year, and the effect is a top 10-worthy personal best.

Stay tuned for the top 5 in Part 2!

01 January 2019

Royal Fashion Awards: New Year Receptions, 2019

Happy New Year to you! The Danish and Japanese families are ready to welcome us into 2019 with tiaras blazing, courtesy of their annual January 1st receptions/banquets for dignitaries.

Best in...Black Tie, Maybe
Crown Princess Mary
Embed from Getty Images
For the first time, Crown Princess Mary chose not to wear the Danish Ruby Parure for this event, opting to wear her Diamond, Ruby, and Spinel Necklace Tiara and its matching earrings. The tiara is a good match for this new Jesper Høvring dress. But is the whole thing a good match for this specific occasion? That's my question.

DR1/Jesper Høvring
This gala banquet is one of the most formal events of the Danish royal year; it's one of the only events involving the use of the gold collar of the Order of the Elephant instead of the light blue sash. Had this been Mary's choice for a black tie and tiara event, I think I'd be head over heels; here, though, I'm just not sure it lives up to the level of grandeur we've come to expect.

Best in White Tie
Queen Margrethe
Instead, we can turn to the one who sets that level of grandeur: the Queen herself, reliably swooping about in her major skirts. Proving once again that she can't get enough of her new frocks, she tossed her beloved Yeti pelt over the dress she wore to Crown Prince Frederik's 50th birthday banquet. I like it much more with the Pearl Poire Tiara and other pearls.

Best in Golden Coordination
Princess Marie
Embed from Getty Images
Princess Marie rounded out the trio of Danish royal ladies in a new outfit from Rikke Gudnitz with her Diamond Floral Tiara. This is the sort of gown that's perfectly picked to work with the Order of the Elephant's gold collar, from the high neck to the golden color.

I'm not entirely sold on the skirt and I'm surprised how different it looked in motion than it does in still photos, but I'll still give it a pretty well played.

Best in Returns
Crown Princess Masako
Meanwhile in Japan, a most welcome sight: Crown Princess Masako returned to the imperial family's New Year receptions for the first time in 16 years! We usually only see her arriving by car, she skips the public portions inside the palace. She wore the Japanese Pearl Sunburst Tiara, her favorite for years.

Masako led the line up of imperial princesses (left to right above): Princess Kiko (in the Akishino Tiara), Princess Mako (in her own tiara), Princess Kako (in her own tiara), Princess Nobuko, Princess Akiko, Princess Yōko, Princess Hisako (in what looks to be the Takamado Diamond and Pearl Tiara), and Princess Tsuguko.

With Emperor Akihito's abdication coming, the imperial couple led the ceremony for what I suppose will be the last time. Empress Michiko wore a big diamond rivière, diamond earrings, and a diamond brooch - not at all lacking in sparkle even though she stopped wearing tiaras some years ago. Serene elegance, as always.

Who gets your first Best Dressed awards for 2019?