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

03 September 2014

Royal Reuse of the Day: September 3

The theme for Crown Princess Mette-Marit's wardrobe yesterday was "reuse", you see, which is also the theme of my wardrobe every single day, only she does it fancier. Watch and see...
The President of Estonia arrived in Norway for a state visit yesterday.
In addition to her Valentino lace coat (reused indeed, and which she also has in red...though I'm not sure that detail fits with today's message), Mette-Marit wore a navy pillbox hat for the official welcome. She perched it on the back of her head, as she is prone to do, but it's a little taller than the usual types she anchors back there. Turns out, there's a good reason for that: it was made to be part of a different hat entirely. She shared the story on her new Instagram account.
An old hat with a navy crown and wide cream brim was remade into four wee pieces that are more in line with the headgear she prefers today. An interesting choice and an innovative one too, I think. And even though I'm sorry to see her moving further away from the general millinery category of Things With Brims, she does get an A+ for breaking in that Instagram with behind the scenes sartorial details.

She also shared that her gown for the evening's state banquet had undergone a similar transformation. It used to be this gem:
And now designer Nina Skarra has transformed it into something new:
And that something new looks just like something old in her closet (the dress she wore to Crown Princess Victoria's wedding), I can't help but notice. I miss the pink waistband. It was such a fresh touch, that color combination.

This is all in connection with a reuse day she's supporting. She'll be making a couple visits this week for the same cause, and she's donated some clothing items to be auctioned. She's putting her closet where her mouth is, so to speak, and that's all good stuff. I just wouldn't have minded seeing that hat or this dress reused in, you know, the regular way before they went on the chopping block. Oh well. There's always the next incarnation... (It also strikes me as hilarious that the other two royal ladies present at the banquet might be better examples of reuse principles - how many times have we seen these two dresses?! - but I digress.)

Anyway, your Tiara Watch before I go: Queen Sonja is wearing the big version of Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, our fair Crown Princess is wearing her usual Diamond Daisy Tiara, and Princess Astrid is letting her antenna aigrette fly, I think in the flower version, because she is the best.

Photos: Heiko Junge/AFP via Getty Images, Instagram, Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images, and MSN Video

02 September 2014

Royal Gathering of the Day: September 2

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands this weekend, the Dutch King and Queen were joined by the King and Queen of the Belgians, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and the President of Germany and his partner.
What percentage of crossover is there between these three royal closets, do you think? I mean, they share a favorite designer (Natan, worn here certainly by Máxima and Mathilde, and probably by Maria Teresa too) and a favorite milliner (Fabienne Delvigne, again worn by Máx and Mathilde, though it appears MT has branched out for this occasion). Their names even share the same first letter (not relevant, but I'm just saying).
When you start thinking about it, it almost becomes impressive that they managed to rustle up three different looks for this one event. Would have been some kind of epic if they'd done the Natan triplet act properly, though...
Photos: Pool via Getty Images, and NOS screencap

29 August 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: August 29

When it comes to raiding Queen Máxima's closet, there's just one true question at hand: could I resist the urge to steal a cape for my very own? Sporting a cape makes everything 112% better (scientific fact). Very tempting indeed. The daywear section wouldn't hold much of a draw for me, but the cape would have some serious competition from more than a few numbers from the gown section. Temptation all around...
Máxima, and her family, on the evening of the King's inauguration, 2013.
...but ultimately, I think this little number would give the cape its greatest challenge. Of course, it's related to the cape - a cape cousin - since it is also Jan Taminiau and belongs to the same day and same massive occasion, Willem-Alexander's inauguration (both outfits are pictured below). But the raspberry gown is delicious in its own right. I'd just need some diamond stars to stick in my hair just like the new queen did, and I'd be set. (Surely they wouldn't miss it if I nabbed a few of those while I was at it...)

Which outfit tempts you most from Máxima's closet?

P.S.: It's a three day weekend! We'll be back on Tuesday.

Photos: NOS/Jan Taminiau

28 August 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Snowdon Floral Tiara

The Snowdon Floral Tiara
Lady Sarah Chatto’s wedding gown has been discussed several times on this site; the Jasper Conran gown wins a general crowd approval, as does her pairing of the gown with what we’ve referred to as the Snowdon Floral Tiara, a gorgeous diamond floral tiara that breaks into three separate brooches. The tiara has often been reported (including on this site) as having been a gift from Lady Sarah’s father, the Earl of Snowdon, to her mother, the late Princess Margaret, but something about that description never quite rang true: Princess Margaret was never pictured wearing it as a tiara. Would she really have let a tiara from her husband go unworn? Thanks to this year’s wedding gown exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum (and to the many readers that visited and reported back), that little discrepancy has finally been cleared up.
Above, all three brooches used by Lady Sarah (center) on her dress in 1997.
The answer is, quite simply, that the tiara was never worn as a tiara by Princess Margaret because it did not exist as a tiara when Margaret owned it. Lord Snowdon’s originally gave his wife not a complete tiara, but three separate antique brooches. They weren’t used together as a headpiece until the preparations for the 1994 wedding began. Jasper Conran saw the pieces in Lady Sarah’s possession when designing the wedding gown and made the suggestion; Wartski was enlisted to make a frame that would hold the largest brooch as the centerpiece and position the two smaller brooches at either side. The brooch fittings remain in place, and the brooches and frame are in Lady Sarah’s possession. She can be seen wearing all three pieces as dress ornaments above and she also wore pieces at her mother’s funeral in 2002. Her half-sister Lady Frances wore them in her hair for her own wedding.
The only time the “Snowdon Floral Tiara” has been worn as a tiara was at that wedding (which was also the only time we’ve seen Lady Sarah wear a tiara, period), but I’m curious to see it used again. It’s a fantastic take on the traditional diamond floral tiara with lots of dimension to it, but the arrangement is clearly set up for, and enhanced by, the use of a veil behind and greenery to the sides. Would it translate to a normal hairstyle? I hope someday we’ll find out.

Where does this rank on your list of favorite diamond floral pieces?

Photos: Royal Household, UK Press via Getty Images

27 August 2014

Royal Event of the Day: August 27

The Swedish royal family attended the Polar Music Prize festivities last night.
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled wardrobe theft game for refreshing change of pace (in these summer days, at least): an actual event! Half of the royal ladies were only present for part of the event (Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine joined in later, Silvia was typical Silvia and Madeleine was...not her best in an Ida Sjöstedt dress), but still, the Swedish royal family is trying their best for us. We do appreciate the effort.
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, above. Click here for a gallery of arrivals, including the King, Chris O'Neill, and a glimpse of Princess Christina and husband Tord Magnuson.
Is this the official Dress of 2014? Victoria's sure trying to make it so. This year has already brought us an outing for Victoria in the dark version and one previous outing in this light version, plus an appearance for Mette-Marit in the dark version. And that's just since June! It's a great dress, and a perfect choice for this event. But I think the question is: too much of a good thing, or never enough?
The dress is from the H&M Conscious Collection.
(By the way, Victoria will have her day in the closet theft sun later on.)

Photos: Anna Lu Lundholm via Getty Images, and H&M

26 August 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: August 26

Are you in need of the perfect gray suit for your all your job interviewing occasions? Yes? Step right up, it's time to examine our newest queen's wardrobe and take your pick!

I'm kidding. (I'm sort of kidding.) There's actually quite a bit I would grab on a run through Spain's top royal dressing room, a fact which sort of surprised me. I have a few guesses as to what items will be in high demand and I'm ready and waiting for you to prove me wrong with your obscure choices. In the mean time, my ultimate top pick:
This Felipe Varela take on the little black dress was worn on a couple occasions by (then-) Princess Letizia.
Full skirt? Check. Sparkles? Check. Reserved space in my fictional shopping bag? Check check.

What would you grab from Letizia's wardrobe to have as your very own?

Photo: Oli Scarff via Getty Images