27 February 2015

Royal Outfits of the Day: February 27

Yesterday, King Felipe and Queen Letizia went on one of their annual engagements, the opening of the ARCO International Contemporary Art Fair in Madrid. Letizia debuted a new Felipe Varela dress, a tri-color design with Swarovski crystal accents.
So, like a sedate Mondrian, I can get behind that for an art event. But - and here comes something you won't usually hear me say - maybe we lose the crystals? Only because I'm wondering if the kids got a BeDazzler for Christmas or what.

And since we're in a Letizia mood, here she is in meeting mode earlier in the week:
I like a lady that can make a leather dress look businesslike. This sheath is from BOSS Hugo Boss, and the blazer is also Hugo Boss.
In another style twin coincidence for the week, Leti's love for Hugo Boss crossed paths with Crown Princess Mary's love for the same brand, and they both sported leather dresses. (Okay, less like style twins and more like...style cousins. Second cousins, twice removed.)
Yesterday, Mary was out and about in BOSS Hugo Boss dress with a leather bodice and twill skirt with a partial check pattern. The frock comes from Jason Wu's first collection for the label (Fall 2014 RTW), which featured several other plays on these mixed materials and pattern. Mary added a shirt underneath, which actually fits right in with the rest of the collection. I love the skirt portion, but I could do without the leather on this one. It's a little too armour-esque, no?

Photos: Europa Press via Getty Images / Hugo Boss / BilledBladet video / Saks Fifth Avenue

26 February 2015

Tiara Thursday: The Barberini Sapphire Tiara

The Barberini Sapphire Tiara
So many of the sapphire tiaras we know today are fairly symmetrical, even architectural, in their design, so an asymmetrical floral option makes for a refreshing change of pace. Joining other sapphire floral tiaras such as the Ogilvy Tiara, the Barberini Sapphire Tiara features a flowering wreath design. A rose-cut diamond branch is the base for old-cut diamond flowers with an oval collet sapphire at the center of each, and more sapphires are scattered along the branch. The stones are mounted in silver and gold, and the tiara dates from around 1850.
Other pieces in the set
The tiara is part of a parure that includes a necklace, brooch, and girandole earrings. The accompanying pieces are also notable for their commitment to the floral theme, when many parures might opt for a simpler design for the rest of the set. These were among the jewels that belonged to the Barberini family, an old Italian noble family that counts a pope among its ancestors (Pope Urban VIII) and who gave their name to the Palazzo Barberini in Rome, today the location of the National Gallery of Ancient Art.
The tiara is modeled before its most recent auction
These particular pieces are known to us via their history of auctions, rather than their former owners. The jewels were first sold by Christie’s as a parure in 1971 for $18,850. They were sold again, this time as four separate pieces, in 2009, and brought in close to $250,000 all together ($100,144 for the tiara alone). Floral tiaras are not my favorite overall, but this one does have a charm that makes me wish I’d had the checkbook power to scoop these up.

Sapphires in your floral tiaras, yes or no?

Photos: Christie's / Marco Secchi via Getty Images

Royal Style Twin of the Day: February 26

Look at this trouper, visiting EU institutions in Brussels yesterday:
An injured knee (apparently suffered during the family's recent ski vacation) can't keep Queen Mathilde down, and it certainly can't keep her from playing the Natan style twin game. She's giving us flashbacks to Máxima's ensemble from last week, and I think she's coming out on top, because 1) she's restricted her orange accessories to a small pair of earrings, and 2) those are some kicky little flats. I'm not usually a fan of her footwear, but in accommodating her injury, she's managed to up her game.

Since we're hanging out with Mathilde, here's an audience she held earlier in the week (before things got tricky with her knee, I guess):
Color: Yes! Slouchy turtleneck collar: No!

Photos: @hellomag / Dirk Waem/AFP via Getty Images

25 February 2015

Royal Flashback of the Day: February 25

My Twitter feed reminded me that yesterday was the anniversary of one special event: the engagement of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling on February 24, 2009! The couple met in 2001 when Victoria was a personal training client of Daniel's at the gyms he owned in Stockholm, and by 2002 their relationship was known to the Swedish press. They tied the knot in June 2010. This was a long engagement, by royal standards, leaving plenty of time for Daniel to recover from the kidney transplant he underwent shortly after the engagement.
Anyway, this means we should talk about the engagement day outfit, no? (Hers, that is. Daniel wore a suit.) Victoria's dress for their meeting with the press has always held a special place in my heart. Because purple, that's why.
It's not just purple, it also has a very special accessory which I adore: a petite diamond flower brooch given to Victoria by Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian, which was a sweet way to connect her big day to beloved family members. And it was a lovely match to her classic diamond engagement ring (which we discussed in our engagement ring series), too.

Video: The press conference
As it turns out, the dress was actually quite a tip off to what her wedding dress would ultimately look like. The open neckline and the wide waistband would both feature prominently in her wedding gown, and the purple dress was made by Pär Engsheden, which ended up being an early hint at the wedding gown designer. No surprise I enjoyed her selection, then, since the wedding dress (and the wedding itself) are personal favorites.

Photos: Pool via Getty Images

24 February 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 24

I was excited to see the Oscar party scene yield a pair of familiar faces:
Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Princess Marie-Chantal attended the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
I was slightly less excited to see Princess Marie-Chantal's gown, sadly. Listen, I consider myself a fan of her style; even when I don't like the exact pieces she selects, there's an easy elegance to her styling that I admire - she manages to make interesting choices without looking like she's playing dress up. But this Alexander McQueen dress seems doomed from the start. I'm not sure any amount of tailoring can make this satin behave when it clearly wants to make all kinds of folds and puckers at the slightest sign of movement or curve. But I still like the softness of the color palette and the floral design.
As shown in the Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall 2014 collection, far left; and in the retail version, full-length in ivory satin with floral embroidery in nude and silver.
Another part of the reason I like following Marie-Chantal's looks was well on display in spite of all that: her jewels. She has a collection of unusual pieces and she doesn't make them wait for a vanilla outfit to go on parade. These earrings, which I believe are from JAR, one of her favorites, are a great touch to bring out the pink tones in the dress. Yet another piece for me to covet...

P.S.: My fave from the Oscar after parties? Diane Kruger, making me love a red jumpsuit in Donna Karan Atelier. That's some serious style power, right there.

Photos: Pascal Le Segretain and Venturelli via Getty Images / Alexander McQueen / Matches

23 February 2015

Potential Royal Fashion of the Day: February 23

It's Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear runway time, so let's waste away our Monday looking at some pretty things and dreaming up a wish list for royal fashion to come. As always, click the designer names to be taken to the full collection...

I'd just like someone to wear that one up there on the left for me, please. Anyone. Thanks.

From pastels to orange tartans and back, there are a few things here that we could see pop up in one form or another on the Duchess of Cambridge or the Countess of Wessex. Probably not the black PVC numbers, but one never knows.

Mixed materials and patterns characterized the collection from Queen Letizia's new favorite designer (well, the designer I'm pushing until it becomes her fave, that is).

And a few more, for good measure:
  • Here comes a bunch of designers we've seen a time or two on the Duchess of Cambridge, starting with Temperley London.
  • Anything Mulberry for Kate this season? There's a poncho in there I wouldn't mind getting my hands on.
  • We haven't seen much Jonathan Saunders on the Duchess, but from what we've seen so far she'd probably go for only tamer pieces, and one at a time.
  • Some Boss, designed by Jason Wu, for Hugo Boss fans Crown Princess Mary or Queen Letizia, perhaps?
  • Here's some Diane von Furstenberg, whose classic wrap dresses are in many royal wardrobes.
  • I'm sad to say the first Oscar de la Renta collection without the master himself didn't flip my skirt like it usually does. (Sidebar: I did like the dress from this collection which appeared on Sienna Miller at last night's Oscars, though.) (Sidebar to the sidebar: Was fairly underwhelmed by Oscars fashion on the whole this year. Anyone else? Just...less than memorable. Meh.)
Photos: Style.com

22 February 2015

Sunday Tidbits for February 22: Birthday Girls, History Girls, and More

In this week's tidbits, we've got some current events and some way way back events and everything in between...

--Princess Leonore of Sweden (daughter of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill) turned 1 this week! New pictures were released by the Swedish court to mark the occasion. [Kungahuset]
Brigitte Grenfeldt / Kungahuset.se

--And we have two more birthday girls over in Luxembourg: Princess Stéphanie turned 31 and Princess Alexandra turned 24. [Wort, Royalista]

--From the Royals We Hardly Ever Cover category: The King and Queen of Tonga were received by the Pope at the Vatican this week. [Vatican Radio, RomeReports]


--The first part of the BBC documentary Reinventing the Royals, which was slightly postponed after apparent legal intervention from the royals, is available for viewing at the BBC site (geo-restricted) or on YouTube. [Radio Times, BBC Live Player, YouTube]

--Crown Princess Mary visited Ethiopia as part of her work on women's rights and health. Here's an article in English, and photo gallery 1 and gallery 2 from the trip. [Sydney Morning Herald, BT]


--Interesting: Facial recognition software indicates that a painting thought to depict Jane Seymour may in fact be Anne Boleyn. [Artnet News]

--The Hairpin takes the history of celebrity stylists waaaaay back, profiling Rose Bertin, stylist to Marie Antoinette and others in her court. [The Hairpin]

--A Russian tycoon has donated items formerly belonging to the Yusupov family (you may recall them from our discussion of their long lost rock crystal tiara) back to the Russian national archive. The pieces include a Faberge egg and a pocket watch made for the last tsar's coronation. [Daily Mail]

--Heads up, America: Chaz and Cams are on their way! The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit Washington, D.C. and Louisville, Kentucky from March 17th-20th. Their visit will include a meeting at the White House with President Obama and Vice President Biden, and a visit to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. You can read more about the visit at their official site. [Clarence House]

--And finally, don't ever tell me being a royal isn't all glamour, all the time: Here's the Prince of Wales celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London sewer system this week. [BBC Video]

Stay tuned for next week, we'll be checking out the fruits of fashion week and more!

20 February 2015

Royal Coats of the Week: February 20

We've reached the point in winter - at least in my neck of the woods - when I begin to lose all hope of ever being warm again. Can humans hibernate? I'm investigating. Until then, we indulge in another edition of the Royal Coats of the Week. It's the only logical thing to do.
Here's Letizia's entry, a chic white number. This is a very luxurious look, and I'm all for it. (I know some of you are going to say it looks like a bathrobe, but hel-lo people, what is more luxurious than that?! More excuses to wear bathrobes in public, that's what we need.) Tangential to today's topic, but I will also show you the outfit underneath the robe coat:
The King and Queen opened The First Picasso exhibit, among other engagements.
This is my favorite version of her high-waisted full black skirt yet, I think. Kicky.

Naturally, Leti's white coat reminded me of another white coat we've seen recently:
The Duchess of Cambridge visited Portsmouth last week.
From She of Many Coats, Kate, comes this Max Mara option, the same model seen previously on Princess Eugenie. Liked it then, liked it now, can't go wrong with a winter white. Underneath (below) she sported a boat print dress from Alice Temperley - a bit literal for a nautical engagement, I think, but fades into a generic print from a distance.
And this week, she added another Max Mara coat for our consideration, this time in a blue to complement the Seraphine floral dress underneath (which we have seen previously):
This week, she visited the Emma Bridgewater factory.
I'll take any and all of the above, I'm not picky. Even these are a dream when the temps bottom out. Reality is a little more like so:
The Swedish royal family has been attending the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Click here for a gallery.
But without the fun ski competition to distract. SIGH.

Photos: via Getty Images and Twitter as indicated

19 February 2015

Tiara Thursday: Queen Marie José's Beauharnais Pearl Tiara

Today's tiara is unusual for a variety of reasons.
Queen Marie José's Beauharnais Pearl Tiara
First, of course, is the design. Pearl tiaras are often more diamond heavy than pearl heavy, but the design of this coronet-like piece relies on small pearls to outline the engraved gold base and the triangular and fan motifs above it, with small diamonds just as accents. It was made around 1829 in Paris, making it one of the older tiaras still in existence today - but adding another point in the unusual column, it looks mostly the same today as it did back then. Many diadems dating back that far have been remodeled heavily over time, but this one has only been modified to add an extension piece at the back.
Stéphanie
The tiara belonged to the adopted daughter of Napoleon, Stéphanie de Beauharnais (1789-1860). Stéphanie married the Grand Duke of Baden, and she was pictured wearing the tiara (above). The tiara made its way to the Belgian royal family, who are related to Stéphanie courtesy of her granddaughter Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Countess of Flanders (1845-1912), and it eventually ended up in the possession of Princess Marie José of Belgium (1906-2001), daughter of King Albert I and granddaughter of the aforementioned Countess of Flanders. (It should be noted that some references to this tiara tie it back to Empress Joséphine, Napoleon's first wife, who died prior to the reported approximate creation date of the piece, and some paths of ownership tie it to Empress Charlotte of Mexico, born a Belgian princess, at some point.)
Marie José
The tiara's main modification came in 1924, when the band was extended at the back so that Princess Marie José could wear it in the fashionable style across the forehead to her first court ball. In 1930, the princess married the future King Umberto II of Italy. The tiara stayed in Queen Marie José's possession until her death in 2001, when it passed to her daughter, Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy. It was auctioned at Christie's in 2007 (as were other pieces from the late queen's jewel collection, including the Empress Joséphine Tiara), and it sold for $85,190. Adding another layer to the rarity of the tiara's tale, it did not disapper into a private collection but was bought by the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. They purchased the tiara because of its link to the history of Mannheim Palace, which was the home of Stéphanie de Beauharnais. It is now part of the museum collection at the impressive Baroque palace.

As pearl tiaras go: Yay or Nay?

Photos: Christie's, Wikimedia

Royal Accessories of the Day: February 19

Another day, another chat about Máxima's accessories.
The King and Queen visited the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe this week.
My love for a colored accessory is clear, but look at Máx go, pushing my affection to the brink: orange top, orange shoes, orange earrings, orange purse, orange gloves. Orange.Gloves. Single-handedly keeping the colored glove industry in business, this one.

Queen Máxima visited some Oranje Fonds projects last week.
And then we had this. A perfectly lovely, professional gray dress (from a Dutch brand, LaDress, per ModeKoninginMaxima)...with giant spider brooches crawling all over it.
The brooches are from Argentine jeweler Celedonio, and are very skillfully crafted to be sure. But a little too skillfully crafted for me, you know what I mean?
Because NOPE NOPE NOPE. {Nightmares.}

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated / LaDress

18 February 2015

Royal Bling of the Day: February 18

Cams, you saucy minx.
The Duchess of Cornwall, along with the Prince of Wales, attended the Royal Film Performance of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night.
Here I thought she might be done with mega ruby breastplates necklaces, seeing as the last one she wore caused a bit of a fuss. But nooooope, she's got another up her sleeve. Here's the necklace worn previously:
Worn in Philadelphia, 2007.
The 2007 appearance featured a necklace that was among three sets of jewels picked up by Camilla during a tour of Saudi Arabia in 2005 (from various members of the vast and super rich ruling family; necklaces previously covered here or here). From afar, you might wonder if the necklace from last night was a remodel of the earlier version, but since the stones are different shapes and sizes, they are two different pieces. Talk about building a jewelry vault for yourself, my oh my.
Now we're back to last night.
Last night's was a suite of pear-shaped rubies in tiers with garlands of diamonds, a necklace accompanied by matching long earrings and also a ruby and diamond bracelet, which you can just see peeking out from the sleeve of her rich velvet gown. The whole set looks like another Middle Eastern gift to me; Camilla's official gift list for 2013 included a parure (no further details, alas) from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and I wondered if this might be the one, worn as a tribute to the recently deceased king. But that's just speculation on my part. Whatever its origins, I'm so glad they gave it to Cams. I mean, who else could pull this off?
Shout out to Chaz's getup last night, too. Takes a dapper man to make a simple tux worthy of notice in the face of such gem power, but there he is with his fancy cuffs and his checked pocket square, and I can't help but take notice. Nicely done as always.

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated

17 February 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 17

I asked for more Carolina Herrera...
The King and Queen of Spain attended the National Culture Awards yesterday.
...and I got it! Oh, how I love when that happens.
I'm all about this dress, man. The color blocking adds some fun shading and curve, and the slight flip of the skirt in movement and keyhole at the neckline give a bit of a feminine twist to this take on Letizia's typical shift dress.
The Carolina Herrera dress, worn by Letizia with Magrit shoes and a Uterqüe clutch
And with that, I'll go ahead and renew my official request: moooooore of this, pretty please.
Video, above.

Photos: Carlos Alvarez via Getty Images, Neiman Marcus

16 February 2015

Royal Hats of the Week: February 16

Honestly, it's a little sad how happy I am just to see a hat with a crown and a brim on display. Such a simple thing, yet so often refreshing in a world of fascinators and other such things. So my sincere thanks to the Belgian royal family for a better than average showing last week:
Attending an annual mass in remembrance of deceased family members.
I don't know if Queen Mathilde has been watching as much Downton Abbey or Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries as I have, but her cloche is right on point and extremely cute. We have a brimless nod to Princess Margaretha and her classic pillbox, just behind Mathilde above, and Princess Claire tossed in a navy number. I can't even be mad at Princess Astrid's pairing of her large black hat with a coat in...khaki mustard? I don't even know.
Just a crown and a brim, and I'm good to go. (Until there's one of those that I don't care for, in which case never mind.) Anyway, back to the cloche: sooo much potential for an unflattering look with that style, but this gets a well played from me. For a gallery from this event, click here.

Photos: Dirk Waem/AFP via Getty Images, @VTMRoyalty

15 February 2015

Sunday Tidbits for February 15: Diamonds and Wine and Other Stuff

And to balance out the extravagance, we'll start today's tidbits with an Anne Update:

--The Princess Royal spent some time in uniform this week, which is how you know that all is right in the world. She handled a Buckingham Palace investiture, including bestowing a damehood on fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, and made a naval visit. In uniform with her signature sport shades and a hard hat = the ultimate Anne experience. [BBC, Royal Navy Facebook]

--Also, here's a little peek at that infamous 'do of hers, while attending a reception this week:

--Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein is celebrating his 70th birthday, and Luxarazzi is posting long interviews (which they have very kindly translated into English) with him and his family members. It's a nice glimpse into the lives and personalities of this low profile reigning family. [Luxarazzi]

--A 100 carat "perfect" diamond, touted as the largest perfect emerald cut ever to be auctioned, will be sold at Sotheby's in New York in April. The pre-sale estimate? A cool $19-$25 million. [ITV, Observer]

--Queen Letizia once again sported her combo of red ex-crop top dress and rainbow earrings on a visit to a winery with her husband. Add that to the list of royal engagements I'd gladly take on. [Hola]

--And finally, have some more wine, why not: Here's a video of Prince Felix of Luxembourg showing off the wines at the vineyard he and Princess Claire run in France, Château des Crostes. [Video in French. Azur TV, via Luxarazzi]

Photos: Getty Images, Twitter, and Instagram as noted

12 February 2015

Tiara Watch of the Day: February 12

Last night it was time for a representation dinner in Sweden. I've come to realize that these are the tiara events most likely to produce, uh, mixed results. Yeah, let's go with that. (You're going to want to see the gallery at this link, by the way.)
Queen Silvia passes muster in a gold dress and the Connaught Tiara. Sofia Hellqvist did okay for herself in black, but - hang on, let me check - nope, I'm still worn out on black lace dresses from last year. Just behind her in the picture below, you can spot Princess Christina. She was wearing the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik again, so the intrigue around its ownership continues.
A lavender-clad Princess Madeleine wore her 18th birthday tiara, the Swedish Aquamarine Bandeau, in a low riding position, an example to one and all of why these things get labeled Cyclops tiaras. Isn't that ever so helpful of her? (I don't begrudge her wanting to wear a light tiara or doing something different, but...yeesh.) Oh well. Points added for the dress and the earrings, which are great.
It was down to Crown Princess Victoria to give me a bit of hope for tiara events to come. The outfit was basic, a repeated pastel pink and purple Escada dress she first wore at the ball after Albert and Charlene's wedding in 2011 and the Six Button Tiara, but she also wore the earrings, brooch, and bracelet from the Cameo parure. With this particular outfit, it makes for an incredibly random pairing - I mean, the Cameo stuff needs an outfit with nods to its colors or to the intricacy of its design and this feels like it was laundry day in the gown closet and nothing else was left - but for someone (ME) that hopes to see her in the Cameo Tiara again, I'm just glad to see her use what she can.

P.S.: The blog will return on Sunday!

Photos: Kungahuset.se