31 October 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Boucheron Emerald Ivy Tiara

It's Halloween, and I have for you today a tiara that would be the perfect complement to the forest fairy outfit I know you've been planning:
The Boucheron Emerald Ivy Tiara
This fascinating piece is from Boucheron, made in 2003 under the design of then-creative director Solange Azagury-Partridge. The tiara is in the shape of a wreath of ivy, made entirely from emeralds set in black gold. René Brus notes in his book Crown Jewellery and Regalia of the World that the design is based on a necklace from the Boucheron archive that dates from 1890, and of course ivy motifs on the whole have often been used in jewels throughout history. In this case, it is the materials here that make this something completely new. It's rare to see a tiara that is all colored gemstones without diamonds or pearls or anything else to break it up. It's also rare to see the use of black gold, which gives the tiara a rather deep, mysterious feel.
Queen Rania
The tiara was worn twice (that I know of) by Queen Rania of Jordan: in a portrait and for a state banquet during a 2003 visit to Sweden with her husband, King Abdullah II. This is a tricky piece to style but she did it well, allowing it to lend the appropriate drama to the portrait and pairing it with an ethereal gown for the state visit. But it seems it was only on loan to the Queen by Boucheron, and so we won't see it again. I love the design variety this tiara provides, but I can also understand fully why you would loan it and return it instead of own it for yourself - such a statement piece is bound to have limited uses.

What say you: too costume-y, or perfect for regular wear?

Photos: Boucheron/Vanity Fair/Abaca

30 October 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Princess Aimée's Gown

HH Prince Floris of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven and Aimée Söhngen
October 20 & 22, 2005
Naarden, Netherlands

The youngest of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Pieter van Vollenhoven's four sons was the last to marry, and his nuptials came just a couple of months after those of his brother Prince Pieter-Christiaan, their engagements having been announced at the same time. (This is the last of the four weddings to be covered here, see previously: Maurits and Marilène, Bernhard and Annette, Pieter-Christiaan and Anita.) Floris met Aimée Söhngen while both were studying at Leiden University.
Aimée's civil wedding outfit and her religious wedding gown were both designed by Lidy de Joode. For the civil ceremony, she wore an apricot dress made of lace on a floral background with a jacket of tangerine crepe and a matching pillbox-style hat. It is prim and proper as can be, and combined with her chosen hairstyle gives off a serious Jackie Kennedy vibe.

Video: The civil and religious weddings
In a way, her dress for the church ceremony two days later also has a retro feel. It reminds me of multiple royal wedding gowns from days gone by with its unadorned body, high and simple neckline, long sleeves, and luxurious thick fabric (silk Mikado, in this case). A slim skirt rests underneath an overskirt that splits from the front of the waist and extends back to a wide long train. The dress does have a tendency to look stiff in certain poses, but that happens sometimes with heavier fabrics (this is the same type of fabric used by Valentino to create Máxima Zorreguieta's gown). Aimée finished the look with a veil sprinkled with pearls, and - like the rest of the van Vollenhoven brides - she donned the Ears of Wheat Tiara from the Dutch family collection.
I'm always back and forth on this dress: is it too simple, or just simple enough? I can't help but think it lacks a little personality, but the simple gown does allow her face to shine through. Anyway, this couple is still going strong and over the summer welcomed their third child, a son Willem Jan, to join daughters Magali and Eliane.

What do you think: too simple, or just simple enough?

Photos: ANP/Het Koninklijk Huis/RVD/DPA

29 October 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: October 22-28, Plus a Tiara Watch!

Best in Annual Events
Princess Letizia

Video: The 2013 Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony
Each year, the Asturias couple head to Oviedo for a couple days of engagements surrounding the big show, the Prince of Asturias Awards. It almost always ends up being one of Letizia's sartorial highlights of the year, and 2013 is no different - look at her, all sparkly and green! Like a tasteful Christmas tree come two months early.
Asturias Awards events
I mean, I could have done without the 1980s flashback tuxedo-dress, but on the whole - a good week in LetiziaLand.

Best in Returns
The Duchess of Cambridge
At a charity dinner
Ooh, this is lovely. I know many of you will cry out for a necklace here, but I actually think it's styled perfectly for this occasion - add a necklace and you'll need to pull the hair back or up, but the dress works well with the cascading locks she loves so much. Welcome back to the fray, Kate.

Best of the Rest
Crown Princess Victoria
Victoria at a meeting and at a formal gathering for the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences; Mathilde finishing up her visits around the country with her husband; Máxima with her husband in Greece
That blue dress, which we've seen before, is just so elegant on Victoria, I'm not even mad at her for not wearing a tiara (it's not a tiara event, despite the otherwise extremely formal dress code). Besides, someone else got their tiaras out last week, so I'll live. Read to the end for that...

A (Dis?)Honorable Mention to...
This Dress, AGAIN
Alexandra of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Kate in 2012; Alexandra of Luxembourg in September and Madeleine just this past week
I'm starting to get mad at this dress and it's not even poor Madeleine's fault. There are two different designers here, Jenny Packham and Tadashi Shoji, yes - but come on, same difference. I loved it at first and now all I can ask is: Are we done yet? (On another note, Madeleine will be in attendance at this year's Nobel Awards! Huzzah for maternity tiara fashion! Please don't let it be another version of this dress.)

Plus an Honorable Mention to...
The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

Video: Guillaume and Stéphanie have an audience with the Pope
I don't cover Stéphanie here as much as some of you would like, but there's no denying the girl can wear a veil.

Speaking of cool things to put on your head (segue, nailed it), time for that little Tiara Watch I promised.
The Norwegian royal family hosted a gala for parliament and Queen Sonja busted out her mega emerald set. I'm entranced by the movement or perhaps lack of movement of her skirt - click here for video, the royal party enters at 10:38 (including Haakon and the King - and Haakon, yes). And Princess Astrid was in attendance, dutifully wearing the largest tiara at her disposal, her turquoise diadem, as though trying to do whatever she could to make up for the family being down a tiara-wearer in Crown Princess Mette-Marit's absence. Bless.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Getty Images/PA/Style.com/Matches Fashion/BestImage/Stella/EdA/Orange Grove/DPP/ANB

28 October 2013

Royal Trip Report: The Danes in Australia

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary have been visiting Australia, one of their frequent trip destinations. This one had a celebratory purpose: the Sydney Opera House's 40th anniversary. Mary is Australian and the landmark was designed by a Dane, Jørn Utzon, so that all lines up neat and tidy. The birthday party was my favorite of Mary's outfits for the trip, and that's where we'll begin:

Video: The birthday celebration, including a snippet from Mary's speech
She told a cute little story (what she knew about Denmark before Frederik: Hans Christian Anderson, and the Opera House was designed by a Dane), there were fireworks, it was all good. Plus a dress with just a touch of sparkle and gold to it - nothing wrong with that.
Trip outfits
These trips always touch on Danish design and Mary certainly brought some of that with her, but she also wore a few pieces from designer Collette Dinnigan. She's worn Australian label in the past and every time she does I'm left wanting more. (The Duchess of Cambridge has worn a bit too, and I hope we see more when she and William finally make their much-anticipated trip down there).
Also - what's this?! - someone has decided to step in and wave the flag for hot Valentino shoes while Mette-Marit's gone. I approve. (The Norwegian crown princess, if you haven't heard, is on extended sick leave for a recurring neck/back issue and could be out until Christmas.)

Video: The couple visit an area touched by recent bushfires
Truthfully, though, this trip has been a pretty standard fashion run. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of non-sartorial highlights - the couple has been on proper cute form and made some touching connections. Case in point: this trip to visit an area affected by the recent bushfires, an unplanned addition to the agenda.

And one more bit of cuteness for the road. I know some of you love the moments when little girls get to meet REAL princesses, so don't miss the curtseys on display here:

Video: An engagement with the Australian Twin Registry. A mom to twins herself, Mary is patron of both the Australian and Danish Twin Registries. 

Which trip outfit is your favorite?

Photos: Getty Images/Pool/BT/Scanpix

25 October 2013

Tiara Thursday (on a Friday): The Londonderry Tiara

A day late, because BABIES, but here nevertheless is your weekly dose of sparkle:
The Londonderry Tiara
The Londonderry Tiara, you'll not be surprised to learn, is the headline jewel in the rather magnificent collection of the Londonderry family, headed by the Marquess of Londonderry. Several members of the family have played significant roles in politics and British high society throughout history, and as the family gems have been worn by one Marchioness after another to one important event after another, the jewels have gained a fame of their own.
Marchioness Frances Anne (left) and Marchioness Theresa (right, wearing the tiara)
The first influential Lady Londonderry to play a role in this tiara's story is Frances Anne (1800-1865), wife of the third Marquess. In 1854, she commissioned Garrard to dismantle existing Londonderry pieces (a waistband or belt, some of the insignia of the Order of the Garter that belonged to the second Marquess, plus more) and create a new parure. This tiara was part of that new set. It is made from 1,141 diamonds, including some fine Golconda and Brazilian stones, in silver settings mounted in gold. The diamonds – 482.5 carats in all - form a tiara that makes a near complete circle and takes the shape of swags connecting a series of palm motifs. The original estimate from Garrard, which is quoted in Diana Scarisbrick’s Ancestral Jewels, notes that the tiara is to “divide as comb and brooches”, but the diadem has been changed plenty over the years. Initially, the centers of the tiara motifs were pearls; the family has an impressive set of pearls to their name, some of which could be mounted on top of the tiara for a taller look. The centers of the tiara motifs are now diamonds and are mounted to tremble on springs for maximum sparkle.
Marchioness Theresa. On the left, she attends the Devonshire House Ball in 1897 decked out as Empress Maria Theresa of Austria with a gown copied from a portrait and covered in her own jewels, including a crown of real diamonds specially made up for the occasion behind the tiara. On the right, she adds the pearls to the tiara for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.
Both versions of the tiara - with and without pearls on top - were worn to great effect by Theresa (1856-1919), wife of the sixth Marquess. She had a forceful personality and plenty of influence to exert; she was a renowned society hostess and used the full force of the family jewel collection to get the job done (part of E.F. Benson’s description of her, as quoted in Geoffrey Munn’s Tiaras: A History of Splendour: “She reveled in personal splendor, she frankly and unmitigatedly enjoyed standing at the head of her stairs… with the ‘family fender’ as she called that nice diamond crown on her most comely head.”). Her use of that family fender at many important occasions is well recorded, including the time it slipped off her head and fell in the toilet at the coronation of Edward VII (a predicament that came to light when her extended time in the loo became conspicuous and she had to call for assistance; the tiara was rescued by a pair of forceps).
Marchioness Edith with the tiara in portrait (left) and for the 1937 coronation (center). Note the other family jewelry shown here and above, including the diamond Latin cross on Theresa, plus the famous Londonderry pearls and the enormous diamond stomacher on both Edith and Theresa. Right: the tiara on display at the V&A.
This collection became so well known that when Edith (1878-1959), wife of the seventh Marquess and another influential Lady Londonderry, was criticized for bringing the gems out again after World War I, the Illustrated London News jumped to her defense. The publication named the “superb and plenteous” Londonderry jewels “a heritage, and one in which Britishers all round take a vicarious pride.” This tiara, along with other treasures, is still with the family. In recent years they've shared the bounty by allowing the tiara (as well as their fantastic amethysts) to be exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I've seen it there, and it is enchanting; it's one that I forget I love until I see it again, and then I feel the sudden need to rework my list of favorites.

Is it a favorite for you?

Photos: Geoffrey Munn/Londonderry family/Wikipedia/NPG/Lafayette/V&A

24 October 2013

Random Royal Appreciation: Prince George’s Christening

The long awaited christening of Prince George of Cambridge was held yesterday at the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace. It was a subdued affair, with only a handful of royals (the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, and the Cambridges) and a few guests including George’s seven godparents (Zara Tindall, the only one from the royal family, plus Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, William van Cutsem, Earl Grosvenor, Oliver Baker, Julia Samuel, and Emilia Jardine-Paterson).

Video: The family arrives
George sported the coveted family christening gown, a replica of the one dating from Queen Victoria’s days which was used by some 60 royal babies including William and Charles; the replica was made by the Queen’s dresser, Angela Kelly, a few years back when the original became too fragile to use. Little George didn’t care much, as is his baby prerogative, and neither did anyone else struggling to get past THOSE CHEEKS. Reviews were pretty unanimous:
The Duchess of Cambridge wore Alexander McQueen – no surprise there – in cream and ruffles to match her son. Her outfit is bespoke (no surprise there either) but has some similarities to existing McQueen pieces. She finished the outfit off with a Jane Taylor hat.
The Queen wore a simple sky blue ensemble (plus a brooch, naturally, and you can read more about her choice at the Jewel Vault) and the Duchess of Cornwall went for texture in her cream bouclé coat.

Video: Departures from the chapel, with other guests (including the Middletons and a chic Zara Tindall) towards the end
Elegance all around, right? Both duchesses look fab – this could end up being Kate’s best of the year for me – and the Queen’s uniform is her uniform precisely because it is always right. Not a dubious choice in the bunch. Well played, Windsors.

A few links, in case you just can't get enough:

P.S.: Our regular Tiara Thursday feature will come tomorrow.

Photos: The Times/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

23 October 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Princess Anita's Gown

A year of double Dutch royal wedding fun began in February of 2005, as Princess Margriet of the Netherlands (then-Queen Beatrix's sister) and her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven announced the engagements of their two youngest sons, Prince Pieter-Christiaan and Prince Floris. The family also announced that neither couple would be asking the government for permission to marry, thus placing them out of the line of succession to the throne. (They would be excluded by now anyway - Dutch law limits the line based on degree of relation to the monarch, and they aren't close enough now that their cousin Willem-Alexander is king.) We have previously covered the weddings of the eldest two van Vollenhoven sons (Prince Bernhard and Prince Maurits) and between this week and next we'll complete the set.

HH Prince Pieter-Christiaan of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven and Anita van Eijk
August 25 & 27, 2005
Apeldoorn & Noordwijk, Netherlands

First to marry that year was Pieter-Christiaan, who met his fiancée Anita while they were both working in London. They married first in a civil ceremony at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, where the bride opted for a patterned outfit from Andrew Gn (Gn works out of Paris but is Singapore-born; Anita lived in Singapore for a time).
The couple at their civil wedding, and the coat on the runway
The three-quarter length jacket tops a matching skirt underneath, all done in silk with a vivid coral print in colors of green, turquoise, and yellow. The sleeves, neckline, and pockets feature stone embellishment. She accessorized with matching shoes, a yellow flower hairpiece at the back of her head, and a coordinating bouquet. The print and the heavy embellishment make for one bold look, despite the classic and demure shape (it's actually one of my least favorite civil wedding looks, to tell you the truth). But any thought that such a loud ensemble would foretell a drastic gown for the religious wedding proved to be quite wrong...
...as the wedding gown proper is completely classic bridal. For the church ceremony, Princess Anita turned to Dutch designer Frans Hoogendoorn. The result is a dress made of cream duchess satin with a boat neck three-quarter sleeve top of lace. A separate train stretches back three meters and is covered by a tulle veil with lace appliqué. Like other Dutch brides, she wore the diamond Ears of Wheat Tiara on top of her soft updo.
I hate to say it again, but classic is really the ultimate word here - it's not a particularly unique design, you can draw comparisons between this and many other royal wedding gowns, but it's one that manages to look lovely in all forms. Today, we see this couple at extended Dutch royal family events and they now have two children together, Emma and Pieter.

What do you say: classic or no?

Photos: ANP/AFP/Seeger Press/Het Koninklijk Huis

22 October 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: October 15-21

An Honorable Mention, For Starters...
The Duke of Cambridge

Video: Prince William carries out an investiture
Since Harry in uniform won the top spot a couple weeks ago, it only seems fair to offer the same to his big brother. Here's Wills looking dashing in uniform while taking a step forward in the world of senior royaldom by performing his first investiture on behalf of the Queen. (And of course his lovely wife was back in the game - see what I did there, lolz - this week as well, in repeated casual mode.)

Best in Hat
Queen Máxima
Left to Right: Mathilde continuing her visits around the country with the King; Máxima opening all kinds of stuff, really
Máx may have stuck to gray, but at least there were no visors. Also, she hilariously repeated her outfit from the Luxembourg wedding of 2012 just as we took a look back at her royal wedding guest appearances - minus the giant feather hat this time, though, because one doesn't have time to check ceiling heights and such for everyday use.

Best in Non-Hat
Princess Letizia
L to R: Mathilde at an AIDS and HIV event, at a fashion event, a concert, and an audience; Letizia in Totana and at an audience at Zarzuela; Victoria at a prize ceremony
Mathilde continued her foray into Belgian design variety with an outfit for her fashion event from Ann Demeulemeester, thankfully stopping short of the full runway version, and Victoria went for sparkle, but Letizia's simple black skirt and leopard blouse are winning this as far as I'm concerned. She looks good.

And a Final Honorable Mention to...
Princess Estelle
Princess Estelle attended a tennis tournament
And her parents were with her, I guess (details, details). Estelle! Automatic jumpy claps. You'll want to click here to see her big arrival, shaking hands, being awesome, etc.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Belga/Wort/ANP/PPE/DutchPhotoPress/VTM/Getty Images/Best Image/World Children's Prize Foundation

18 October 2013

Flashback Friday: Máxima at Royal Weddings

Our recent taste of Dutch wedding style coupled with the reappearance of Queen Máxima's wedding tiara (which she wore both at her own wedding and as a guest at a few others) put me right in the mood for a little Máx flashback, in the form of her appearances as a royal wedding guest. It's a plentiful field, actually, thanks to the multitude of weddings in the extended Dutch royal family and the fact that she got an early start as a royal attendee during her engagement. A selection, including a few of the pre-wedding events:

She started slow, attending the first two here before her own wedding. And then she explodes in a riot of color not long after marrying, at Märtha Louise's wedding - but even a lack of color (à la her black and white for Friso and Mabel's celebration) is not lacking for flair. She can work a big hat, yes she can.
Of course, there is such a thing as too much of a big hat thing...ahem, 2005. This would be the one outfit for which I agree that the red should have been left at home - but it's the whole thing that's too too here, not just the color. In a muted color, the large hat makes the outfit for Felipe and Letizia's wedding, and makes it one of my favorite Máxima ensembles.
The pale pink 2004 Spanish outfit might just be my favorite here, but it has seriously steep competition from the pale pink in Britain in 2011. I feel like one of the tiara appearances should be my favorite because, well, I'm me, but in this case I think the hats are taking home the prize.

Which appearance is your favorite?

Photos: RVD/Scanpix/Getty Images/Gamma Rapho/Rex/DutchPhotoPress/PPE/WireImage

17 October 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Vifte Tiara

The Vifte Tiara (shown in necklace form)
Today's tiara is a lesser-known member of the Norwegian royal collection, but one I wouldn't mind seeing more often. The tiara is a smaller piece in a fan shape ("vifte" means "fan" in Norwegian) composed entirely of diamonds set in gold and silver. It can be worn upright in the hair or worn on a diamond necklace. It may be a petite tiara, but it has grand origins: it is said to have been a gift from Queen Victoria to her granddaughter, Princess Maud of Wales, to mark Maud's 18th birthday in 1887.
Queen Maud
Maud was the daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra; she married Prince Carl of Denmark, who in 1905 became King Haakon VII, first king of the newly independent Norway. The Vifte Tiara came with Queen Maud to Norway, and there it remains today.
Queen Sonja
The tiara was inherited by Maud's grandson King Harald, and has been worn by his wife Queen Sonja (who started using it during her years as crown princess). More recently, it has been worn a couple of times - as a necklace only - by Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who first wore it to her pre-wedding celebrations.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit
It's not worn often, which is probably not a surprise given its unique shape and small size. But I do wish we'd see it more; this little tiara plus a skilled hairdresser could yield fantastic results (it has some serious My Fair Lady potential, no?).

What do you think: serious potential, or seriously too small?

Update: Illustrations uncovered at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board indicate that this tiara was a wedding gift to Queen Maud from the Rothschild family, rather than an 18th birthday gift from Queen Victoria as has been most frequently reported.

Photos: Corbis/NTBScanpix

16 October 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Viscountess Linley's Gown

Viscount Linley and The Hon. Serena Stanhope
October 8, 1993
St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, London

David, Viscount Linley, is the son of the late Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon. He married 23-year-old Serena Stanhope, the daughter of Viscount Petersham (who has since succeeded his own father as the Earl of Harrington), after reportedly meeting her when his furniture firm was commissioned to design a dining room table for her father. We've paid quite a bit of attention to the wedding gown of Princess Margaret's daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, here - it is a constant favorite - but scarcely any to Serena's, and we're about to remedy that. Because this one has quite a bit to discuss, namely its resemblance to another constant favorite.
That constant favorite would be Margaret's own gown, of course. Serena asked Bruce Robbins to design her wedding dress, and a tribute to her new mother-in-law was born. The two share a long sleeve, v-neck top, a fitted waist and a full skirt, but Serena's gown uses a two-piece approach: the oyster satin coat has a split waist that swings back to a knot on top of the skirt (not unlike the general shape of the morning coats worn by gentlemen), and the switch to tulle for the voluminous skirt lends some textural contrast. The train on the tulle skirt was around two meters in length. The cost was reported at the time to have been around $9,000. (Though the connection to Princess Margaret is the one most often reported, as noted in previous comments it is also a dead ringer for a Christian Dior gown from the late 1940s.)
The bride's large updo, styled by Nicky Clarke, was again reminiscent of the bouffant sported by Princess Margaret. Instead of the Poltimore Tiara, the new Viscountess Linley borrowed the Lotus Flower Tiara from her mother-in-law. This was paired with a simple tulle veil.

Video: Diana at the wedding, with a few glimpses of the bridal couple
This wedding came in the midst of the years of serious Windsor family drama. There was plenty of media focus on who showed up (the Princess of Wales), who didn't (the Prince of Wales, in Turkey on official business, plus the Duke of Edinburgh and the embattled Yorks), and how they greeted each other (a kiss from Anne to Diana! What a shocker!). In the face of all that, I say a dramatic showpiece dress was a nice change of topic - and an explosion of tulle always brings the fairytale back to life, even for just a minute.

What do you say: a winner or no?

Photos: Corbis/Hola/Getty Images

15 October 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: October 6-14

Queen Mathilde

Video: The King and Queen visit Liège
This hairy little number is from Belgian designer Veronique Branquinho. And all I can say is that if Mathilde's response to calls for her to add some variety to her Natan-filled Belgian wardrobe is to don her Sesame Street Halloween costume early...well, we're in for an interesting ride! (Also up this week, another non-Natan outfit: a sparkly dose of Armani.) 

Best in Visits
Crown Princess Victoria
Left to Right: Victoria at a meeting for the International Paralympic Committee (with plenty of other royals) and at a seminar, the Swedish royal family welcoming the Dutch King and Queen for a one day visit, and Máxima in Washington
Pretty sure that red dress would qualify as a Máx favorite, but alas it is overshadowed by all that excess fabric in Sweden - and Victoria instead is left to shine in her simple and sleek blue number from Tiger of Sweden.

Best in Annual Events
Princess Letizia

Video: The Prince and Princess of Asturias attend the military parade on National Day in Spain
Letizia was at her prim and proper best in a berry dress with a light pink jacket for the parade - though I may like it better without the jacket (as seen later at the reception), I do enjoy the color pairing.

Best of the Rest
Crown Princess Mary
L to R: Letizia at a trade fair in Germany, opening a vocational course, and at an awards ceremony; Mary at a meeting, at the opening of a joint exhibit of the creative works of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik, and pictured as part of a pictorial and interview given in advance of the couple's trip to Australia (click here for more on that).
This is more of a tie, really - the rest of Letizia's pink week and Mary's regular deal. So I freely admit that it is the event here that sways me: Margrethe and Henrik in a joint artistic exhibit. How cool is that?! And they continue to hold their spots on my list of Royals I'd Like to Drink With.

And an Honorable Mention to...
Princess Charlene
Attending a Ralph Lauren event in Paris
Yes, in her purple and her jewels there's only one thing to say: Charlene killed it.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Getty Images/BestImage/Kungahuset/Casa Real/Sex og Samfund via Kongehuset/Stiften/Good Weekend

11 October 2013

Readers' Ultimate Tiaras: Your Other Material Winner!

This might not come as a surprise, but the winner of your vote for a tiara of "other" materials is...

The Cameo Tiara!
Or perhaps it is a surprise? I'm always surprised that despite many of you piping up that you think it's ugly, this one always does well overall. And indeed, this is an "other" material tiara - not a diamond in sight.

The Cameo didn't run away with the victory, though. In fact, it had some pretty hefty competition from your top runner up:
2. The Chaumet Blue Enamel Kokoshnik. This is part of the Westminster collection, a design made to mimic traditional silk Russian kokoshniks but with blue enamel and a delicate diamond forget-me-not design on top. It was originally bought by a previous Duke of Westminster, and left the family before being purchased once again by the current Duke. It's an extraordinary piece of artwork, but sadly I don't think any depiction of it in use is publicly available.
3. The Midnight Tiara, Mary's "other" option.
4. The Cut Steel Tiara. Love it or hate it, it's become a favorite with the Swedish ladies, and it certainly is a different material.
5. Archduchess Isabella's Peridot and Diamond Tiara.

And here's the winner's circle so far:

Photos: AllOverPress/Geoffrey Munn/Scanpix/Getty Images

10 October 2013

Tiara Thursday: Archduchess Isabella's Peridot and Diamond Tiara

Archduchess Isabella's Peridot and Diamond Tiara
Today's tiara received a fair bit of attention during our round up last week of tiaras which venture beyond standard featured stones. And this is very much an interesting and uncommon stone for a tiara: peridot, a green option with a range of shades from rather pale and watery to an intense olive or even lime green. These particular peridots are quite fine, with good purity, huge size, and a deep olive color. There are five peridot stones in the tiara, each surrounded by a scrolling foliate diamond frame. The tiara is part of a parure which includes a set of earrings, a large brooch (or devant de corsage), and a necklace; the necklace includes seven drops which can be removed and mounted upright on the tiara.
Archduchess Isabella
The tiara dates from the 1820s and is attributed to Kochert, court jeweler to the sprawling Habsburg family in Austria. It's said to have originally been made for Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg (1797-1829), who was the wife of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. But the tiara is most strongly associated with Princess Isabella of Croÿ (1856-1931), who married Archduke Friedrich, grandson of Henrietta and Charles and a successor to the Duke of Teschen title. It is on Archduchess Isabella that we have our first evidence of the tiara in use.
The necklace, earrings, and brooch from the parure
The parure has been through a few sales since Archduchess Isabella's time. The first came after the 1936 death of her husband, Archduke Friedrich; in 1937, the set was sold to Count Johannes Coudenhove-Kalergi (1893-1965) and his wife Countess Lilly. The jewels ended up in the United States, eventually passing to their daughter, Marina. Countess Marina lived a life apart from her noble roots, and the jewels stayed tucked away inconspicously in a bank safety deposit box for decades. When she died in 2000, her estate administrators were shocked to find that the jewels from her mother she had mentioned turned out to be this exquisite set with royal provenance, as verified by Sotheby's.
Joan Rivers, wearing the necklace and earrings
The jewels were auctioned by Sotheby's in 2001 and sold for around $400,000. They were bought by Fred Leighton, the jewelry firm well known for its celebrity connections, and the necklace and earrings were later loaned out to comedian and TV personality Joan Rivers for the 2004 Golden Globes ceremony. At some point, at least a part of the set was purchased by Lily Safra, as the earrings and brooch were placed on auction yet again in May 2012 when a selection of jewels from the philanthropist's collection were sold by Christie's for charity. I don't believe the whereabouts of the necklace and tiara are publicly known today.
The tiara with the necklace pendants attached
I'm not a big fan of peridot - these just aren't my favorite shades of green - but I do love seeing a tiara that makes an unusual stone choice. I love the variety, and I wish we saw more of such things on today's royal ladies.

Peridot tiaras: yes or no?

Photos: Sotheby's/Wikimedia Commons/Christies/WireImage

09 October 2013

Royal Fashion Awards: A Wedding in the Netherlands

Over the weekend, the religious wedding of Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma and Viktória Cservenyák was held in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands (the private civil marriage was held earlier in the week). The bride is a Hungarian-born lawyer; the groom is the son of Princess Irene of the Netherlands and the late Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma. He's one of the cousins of King Willem-Alexander, and we have a nice selection of the extended Dutch family for our review today. But first...

The Bride and Bridal Party
Click above for a video.
Viktória wore a wedding gown from designer Claes Iversen. The dress is made of ivory silk crepe and crepe georgette and features a largely unadorned body with a wide neckline that dips in the back, an empire waist, three-quarter sleeves, and a slim skirt. The sole embellishment on the front is at the bottom of the skirt, where there are embroidered flowers in fabric accented with crystals and beads (which the Fug Girls likened to her having walked through a field of spitballs...and well, once you get that in your head, there you go). She towed a train of moderate length (by royal wedding standards, at least!) matched by her veil of Swiss Dot tulle with a lace border. It was a rather plain dress, I thought - plain, but extremely sweet. She dipped into the Dutch family jewel vault for the Ears of Wheat Tiara, which was also used as a bridal diadem by several other recent brides in the family, plus a diamond bracelet and diamond earrings. You can vary the number of ears of wheat you wear with this tiara and she wore the full version with eight ears, though a drawback to using this one as a wedding tiara is that veils tend to conceal a few of the ears at the edges.
I was quite charmed by the girls in the bridal party (including Zaria, daughter of Princess Mabel and the late Prince Friso), whose dresses featured sashes in shades of yellow to orange or peach. The dashing groom matched the boys of the wedding party in classic morning suits with gold ties.

A selection of the guests:

Best in Dark
Princess Aimée
Left to Right: Princess Mabel (with daughter Luana), Queen Máxima (with the King and their kids), Princess Aimée, Juliana Guillermo, Princess Laurentien (with Prince Constantijn and their kids)
Mabel is in mourning, obviously. (You might remember that the couple's engagement was, in a strange coincidence, announced shortly before Prince Friso's death announcement.) Mourning or not, several of the other ladies opted for sedated shades as well; I was originally tempted to give this one to Máx for manning the hat ship in a sea of fascinators, but on second thought - Aimée looks incredible! The fabric has a bit of sparkle and a menswear flair, and the waist design is perfect for a new mum (she and Prince Floris welcomed their third child this summer). 

Best in Color
Princess Beatrix
L to R: Princess Margriet, Princess Christina, Princess Irene, Princess Beatrix, Princess Margarita, Princess Carolina, Princess Marilène, Princess Anita
On the other hand, some ladies went for strong colors, and bless them for it. So much here to love: Irene looks amazing in the perfect red for her (I don't buy into the whole anti-red thing for weddings, not at all, not even for the mother of the groom), plus both Carolina and Marilène are rocking purple (hilariously similar looks, and obviously they both have good taste in color). But it's Beatrix that has to get my win here - just a wee change to her standard hat shape makes a world of difference. Also, I just love her for showing up in something light and bright.

What did you think of the wedding dress? Who was your best dressed guest?

Photos: Blauw Bloed/PPE/DutchPhotoPress/Getty Images