24 October 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 24

So, this is puuurrrty:
Victoria's dress, I mean. Specifically speaking. Not that they aren't a good looking group overall. But - the DRESS! Very Jenny Packham-esque (I don't know whether it is or is not for sure, at the time I'm writing, though I'm sure it will turn up), with certain similarities to the Packham/Tadashi Shoji dress we've seen time and again. This muted teal color looks fantastic on Victoria and the delicate lace adds a lot of interest to an otherwise plain number.
If I could quibble - and you know me, that's what I do best - the beaded tassel earrings are not quite right. They are, however, from Oscar de la Renta, and of course this is being interpreted as a special gesture to the late designer's memory. Big statement earrings are definitely Victoria's style, special gesture or not. But as we can see in the video below, they're just a touch overpowering. There's a lot of swing happening there.
Anyway, I'm taking the earrings out of the equation and calling this a win for Victoria. Agreed?

Photos: Oscar de la Renta/Kungahuset video

23 October 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Russian Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara

It’s been a bit of an aquamarine week so far. Sunday’s post included the aquamarine tiara associated with the Duchess of Kent which is now up for auction, a polarizing piece due to the rather twee way it handles its floral motif; on Tuesday, the Countess of Wessex wore the Five Aquamarine Tiara for the Singapore state banquet. Aquamarine is a stone best shown off by (in my opinion) oblong cuts and large sizes, but those two tiaras are both examples of how difficult it can be to incorporate such stones into a successful tiara design (ahem, Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara). The topic of today’s discussion happens to be the aquamarine tiara that I feel handles that dilemma in the best fashion.
The Russian Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara
Made sometime around 1900, this tiara arranges rectangular aquamarine stones in a kokoshnik shape, a style based on traditional Russian headdresses, and accents them with lines and arches of diamonds all set in platinum. Not surprisingly, it has a Russian heritage – likely even an imperial Russian heritage. The tiara first surfaces when it was bought by Wartski in the 1920s, as detailed in Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey Munn, when it was one of many pieces sold off after the Russian revolution. It was said to have belonged to the last tsarina, Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918). Though no known images exist of the Empress wearing the diadem, this isn’t the only aquamarine piece to have a connection to her: a Fabergé brooch with an exquisite and large Siberian aquamarine was an engagement present from Nicholas II.
Alexandra Feodorovna and Nicholas II, at the time of their engagement
The tiara has surfaced a couple times since that original Russian sale, both times at auction houses. It was sold previously with a matching necklace and a matching pair of earrings at Sotheby’s in the 1980s, and this year it surfaced again offered at a private sale at Christie’s. They list it as the property of a European Noble Family.
The shape of this tiara is a wonderful solution that allows the rectangular aquamarines to shine in their best cut as they pave the middle of the tiara, and the simple design of the diamonds surrounding them allows the blue stones to hold all the impact. This model might just be my all-time favorite aquamarine tiara (if only we could see it in action!), and it ranked #2 when you voted for an aquamarine addition to your Ultimate Tiara Collection.

What's your verdict: Is this design a success, or no?

Photos: Christie's, Wikimedia Commons, Wartski's London

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 23

In which Queen Letizia, she of the Little Black Dress, totally shakes up her game with a Little Blue Dress.
The Spanish royals celebrated the anniversary of the El Mundo newspaper this week.
Okay, I lied about the shaking up the game part, but still! I like this a lot. Of course I do, it's got sparkle and ombré and an updo and these are a few of my favorite things.
We first saw a glimpse of this Felipe Varela dress when the couple visited in New York, and now we have a proper look. Instead of the dark strappy sandals she went for last time, this outing gets blue shoes and then transitions up to a darker clutch. Ombré accessories, we might say. I see what you did there, L.

Photos: Juan Aguado via Getty Images

22 October 2014

Royal Return of the Day: October 22

The Duchess of Cambridge yesterday returned to the royal stage for the first time since the announcement of her second pregnancy. It was a two-event day, and she returned to two of her favorite labels, Alexander McQueen and Jenny Packham. Getting back to your favorites is a bit of comfort for when you're feeling poorly, right? Sartorial chicken soup, in a way.

First up, she and William greeted the President of Singapore and his wife as they kicked off their state visit. The Cambridges were filling in for the absent Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who usually take care of this part of the visit. Outfit #1 was a new McQueen coat dress with a repeated gray Jane Taylor hat. I do enjoy a bit of Prince of Wales check.

The couple did not attend the state banquet in the evening (but you can discuss those that did over at the Vault). Instead, Kate headed to the National History Museum in a new Jenny Packham dress and repeated L.K. Bennett shoes.
If this double skirt situation doesn't come with a built-in solution for when you hit a Whitney/Mariah VMA moment, then I don't know what it's all about. (Am I the only one having that particular flashback? Probably.)
Also, I really need these shoes in my closet. You never know when it's going to be a bows-on-shoes sort of day. Best to be prepared.

Photos: WPA Pool via Getty Images, L.K. Bennett

21 October 2014

Royal Designer of the Day: October 21

Sad news from the fashion world last night: Oscar de la Renta has died at the age of 82. The legendary designer always produced elegant collections that were just beautiful, plain and simple, and his loss is terribly sad.

So today, we remember him in the best possible way - by celebrating his creations.

His pieces live on in several royal collections around the world. Queen Sofia, a personal friend of the designer, was his biggest royal fan. She wore many of his designs, including the flattering embroidered blue number below (shown with Mr. de la Renta himself, of course).

Her daughter Infanta Elena shares the love. Her Oscar pieces including stunning and vibrant gowns, but my absolute favorite is this too-chic-to-handle day suit.  

Queen Máxima's Oscar de la Renta outfits include a classic coat, and Crown Princess Victoria has a classic print dress.

Princess Lalla Salma has been spotted in some of his outfits, as has Queen Rania. Add this cozy jacket to Rania's collection:

Mary's contribution is princess perfect...

And Princess Madeleine's has a fresh edge, one that nearly made my pick in her closet raid.

And to Madeleine's pre-wedding dinner, Princess Marie-Chantal flew the Oscar de la Renta flag.

I could go on, and on, but I'll stop here and turn it over to you.
Some of the above royal looks on the runway and retail.
What is your favorite Oscar de la Renta look in action?
Photos: Getty Images, Avoord video, Kungahuset.se, Instagram, Twitter, Oscar de la Renta, Style.com

20 October 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: October 20

Queen Mathilde has been a busy bee lately. Let's catch up with a few of her sartorial highlights, shall we?

Together with King Philippe and Princess Elisabeth, who delivered a poised speech in each of the three national languages of Belgium, Mathilde attended a special service commemorating World War I. (Click here for a video of Elisabeth's speech, or here for a gallery.)
The Queen wore a blue gray coat from Natan, which was flattering in the way that these types of silhouettes are generically flattering. That sounds like damning with faint praise, I know, but I did like it - perfectly soft and muted for the occasion.

Prior to that, there was a run of printed day dresses, and it's no surprise that I'd argue the most successful of them all was a classic Diane von Furstenberg printed wrap dress.
Another generically flattering, classic-for-a-reason piece, but they usually suit her particularly well. A big geometric print was a good fit for an engagement involving design, anyway.

And finally, an evening look to ponder, for the Autumn Concert at the palace.
A black lace dress from Marc Philippe Coudeyre with big earrings and a lining that makes me do a double take. Do a double take and then promptly giggle, of course, because Mathilde of all people would have a lining firmly in place.
Also double take worthy: Princess Claire (on the other side of the King) and that top, which seems to be sparkly only on the front. If you're going to bring the disco, bring it all the way or don't bother, I say.

Photos: RTL video, @MonarchieBe, Diane von Furstenberg, Mark Renders via Getty Images

19 October 2014

Sunday Tidbits for October 19: Tuxedos, Tiaras, and Transatlantic Moves

Things to see, things to buy, and things to (not) wear - here's the week in random tidbits:

--There's been so much chatter over the possibility of a move back to Sweden or London for Princess Madeleine and her family that she gave a short interview to Expressen to clarify. A move to Europe is being considered, but in the future. [Expressen]

--From Prince Harry's speech at a fundraising dinner held by 100 Women in Hedge Funds: "I am not entirely sure who made the seating plan but I am sitting between two men. I thought it would just be 100 women and myself." Oh, Harry. [Telegraph, with video]

--Because there's never enough Harry: Buzzfeed presents 10 Photos Of Prince Harry In A Tux. [Buzzfeed]

--A dress that kind of looks like it's made from sweatshirt material, except it's sparkly, and a coat that doesn't go with a sparkly sweatshirt dress, and also SHOOTIES. I don't know, Victoria, I just don't know. [NT]

--The catalog for the Sotheby's auction featuring Queen Josephine's pearls also offers for sale an aquamarine tiara previously worn by the Duchess of Kent (see page 142). It was spotted on someone at the State Opening of Parliament in 2013, so it may have moved on from the Kent family prior to this particular auction. There are a few other jewels with royal connections in this sale too. [Sotheby's]

--If you put a long skirt on the outfit Queen Silvia wore to a luncheon this week, you'd get something straight out of Downton Abbey: The Early Years. Under certain circumstances that could be a great thing...but not these particular circumstances, I think. [Paris Match]

--Lover of windowpane print that I am, I'm trying real hard to love this recent ensemble on Princess Marie. I'm trying. [Stiften]

--The Victoria and Albert Museum has a few exhibits coming up that might be of interest: Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection (focusing on Indian jewelry; the Al Thanis are Qatar's ruling family) opening in November and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opening March 2015. [V&A]

17 October 2014

Tiara Watch of the Day: October 17

Oooh, I love it when we get to end the week on a tiara note. And the Norwegians provided last night, getting their tiaras out for the second time in a week to host their annual gala banquet for parliament. Crown Princess Mette-Marit turned up in a familiar look:
It's the return of the dress worn for last year's Dutch inauguration! This time, with her Norwegian order and her tiara in place (the Diamond Daisy, of course). It's an unusual dress, isn't it? Many of you commended her last year for wearing a dress that was reminiscent of Delftware to an important Dutch event, but the pattern fits right in with this ornately painted Scandinavian room too. There's a lot of pattern here, though. This might be the rare patterned dress that actually works better with the sash from an order in place, as it breaks up that solid wall of print.
That solid wall of print is probably why the dress was shown in a short version on the runway. It is, of course, bespoke Valentino.
So, which do you prefer? Version 2013 or Version 2014? Me, I would like to see Version 2013 with a tiara in place, because I always vote for tiaras and yet I love the color of that Dutch sash on this background. It just pops.

Also included: Princess Astrid, wearing her turquoise tiara from Queen Alexandra and the same dress she wore to the state banquet earlier this week, which also happens to be the same dress/tiara combination she wore to this event last year. Astrid's not bothered.

Worth a look for sparkle from Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, worn by Queen Sonja, and from the wee Diamond Daisy Tiara. It may disappear on photographs, but it does its duty in action.

Photos: Dagbladet video, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images, Style.com

16 October 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Topaz (or Citrine) and Pearl Tiara

The Topaz (or Citrine) and Pearl Tiara
Out of the grand ducal collection in Luxembourg comes this bandeau of oval stones in a warm orange-yellow hue separated by arcs of small pearls, all set in yellow gold. Exactly what type of stones those orange numbers are is unknown, with topaz and citrine being the two most popular guesses (Luxarazzi discusses the likelihood of each in their entry on this piece).
Necklace and earrings
Whatever they are, these orange stones also adorn matching earrings and a necklace to form a parure with the tiara; the earrings include a large round orange stone with a large pendant, all with a pearl outline, and the necklace is a twisted gold chain with up to five pendants, each an orange stone on a pearl-embellished clasp.
Maria Teresa, Joséphine-Charlotte, Alexandra
The precise history of this set is unknown, but it's been worn by the grand ducal ladies since at least the 1980s. For several decades it remained sparingly worn; Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte wore it on occasion, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore it when she was the Hereditary Grand Duchess, and Princess Margaretha (daughter of Joséphine-Charlotte) borrowed it on at least one occasion. It seems to be experiencing a tiny resurgence in the past few years, though: Princess Alexandra (daughter of Maria Teresa and Grand Duke Henri) wore the tiara in 2011, Maria Teresa used it during a state visit, and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie used it to coordinate with her gold gown and her orange-trimmed sash at Princess Madeleine of Sweden's wedding in 2013.
This is quite a unique piece. This color of stone is not a popular material in tiaras, and to combine it with pearls is another unusual choice. It's perfectly suited to be a part of the Luxembourg collection, though, as they have plenty of tiaras to pick from - in particular, several smaller options with various colored stones. That variety allows them to save a piece like this for use when it really suits the outfit, which is the perfect showcase for such an intriguing tiara.

This stone combination in a tiara: yes or no?

Photos: Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons,Gammarapho, Cour grand-ducale, Place Royale screencap

Royal Visit of the Day: October 16

Sometimes people dream up some pretty intricate scenarios of coordination between royal ladies before a joint event, all for the purposes of coordinating their outfits. And sometimes it's nice to have confirmation that that isn't necessarily the case. Because when the Spanish visited the Dutch yesterday for an introductory visit, we ended up with two royal ladies doing exactly what they would normally do, without special accommodations for each other. Letizia doesn't usually do hats and gloves (foreign royal weddings being one exception) - it's not the royal norm in Spain, and she has not made special exception for any of her other introductory visits - and Máxima does. And that's what we have here.
King Felipe, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Letizia, and Queen Máxima
The thing is, sticking to what they each do best doesn't leave me with much to root for here. Letizia is in her best color, but the added casual detail of the collar and trim brings this Felipe Varela dress down several notches. Máxima, in a Natan ensemble and necklace, is at it once again with the too matchy-matchy stuff (if she doesn't already have an entire closet devoted to all her different colors of gloves, she's going to need one soon). Also, I think her necklace is trying to murder us.
That leaves me not on Team Máx or Team Leti, but on Team Earring. Nice big diamonds from the Dutch, diamonds and rubies from the Spanish - Letizia's one concession to visiting Máxima's home territory. On that front, they were in perfect harmony.

Photos: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

15 October 2014

Royal Color Coordination of the Day: October 15

If only these two ladies had teamed up for the day, we could have had a repeat of Queen Letizia and Princess Lalla Salma's monochromatic Charlie's Angels double act. But they didn't, so we'll have to use our imaginations.

Queen Máxima attended a symposium on domestic violence protection yesterday.
Representing the red team, Máx tied her hat to her dress with a couple of bows and broke up the whole red shebang with a print purse and a darker pair of shoes.
I'll give the whole thing a pass if she just gives me that clutch. It needs to be miiiiiine.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended day 2 of the state visit from India yesterday.
Over in Norway, M-M held up the blush/blergh end of the team. She's all about the textures this visit, which is adding a necessary amount of interest to all understated colors. And, hey, she's not the only one willing to play along with today's color story!
From Mette-Marit on the pale end of the pink scale to the gentlemen and their red ties, the family that color coordinates together stays together.

Photos: Michel Porro and Ragnar Singsaas via Getty Images

14 October 2014

Royal State Visit of the Day: October 14

As promised, state visit season has kicked off, and the Norwegian royal family welcomed the President of India yesterday.
Alongside the gentlemen in uniform and Princess Astrid doing her best to bring back the drop waist, Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were in a hat-off - Sonja displaying the standard positioning for a pillbox, and Mette-Marit doing as she does and disappearing hers at the back of her head.
It's a standard Mette-Marit move for a standard Mette-Marit outfit, including a repeated textured coat in a mauve/lavender color and dark hosiery, with some serious earrings. She seems to have saved her surprises for the evening's state banquet, at which she wore a sort of a cape. A CAPE!
It was actually a redo of another caped look, the dress she wore to Princess Madeleine's wedding last summer, but with a different cape and a belt added. The dress is bespoke Pucci.
Well, you know me. Any hint of a CAPE and I'm all in, no matter how much it looks like a simple shawl in peril of falling right off. I declare it an excellent start to our tiara-filled season!

Photos: MSN Video, Ragnar Singsaas via Getty Images

13 October 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 13

This weekend marked another milestone for Felipe VI's reign in Spain: his first National Day as king.
For the parade, Felipe was decked out in uniform, their daughters were dressed in Nanos, and Letizia stuck to her favorite designer, Felipe Varela. The dress has the look of a standard, one of those tweedy/bouclé numbers you might get from vintage Chanel, but Letizia - as always - puts her own twist on the story with a closely tailored fit and a shaped neckline.
The story took an unexpected turn at the back: a different fabric! Which has the unfortunate effect of appearing that they accidentally ran out of the good stuff. I was with her until that plot twist, and now I think I have to crown Felipe the best dressed of the day (if you're going to change out of your uniform for the reception, might as well make it some natty pinstripes, right?).

Photos: Eduardo Parra and Juan Naharro Gimenez via Getty Images

12 October 2014

Sunday Tidbits for October 12: Tiaras on the Horizon, Plus More

Welcome back to Sunday Tidbits Vol. 2, the second edition of our new weekly feature! Random links and assorted information coming right up...

--BRACE YOURSELVES: Tiaras are in our future. Now that we're done with the fall parliament opening season, we're heading into fall state visit season. This week, Norway welcomes India for a state visit (and they'll host a gala for parliament, which is a tiara event). In the weeks to come, Britain hosts Singapore, the Dutch will head out to South Korea and Japan, and more. Felipe and Letizia will also be picking back up with their introductory visits (which are not tiara occasions, but still), starting by calling on Willem-Alexander and Máxima this week. Obviously we'll do our best to cover as much of it here as we can.

--Regarding that state visit from Singapore, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are scheduled to take part in the official welcome. (Kate's attendance is obviously dependent on her illness.) But they are not on the schedule for the state banquet, so no tiara. [Express]

--Hello mag asks, "What has the Countess of Wessex done?" Just remembered she left the house with her scrunchie still in, I expect. [Hello]

--Sheikha Mozah was out and about in Valentino and I am going to have to sound the outfit flop alarm. I mean, an innovative alteration from the runway, sure, but...no. [Sheikha Mozah Fashion]

--The Princess of Asturias has a new wax figure, to join the waxworks of her father and some other lady who bears no resemblance to her mother. Here's the thing: Wax figures are TERRIFYING. Always. Why do they make them? Why do people go and see them? These are the real questions. [Hello]

--Christie's will auction the Feuilles de Groseillier brooch, which belonged to Empress Eugénie. Like so many pieces with French crown jewel heritage, it was once part of a larger parure that was broken apart and sold off after the monarchy was done away with. One wonders if the Louvre will be able to acquire it in one way or another, as they have done with similar pieces (such as Empress Eugénie's Pearl and Diamond Tiara and the Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara). [The Jewellery Editor]

--The Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg have been in Asia. Her outfits aren't anything to write home about, but Stéphanie's curtsey game is strong. [Luxemburger Wort]

--Staying in Japan for a moment: Last week, we discussed the wedding of Princess Noriko. This week, there was a banquet for the newlyweds which included the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. Masako looked happy and the bride wore a little diamond embellishment in her hair, and that's pretty much all you need from an event like this. [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]

--From Andrew Prince, creator of costume tiaras used on Downton Abbey, comes a line of bridal tiaras just for you. "Tiaras are the most useless and the most fantastic," he says. "YAAAASSSSS," I reply. [New York Post]

--Queen Silvia repeated a gown in my very favorite color but it still gives me a slight case of Skeptical Estelle Face. Shine plus black embellishments? Hmmm. She and the King were at the Birgit Nilsson Prize Ceremony, and I read that as Brigitte Nielsen first, which would be a whole different thing. [Svensk Damtidning]

--Love this write up from Patricia Treble on the breathtaking poppy installation at the Tower of London. The Queen will visit on Thursday. [MacLean's]

--Speaking of QEII, she is back from her Balmoral break, hanging out with Angelina Jolie and such, and that means the Jewel Vault blog is up and running once more. FYI, y'all.

And finally, here's your reminder that you are welcome to use this post for your off topic and personal musings throughout the week! Enjoy.

10 October 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 10

Well, this is an ethereal little gown, no?
The Prince and Princess of Monaco attended the Princess Grace Awards. Prince not shown. Use your imagination.
It's pretty much a maternity standard, but there are reasons why things are standards, and this really works for her. I mean, I have no idea if this twin pregnancy has been easy on Charlene or not, but at least as long as she's wearing a floaty gown like this, she looks like she's sailing through. It's couture from Dior, of course, because they sponsored the event.

For me, though, the real show was the earrings. THESE EARRINGS. Have a little sparkle to get your through your Friday:
WANT. Charlene's minimal look and lack of tiara love masks the fact that she's actually worn some pretty serious pieces over the years, many of them modern. If these are all ending up in her personal collection, consider me crazy jealous.

And by the way...in case you weren't buying the confirmations to Hello or Point de Vue, the palace this week issued an official announcement confirming that Albert and Charlene are indeed expecting twins.
A much bigger question mark comes from the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, which is reporting that Andrea Casiraghi and Tatiana Santo Domingo are expecting their second child. Princess Caroline's crew isn't big on official announcements, so we'll just have to wait and see if it turns out to be true.

Photos: Charley Gallay and Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic via Getty Images