15 December 2017

Year in Review: The Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Máxima's Bests of 2017

I'm picking my best 2017 outfits from our most frequently featured royal ladies in a series of posts this week and next. I'll also have a post of favorites from other royal women. Make sure you hop down to the comments as we go along to share your own personal favorites - I'm paying attention, and maybe we'll do a thing...

These two ladies have two bests with one thing in common: NECKLACES, baby. The bigger the diamonds, the better.

The Duchess of Cambridge at the Diplomatic Reception
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I wouldn't normally consider something like this for my yearly best list. We can't even see the dress properly! (Though the lovely Heaven did receive confirmation that, as many suspected, it was a bespoke Jenny Packham gown.) But here's the thing: the best bit about Kate's sartorial output in 2017 was, for me, the new things she got to borrow from the Queen's jewel vault. And none gave me the jumpy claps more than her use of a basic diamond collet necklace - the height of opulence, while not overwhelming the design of any outfit. So I'll just stick my blue ribbon right on that car window and that'll be that.

Runners up:

Queen Máxima at the State Banquet for the President and First Lady of Argentina
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Now this dress, on the other hand, is likely to make my best list every single time it appears. And Máxima topping her repeated Jan Taminiau princess dress with the ULTIMATE necklace from the family collection vaults it right into the top spot. Wearing the Stuart or House Diamond Necklace feels like one step towards a possible reappearance of that Stuart Tiara, though it's staggering all on its own. (Her jewel digging also unearthed the necklace of the Ruby Peacock Parure this year, for bonus points.)

Runners up:

What were your favorite Catherine and Máxima outfits in 2017?

14 December 2017

Year in Review: 2017's Tiara Happenings

What better way to kick off our 2017 wrap up than with a recap of the best news from the world of sparkly headgear, hmm? This year brought us several surprises, from tiara changes to rare sightings to newly enthusiastic wearers of big guns...

Queen Letizia Wears the Fleur de Lys Tiara
House of HM the King
I'd been waiting for Letizia to break into the "joyas de pasar", the jewels intended to be passed from queen to queen in Spain per Queen Victoria Eugenia's will, since King Felipe took the throne in 2014. She finally busted out the good stuff in 2017 and she did so with gusto. For February's Argentina state banquet, she wore the earrings, bracelets, and the crowning jewel: the Fleur de Lys Tiara, a.k.a. La Buena. Spain's grandest diadem also made the trip to the U.K. for another high profile state banquet appearance.

Princess Sofia's Emerald and Diamond Tiara Shows its Range
When Sofia appeared at her wedding wearing a new tiara topped by emeralds, many wondered if those could be swapped out. 2017 has an answer for you: yes they can, and more! After leaving her Emerald and Diamond Tiara alone for several months (while she took the opportunity to try out several new tiaras from the family vault, including Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara and the Six Button Tiara in 2017), it reappeared with a more open frame, first without the emeralds as an all-diamond tiara and then with the emeralds replaced with pearls. And then with the emeralds back in place, just to show a full range of tricks. It's the best surprise from the Swedish family stash this year, when we were also given debuts of Crown Princess Victoria in the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara and Princess Christina in the Cut Steel Bandeau.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit Wears the Vifte Tiara as a Tiara
Mette-Marit has worn Queen Maud's petite Vifte Tiara as a necklace in the past, but using it as a tiara is rare and not something she'd tried before. Until the big gala dinner celebrating King Harald and Queen Sonja's 80th birthdays, that is. It's a charming piece - and even more charming to see her try something new. (Even if it takes a candelabra to the head to see it properly.)

Two German Tiaras Get New Appearances
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I'll celebrate the appearance of any historic tiara hailing from royal houses that don't have frequent tiara occasions. Two German weddings gave us a chance to see two big German tiaras this year: Ekaterina Malysheva in the Hanover Floral Tiara and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia in the Prussian Meander Tiara.

Which tiara delighted you the most in 2017?

 (If you're in the mood for a nostalgic and sparkly look back, you can revisit all the tiara appearances we covered this year by clicking here.)

13 December 2017

Wednesday Tidbits for December 13: A Farewell, a New Portrait

Let's go:

--King Michael I of Romania passed away last week at the age of 96, after a life so packed with history an obituary can barely scrape the surface. His funeral is on Saturday; the Prince of Wales, the King and Queen of Sweden, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain will be among the mourners. Michael’s heir is his eldest daughter, Margareta, who has been styled as Her Majesty the Custodian of the Romanian Crown by the royal household since his death. (House law signed by King Michael in 2007 states that the head of the household has the title of king or queen, whether the family is reigning or non-reigning.) [New York Times]

--A new portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh was released and it is fantastic. Per the palace: “The portrait, by Australian born artist Ralph Heimans, has been produced for display at the Natural History Museum of Denmark at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark. The Museum is holding a retrospective exhibition of Mr Heimans' work in 2018."
 "Part of the exhibition explores the historical connections between the Royal Families of Great Britain & Denmark. The portrait is set at Windsor Castle and The Duke of Edinburgh is depicted wearing the sash of the Order of the Elephant, Denmark's highest-ranking honour. Windsor Castle holds special significance in regard to The Duke of Edinburgh's ancestry. At the end of the Grand Corridor is the Tapestry Room where His Royal Highness' mother, Princess Alice, and maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria were born.” Prince Philip was, of course born a Prince of Greece and Denmark. Mr. Heimans also painted a Diamond Jubilee portrait of the Queen, which is also fantastic. [National Portrait Gallery]

--Here’s Queen Mathilde, trying to sneak in another contender for her best outfit of the year just under the wire. This pink gown was paired with the Wolfers Necklace Tiara in necklace form and was worn to receive the Honorary National German Sustainability Award.
Belgian Monarchy
Belgian Monarchy

--And finally, an opportunity to see some historical royal fashion in person: the Fashion Museum in Bath has a family tree of royal clothing going on exhibition in 2018, including items worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. "Royal Women" runs from February 3, 2018 to April 28, 2019. [Telegraph]

Coming up this week and next: It's time to start wrapping up 2017...

Tidbits is your spot for royal topics we haven't covered separately on the blog, all week long. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

12 December 2017

Tiara Watch of the Day: A Second Night of Nobel Sparkle

They’ve gone and done it again, those Swedish royal ladies. For the second night in a row, I am charmed by one and all. And they’re going for the title of Year’s Most Color Coordinated Family while they’re at it.

The royal family with laureate Kazuo Ishiguro and wife Lorna MacDougall.
A pastel spring palette for all, anchored by the deep blue of Queen Silvia's Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure. The whole thing starts with Crown Princess Victoria's floral dress by Camilla Thulin. Man, I love a floral ball gown.

And that is a BALL GOWN, make no mistake! Grand with a bit of whimsy. With a nature-themed tiara in Princess Lilian’s Laurel Wreath, she’s perfectly coordinated.

Princess Sofia’s throwing in the greens with a caped (!) dress and the return of the emeralds on her wedding tiara. The elastic (or whatever) at the waist seems a little flimsy for the rest of the drama, though I'm prepared to overlook it since we have a case of Tiara Hair Worn Down done right.

It's good, right? As is Princess Madeleine (another member of the list of royals that can handle a tiara worn with hair down, incidentally). Madeleine’s appearance at Carl Philip and Sofia’s wedding in this Elie Saab gown is one of my all-time favorite maternity gala appearances; it’s just as grand the second time, paired again with the Modern Fringe Tiara.

Shall we catch up with the Norway Nobel crew, while we're at it? For their second night, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. You'll never guess what she wore...
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It's more Erdem x H&M! We knew it was going to be popular, we just didn't know how popular. We should have made Bingo cards with these pieces, guys. Missed opportunity.
Erdem x H&M

10 December 2017

Royal Fashion Awards: The Nobel Prizes, 2017

For the first time in quite some time, I really like all the ensembles our Scandinavian royal friends wore for the Nobel Prize ceremonies – in both Norway, where the Peace Prize is awarded, and in Sweden, where the rest are awarded. This is particularly great in the case of the Swedish royal ladies, because we can focus on the tiaras. And they gave us a lot of tiara fun to talk about… (Revisit our open post for links to watch the ceremonies.)

Biggest Tiara Surprise
Crown Princess Victoria
I always seem to predict a nice jewel tone for Victoria, so this light blue was a big surprise. An even bigger surprise: Victoria wore the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara for the first time! She made it her own by adding a diamond rivière to the base. (She’s done this sort of temporary addition in the past to the Button Tiaras.)
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Queen Silvia’s diamond floral earrings were a good balance for the large collar on this Jennifer Blom dress. You could take that down a notch and be none the worse, my single quibble with this otherwise delightful mass of light blue pleats.

Most Improved Tiara
Princess Sofia
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Sofia just showed us that her Emerald and Diamond Tiara could lose its emeralds and open up its shape. She wasn’t done showing us her tiara’s many tricks, apparently, because now she’s replaced those emeralds with pearls. This tiara has never looked better.
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The dress is from designer Ida Lanto, and that’s a princess dress if I ever saw one. Between that and the intense sparkle from her tiara, Sofia was operating at her highest princess level tonight.

Best Tiara Showcase
Princess Madeleine
Queen Josephine’s Amethyst Tiara isn’t an easy one to wear. Amethysts good enough to eat, but a wide circumference that’s tripped up many an experienced tiara model. Unless you’re Princess Madeleine. This is the second time she’s aced an amethyst outing.
She added other pieces from the Amethyst Parure to her look, which was just the first in a purple group tonight (much to my delight). Her bespoke dress from maternity label Séraphine is “pure mauve silk, featuring sumptuous hand-beaded overlay in precious gold silk.” Sumptuous indeed.

Achievements in Tiara Tackling
Princess Christina
She’s the best wearer of both the Dreaded Button Tiaras, she makes the tall Cut Steel Tiara look right at home, and now she’s tackled the Cut Steel Bandeau like a champ and came out on top. Princess Christina, folks. Give her a round of applause.

Most Predictable Tiara
Queen Silvia
As demonstrated by our recent flashback, Silvia’s been alternating the Leuchtenberg Sapphires and the Nine Prong Tiara for several years now. Last year we had the sapphires, so…Pronger, you’re up. She’s predictable but on trend with that purple dress, at least according to Pantone’s Color of the Year. It’s a repeat from the state visit to Germany by designer Georg et Arend (per The Royals and I).

Most Predictable in Daywear
Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit
Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
Holding down the daywear fort, the Norwegian royals attended the Peace Prize ceremony earlier in the day and this is both exactly as you would expect (oh look, Mette-Marit’s worn a floral!) and even better than you’d expect (but get that floral in my closet right now, that looks rich). Well done, ladies.

Nobel fun continues with a dinner in Norway and, on Monday, another tiara dinner in Sweden. Stay tuned!

Who wins your prizes at this year’s festivities?