29 February 2016

Royal Flashback of the Day: February 29

via Wikimedia Commons
I love awards season. Not because of the award shows themselves, mind you; I just like it when the red carpet delivers a fresh batch of award show fashion every weekend. Fantastic cure for a case of the Mondays, you know? Enter Grace Kelly, the perfect topic for an après-Oscars flashback.
Grace attended the 1956 Academy Awards ceremony still in movie star mode, though she was about to move into princess mode. She was on hand to present the Best Actor award to Ernest Borgnine, having taken home the Best Actress statue the previous year in a blue satin gown from costume designer Edith Head. (That dress was a previous Oscars discussion topic here.)
Her gown for the 1956 Oscars came from MGM's costume designer, Helen Rose. Rose was also busy designing Grace's wedding gown at this time; this Academy Awards ceremony would be Grace Kelly's last appearance before heading to New York and off to Monaco to marry Prince Rainier.
Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive via Wikimedia Commons
This particular creation was a diaphanous white dress with a cross neckline detail and flowers sprinkled all over. She paired it with a light blue wrap and her signature white gloves. Of its time, but also something that wouldn't look entirely out of place on a red carpet today. And for an almost-princess look, it was just right.

(Oh, and? My best dressed for last night, because I can't resist: Cate Blanchett, and Charlize Theron's necklace. Gimme.)

28 February 2016

Sunday Tidbits for February 28: More Skiing, More Sweden

It's the ski holiday time of year. It's also apparently the time of the year for Sweden to continue bringing the action, and I'm all for it.

--The Dutch royals were having a grand old time on their annual ski vacation, until Princess Alexia broke her leg while skiing. Her operation went well, thankfully, and she's on the mend. [Het Koninklijk Huis]

--While we're on the Dutch theme, Het Loo Palace will open an exhibition of Princess Beatrix's hats (titled Chapeaux!, which is excellent) in February 2017. You've got one year to plan your Dutch field trips, kids. [Palais Het Loo, h/t Royal Hats Blog]

--Here are some shots from the preview of the Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire auction at Sotheby's this week. I'll take that diamond heart and leave you with everything bug-related. [Zimbio]

--Sweden delivering again: Princess Estelle celebrated her 4th birthday with some new pics, and gorgeous new stamps were unveiled to celebrate King Carl Gustaf's 70th birthday and his upcoming 40th wedding anniversary with Queen Silvia. I also added a video to my favorite Tiara Watch of all time, in case you needed some more cute from Princess Madeleine's princess party. [Svensk Damtidning]
 Photos: Kate Gabor/Kungahuset.se

--Speaking of King Carl Gustaf's big upcoming birthday, the Royal Court announced a full program of events, April 25-30. This includes a concert, church service, and banquet on April 29 and 30. His 60th birthday was a big shebang with tiaras and international royal guests, so this is exciting news. (And if you think we won't be flashing back to that party between now and then...well, you must be new here.) [Royal Forums]

--BBC Two has your royal documentary for the week: Queen Victoria's Children in three episodes. [BBC]

--And finally, QEII got a new train line named after her, and she dressed to match it. It's purple, and it's all I've ever wanted. [Jewel Vault]

26 February 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 26

Well. It's a look, alright.
The King and Queen of Spain attended the opening of the ARCO contemporary art fair in Madrid yesterday.
Occasionally Letizia goes with the contemporary art flow for this annual engagement by selecting something a little more modern, maybe even edgy (by royal standards, at least). Apparently, the definition of "edgy" is now "leather culottes".
You know, noted appreciator of the cropped trouser + heels look that I am, there's probably a world in which I could get on board with this. But that world would have to come before you add in the complicated strappy shoes, the voluminous jacket, and the strictly business button-down. As Letizia wore it? Well. It's a look, alright.
Zippered leather culottes from Uterqüe

Photos: via Getty Images, Uterqüe

25 February 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Northumberland Strawberry Leaf Tiara

The Northumberland Strawberry Leaf Tiara
King George IV (1762-1830) presented the third Duke of Northumberland with a ceremonial sword inlaid with diamonds, and those important diamonds were later used by the Northumberland family to create this tiara. The diadem featured strawberry leaf motifs with very large diamonds at their centers rising from a diamond base in a coronet style.
Video: The tiara was loaned to a 1959 exhibition called Ageless Diamonds. Several royal pieces can also be spotted on display.
As befit a tiara with such an important history, it featured in more than one coronation. Helen Percy (1886-1965), wife of the eighth Duke, was painted in her coronation robes and this tiara by Philip de Laszlo for the 1937 coronation and she wore it to the 1953 coronation, by which time she was the Dowager Duchess. She served as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, so she not only had a role to play in the coronations, but she also attended plenty of occasions where she could showcase the family’s finest jewelry. Unfortunately, it was one of those occasions that led to the tiara’s demise.
In 1963, the Dowager Duchess went to Garrard to retrieve the tiara and other jewels she required for a banquet to be given that evening by King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece, who were on a state visit to the United Kingdom. On the way home, her car was ambushed by five men. She was left “screaming in her car outside her London home” as the thieves made off with her jewels, including a tiara. Diana Scarisbrick’s Ancestral Jewels identifies the stolen tiara as the strawberry leaf diadem.
The tiara modeled for the exhibit. See additional video here.
The design of the tiara may not have been entirely unique on its own - Queen Fabiola's Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara is a similar example - but the size of the diamonds involved really set this one apart. Showcasing really large stones in tiaras isn't always the easiest design feat, yet the Strawberry Leaf Tiara pulled it off with ease. The family had other tiaras, but the loss of those diamonds and that history must have been keenly felt.

Photos: British Moviefone screencap/de Laszlo/Beaton/British Pathe screencap

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 25

The Duchess of Cambridge (or the Countess of Strathearn, if you please, while in Scotland) visited Edinburgh yesterday for some school visits.
Tennis was played, coats were repeated (I preferred this dark green one at Christmas, but it's one of those basic can't-go-wrong sort of things any which way you wear it), a grand time was had by all.
And - most importantly for me, because I could start an entire blog devoted solely to my love of houndstooth and/or black and white check and/or windowpane prints - a kicky new kilt skirt was worn.
Coat by Sportmax, skirt by Scottish label Le Kilt
Sorta makes me wish the coat hadn't been necessary, actually.

Photos: via Getty Images, Farfetch, Le Kilt

24 February 2016

Royal Wedding of the Day: February 24

Before we leave Princess Marie's birthday month, let's revisit her wedding gown. We covered it here a long time ago, and I think we're due for a refresh...

Marie Cavallier married Prince Joachim of Denmark on May 24, 2008 in Møgeltønder Church, wearing a couture gown designed by David Arasa and Claudio Morelli from the Arasa Morelli fashion house. Calais lace lined with ivory silk faille made in the Loire Valley (appropriate for this French bride) made up the body of her full skirted gown.

Her diamond floral tiara has since become very well known to us, but it was a little tough to make out that day, as the family heirloom faded into the background of her tulle and lace veil.

And that veil itself? It wasn't about to fade into any background - with a little help from the wind, it nearly went rogue on her, as you can see in the video above.

Marie was a gorgeous bride who could have pulled most dresses off, and she sailed right through in a gown that seems, well, made for sailing right through the checklist of must-haves for any royal bride. There's not a lot to object to here (my main quibble is the slightly low waist, which shortens her from some angles); it checks all the boxes you'd expect a royal wedding gown to check. In an odd way, that might just be why it never ended up as one of my favorites. Has it classic-ed itself right out of memorability? You be the judge.

Photos: via Getty Images

23 February 2016

Tiara Watch of the Day: February 23

I tweeted about this yesterday, and of course we're going to cover it here today. I might cover it here every week for the rest of time. This event is my new happy place.
Photo: Kate Gabor/Kungahuset.se
Princess Madeleine is the patron of Min Stora Dag (My Big Day), a foundation that makes dreams come true for children with serious illnesses. Yesterday, she invited twelve kids to the Royal Palace, where she received them in full princess mode for a fairy tale party.
Photo: Kate Gabor/Kungahuset.se
Actually, that deserves some caps lock: this is FULL PRINCESS MODE. Most of her look from the 2015 Nobel Prize Ceremony was repeated, including her gorgeous Fadi El Khoury gown, her orders, and the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara. And she threw in some impressive new chandelier earrings for good measure.
Photo: Kate Gabor/Kungahuset.se
The look alone would have brought out my jumpy claps - it was one of my favorite royal looks in 2015 - but the occasion sends it over the top. These kids got the full royal red carpet treatment, right down to the fancy table dressings and a princess in a tiara to sit on the floor with them. (Two princesses, actually - Princess Leonore attended in her own fairy princess getup!) I'm sorry, is someone cutting onions in here? This is my favorite Tiara Watch of all time, is what I'm saying.

Update: Oh, help. There's a video too.

22 February 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 22

If Friday was devoted to my love of a good red coat, then Monday shall be devoted to my love of a good red dress.
Prince Carl Philip, Princess Sofia, and Queen Silvia attended the formal gathering of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts on Friday.
Perfect case in point, I think. Enough of the lacy/embroidery/etc. business to keep it interesting and keep it dressy, but not enough to bring on another bout of the dreaded Lace Fatigue Syndrome.
Reds are reallllly tough to match, so I was glad to see she went for the nude shoe. I wouldn't have objected to swapping out the red clutch too (because, hey, reds are reallllly tough to match), but that's an observation and not a complaint for this winning look. (Speaking of accessory colors, points to Queen Silvia for bringing some pep to her brown outfit with a multi-color scarf. Even if I do wish I could arrange it differently for her in that above shot.)

21 February 2016

Sunday Tidbits for February 21: More Babies, More Birthdays

Our recent tidbits theme rolls on...

--More pictures of the King and Queen of Bhutan and their new son were released in celebration of the King's 36th birthday. [Facebook]
His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Facebook

--Baby news for Jordan's royal family: Prince Feisal, younger brother of King Abdullah, and his wife Princess Zina welcomed a son on Wednesday. The baby is named Abdullah, and Queen Rania shared a family snapshot. [Instagram]

--Princess Leonore of Sweden turned 2 on February 20, so of course there were some cute new photos released. [Facebook]
Brigitte Grenfeldt/Kungahuset.se

--Here you can check out Kinnekskanner, RTL's documentary covering a year in the life of Luxembourg's grand ducal family. There's lovely footage even if you don't understand the language. [RTL]

--King Carl Gustaf is on an official visit to Japan, and Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko hosted a dinner for him at their residence. [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault, we flashed back to an event featuring one of the dresses from Kensington Palace's current fashion exhibit. Don't miss the video and its tales of Princess Margaret's sartorial sauciness. (What was considered saucy in her day, that is. You know.)

Coming up this week: A Swedish check in, and more...

19 February 2016

Royal Coat of the Day: February 19

The Duchess of Cambridge dusted off a treasured artifact from her burgeoning royal coat museum yesterday.
Video: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bid farewell to the RAF Search and Rescue Force in Anglesey
I do love a good red coat. And the Duchess has styled this one in a few different ways, so I'm in the mood for a little review of this coat over the years. Shall we? We shall...

2011: Visit to Denmark
First spotted in 2011, when the Cambridges teamed up with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary to visit a UNICEF facility, the coat was originally worn with a separate belt and some tall boots for a cozy covered look.

In 2012, the belt from the coat model appeared for a rugby match in Wales (an event without much of a full length view, so I'm skipping a pic. Click here to see).

2013: London Poppy Day
2013 gave us a better view, with black tights and black pumps.

2016: Yesterday's Anglesey engagement
And now the coat is trying its hand at a hat pairing. Chocolate brown accessories and a ponytail freshen up the repeat.

The question is...which coat styling is your fave? Moi, I love the way a tall boot brings out the military details of this coat - the belt, the high collar, the epaulettes on the shoulders - and highlighting that structure makes the look.

(That brown Lock & Co. hat has been worn even more often than the coat, actually. But for my money, its appearance at last year's Irish Guards parade can't be beat.)

Photos: L.K.Bennett/via Getty Images

18 February 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Cartier Tiara of Imelda Marcos

Making headlines this week, the government of the Philippines has approved plans to proceed with an international auction of jewels that belonged to former first lady Imelda Marcos. Marcos was known for her extravagant spending, and she and her husband, the late Ferdinand Marcos, were accused of stealing billions during his presidency. Her impressive jewelry collection – which includes the Russian Pearl Pendant Kokoshnik, previously covered here - was among property seized by the Philippine government when the Marcos family fled the country in 1986. The jewels were appraised early on for a potential auction, but they've been waiting in the Central Bank of the Philippines ever since.

The Marcos jewels are divided into three parts (the Hawaii, Roumeliotes, and Malacañang collections), two of which are still under legal dispute. The group heading for auction now is the Hawaii collection, the gems seized by U.S. Customs when the Marcos family arrived in Hawaii after leaving the Philippines. In November 2015, officials from Christie’s and Sotheby’s appraised the jewels again in anticipation of a potential auction. Treasures they found in the Hawaii collection include a rare 25 carat pink diamond and this diamond tiara:
The tiara was previously valued at $30,000-$50,000, but is now thought to be worth multiple times that amount (perhaps up to $500,000, depending on the source). The experts identified it as a Belle Époque piece most likely crafted by Cartier, which makes it a rarer find than previously thought.
The swirling garland style of Cartier is written all over this tiara. There are strong hints of other pieces we’ve covered here: the Cartier Essex Tiara and Queen Elisabeth's Cartier Bandeau Tiara which belong to the French jewel house, the Cartier Diamond and Pearl Tiara and Queen Maria Christina's Cartier Loop Tiara from Spain, or the Khedive of Egypt Tiara now with Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. It’s easy to imagine this diamond tiara drawing a high price, and I wonder if Cartier will attempt to get it back. Hopefully the auction will shed some light on the history behind this piece, because its Marcos ownership is most of what we know about it today.

Video: A November news report on the reappraisal of the collection
After decades of storage, the Philippine government is now hoping to move quickly to auction the estimated $21 million collection. They are also planning to exhibit the jewels for the public. The Marcos couple’s son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is currently running for vice president, leading to concerns that he could interfere if elected; he has already criticized the actions. For this tiara and these jewels, the story is hardly over.

For more on the proposed auction, see this CNN story.

Photos: via Getty Images, GMA screencap

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 18

Back from the family ski trip, all hatted up and ready to go...

Members of the Belgian royal family attended a mass to remember deceased relatives yesterday. 
L to R: Princess Margaretha (her husband, Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, is just out of the frame), Queen Mathilde, King Philippe, Princess Esmeralda (daughter of King Leopold III and Princess Lilian), Princess Lea (widow of Prince Alexander of Belgium, son of Leopold III and Lilian)

This is an annual event, and calls for something on the solemn side. Queen Mathilde is threading that needle perfectly in her gray coat and hat. It's a lot of volume, but the outfit handles it well. A+. (Click here for a gallery with more.)

17 February 2016

Royal Queens of the Day: February 17

Two of our queens were out and about yesterday. Let's check in:

The King and Queen of the Netherlands visited West Brabant.
Have I said something was Peak Máx yet? (Yes. Entirely too often.) Well, ignore all those other times. This is Peak Máx, I mean it this time. Big hat, cape-y coat-y thing, big printed dress, you know the drill. And - you know the drill here too - big facial expressions. No one else has quite this much fun while on the royal rounds, and this is the true hallmark of a Peak Queen Máxima appearance. (Here's a gallery.)

The King and Queen of Spain visited the Prado Museum.
Queen Letizia has worn this suit before, usually with something showing underneath (like this, or this), but I love this cleaner look. That flowery, twisty thing on her lapel is subtle, but it benefits from a little room to breathe. Plus, her choice of a swinging red coat when outdoors gave a little life to her accessory choices, and you know I approve of that. (Here's a gallery.)

Photos: via Getty Images

16 February 2016

Royal Jewels of the Day: Diana's Collingwood Diamonds

Last week, I linked you to a Vogue feature on the new fashion exhibition at Kensington Palace. Several of you took special notice of a certain 1981 cover included in that feature, or so the sudden increase in questions about a certain diamond set would lead me to believe.
The fabulousness of those chandelier earrings and that antique necklace can't be ignored. But - unfortunately for those who asked about these gems in the hopes that they might see them one day on the Duchess of Cambridge - Diana did not own these jewels.
The cover comes from the official engagement portraits of Lady Diana Spencer and the Prince of Wales, which were taken by Lord Snowdon at Highgrove. The bride-to-be borrowed this suite of diamonds from Collingwood for the photos. (The excellent Diana's Jewels site points out that she also borrowed the necklace to attend a banquet at Claridge's during her engagement, for a state visit from the King of Saudi Arabia.) According to The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field:
"Collingwood, who have been the Spencer family jewellers since Lady Diana was a girl, had wanted to present her with the diamond set as their wedding gift, but Palace officials ruled that such a valuable present would be improper. The necklace and earrings were subsequently offered for sale by an Iranian jeweller in Düsseldorf, Genio Hakimi, who claimed they were Spencer heirlooms that had been sold to pay for the wedding. He had bought them from an unscrupulous dealer who offered the engagement photograph as proof that the jewels were Spencer property."
The current whereabouts of the troublesome diamond suite are unknown. However, Collingwood did manage to give the new Princess of Wales a sparkling wedding gift in the end: these simple diamond and pearl drop earrings, which Diana wore often, and which were a perfect match for that famous tiara on loan from the Queen.

Photos: Vogue/Snowdon/via Getty Images

14 February 2016

Sunday Tidbits for February 14: Skiing and State Visits and More

Small programming note: Tomorrow's a bit of a holiday, so the blog will be back on Tuesday.

I suppose it's appropriate to kick things off on February 14th with some wedding anniversary adoration...

--Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary (which is today) with new photos. If you're in a flashback mood, I wrote about Maria Teresa's Balmain wedding dress when they marked their 30th. [Luxarazzi]

--Stepping up like champs to fill the void left in our lives by the cancellation of the Spanish/British state visit, the Belgian monarchs have invited Germany over for a state visit March 8-10. [Belgian Monarchy]

--But before they get back to work, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are enjoying a family ski break, photocall included. [ParisMatch]

--Princess Ingrid Alexandra lit the Olympic flame and Crown Prince Haakon went curling as the Norwegian royal family donned their jazzy team pants for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Also last week, Crown Princess Mette-Marit got suited up for a Girls and Technology conference in Oslo. [Zimbio]

--The King and Queen of Bhutan have released the first official photos of their new baby, The Gyalsey. He's held here by his grandfather, the previous King, who abdicated in 2006. [Facebook]
His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Facebook

--The celebrations thrown in 1971 by the Shah of Iran to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian monarchy were so decadent, they contributed to the fall of the dynasty. BBC Four takes a look at the party and its consequences with Decadence and Downfall: The Shah of Iran's Ultimate Party, airing tonight. [BBC]

--Over at the Jewel Vault, the Queen returned to London and returned to confusing brooch identifications after her Sandringham break.

--And finally, unrelated to royal stuff but amusing nevertheless: The Dowager Countess’ Finest Burns on Downton Abbey. [Slate]

We shall return on Tuesday...

12 February 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 12

Is it possible to dislike a dress and to like it on a certain person at the same time?
Crown Princess Victoria attended the Global Change Award ceremony 
in Stockholm on Wednesday
Yes. The answer is apparently yes. Because this dress itself is a little bit hmmmm (an appreciable departure from solid lace dresses, sure, but just a lot to take in all together, especially with the major earrings), yet this dress on Victoria is basically mmhmmmm (oh, she's working it). If you see what I mean.
Model for Victoria's earrings, which are slightly different
The Global Change Award was started by the H&M Conscious Foundation, so naturally Victoria wore a dress, earrings, and clutch from the sustainable H&M Conscious Collection. She's actually giving us a special preview here, because the items created for her are based on a collection that won't be in stores until April. (It's good to be the Crown Princess sometimes.) Her navy dress is made of organic silk and organic cotton; her earrings include Denimite, which is a material made from - you guessed it - recycled denim. So, that a first.

Photos: via Getty Images, H&M

11 February 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Boucheron Wave Tiara

The Boucheron Wave Tiara
French master goldsmith Coulot used diamonds to make the ocean come to life for Boucheron in 1910 with the creation of the Boucheron Wave Tiara. The tiara makes use of the precious stones as well as the spaces that lack stones to depict an asymmetrical design of breaking waves rising up from its base.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa (also The Great Wave, or The Wave), 1830-33, Hokusai. A woodblock print and part of the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji
The piece was inspired by The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai, an iconic piece of Japanese art. Japanese influence in the fine arts in Europe grew rapidly in the late 1800s as the Meiji Restoration opened the country up to the west, and the Boucheron tiara is a masterful example of that inspiration.
Tiaras are listed in order below
Using water as an inspiration has yielded more than a few tiaras throughout history. Multiple examples of wave tiaras can be pulled just from royal families: Monaco's modern Ocean Tiara in diamonds and sapphires, the rolling ocean wave interpretation of the Mellerio Shell Tiara from the Spanish royal family, a subtle diamond and pearl version in Princess Noriko's Wave Tiara from Japan, the geometric interpretation of the Russian Wave Pattern Tiara, or the version with extravagantly large stones known as the Russian Sapphire Wave Tiara, to name a few.
But none of those other examples come close to interpreting their motif with as much dynamic movement or exquisite craftsmanship as the Boucheron Wave Tiara did. I've often wondered if that would make the Boucheron example harder to carry off in real life - make it less of a wearable piece and more of a museum item to be admired for its technical prowess - but alas, we'll never know. It is known to us through archive photos alone; there are no examples of the tiara in use, and its whereabouts are unknown.

Which wave tiara do you prefer?

Photos: Boucheron, Public Domain, Van Cleef & Arpels/DR/ANN screencap/USGS

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 11

Queen Máxima's putting together some interesting outfits during her current trip to Pakistan, which is a part of her work in inclusive finance for the UN. She's meeting all relevant modesty criteria while still staying firmly in her own wheelhouse; in this case, a house of statement prints and statement jewelry.
Turquoise earrings and a ring caught my eye straight away. Any big turquoise pieces are bound to do just that, but matching these to the colors in her skirt was an A+ choice. Also: that skirt! Add this paisley quilted skirt from Alessandra Rich (per ModeKoninginMaxima) to the list of things I wouldn't have thought would work as well as they do in action.
The longer length works with her height (and her location and task, in this case) and that print is giving the whole thing life. And, let's be honest, I'd love it for introducing turquoise into the outfit even without other reasons.

Photos: via Getty Images, Twitter, Moda Operandi

10 February 2016

Royal Exhibition of the Day: February 10

It's going to be a banner year for royal style exhibitions in the United Kingdom. Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style will catalog the Queen's style over her 90 years in three separate exhibitions starting on April 21 - her 90th birthday - at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. You can also visit Kensington Palace (while popping in at Wills n' Kate's for tea, as you do) and check out their latest style showcase. Fashion Rules Revisited, opening February 11, includes outfits from Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the Queen and Princess Margaret.

It's a little too easy to call any given Diana dress "iconic", though her final Mario Testino photoshoot certainly gave this green velvet buttoned dress its place in history. She was said to have capitalized on the jacket styling by ordering a matching jacket made for Charles. The Catherine Walker dress sold for $24,150 at her 1997 Christie's dress auction.
Her love for velvet continued with the Catherine Walker gown on the right, where a black velvet top with red piping sets off a full silk tartan skirt. Unsurprisingly, the gown was originally ordered for dancing at Balmoral and was later worn elsewhere before bringing in $46,000 at the 1997 auction. In the background on the left, you can see an orange Hardy Amies dress worn by the Queen in 1979.

Another notable Catherine Walker on display is this ivory silk crêpe one-shoulder gown decorated in a floral pattern of sequins. Diana wore it in Brazil in 1991, and it's a dress I love more in theory than in execution. (That single full sleeve does make it seem like two dresses worn at the same time.) To the right is a Hardy Amies gown from the Queen and an ivory Bruce Oldfield and peach Catherine Walker from Diana.

The Diana dresses are certainly drawing the press for this exhibition, but what intrigues me the most are the items from Princess Margaret. The dresses and accessories from the Queen's late sister include a scarf hand painted for Margaret by Christian Dior himself. There were few more glamorous than Margaret in her heyday, so you know her wardrobe yields some true treasures.
Right?! The beading alone on this Norman Hartnell gown of Princess Margaret's is to die for. Would I still swoon if someone wore this today? Oh...I think it's a safe bet.

For more sneak peeks at Fashion Rules Revisited, see this fantastic Vogue article and gallery, or photos at the Daily Mail.

Photos: via Getty Images

09 February 2016

Royal Flashback of the Day: February 9

Because Crown Princess Mary just had a birthday, because birthdays should be celebrated with favorites, because any day should be celebrated with favorites, and mostly because I just felt like it, today we flashback to one of my favorite Mary dresses for the New Year's Court day receptions.
With an updo in 2010
Julie Fagerholt of Heartmade designed this rich outfit with a long dress and matching short jacket with three-quarter sleeves. This much of a fabric like this probably should be overpowering, but the soft silvery blue color is an understated choice that helps it avoid the Too Much territory.
In action in 2008
The flare of the skirt is perfection, and it sits just right an event like this, where she stands still for long periods of time. I love when jackets partly cover a sash, especially during these types of day events (and yes, that's an entirely appropriate thing to do, see Queen Margrethe's own ensemble in the video above), and the shorter length of this jacket means the Order of the Elephant sash is still plenty visible. Mary's worn this outfit several times, three of which are illustrated here, but these little details keep me interested time after time.
I must admit, there was a time when I wondered if this ensemble aged her. I'm over it now. (Obviously.) It is a classic design, something that wouldn't have been out of place in, say, our recent early 1960s Princess Beatrix flashback. But the classics have their place, and I imagine this one was designed to be worn for many more years to come.

Photos: via Getty Images

08 February 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 8

The Duchess of Cambridge was back in action yesterday, attending a 75th anniversary service for the RAF Air Cadets. She took over as their Honorary Air Commandant in December as a replacement for the Duke of Edinburgh, who had filled the position for over 60 years.
She made the perfect outfit choice for her first engagement in her new position, her repeated Alexander McQueen coat giving a nod to the belted blue uniforms without dipping into mimicry. She also wore a Lock & Co. hat, although all eyes were on one other major accessory.

The Air Cadets Dacre Brooch, as it is known, is made with diamonds and other gemstones, and is massive because it was originally used for another purpose. Per the RAF:
The Dacre Brooch is the highest award any female Air Cadet can achieve. In 1979, Mrs Elizabeth Dacre MBE TD JP presented to the Air Training Corps the dress sword of her late husband, Air Commodore G B Dacre CBE DSO DL RAF to be presented to the “ATC Cadet of the Year.” With the advent of girls in 1982, Mrs Dacre presented the Corps with a diamond brooch mounted on a sash, for presentation to the best female cadet.
The brooch was awarded annually until last year, when it was decided that a sword would be awarded instead, just like the male cadets receive. That works out rather well, now that they have the Duchess on board to wear the brooch for events related to the Air Cadets. It's one of the biggest regimental brooches I've seen in use in the royal family, and she showcased it well on a simple coat.

In other news, Kate's message of support for Children's Mental Health Week is out.
And this repeated Rebecca Taylor suit rounds out the run of outfits both blue and universally appropriate.

Photos: via Getty Images

07 February 2016

Sunday Tidbits for February 7: Triple the Baby News, and More

It's birthday season and baby season, what a coincidence...

--Baby news #1: Congratulations to the King and Queen of Bhutan! Queen Jetsun Pema gave birth to their first child, a boy, on February 5. The baby is known as His Royal Highness The Gyalsey. [Facebook]
His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Facebook

--Here's an excellent way to waste some time: The Dutch Royal Collection is now online, allowing you to search through all sorts of paintings and other objets d'art belonging to the various foundations of the House of Orange-Nassau. [Koninklijke Verzamelingen]

--A fairly sedate appearance for Crown Princess Mary this week at Copenhagen Fashion Week, though you can't see her excellent leopard print shoes here. (But you can in this small gallery, where you can also see Countess Alexandra making an appearance.) Mary turned 44 on Friday, so happy birthday to her! [nordjyske.dk]

--Baby news #2: Congrats are also in order in Jordan, for Prince Rashid bin Hassan and his wife, Princess Zeina, who welcomed their second son on February 1. The baby is named Talal. [Petra]

--Luxembourg's grand ducal family has a documentary coming out on February 14 with a behind the scenes look at a year in their lives. Luxarazzi has the trailer.

--Baby news #3: Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma and husband Albert Brenninkmeijer released a cute new family photo with their new son, Xavier, born December 16, and daughter Alaïa-Maria.

--If you haven't heard the depressing news yet, Spain has cancelled a planned March state visit to Britain. Per the Spanish Foreign Ministry: "Due to the process of forming a new government currently underway in Spain, the state visit has been postponed." Politicians, always ruining our tiara fun. #priorities [The Local]

--Here's some British sparkle anyway: The Duchess of Cornwall went out this week dripping in diamonds and a possibly dubious dress. [Jewel Vault]

--And finally: Harry, on cuteness duty once again. [Sun]

05 February 2016

Tiara Thursday (on a Friday): The Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara

This is an appropriate tiara to discuss around Princess Beatrix's birthday:
Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma wearing the Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara
The Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara is often labeled the oldest in the family collection (it's probably around 200 years old or so), which is appropriate for a tiara that happens to be a diamond interpretation of the wreath headdresses of ancient Greece and Rome. I've always felt the Dutch version has a sturdier look than some the other wreath tiaras out there, such as Mathilde's Laurel Wreath Tiara or Lilian's Laurel Wreath Tiara, probably in part because of the diamonds that highlight its base.
Princess Beatrix wearing the tiara to celebrate her 18th birthday in 1956
ANP - Benelux Press - Reuters /ANP Archief, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The antique tiara may have been acquired for Princess Beatrix's 18th birthday in 1956 by her parents, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, or it may date back to Princess Louise, sister of King Willem I. Either way, it became a staple of Princess Beatrix's younger tiara appearances after she turned 18.
Princess Beatrix wearing the tiara in 1958
ANP - ANP Foundation /ANP Archief, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
But eventually - as she gained access to other tiaras, it seems - Princess Beatrix's use of the Laurel Wreath Tiara tapered off. Others in the family continued to wear it, including Beatrix's sisters, Princesses Margriet and Christina.

Video: The wedding of Prince Constantijn and Laurentien Brinkhorst
Princess Laurentien wore the tiara when she married Beatrix's son, Prince Constantijn (and afterward); Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma (Beatrix's niece) also used it on her wedding day. Surprisingly, this remains one of the few Dutch tiaras that Queen Máxima has not tried out yet - though I would love to see it on her or back on Beatrix, just for a change.

Who do you think wears this wreath tiara best?