31 January 2016

Sunday Tidbits for January 31: A Trip, A Tiara, and More

Welcome to another edition of Stuff That Caught My Eye This Week:

--Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the Philippines in their usual adorable fashion. [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]

--I prefer to be wrapped in as many blankets as possible at all times; therefore, I enjoy Princess Charlene's Sainte-Dévote ceremony look. [ParisMatch]

--Interesting: Prince Charles is one of Britain's most successful living artists. [Telegraph]

--You never need to convince me to take a moment for some of Sheikha Mozah's best fashion moments. [Emirates Woman]

--Prince Harry getting everybody ready for the Invictus Games, need I say more? [Hello]

--I don't usually bring you non-royal wedding news, but an exception can be made when a lovely tiara is involved: Martha Beaumont and Arthur Vestey’s English Wedding. [Vogue]

--And finally, it's one thing to see a couture gown on the runway, and another thing to see one of Elie Saab's signature embellished creations made from start to finish. Couture indeed. [Refinery29]

Coming up this week: Dinner with the Danes, and more... 

29 January 2016

Potential Royal Couture of the Day: January 29

Will we see any of the ensembles from the recent Paris Spring/Summer 2016 Couture shows appear on the royal rounds? No harm in playing a luxurious game of style speculation while we wait for that answer. Click the designer name to take you to the whole collections... 

Valentino's looking to move Crown Princess Mette-Marit away from the prairie and into a more bohemian mode, which seems like something she'll eat up. Given Queen Maxima's recent jumpsuit print excursion, she might be on board too, and with the richness of these materials, I'd love to see some custom designs.

I found several things to love on the Chanel runway, and I'm bringing you the video because these gossamer capes deserve to be seen in action. Capes for all the Monacos!

Elie Saab
Elie Saab's Indian inspiration in this collection produced several gowns that would be lovely on the royal stage, on the Luxembourg or Swedish ladies.

A few more, and by no means the whole field:
  • Giambattista Valli has a few things to cover Mette-Marit's floral needs, if Valentino doesn't get the job done for her this season.
  • A piece here and a piece there at Armani Privé could be possibilities for Beatrice Borromeo, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, or Queen Mathilde.
  • Zuhair Murad, a designer who doesn't have a big following among the royal ladies we feature here, turned out another collection that will remind you of Elie Saab, and those cage silhouettes are tricky business.
  • Yeah...this was not a banner Christian Dior collection. But royally speaking, we see more bespoke stuff than runway repeats, and I wonder if at least Queen Mathilde's royal patronage has come to an end with the departure of Raf Simons. (Interesting speculation that Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen could be named Dior's new creative director. Then again, she was also on the rumor list last time around, and nothing came of that.)
Photos: Vogue.com

28 January 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Greville Tiara, Revisited

Over at the Jewel Vault, I've been digging deep into the Greville bequest, the collection of jewelry left to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville: Part 1 on Mrs. Greville herself, and Part 2 on her jewels. To finish it up, I wanted to take a moment to revisit the most famous piece in that collection. We first covered the Greville Tiara back in 2011.
The Queen Mother wearing the Greville Tiara
Portrait by Richard Stone, via Wikimedia Commmons
Margaret Greville (1863-1942) was a society hostess extraordinaire, a woman with a drive to best her rivals and befriend society's elite (especially the royal family). She had a fortune to make it happen courtesy of her father, William McEwan, who made millions brewing beer. That fortune enabled her to assemble a jewelry collection worthy of the grand functions she hosted and the grand people she entertained.
The tiara made for Mrs. Greville in 1901, later dismantled to make the Greville Tiara
In 1901, she required a new tiara for the coronation of King Edward VII. He was a valued friend, and something fashionable and grand was needed for Mrs. Greville as she sat next to her best friend, Alice Keppel, the King's favorite mistress, at the coronation. She had one made by Boucheron from what were apparently her own stones, perhaps diamonds from another diadem she sent in to be disassembled - a tiara that also provided stones for the large Greville Bow Brooch. (That disassembled tiara could have been the diamond tiara her father was reported to have given her as a wedding present, or another diadem. It's unclear how many she really had.) The new tiara was a complete circlet of tall lotus flower or papyrus designs.
The Queen Mother wears the tiara as it was when she inherited it, together with the five strands of the Greville Festoon Necklace
Mrs. Greville constantly reworked her jewel collection, updating things to fit the newest fashions in jewelry. The height and shape of the lotus flower tiara made a perfect match for the large hairstyles of the Edwardian era, but when they went out of style, so did the diadem. Back to Boucheron it went in 1921 for another redesign, emerging in the geometric honeycomb structure that we know today. But it still wasn't in its final form.
The Queen Mother's redesign, before and after
When Mrs. Greville died in 1942, this tiara was among the jewels she bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother (1900-2002). Queen Elizabeth first wore it during a 1947 tour of South Africa. The diadem had a flat top and a kokoshnik feel when it arrived in royal hands, and after wearing it that way for a few years, she sent it to Cartier in 1953 to make her own changes. She had the top brilliants rearranged and added more diamonds, including a single marquise stone, to give it more height and more variation.
The Queen Mother in the new design and the Greville Peardrop Earrings 
The revamped tiara rapidly became one of her favorites, and was one of only two tiaras she used in her later years (the second being the Oriental Circlet). Despite the popularity of the piece, its origins were hazy for decades. In the 1980s, it was still reported as a new commission made specifically for the Queen Mother, and also often attributed wholly to Cartier. Later, the Greville origin was revealed. On this blog and elsewhere, it has also been referred to as the Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara.
Video: The Greville Tiara sparkles at the 1984 Royal Variety Performance
The tiara passed to the Queen in 2002, when the Queen Mother died. It has since been loaned to the Duchess of Cornwall. She debuted it at a state banquet for the President of Brazil in 2006. (Incidentally, the Duchess of Cornwall's grandmother, Sonia Keppel, was Mrs. Greville's goddaughter.) Camilla has worn the Delhi Durbar Tiara and her family's Cubitt-Shand Tiara and has been loaned the Teck Crescent Tiara, but the Greville is by far her favorite. She wears it for nearly all her tiara appearances.
The Duchess of Cornwall wears the tiara with her Diamond Pear Drop Earrings
The Duchess of Cornwall has given me a whole new appreciation for this tiara. I never much liked it in pictures of the Queen Mother; she often wore it with the pearl and diamond necklace from Queen Alexandra's Wedding Parure, a clash of styles that always made me wrinkle my nose. But on Camilla, who sometimes pairs it with necklaces of more modern design and who suits the tiara so well overall, it has grown into a tiara I can't help but like.

And you? Are you sold on Camilla's favorite tiara?

Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Boucheron Archive, British Pathe screencap, Royal Collection, via Getty Images

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 28

You know, I think...

Queen Máxima at the Rotterdam International Film Festival yesterday.
...I think she might be pulling this off.
Don't get me wrong, I still hate jumpsuits with the fire of a thousand suns. And I had to giggle a bit when I saw this, which is not a bad thing - a film festival is a great venue for a fun pick. If this was actually a dress (see: jumpsuit hating, thousand suns, fire of), I might have to declare it cute.
Printed stretch-crepe jumpsuit from Etro
That said, if we ever see this ensemble without that crucial belt, I'll take it all back.

Photos: via Getty Images, Net-a-porter

27 January 2016

Royal Outfits of the Day: January 27

We should check in with Princess Sofia, shouldn't we? Yes we should:

First of all, HUZZAH to the Swedes for making sure we get an official portrait in full tiara glory ASAP. These are the priorities, people.
Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström, The Royal Court, Sweden
Princess Sofia's new portrait was clearly taken on the day the Swedish royal family hosted the King's Dinner for the Nobel Laureates in December, since she is wearing the same Zetterberg Couture dress with the same styling and accessories. Turns out that middle part tiara position looks a lot better when posed just so, and she looks gorgeous here.

In live action news, Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip attended the Swedish Sports Gala this week.
I heard a lot of rave reviews for this dress, and thus feel that my profoundly meh reaction means I must be missing something. (I did attempt to write October in the title of one of this week's entries, so, you know, I'm probably missing several things.)
Dress from Greta, earrings from Zara (per The World of Royals)
I'm going to blame this on the neckline of this blue dress. I'm not loving the dress shirt style, and the height of the collar (combined with the color) reminds me of that overly constricting blue dress Crown Princess Mary has used at the New Year's Courts. Meh. Et toi?

Photos: Kungahuset / Getty Images / Greta / Zara

26 January 2016

Royal Sequins of the Day: January 26

A Máxima and Mathilde joint appearance without any matching? Without so much as a duplicate designer? Doesn't even seem right.
The King and Queen of the Belgians and the King and Queen of the Netherlands attended the opening concert for the Dutch presidency of the European Union Council on Friday.

But it does seem right that the one that stuck to their mutual fave - the ubiquitous Natan - was Queen Mathilde, and the one that showed up like multi-color Christmas lights in the night was Queen Máxima.
That's a compliment for Máx, by the way! She's the perfect candidate to pull off so much festivity. I might prefer a natural color on the legs for a bit of contrast, but that's a minor nit to pick. I'm liking Mathilde's dress too, so it was a good night for our double queen act.

The dress in retail and runway versions.
Queen Máxima's dress is from Nina Ricci. (She's all set for a designer match up with Queen Letizia when next they meet, I suppose.) You may recognize this dress from another red carpet appearance, as I did: Nicole Kidman gave it her own spin last year.

Photos: via Getty Images, VTM Screencap, MyTheresa, Vogue.com

25 January 2016

Monday Tidbits for January 25: Birthday Portraits Galore and More

January is one busy month on the royal birthday circuit, eh?

--The Norwegian royal court's bounty of official portraits kept rolling last week, releasing a few more for Princess Ingrid Alexandra's 12th birthday. She is again wearing the ruby and diamond heart pendant from Queen Sonja, as we discussed in our look at their last portraits.
Photos: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff

--Princess Athena of Denmark also starred in a new set of portraits, for her 4th birthday. [Kongehuset]

--And Queen Mathilde also had a new portrait released, as she thanked everyone for the well wishes on her 43rd birthday.

--Princess Hisako in a beautiful kimono at an exhibition of Modern Female Calligraphers, what's not to love about that? [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]

--Sotheby's will auction a selection of items, some jewelry included, that belonged to the late Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the Mitford sisters. The auction will take place in March. [Sotheby's]

--And finally, use a YouTube app to view the Buckingham Palace expedition, a virtual tour that puts you right inside the palace from wherever you may be. [YouTube]

Coming up this week: Double queens at a concert, checking in with Sweden, and more... 

21 January 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Tiaras of Queen Mathilde (and a Programming Note)

The blog is taking a long weekend, so I'll leave you with another round of our tiara retrospective game:

Queen Mathilde turned 43 this week! After a couple years as Queen of the Belgians, the birthday girl finally has a little bit of variety to add to a collection that's never been expansive. Her tiara list may be on the small side compared to others, but recent debuts (and her slow introduction of pieces from the late Queen Fabiola's collection) mean that there's still plenty of interest here.

The tiara Queen Mathilde wore on her wedding day was borrowed from her new mother-in-law, Queen Paola. She hasn't worn it since, so this is not one I would count among her current options.

Cour grand-ducale/Christian Aschman
In her princess years, Mathilde's one and only tiara was this diamond laurel wreath, given to her by the Belgian nobility as a wedding present. The flexibility to wear it as a necklace (see below) and its classic motif do make it a good option to have when there's only one option to be had.

Belgian Monarchy
She wasted no time throwing some variety into the mix once King Philippe took the throne, quickly debuting the bandeau portion of the Nine Provinces Tiara for the couple's first official portraits as king and queen. The "queen's tiara" of the Belgian monarchy was handed over to her by Queen Paola.
Interestingly, she was also quick to make the Nine Provinces her new sole option in the first couple years of Philippe's reign, leaving her Laurel Wreath Tiara behind. Queen Mathilde established the small version of the tiara as her new standard, saving the debut of the full version for her trip to Denmark for Queen Margrethe's birthday in 2015.

In 2015, more variety - and an alternative to the Nine Provinces - appeared up when she wore Queen Fabiola's Wolfers Necklace Tiara for the first time. (She also brought back the Laurel Wreath Tiara, as a necklace.)

Which of Queen Mathilde's tiaras is your favorite?

What remains to be seen: Queen Fabiola's Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara, will we see it again? (The current Belgian royal tiaras, they must be the most diamond-dependent grouping outside of...well, Japan, I suppose. It would be fabulous to see something with a colored stone for a change.) Will Mathilde settle into a pattern, using specific tiaras for specific types of events, or will she mix it up? Only time will tell...

20 January 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 20

Oh hey look, another white outfit for me to love.
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene visited Pope Francis at the Vatican this week
Granted, privilège du blanc- the exception from the typical Vatican dress code of black/dark dress for visiting women that allows select few Catholic royal ladies to wear white for their papal audiences - makes this an easy win. Hard to mess this up, particularly with a gorgeous mantilla in the works. And really, the rest of the outfit is pretty much business as usual for Charlene, so perhaps a special accessory and a special occasion might be responsible for elevating this outfit more than anything else. Whatever it is, I'll take it.
(Vatican dress code always brings up a lot of questions, for whatever reason. A few previous discussions for your reference: Pope Francis' inaugural mass, Queen Letizia's first privilège du blanc appearance, Queen Mathilde's, and the Swedish ladies in black.)

19 January 2016

Royal Portraits of the Day: January 19

For the Silver Jubilee, the Norwegian royal court released a slew of new official pictures of the royal family, and the jewels are abundant. (To see them all in HQ, click here. All portraits: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff.)

Even Princess Ingrid Alexandra got in on the family sparkle. For this charming shot of the line of succession, she wears a ruby and diamond heart pendant that was a christening gift from her grandmother, Queen Sonja. Sonja wore it herself, and may have received it as a gift from Harald when Haakon was born. Mette-Marit has also worn the pendant. (Kjell Arne Totland's blog explains that Sonja decoupaged the jewelry case herself - a technique she apparently learned from Queen Margrethe. Queenly craft night, anyone?!) Ingrid Alexandra has worn it on several occasions, and I love that she already has a little piece of family jewelry to wear.

One set of portraits captures Queen Sonja in a flattering dress (coordinated with King Harald's tie, natch) and one of her favorite suites of jewelry, a set of oxidized silver pieces by Norwegian artist Gine Sommerfelt.

Only the family emeralds would do for the formal portraits, obviously. I appreciate how often she uses the entire parure, and the softer shade of her repeated dress is a nice bridge between the red of her decorations and the intense green of her emeralds.

The official photos came with a special treat in the tiara department: Crown Princess Mette-Marit sporting both of her tiaras. She added some purple to her repeated Pucci white gown (love, and love) and shook up the placement of the Amethyst Necklace Tiara Parure by using the center of the necklace as a brooch and wearing only the studs of the earrings. This just means she needs an even bigger amethyst brooch to play with.

The Diamond Daisy Tiara came out for another shot, paired with the chandelier earrings she received as a wedding gift (they were originally a gift from the future King Olav V to his wife, Märtha, for their silver wedding anniversary, but she sadly she died of cancer before she got to wear them). Her beautiful aquamarine and diamond brooch has been worn several times and has the look of an antique, though I don't believe its provenance has been identified. This is also another look at the Nina Skarra dress she remodeled in 2014, with a new top to remove the original one-shoulder look.

And a little bit of Valentino for the road, in the crown princely couple's more casual portraits. This hot pink number is interesting, and I'll be looking for it in action in the future.

Photos: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff (portraits), Vogue.com (runway)

18 January 2016

Royal Fashion Awards: King Harald's Silver Jubilee

The Silver Jubilee of King Harald V was in full festive swing in Norway over the weekend. January 17th marked the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne, and the biggest events were held on Sunday. The Norwegian royal family was joined by King Harald's fellow Nordic monarchs for the fun (and for the fashion, of course).

First up: On Saturday evening, a private dinner was hosted at Skaugum, the home of Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and their family.

Best in Whites, Evening Division
Queen Sonja
I've always liked this white dress on Sonja - because, well, I pretty much always love a white dress - but she really stands out in a serene fashion in this setting. And the setting of Skaugum's interiors will always catch my attention before anything else, truth be told.

Best in Gents
Crown Prince Haakon
The men, they wore tuxes. But is that a velvet jacket I spy on Haakon above? Any variety, even the teeniest little bit, in royal menswear is much appreciated. (See the whole group picture from the dinner here.)

Next up: Sunday began with a church service, attended by Queen Margrethe, King Carl Gustaf, and Queen Silvia, who were also in attendance at Saturday's dinner. You can watch the complete church service here.

Most Accessorized
Crown Princess Mette-Marit
With floral bits added on to both lapels and both sides of the ribbon she used as a headband, plus a ribbon to finish off her braid, I think this overall effect might be a little less cohesive than M-M was hoping for. Surprisingly distracting, actually, given that it's a simple look on the whole.
An extra accessory came with the event for everybody: King Harald's official Silver Jubilee Commemoration Medal, on a red ribbon, proudly sported by all throughout the day.

Best in White, Day Division
Queen Margrethe
This fur-trimmed Snow Queen ensemble was lovely when Margrethe wore it for her own jubilee, and now it's lovely that she brought a bit of her own jubilee with her to celebrate another.

Winter sports followed, as members of the family joined the sports festival that was held at the Palace Square in celebration of the jubilee. After that, the royal family walked to a gala performance. (The cold never bothered them anyway) (Sorry.)

Best in Winter Chic
Queen Sonja
I am all about this fur-trimmed cape and tall black boots on Sonja. All.About.It. Cozy and chic perfection. Did Sonja just earn herself a spot on my year-end best list? 2016 is still young...

Finally, another dinner. Nothing says jubilee like a real fancy meal, I guess.

Best in Group Coordination
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts here, you could say. That spare tablecloth Queen Silvia's been dragging around since the Nobels still hasn't come in handy, and any dress that makes me question the addition of a giant diamond floral brooch should question itself. Queen Margrethe's dress is standard, and Queen Sonja's is not my favorite deployment of this color. But together, two queens in navy flanking one in a magenta-y purple, it's a pretty picture indeed.
Mette-Marit got the navy memo too...and so did Haakon, looks like? I kinda love that.

Who makes your jubilee best dressed list?

Photos: via Getty Images, NRK screencaps

17 January 2016

Sunday Tidbits for January 17: Elsewhere Around the World...

King Harald's jubilee is most of what's going on in this mid-January slow time, but let's briefly check in with the rest of the world before we return to Norway:

--The Swedish royal family is getting back to work after the holiday. The King, Queen, Crown Princess, and Prince Daniel met with the Foreign Minister to discuss upcoming state visit plans (of general sparkly interest to us all!).

--Queen Rania continued her working visit in Europe. This week, she dropped in on the Norwegian royal family, and met with Queen Mathilde. [Billed-Bladet, Purepeople]
Belgian Monarchy Twitter

--Crown Princess Mary collected group hugs on an engagement for the Danish Heart Association, where she sported an interesting take on the midi skirt from Alexander McQueen. [ParisMatch]

--The Japanese imperial family's New Year events continued this week, including their annual poetry reading (which also showcases their own form of modern court dress). [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]
NNN video screencaps

--This is terrible: the Earl and Countess of March were attacked and robbed at their home, Goodwood House. Priceless heirlooms were taken included a diamond tiara and an emerald and diamond ring tied to Charles II. [Telegraph]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault, we parsed the release of the annual lists of official gifts for the British royal family, with fingers crossed for something fabulous.

Coming up this week: the Norwegian jubilee, and a look at their new official photographs...

15 January 2016

Royal Flashback of the Day: January 15

We chatted about the crown princely group that gathered to celebrate King Harald's 70th birthday in 2007; now, naturally, we must move on to the sovereigns. The sovereigns and/or heads of state, technically speaking, since the Presidents of Finland and Iceland also came for the party.

Back row, left to right: Pentti Arajärvi (husband of the President of Finland), the Prince of Monaco, the King of Sweden, the King of Norway, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Prince Consort of Denmark, the President of Iceland
Seated, L to R: The then-President of Finland, the Queen of Sweden, the Queen of Norway, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Dorrit Moussaieff (First Lady of Iceland)
Photo:Bjørn Sigurdsøn, DKH
Queen Silvia's copper dress (paired with her Party Antlers a.k.a. the Nine Prong Tiara) is a just a litttttle bit too stiff, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa's beige number (with the Diamond Vine Leaves Tiara and a diamond choker from another Lux tiara) might be just a litttttle bit too flowy, but Queen Sonja is juuuuust right.

This gown is so flattering on her; just the right silhouette, and a color that wouldn't normally grab me for a gown, but looks lovely with those emeralds. The sparkly trim gives it a little something extra in motion:
Video: The guests arrive
(Also seriously benefiting from some sparkle in motion: Maria Teresa's gown, which suddenly becomes much more than blergh.)

As for the rest of the guests, let's be honest, it wasn't a banner night for most of them. A whole lotta average grades in here, really.
The guest group, click to enlarge.
Photo:Bjørn Sigurdsøn, DKH
I'll tell you who interested me, though: Princess Astrid of Belgium. Did you catch her in the video above? You can't really see her skirt, but it sure looks like she's maneuvering some serious gown-age beneath the video screen. And sure enough...
Princess Astrid and King Constantine of Greece
What we've got here is an apron sort of thing over a moderately unrelated skirt, and I can't decide if that makes it Peak Cinderella, or Cinderella just a minute into the unkind side of midnight. Either way, I'm intrigued. And I haven't even started on the bag. (On the other hand, the Savoy-Aosta Tiara and emerald necklace from her husband's family are always on point.)

Let's close this ball with a dance, shall we?
Video: Dancing! I do love the moments we don't usually get to see.

14 January 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Tiaras of Queen Sonja

As King Harald prepares to mark 25 years on the throne, a tiara retrospective is in order for his queen.

Unlike many of her peers, Queen Sonja's shift from crown princess to queen was not accompanied by new access to the family's most important tiaras. There was no need, you see; Sonja had been wearing the big guns of the Norwegian royal family since her marriage. With a widowed father-in-law on the throne, Crown Princess Sonja handled the first lady duties from the start, tiaras included. Additions to her collection have given her some added variety along the way, but her favorites hold firm.

(As always, we've covered basically all of these, so click the name for more.)

Cathrine Wessel, Det Kongelige Hoff
Seen on Queen Sonja for some of her most important tiara occasions, this is her biggest tiara, and it also seems to be a favorite.

If you ask me, this is the prettiest tiara at her disposal, but maybe she doesn't agree or maybe it's not that comfy, because it doesn't seem like she chooses this one as often as others. (Or maybe I just feel its absence on a greater scale. You know how it goes.)

Sølve Sundsbø / Det kongelige hoff
This pearl and diamond tiara, on the other hand, is seen regularly. It comes with two size options; Sonja most often wears the larger size (shown above), and the smaller size has been worn by her daughter and daughter-in-law. And if you've read my post on its history, you know that it's not really Queen Maud's tiara...not today, at least. This is a replica, created for the family after the original was stolen in an armed robbery while it was in London for maintenance.

Originally a diadem made for Queen Alexandra with alternating fleurs de lys and diamond crosses, wearing it in its current form (with or without a set of crosses on top) seems an exercise in making something with all the symbolism of a crown look like, well, not a crown. A hard task, and one not often successfully completed.

Said to have been a 60th birthday gift from her husband, this is another flexible tiara with options to feature all diamonds, red-orange topaz, or green tourmaline, plus earrings and necklaces to match. It's not a favorite of many, but it suits Sonja's style and it comes in handy for events such as less formal state banquets abroad.

Another reported gift from King Harald, this tiara is no longer worn by Queen Sonja. She has passed it on to Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

And there are others:

Which tiara do you think Queen Sonja wears best?

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 14

Here's Máxima in another thing I wouldn't mind becoming a trend for the new year:
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima arrive at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam for a New Year's reception for the Diplomatic Corps yesterday
Ah, the perfectly belted dress with just a bit of fullness in the skirt. Heavenly. Repeated from the 2014 state visit from Japan, this pumpkin Mattijs van Bergen dress is perfectly paired with bronze accessories to give it some extra interest. Even the drape of the coat/cape/thing, identified by ModeKoninginMaxima as one that belonged to Princess Beatrix, works well here. Nicely played, Máx.

13 January 2016

Royal Flashback of the Day: January 13

King Harald will be joined by his fellow Nordic sovereigns for the upcoming celebrations of his Silver Jubilee, but a much bigger royal group gathered in 2007 to celebrate his 70th birthday. European royals packed the palace for a couple days of snowy celebrations in February that year, including one tiara-packed gala evening. They even posed for group photos all done up. This is a) the best, and b) the topic of two flashbacks this week.

Let me ask you a question: if I told you one of these ladies was going to wear every last bit of the leftover New Year's confetti, which one would you have guessed?
The crown princely guests in attendance: Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands
Photo: Bjørn Sigurdsøn, DKH
Pregnant then-Princess Máxima was downright sedate in green, sporting the Antique Pearl Tiara and what I consider to be one of the all-time great examples of how to wear a tiara with your hair down.

Pregnant Crown Princess Mary (was there something in the water in 2007?) is my favorite of the bunch, but I'm always a sucker for that ubiquitous red velvet dress in its original maternity mode. She wore her Wedding Tiara and her pearl and diamond wedding earrings.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore one of my favorite takes on her standard evening gown. The sleeve length works nicely with the square neckline, and I love the salmon skirt with the red of her Order of St. Olav sash and her royal family order. As usual, she selected her Diamond Daisy Tiara.

Crown Princess Victoria managed to combine purple and the Baden Fringe Tiara into...well, a look I don't love. Huh. A first for me, I'm sure.
(Heeeey, Duchess of Gloucester! We'll chat about other guests later.)

(Don't worry, Philippe didn't ditch his wife for fear of getting confetti on his white tie; all the guests walked with mixed partners.)
Talk about your dresses made for twirling, amirite? You know I adore when people go big for the big events, and this Natan gown has a spirit with which I cannot argue. (Also, I really need to know if this dress made it through the night with all that confetti intact or if a few ended up sprinkled like calling cards in her wake: MATHILDE WAS HERE.)

Coming up later in the week: part two, including sovereigns, other guests, and more fun from this night.

12 January 2016

Royal Repeat of the Day: January 12

When it comes to the all-time great royal repeaters (a group headed by the Princess Royal, naturally), I really don't think Queen Sonja gets enough recognition. King Harald will celebrate 25 years on the throne on January 17th, and his queen has some gowns that could celebrate jubilees of their own. There are many examples, from her repeat of the gown she wore on her first state visit to Denmark as queen in 1991 at Queen Margrethe's jubilee concert in 2012, to every single appearance of her famous Big Bird gown (soooo many, and still counting). Here's another:

1992: The silver wedding of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik in Denmark
Take some swishy fabric, add in some extra pleated texture, do something flowy in the arm region, and boom! You've got yourself a Sonja gown guaranteed to last at least a couple decades. Bonus points if it happens to be in a color that allows her to showcase another signature move, pairing Empress Joséphine's Emerald Parure with whatever shade she pleases. No need for that overly matchy business here, no sir.

This coral version was still in good enough favor 18 years later to make the cut for one very important occasion:
2010: The wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Daniel
While her royal friends were out commissioning new frocks for one of the biggest royal weddings in this generation, Queen Sonja simply turned to an old friend, just like she would when she chose her favorite banana gown for Prince Carl Philip's wedding. Anything we've seen a bazillion times before will forever be a disappointment when it comes to major royal events, but even still, I'm coming around to these dresses. At the very least, they must be good for a twirl down the palace hallway, right? (If you have a palace hallway and you haven't twirled down it, you're not doing it right.) Or maybe she's just finally worn me down after all.

By the way, this gives us a look at another thing for which she doesn't get enough recognition: fancy tiara hair. Heart-shaped fancy tiara hair, no less!

Photos: via Getty Images

10 January 2016

Sunday Tidbits for January 10: Birthday News and Jewelry Views

Getting right to it:

--Is it weird that I judge whether or not I'm willing to see a royal movie based on how good the jewelry reproductions look? Because Netflix released a look for its upcoming mega-budget dramatization of the life of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown, and it seems they paid attention. I did enjoy their wishful thinking, pairing the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara with the necklace from Queen Alexandra's Wedding Parure. That's one I hope we'll see in real life some day (but, of course, hasn't yet happened and wouldn't have happened when this is set, because the necklace was with the Queen Mother). [YouTube]

--Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine turned five, and pictures taken by Crown Princess Mary were released.
HRH The Crown Princess/Kongehuset

--In other birthday news, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg turned 95 and some of his friends from other royal families joined the family for a concert yesterday. [Luxarazzi]

--Queen Mathilde returned to action for a New Year's reception at the palace, among other events this week. It does amuse me that she picked a dress with basically two different halves for an event where she's primarily photographed from one side. Just mirror the layout for the next event, and you don't even have to change clothes. [Twitter]
Belgian Monarchy Twitter

--Princess Ashraf, twin sister of the late Shah of Iran, has died. [New York Times]

--Lovely reader gavin drew my attention to an interesting tiara belonging to the Countess of Tankerville (here, here, as a necklace here). It is, near as I can tell, identical to Sweden's Modern Fringe Tiara. The Swedish tiara is a relatively new addition to their collection, but its origins before that aren't known. It may have been an antique when acquired. The Wikipedia page for the Earl of Tankerville mentions the estate was broken up after his death. Very interesting indeed. [Lafayette]

--Queen Rania visited Downing Street to show us how to pep up Yet Another Black Coat with some intriguingly deployed cut outs, on this Christopher Kane model. (And, also, to talk about serious stuff.)

--And finally, it's been a big week at the Vault! I tackled the Greville bequest, one of the most intriguing portions of the late Queen Mother's jewelry collection, in two long parts (see here for part 1, and here for part 2). And then I covered one seriously magnificent emerald necklace that's just begging for a reappearance.