22 November 2013

Flashback Friday: A Video Treat, Plus a Programming Note

Next week is a holiday week in my part of the world (Happy Thanksgiving, American readers!), and I'm making it a holiday week for the blog too. We'll return the week of the 2nd with our usual shenanigans plus the end to your ultimate tiara collection.

Until then, allow me to leave you with this video treat:

Video, above
This is a documentary on British royal weddings made in the run-up to William and Kate's wedding. There's not much new here, fact-wise, but what makes it fun are the video gems on display - including a rare look at the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in color! Delightful.

Enjoy, and we'll return in a week!

21 November 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Rosenborg Kokoshnik

The Rosenborg Kokoshnik Tiara
Designed in the shape inspired by traditional Russian kokoshnik headdresses, this tiara features a swagged garland of garnets and garnet five-petal flowers, with further leaf ornaments in diamonds and a central bow, all studded with pearls and set in platinum and gold. It comes with a handy extra feature: the top row of diamonds detaches for use as a diamond rivère necklace.
Princess Viggo (left), Countess Ruth (center and right)
The kokoshnik was made by Danish court jeweler Dragsted in the 1930s on the order of Prince Viggo, Count of Rosenborg (1893-1970), a grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark. He commissioned it for his American-born wife, Princess Viggo (1895-1966, née Eleanor Green). Prince and Princess Viggo had no children of their own, and the tiara was inherited by Viggo’s sister-in-law Princess Margaretha (1899-1977). Margaretha was a Swedish royal who married Prince Axel of Denmark. The tiara was then used by Countess Ruth of Rosenborg (1924-2010), wife of Margaretha and Axel’s son, Flemming. She wore it for several notable Scandinavian royal events, but following her death, it was offered for sale at a 2012 auction. The estimated value was placed at more than $200,000, but it did not sell.
Left to Right: The necklace that serves as the top row of the tiara, the center of the tiara, and the back
This is such an interesting piece – large yet light from the open design, and with an interesting mix of materials. The use of garnets alone is intriguing; rubies are a more popular option for tiaras, and in fact the stones in this tiara have often been mistaken for that red stone counterpart. I'm not entirely sold on this one myself, since the top seems to be larger than the bottom and that can make it tricky to wear. But while the kokoshnik didn't rank very high in our recent final ultimate collection vote, it still did get a few votes of confidence. So, tell me...

Do you find this one memorable?

Photos: Bukowskis/Corbis/Scanpix

20 November 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: November 12-19, Plus More Stuff

Best in Regular Stuff
Crown Princess Victoria
Mathilde at a couple palace events and visiting a hospital; Kate out and about at a charity; Mary at a meeting; Victoria at the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences' formal gathering, at a couple engagements and holding an audience
Call this the non-trip category - and call Victoria the winner, if only for giving us at least one evening gown, even if it is a repeat and even if it is another almost-tiara-but-not occasion.

Brightest in Trips
Queen Máxima
Yesterday we caught up with the traveling Danes and Spaniards, today we have a partial selection of the Dutch on their ongoing introductory trip to the Caribbean. Máx on a big trip is usually like catnip to me, so I'm not sure why this one's left me feeling rather meh so far. Ah, well, they're not done yet. No matter what, I remain impressed at her ability to dig up so many neon-flavored outfits.

And an Honorable Mention to...
The Hats of National Day in Monaco

Video, above
Charlene's coat is giving me Star Trek bathrobe vibes, but you have to give the Monaco crew: those were some actual hats. All hats or no hats, no fascinator shenanigans here.

And One Last Addition...
The Countess of Wessex

Video, above
So much going on right now, I nearly forgot to give Sophie her proper due for rocking her Benjamin Button fabulousness in Valentino red while celebrating Doctor Who at Buckingham Palace. Do you think if I wrote to the palace really nicely, I could get her secret for de-aging? Because I'm just getting older over here, and it's not fair.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Belga/Getty Images/VTM Nieuws/WPA Pool/Kongehuset/Scanpix/Kungahuset/TT/Lehtikuva/DutchPhotoPress/ANP/NOS

19 November 2013

Royal Trip Report: Denmark and Spain in North America

Everybody is everywhere right now - your typical November surge in events, just before the holidays. Today's installment of Traveling with the Royals joins Mary and Frederik on a visit to Mexico and Felipe and Letizia on a visit to the United States.

When we last checked in on the Danish crown princely couple, they had just arrived for their Mexican visit and Mary was fresh and flowery in a peplum top. Picking up on day 2...

Video: Day 2
...we have another floral-type situation, plus red for the evening. It seems the theme for day 2 was belts.

Video: Day 3
And perhaps the theme for the whole trip was florals, with a darker version on day 3 that remained somewhat hidden under a sweater and coat. Whatever it was - that's it! A short, sweet, and low key trip. The Danish royal news has been occupied with other things, anyway...
A new family portrait by Thomas Kluge was revealed, and it is interesting. And by interesting, I mean a potential cover for Stephen King's next thriller about the boy prince who would stop at NOTHING to take the throne before his time {cue slasher music}. But hey, it's getting attention (as many of you have emailed me, it hit BuzzFeed and other hot spots), and, well, that's not something you can say about every royal portrait. Mission accomplished?

Also out and about are the Prince and Princess of Asturias, who have been visiting California and Florida. 
Sassy Letizia came along, too! (Hello, sparkles and hair and earrings and red shoes and red lips, all at once.)

Video: Sassy Letizia in action, also shown third from left above
But I'm boring and am partial to the flattering pale pink suit, myself.

It even goes well with Google Glass, you see.

Which trip outfit was your favorite?

P.S.: Yes, we have many more current events to handle. Stay tuned!

Photos: Thomas Kluge/Kongehuset/Getty Images/Casa Real

15 November 2013

Readers' Ultimate Tiara Collection: The Last Vote

We've been voting on different categories of tiaras all year - broad groups, ones commonly seen in today's grand tiara collections - and assembling something of an ultimate tiara collection, just for fun. As I said when we began the tiara voting, the categories would be predetermined by me, but to take care of all those differing opinions, I decided to leave the end slots wide open.

There are 20 total spots, and we've voted on 17 so far. Today's vote is the last one:

Pick three wildcard tiaras!

These can be anything you like. We had a diamond wildcard slot previously, since all-diamond tiaras are so common, but this is open to all materials and shapes.  What three ultimate tiaras does the collection need to round it out?

Ready to vote? (Note we have a slight change here...)
-Vote for three tiaras in the comments. (If you're mentioning multiple tiaras in your comment, indicate which 3 get your vote, or I will just count the first applicable three. One comment vote per person, please.)
-I will not be counting the number of "likes" or up arrows on comments this time. If you wish to vote without leaving a public comment, you may tweet or email me.
-Non-royal tiaras and tiaras that no longer exist are fair game too.
-Voting is open until Wednesday.

Photos: Getty Images/Corbis/Sotheby's/Polfoto

14 November 2013

Tiara Thursday: Crown Princess Victoria's 18th Birthday Tiara

Crown Princess Victoria's 18th Birthday Tiara
By now, we’ve seen Crown Princess Victoria in a wide array of Swedish tiaras, but she started out nice and light. This is her 18th birthday present from the King and Queen, and it was the first tiara she wore when she began attending tiara events in 1995, the year of that big birthday. It’s mainly a metal piece, with small uprights – forming something of a v-shape pattern, appropriately – supporting a top row of small individual diamonds and sapphires.
I’m often asked to do a list of least favorite tiaras…and I have to tell you, this one might just top such a list. I find it sad, really, the wire-looking bits overshadowing the precious elements. It’s awfully low-key for a future queen – even Princess Madeleine’s 18th birthday tiara had more heft than this. And when she returns to it after wearing other more impressive pieces, it seems even smaller.

Video: The Nobel Prize Awards in 1995, her first time attending
But luckily for haters like me, she moved on pretty quickly. She’s done plenty of exploring in the family collection; what we’ve seen to date is already more variety than most of our royal ladies, and there are still plenty more for her to debut over the years and as she becomes queen. Accordingly, the birthday tiara’s appearances have grown sparse. I believe its last showing was at a representation dinner in 2007.
Victoria’s latest new tiara was Princess Lilian’s Laurel Wreath Tiara, one that Lilian said she would leave to Victoria after her death, which came in March 2013. Just recently, details of Lilian’s will have been made public, and reports are stating that Victoria was left not one but two diadems, listed as a diamond tiara and a diadem of gold and diamonds further described as Crown Princess Margaret’s diadem in steel, white gold, and diamonds. This reference is intriguing since the Laurel Wreath is the only one publicly known to have been Lilian’s property. An incorrect interpretation, or new information? We wait to see if we’ll be surprised.

How do you rate the birthday tiara?

Photos: Polfoto/IBL/Getty Images/Kungahuset

13 November 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Victoria at Royal Weddings

Since we're inching closer to the sparklefest of the Nobel Prizes in Sweden in December, and since I'm still thinking about Crown Princess Victoria's appearance at her sister's wedding earlier this year, I decided to dig up Victoria's royal wedding appearances over the years: the bold, the beautiful, and the bland. She's been attending royal weddings for a long time and she goes to, well, pretty much all of them, so there's no shortage here to discuss - in fact, there's too much, and this is not comprehensive.

And we're off! To a very bland start, I'm afraid. With the exception of the amethysts in Norway in 2002, these are a primarily forgettable bunch - style still under construction.

Something about Spain in 2004 brought out her experimental side, because yes, that is a jumpsuit with an attached cape there in the blue. The orange for the day wedding with barely a fascinator in place was quite a departure too. We also have here a wedding repeat (2008 and 2010), and a tiara repeat (poor Denmark, always with the Four Button).

Victoria's style has much improved, but it's still a bit of a mixed bag - the day weddings are greatly enhanced by the evening appearances, and forever saved by that dreamy creation from Madeleine's wedding. Certainly on my list of favorites for the year, and absolutely, without competition, my favorite here.

Which one's your favorite?

Photos: Getty Images/Rex/Polfoto/Scanpix/IBL/WireImage

12 November 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: November 5-11

Best of the Week
The Benelux Queens
Our newest pair of sovereign couples take the cake this week, as the Belgians paid a quick (super quick) introductory visit to the Dutch. Nice and neat queens, the both of them. I half expect Máx's shoulder bow to fly off and end up as some sort of epic butt bow on an outfit to come, but still.

Most Intriguing Trip
Crown Princess Victoria

Video: Victoria and Daniel made a short visit to Britain
Here's one that improves on video, I think. Because after seeing it in action and learning that it was Stella McCartney (a little nod to diplomatic dressing there, picking a British designer), I have upgraded Victoria from "Beetlejuice in SHOOTIES" to "Intriguing". It was a surprisingly fashion-forward trip for Victoria, as she also debuted a piece from the Isabel Marant H&M collection.
Left to Right: Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant pour H&M as worn by Victoria; Máxima in Russia; Mary in Mexico
Royal trips are starting to pick up again on the whole and in addition to the Belgians, the Dutch went to Russia, and the Danes have just started a visit to Mexico (we'll have the rest of the trip next week, so hang on for that). Máxima's last two outfits in Russia were pretty great, but overshadowed by the oddness of the whole visit - it closed a year which was focused on Dutch/Russian relations but which was also filled with problems and diplomatic messes. I mean, someone tried to pelt them with rotten tomatoes while they were there! They missed, but the whole visit just seems like one best put in the past.

Best of the Rest
Princess Letizia
Letizia at a ceremony and an awards presentation; Máxima at an anniversary event, presenting a prize, and at a performance; Mathilde making another city visit; Kate promoting Poppy Day
The rest of the week was a mixed bag, and this is a far from complete round up. (Mary, for example, had a couple other appearances including a concert where her own outfit was nothing compared to her father-in-law's sartorial flair - video link.) (And there was Estelle, but she's the automatic highlight.) I'll honor Letizia's bit of sparkle, while diplomatically ignoring the jumpsuit.

Who was your best dressed last week?

P.S.: If you're interested in the Remembrance Day events in the U.K. or the Tiara Watch they had there last week, head over to the Jewel Vault!

Photos: RVD/HKH/TT/Kungahuset/Getty Images/AP/RTL/Mexico Presidency/Getty Images/DutchPhotoPress/ANP/Lesoir/WPAPool

08 November 2013

Flashback Friday: Princess Alexandra's Gowns

So many Princess Alexandras out there - today's about the one in Denmark, the one that used to be married to Prince Joachim and is now known not as Princess Alexandra but as the Countess of Frederiksborg. Today's about her princess days, though, specifically those majestic ball gowns she used to trot out. She had the fairytale look down pat, which makes her perfect material for a little Friday dress delight.

She married the second son in the family, but she did so in 1995, nine years before Crown Prince Frederik would marry and provide Denmark with a crown princess. Alexandra, by default, played a big role. She also married into a family headed by the dramatic Queen Margrethe, herself no stranger to a lush fabric and a big skirt. Add those things together, and you begin to see how enormous gowns with major trains came to fit right in.

And oh, did she love a train - and oh, how I love her for that. Several of these memorable frocks came from Jørgen Bender, Danish royal couturier extraordinaire. Bender also designed Alexandra's royal wedding gown. Others came from Henrik Hviid, who would design the dress for her second wedding, plus a selection of additional designers. She paired them with the Alexandrine Drop Tiara, which is her only one (and also a favorite of mine). Do I need to tell you that the purple one is my favorite? I hope not.

Sure, not every one was super successful - is that tartan? - and some are starting to look dated. Those that have followed her after her divorce know that her style is much updated now; in addition to the change in time, there's been a change in partners (both she and Joachim seem happy with their second spouses and on good terms with each other) and a change in status, making it all the more clear that she was dressing distinctly for her princess position. Which incidentally happens to be exactly why I loved her style, as I'll forever appreciate the effort.

Which is your favorite Alexandra look?

Photos: Polfoto/DR/Corbis/Scanpix

07 November 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Prussian Meander Tiara

The Prussian Meander Tiara
The Prussian Meander Tiara was made by German court jewellers Koch in 1905 as a wedding gift for Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954) from her groom, Wilhelm, the German Crown Prince and Crown Prince of Prussia (appropriately, this is also commonly known as Crown Princess Cecilie's Meander Tiara).

Made of diamonds set in platinum in a kokoshnik shape, it includes panels of diamond trellis work set between two rows of Greek key or meander motifs. Each trellis section is centered by a large brilliant diamond.

It's a striking and grand diadem, and was well suited to its original purpose - after all, had history turned out differently, Wilhelm would have succeeded his father, Wilhelm II, as Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, and this would have been worn by an Empress and Queen. Obviously that's not what happened, but the tiara is still with the Hohenzollern family and is still worn by the couple's descendants.

In the next generation, it was worn by Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (1909-1967) when she married Cecilie and Wilhelm's son Prince Louis Ferdinand in 1938. Turning it into a family wedding tradition, it was worn by both of Kira and Louis Ferdinand's daughters at their respective weddings: Princess Marie-Cécile in 1965 when she married Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg and Princess Xenia in 1973 when she married Per-Edvard Lithander. The tiara disappeared for a time but made a grand reappearance when Prince Georg Friedrich, grandson of Kira and Louis Ferdinand, married Princess Sophie of Isenburg. Sophie wore her family's floral tiara for the couple's religious ceremony and then changed into the Prussian Meander Tiara for their wedding ball and looked every bit the new Princess of Prussia.
Left to Right: Kira, Marie-Cécile, Sophie
Princess Sophie's appearance in the tiara was a reminder just how large this one really is - and yet, thanks to that dainty diamond trellis in the middle, it manages not to overwhelm. I can only hope we will get more opportunities to see this on Sophie in the future!

Is this a favorite for you?

Photos: DR/Bunte

06 November 2013

Wedding Wednesday: November Brides

Now that we've reached November (how did we get this far along in the year, ugh), weddings are getting a little more sparse - but fear not, there are still some interesting candidates.

Prince Leopold of Belgium, Duke of Brabant and Princess Astrid of Sweden
November 4 & 10, 1926
A love match with a sad ending, I'm afraid: Astrid died in a car crash nine years later.

November 5 & 6, 2004
A whole lot of dress, this one.

Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma
November 6, 1919
And a whole lot of tiara, this one.

November 6, 1935
The slight pink hue to this dress assures it will always have my affections.

November 14, 1973
Such an Anne dress. Could anyone else have pulled this off?

November 18, 1995
This, too, is a lot of look - but knowing the sort of fairytale looks Alexandra would opt for during her marriage, it fits right in.

November 20, 1947
Aw, these two kids.

June 12 & November 20, 2010
These two recently welcomed their second child, another daughter.

Nicholas II of Russia & Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine
November 26, 1894
Another love match without a happy ending...

November 29, 1934
And this one too! Man, November, you're kind of a buzzkill.

Which one is your favorite November bride?

Photos: Hola/Getty Images/Polfoto/Wikimedia Commons

05 November 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: October 29-November 4, Plus Your Modern Tiara Winner!

Well, At Least You Showed Up
Princess Letizia
Letizia visits a residence for the elderly, attends an awards ceremony and an anniversary party for a newspaper
Err...this is about it for our normal leading ladies for the week (well, Máxima did do some her U.N. stuff). How sad. And the only thing worth commenting on is the one I should probably leave alone - though I can't resist noting that the occasion when those boring-as-toast business suits Letizia loves so much would have been totally appropriate is the one occasion at which she decides to bring Grease back, and that's hilarious. Thanks for playing our game, L.

Honorable Mention for Also Showing Up
Princess Charlene
Charlene attends the Princess Grace Awards Gala
In other news, we've got Charlene, spontaneously beheaded by a ruffle in honor of Halloween. Some of you really liked Charlene's dramatic turn; I'm not sold as such, but I am entertained, and that is saying something.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Since we had a bit of a slow week, let's go ahead and wrap up that modern tiara vote. Using free time in a productive manner is not usually something I encourage, but tiaras are an all-purpose excuse.

Seeing how many different ways you all defined "modern" was fascinating. Some of you differed greatly - and perhaps that gives you a glimpse of one of the reasons why I chose to define the category as simply as possible (by year) and let you sort out the rest. And sure enough, I think you came up with a winner to satisfy most of your definitions...

The Midnight Tiara!
Mary strikes again, her creation of diamonds, moonstones, rose gold, white gold, and black oxidized silver lending a darker note to your ultimate collection. The run away winner, and certainly worthy of carrying the "modern" torch.

Your runners up:
2. The Modern Fringe Tiara. As I noted, this was only a guess and might not even qualify for the time requirement. It doesn't particularly qualify for those of you that went for something modern in design as well. But the fact that it made it so high on the list speaks, I'd say, to the polarizing nature of some of these modern designs.
3. The Boucheron Emerald Ivy Tiara. Queen Rania fared very well in this vote.
4. The Diamond Foam Tiara, or hair ornament or aigrette if you prefer.
5. Queen Rania's Arabic Tiara - not one I thought would do so well, but there you go.

And here's the collection to date:

Photos: Getty Images/Scanpix/Kungahuset/Abaca/Petra/Christie's/Royal Collection

01 November 2013

Readers' Ultimate Tiaras: Pick Your Modern Tiara!

Older tiaras are grand - the history of these things is part of the draw, really, at least for me - but we need some recognition for the people that are valiantly doing their best to add to the world's tiara stores. And so today's selection for your ultimate tiara collection is...

Pick your favorite modern tiara!

Modern can refer to style and modern can refer to date of creation, and we are going with date of creation since it's easier to define; specifically, tiaras that were manufactured from 1950 up to today. Dates can be hard to tie down, mind you, but here is a selection that might fit the bill:

  • 1. Boucheron Emerald Ivy Tiara, 2. Queen Rania's Arabic Tiara, 3. Queen Rania's Boucheron Bracelet Tiara. The Jordanian collection is ripe for the picking, this is just a taste.
  • The Danish ladies each have a modern tiara to their name: 4. Naasut Tiara, 5. Midnight Tiara, 6. Flora Danica Tiara (for Marie, not yet worn)
  • Oh yes, who can forget: Margrethe has two. 1. The infamous Golden Poppies.
  • Japan's collection has a lot of possibilities too, though they are quiet on tiara history; each lady receives a tiara on her 20th birthday or when she marries into the family, newly made if need be. 2. Princess Mako's Tiara is a recent addition; her mother 3. Princess Akishino also has a lovely one.
  • 4. Van Cleef & Arpels Tiara, as worn by Princess Grace.
  • 5. Princess Letizia's Ansorena Tiara. Slightly apocryphal as she's only worn the central part as a brooch and never the tiara.
  • 6. The Modern Gold Tiara.
  • 7. The Modern Fringe Tiara - this is a guess, but likely to have been made in our timeframe.

And again, as always - there are more out there, happy hunting.

Ready to vote for your favorite?
-Vote for one tiara in the comments. (If you're mentioning multiple tiaras in your comment, indicate which one gets your vote, or I will just count the first applicable one. One comment vote per person, please.)
-I will also count the number of "likes" or up arrows on those comments, so you can vote that way too.
-Non-royal tiaras and tiaras that no longer exist are fair game too.

Photos: Boucheron/Vanity Fair/Getty Images/Kongehuset/Charlotte Lynggaard/Flora Danica/Bodilbinner/Van Cleef & Arpels/Ansorena/Kungahuset/Geoffrey Munn/Royal Collection