28 January 2015

Royal Remembrance of the Week: January 28

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, a day which is also honored as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day was marked with a service at Auschwitz in Poland and in events around the world, and royals from many countries joined in the commemorations. This is not the lighter stuff that we usually (and purposefully) stick to around here; this is really nothing to do with the sartorial side of things. But sometimes it's important just to take a moment and remember.

Among the royal contingent paying their respects in Poland were the King and Queen of the Netherlands and the King and Queen of the Belgians. Willem-Alexander wore a kippah (yarmulke), which was a touching gesture.
The Crown Princes of Denmark and Norway were also in attendance, as was the Crown Princess of Sweden and the Hereditary Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.
Below, Guillaume and Stéphanie laid a wreath at the camp.

Holocaust memorial events were also held around the world, some drawing royal attendance.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a memorial in London, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit joined in the events in Oslo.
Many others not shown here also participated in various events at home, including the King and Queen of Sweden, Prince Daniel, and the King of Spain. The attendance of this particular set of people is not the point of these events, of course, but I can't help but find it lovely to see so many in our frame of reference united, from whatever location, to commemorate and to remember this important moment in history.

If you would like to watch the entire ceremony from Auschwitz, you may do so below.


Photos: Getty Images as indicated

27 January 2015

Royal Wedding of the Week: January 27

Princess Astrid of Norway, daughter of King Olav V and sister of the current king, married Johan Martin Ferner on January 12, 1961. As I mentioned in Sunday's post, Mr. Ferner passed away on January 24th, not long after the couple marked 54 years of marriage. Today, a look back at their Norwegian winter wedding.
Princess Astrid's older sister Princess Ragnhild caused her share of controversy in 1953 by marrying a commoner, and Astrid then doubled up by marrying a commoner who also happened to be divorced. The couple shared a social circle and bonded over their love of sailing (Ferner was an Olympic medalist in the sport) but they had to wait to make things official. When they finally did, they got married in Asker with a recently retired bishop presiding, as there were many in the church that refused to marry a divorced person.
It was a cold and snowy winter wedding, and the bride arrived and left with a short fur coat to keep her warm. The dress underneath featured a skirt with wide bands of silver embroidered lace and a lace top with long sleeves. A fingertip veil in tulle was topped with a small crown headpiece that appears to have been made from the same style lace. The bride also wore a pair of pearl earrings and a triple strand pearl necklace.

The dress seems very much of its time, and is lacking in many of the grand features that usually set a royal wedding gown apart, like a big train or a long veil. This was a more practical choice, and Princess Astrid later took advantage of that practicality by removing the long sleeves and reusing it as a gala dress. (An exhibit in 2011 showed the dress in its final design alongside the wedding gowns of Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and Princess Märtha Louise.)
The groom's entrance into the family may have come with some fuss over his first marriage, but soon enough the controversy faded away. In the end, Johan Martin Ferner was not a well known member of the Norwegian royal family by choice. He focused on running his family's business, a department store in Oslo, while his wife carried on with her royal duties. He seems to have been the model of discretion, a quality in today's world that's well worth a little initial controversy.


Photos: Ray Bellisario/Popperfoto via Getty Images, NRK video, Kongehuset

26 January 2015

Royal Head Sculpture of the Day: January 26

Well, well, well. The Benelux party antennae ride again.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended the opening of Mons 2015, 
the European Capital of Culture
First Queen Máxima (in the darker version), now Queen Mathilde. An inevitable progression. I always hope something will break the chain, and I am always wrong.
Click here for a video.
The rest of this cream outfit does seem to have some potential, but that's not what we're looking at. Actually, I'm looking at the people surrounding Mathilde and thinking it's pretty lucky that both she and Máxima are fairly tall. I mean, put this on someone of QEII's height and somebody's gonna get an antenna to the eye.
Safety hazards aside, you do have to admire her dedication to giving us something wacky to start the week. Oh, Mathilde.

Photos: Benoit Doppagne/AFP via Getty Images, Deradactie video 

25 January 2015

Sunday Tidbits for January 25: From Farewells to Fashion Shows

Seems we have an awful lot of royal deaths lately. That can stop anytime soon. But for the moment, that's where we must begin:

--Johan Martin Ferner, husband of Princess Astrid of Norway, passed away on Saturday. He was 87 years old. Ferner, a businessman, married Princess Astrid in 1961, and the couple had five children together. [Royal Court of Norway]
In 2012, celebrating Princess Astrid's 80th birthday: Princess Astrid and Mr. Ferner, center, the late Princess Ragnhild and husband Erling Lorentzen, left, and King Harald and Queen Sonja, right.
Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen / Det kongelige hoff

--The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, also passed away late last week. He was 90 years old and came to the throne in 2005, though he had been the country's de facto ruler since 1995. The Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince of Norway, and the Kings of Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Jordan are among the dignitaries who traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay their respects and greet the new sovereign, King Salman. Salman was half-brother to the late king and served as crown prince; the throne currently passes between the sons of the first King of Saudi Arabia and a council exists within the large family to vote on the succession. [NY Times, Washington Post]

--With Abdullah's passing, Queen Elizabeth II is now the world's oldest living monarch. [ITV]

--On a lighter note, an excellent anecdote told by a former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been flying around: King Abdullah, while still crown prince, visited the Queen at Balmoral and was treated to a tour of the estate. Much to his surprise (and slight terror), the Queen took the wheel of the Land Rover herself. And that's how you welcome the ruler of a country where women aren't allowed to drive, kids. [Twitter]

--Continuing to lighten things up a bit here: Princess Athena of Denmark, daughter of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie, turned three years old this week. Berlingske has some of her new photos plus a little gallery of her little life so far. [Berlingske]

--At the Danish monarchy's site, you'll find the latest engagement of Crown Princess Mary, in black and gray basics. [Kongehuset]

--Luxarazzi is shining a spotlight on the diamond and ruby necklace belonging to the lovely Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg. [Luxarazzi]

--Are you in need of a wearable portrait of the Prince of Wales? Sure you are! Vivienne Westwood's got you covered. Her recent menswear collection featured nods to the Prince's style and pictures of both Charles and the Queen. [Hello]

Stay tuned for Monday, we have matters of a Belgian sort to discuss. Prep your waffle maker for the occasion.

23 January 2015

Royal Closet Raid of the Day: January 23

As promised, one last thing before we stop celebrating the Countess of Wessex's 50th birthday: her closet raid! This is our time-honored tradition (eh, well, it's been around for a few months) of taking a look through a royal wardrobe and seeing which pieces we like so much we wish we had them for our very own. Praise with a dash of selfishness thrown in, just the way I like it.

When it comes to the Countess, I knew precisely the outfit I was after:
Emilia Wickstead is a favorite of Sophie's, and with good reason. This dress, debuted at the Luxembourg royal wedding in 2012, is a good example of Sophie's style on the whole: basically classic, but with a bit of quirky fun too. It also happens to be my personal favorite, because full skirts, belts, square neckline, three-quarter sleeves, and fun prints that aren't too cartoonish are just a few of my many favorite things.

A few more of my favorite Sophie things, for good measure:
A fun floral dress in a flattering cut, yes please.
Purple Prada coats, YES please.
And cute clutches, ohhhhh yes. Now, your turn:

What do you covet from Sophie's wardrobe?

Photos: Pascal Le Segretain, Max Mumby/Indigo, Ian Blakeman via Getty Images, and Emilia Wickstead

22 January 2015

Tiara Thursday: The Murat Tiara

The Murat Tiara
Built as a showcase for three large pearls, the Murat Tiara is a creation by Joseph Chaumet. It dates from 1920, when it was created as a wedding gift for the marriage of Prince Alexandre Murat (1889-1926) and Yvonne Gillois (1894-1961). The large pearls came from the Murat family. The center pearl, noted as an "exceptional treasure" at the time of the tiara's sale, is a baroque button-shaped natural pearl of over 75 carats (75.84 carats to be exact, or 303.37 grains). Two additional large pearls, also button-shaped and natural, were added to the sides of the design, adding some balance to the large centerpiece. The family also supplied most of the diamonds used for the design of acanthus foliage scrolls that accent the pearls.
The Murat family's title goes back to the reign of Napoleon I, when Joachim Murat (1767-1815) rose up through the military and married Napoleon's sister Caroline Bonaparte. Titles were granted and eventually Joachim was King of Naples and Sicily (though all did not end well for him; he was ultimately executed for treason after the fall of Napoleon). The family maintained a prominent position in French society, and at the time of this tiara's creation, there still would have been plenty of tiara occasions for the new bride to attend.
This is a tiara certainly intended to convey status, thanks to those enormous pearls. The design itself is grand enough to recall the family's roots, with an acanthus motif that would have fit in at Napoleon's court. The tiara originally had a separate bandeau on which it could be worn for additional height and an option to be worn at the forehead, in a style very much of the 1920s but also very much in the style of Empress Joséphine. All of that grandeur paid off when the tiara was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2012. Estimated to bring in up to $2,445,636, the tiara sold for $3,864,318.

What do you say: A successful incorporation of large single gems?

Photos:  Sotheby's, Miguel Medina/AFP

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 22

Well, this is...dour.
The King and Queen of Spain held an annual reception for foreign ambassadors yesterday.
Given the dress code - this is another court dress occasion, with morning dress for men - a choice like this places them straight off the set of Downton Abbey. Mrs. Hughes goes to Spain!
Okay, well the top is sparkly. Mrs. Hughes goes to a disco in Spain, then.

Photos: Carlos Alvarez via Getty Images

21 January 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 21

Somebody got their hair done for their birthday...
The Countess of Wessex was out and about, looking fab, on her 50th birthday yesterday. There was cake! I'd show up for any royal engagement if dessert was a guarantee. And she sported a hairdo which was simple from the front and anything but from the back:
That's a lotta stuff going on there. But I'm all in favor of daytime updos any which way, you know me. The 'do crowned an outfit of simple pieces that came together pretty harmoniously: a Prada coat, a pink Gucci dress underneath, a burgundy Sophie Habsburg Design clutch, and black L.K. Bennett boots (per the Countess of Wessex Blog).
Sophie's obviously been making great strides in her style in the past few years, and this is the kind of simple but chic outfit that comes from having a wardrobe filled with higher quality individual pieces. As I tweeted the other day, the Wessex family's chef has apparently been appointed Sophie's new personal dresser - an unusual move, but if he keeps her moving on this path, more power to him.

Stay tuned, we may just have another Sophie fashion feature before we're done marking her big birthday.

Photos: Tristan Fewings and Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

20 January 2015

Royal Outfits of the Day: January 20

Yesterday was a red day, today is a blue day. I love it when royals accidentally color coordinate with each other. Yes, I'm very easily amused.
For more pictures, click here or here.
Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, and Princess Estelle started their visit to the Bay Area. Estelle wasn't expected to be a big part of the visit, but she did participate in the casual first part, including a visit to the Church of Sweden San Francisco. They presented a united family front in a series of blues, from Victoria's bright dress to Daniel's light tie and Estelle's printed dress and cardigan. Coordinated, but stopping just short of overdoing it, I think.

And in a land far, far away, someone else unknowingly played along with the Swedish matching game:
Duchess of Cambridge had an event in Kensington yesterday.
I'm in favor of all Estelle-approved color schemes, and she's smartly left the hair bows to the professionals, by which I mean toddlers.
Kate's take includes maternity pieces from Seraphine, a light blue cashmere blend coat (with more Pocket Flaps to Nowhere, though these make a little more sense at the seam and in the same color and fabric) and a printed crêpe de chine dress underneath.
Classics, very flattering, and I wouldn't mind a non-maternity version of that coat for myself. Or just the maternity version, and I'll call it my Thanksgiving coat. I could make it work.

Photos: @bjornly, WPA Pool via Getty Images, Seraphine

19 January 2015

Royal Outfits of the Day: January 19

A red suit showdown!
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended another New Year's reception last week
Mathilde's entry is a repeat from the couple's introductory visit to Germany last year, a red suit with pleated details by Pierre Gauthier.
The original appearance, in Germany
Better without the hat? I think so. The suit's plenty of pleating all by itself.

And over in Spain, on the same day, an entry from Letizia:
King Felipe and Queen Letizia gave out the National Research Awards last week
I've always liked this Felipe Varela suit, with its delicate scalloped detailing, and red is definitely Letizia's color. Both she and Felipe were wearing bracelets from ARHOE, an organization that promotes more rational working hours and a better balance between work and life in Spain. The group was included in one of the couple's recent palace audiences, and they've apparently won some royal support. A yellow bracelet with a red suit is certainly an effective way to draw attention.
So, who comes out on top in this style duel? Red suits in general, probably. More of that all around would be fine by me.

18 January 2015

Sunday Tidbits for January 18: Birthday Portraits Galore and More

It's double the birthday girls and a potential for a dash of royalty in an area near you (uh, if you live in very specific areas) in this week's batch of tidbits. Read on:

--A new portrait was released to celebrate Princess Michael of Kent's 70th birthday last week, featuring her cuddling her cat while sporting one of her tiaras (the Kent Festoon Tiara, which was worn to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation). We've reached peak Princess Michael, with just one image. [Hello US]

--And two new shots of the Countess of Wessex have also been released, in advance of her 50th birthday. Alas, they feature neither tiaras nor cats. [Countess of Wessex Blog]

--Are you anywhere near Sydney, Australia? You can see the Australian Wattle Brooch in person, lucky you. It's on loan to the Powerhouse Museum as part of a jewelry exhibit through April. [Powerhouse Museum, with thanks to commenter Kathy]

--Heads up, northern California: Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel are visiting you. They've already arrived, with Princess Estelle, but the visit officially runs Monday through Wednesday. They'll be in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. [Svenskdam]

--The International Circus Festival in Monaco is Princess Stephanie's big event each year, and it's been in full swing this week. Prince Albert gives it an awkward thumbs up. [Paris Match]

--This story about the Duchess of Cornwall sending a bouquet to a longtime royal watcher who missed Christmas at Sandringham is so sweet. [EDP24]

--The Japanese imperial family really loves their court dress this time of the year. They were back at it with the New Year's poetry reading this week. I'm so happy that Princess Kako was allowed something beyond the deeply unflattering hat that she got last time, I'll overlook the spread of glorified headband hats. [Imperial Family of Japan Blog, ANN News video]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault, I broke down the jewelry additions from the royal gift lists for 2014.

16 January 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 16

I thought this was quite cute:
The Duchess of Cambridge visited Barlby Primary School yesterday. 
Granted, I liked it more at first glance when I thought it was a coat (it's a dress) with pockets (they're just flaps) in black (it's navy) (navy with black accessories, to be exact). I'm forever getting tiny first glances of things via social media and then finding out they're something completely different later on, usually to my disappointment. I suppose I could quit looking (ha) or quit judging (HA), but instead I think I'll plead ignorance and pretend everything's just the way I wanted it to be in my head.
The shift dress is from Madderson London, a new brand for Kate.
 For more, click here or here for galleries.
And in my head, I thought this was quite cute.

Photos:  Chris Jackson via Getty Images, Madderson London

15 January 2015

Tiara Thursday: Alexandra Feodorovna's Emerald Bow Tiara

Alexandra Feodorovna's Emerald Bow Tiara
As we’ve discussed before, if you’re searching for stones of exceptional quality and color, you need look no further than the collection that belonged to the Romanovs at the height of their splendor. The green stones featured in today’s tiara are one example, Colombian emeralds with what was said to have been a brilliant color. The center emerald is a sugarloaf cabochon, an unfaceted cut rising to a high point in the center, weighing in at around 23 carats. The emeralds were combined with South African diamonds in a design of upright loops alternating with bows in this tiara made to the order of Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918), wife of Tsar Nicholas II. It was crafted in gold and silver with removable elements in 1900 by imperial court jeweler Bolin.
Alexandra Feodorovna
The tiara was part of a matching set of jewels. Also made by Bolin for Alexandra at that time was a matching necklace and she was painted in 1907 by N.K. Bodarevsky (above) wearing what appears to be a matching brooch. A devant de corsage (dress ornament) of emeralds and diamonds with was made by another jeweler to the imperial family, Fabergé. The corsage was ordered by Alexandra Feodorovna’s sister, Elizabeth (1964-1918), who was married to Nicholas II’s uncle. The matching stones and bow design suggests that it was intended to be part of the same parure.
A detail of the center element in the tiara (left), the devant de corsage (center top), the tiara displayed with other jewels to be sold (center bottom), and the necklace (right)
Unfortunately, like so many other Romanov jewels, this parure has disappeared. It was sold by the Soviet government in the 1920s, after the overthrow of the monarchy. It’s hard to imagine it being successfully worn today, though; the tiara is actually a circlet, a complete circle, probably best worn with the elaborate hairstyles of the time, and a piece like the devant de corsage would scarcely be used with today’s fashions. The devant de corsage, however, is the one piece that has a version in existence today: a replica was made in 1985 for the Diamond Fund, the Russian state’s jewel collection.

Who do you think could pull this set off, if it was around today?

Photos: Fersman, Wikimedia Commons, USGS

Royal Style Twins of the Day: January 15

Queen Letizia made an appearance at the Telefónica Ability Awards this week in a classic black and white ensemble, including a high-waisted full black skirt, a white Hugo Boss top, black heels, and her de Grisogono black diamond earrings. (The earrings are an older pair that have made a recent reappearance, no doubt part of her quest to stake out her position as the Earring Queen.)
I don't know about you, but it always takes me a moment to recognize Letizia in a full skirt - a sheath dress, sure, you'd know that was Letizia from a mile away, but this kind of skirt makes me do a double take. Especially in an outfit like this, which looks a whole lot like one we've already seen elsewhere:
These two ladies have quite a bit of wardrobe cross over, actually, since they're both big fans of Hugo Boss. Crown Princess Mary wore her version of this basic combination during her visit to Canada in 2014, and her skirt (made of a more textured fabric than Letizia's) is from Danish designer Signe Bøgelund-Jensen. No matter who wears it, this is a plain enough combination, and you need something to add some interest. Letizia went for a red lip and those earrings, while Mary opted for snakeskin Louboutins and a thin belt to accent the skirt's thick waistband. Still, I'm not sure either version is particularly memorable. Et toi?

14 January 2015

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 14

You think she heard your cries for some color yesterday?
Maybe that wave was just for you. A bright red Queen Máxima kicked off the year at the annual New Year's reception with Princess Beatrix (in her patterned best), Princess Margriet (in a particularly rich-looking jacket), plus the King and Pieter van Vollenhoven (in...wait for it...suits).
The Natan dress is a repeat, of course, worn this time with more refined shoes and a bigger statement earring. She's swapped rubies and diamonds for a gift from Dutch jeweler LOTT. gioielli, and while I always miss rubies and diamonds when they're gone, it's nice to see her lend her support to brands close to home.
Previous outing of the dress
Good then, good now. Welcome back, Máx.

Photos: @koninklijkhuis / RVD, photo: Jeroen van de Meyde / Michel Porro via Getty Images