16 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 16

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with Prince George, arrived in Australia for the next leg of their tour.
Yellow - for wattle, for sunshine, for half of the green and gold Australia color combo - was an easy guess for arrival in Australia, but the Duchess might have surprised you with her designer: Roksanda Ilincic, a London-based Serbian designer. She's worn Ilincic before, of course, but we'll have to wait for an Australian designer to take the stage (and it will certainly be only a matter of time). This label has done quite a bit with yellow lately, bright and cheery color blocking all over the place, so perhaps the surprise isn't that surprising after all. As for this dress, yellow with blocks of white at the bottom and on the sleeves - LOVE. Easily my pick for best outfit of the tour. So far.

Timezones are making this tour hard to follow from my corner of the world and I'm writing this after just the first bit of the day (hence my speedy screencaps above). But for more, click here for rolling coverage from 7News Sydney, here for Hello, or here for pics from the Daily Mail.

Photos: 7News/Reuters

15 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 15

Video: Crown Princess Mary visited a school last week.
This printed skirt, from Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, is a few years old and we've seen Mary in it a bunch of times. Each time, she manages to put a new twist on it - but I have to say, this particular version might not be my favorite. I KNOW. She plays up the purple and does up her hair all purty, and I...am not that fond of it? I might be ill. Send tiaras and chocolate.
The previous outing on the far right remains my fave for this skirt.
Click here for a gallery from this visit.

Photos: BilledBladet/Scanpix/Alberta Ferretti/Abaca

14 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 14

Video: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended church in Dunedin during their New Zealand tour.
Behold, the most New Zealand outfit yet: dress by Emilia Wickstead, who is based in London but was born in New Zealand, plus the Queen's New Zealand Fern Brooch again. Even the Jane Taylor hat looks a little fern-ish. Click here for more pictures.
This dress gives me a bit of déjà vu, and for good reason - we've seen it in pink in the past. My favorite Emilia Wickstead? Nah. But I am in love with this color, and would take it any day over the pink.
What say you: teal version, or pink?

Photos: ITN/Reuters/AP

11 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 11

Video: The Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles on April 9, 2005.
Charles and Camilla are celebrating their wedding anniversary this week, and that means there's no better time to revisit Camilla's excellent wedding wear - both flattering and appropriate. It's also time to coordinate your visits to the V&A Museum in London, because the Duchess of Cornwall has loaned her gown for an upcoming exhibition! I'm absolutely dying to see it for myself, since those subtle gold touches are certainly better appreciated in person.
Wedding dresses 1775-2014 runs from May 3, 2014 to March 15, 2015. If you go, do report back!

Photo: AP

10 April 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Empress Joséphine Tiara

The Empress Joséphine Fabergé Tiara
Though they are well known for making all manner of bejeweled objects, a tiara made by Fabergé is actually a pretty rare thing. They're hard to find, but once identified the delicate detail and high quality craftsmanship is easy to spot. One such example is this tiara of diamonds mounted in silver and gold, made around 1890 by master craftsman August Holmström (1829-1903). Holmström and his son Albert were responsible for much of the Fabergé jewelry made in their time. Graduated arches of old-cut diamonds resting on a diamond band are separated by large individual collet diamonds. Suspended from each arch is a pendant culminating in a large diamond, a pear-shaped stone in the center with a combination of briolette and old-cut diamonds to the sides. The band and the pendants include touches of foliate design, adding just enough flow to soften the hard points of the arches. It's probably best known today as the Empress Joséphine Tiara despite the fact that Joséphine died decades before the tiara was made. It's gone by other names too, such as the Leuchtenberg Diamond Tiara, and it's a hard one to pin down - the tiara has bounced from one owner to the next but didn't really make a mark until it came up for public sale. Nevertheless, the story begins with Empress Joséphine.

Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814) was the first wife of Napoleon I. They divorced in 1810 and Joséphine lived at the Château de Malmaison, where her visitors included Alexander I of Russia (1777-1825). The briolette-cut diamonds that rest today in this Fabergé tiara were given to Joséphine by the Tsar on one of his visits (some say as payment for some artwork, though he was also known to present her with gifts). They were high-quality diamonds, of exceptional clarity and size, and were passed down to her son Eugène de Beauharnais (1781-1824), who became the Duke of Leuchtenberg when he married Princess Augusta of Bavaria.
The tiara in its box, on a model, and one of the briolettes in close up
The briolette-cut diamonds went to Eugène and Augusta's youngest son, Prince Maximilian (1817-1852), who inherited the Duke of Leuchtenberg title. Maximilian married the eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas I, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, bringing the heritage of these diamonds full circle. They were included in the making of this tiara around 1890, and the diadem stayed in the Leuchtenberg family until it was sold in Switzerland after World War I. The sale sent it into the hands of a new royal family: the Belgians. King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth bought it and gave it to their younger son Prince Charles, Count of Flanders (1903-1983). Charles left the tiara to his sister, Queen Marie José of Italy (1906-2001), and she in turn left it to her daughter Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy. Despite this long history the tiara was fairly unknown and, at least in recent decades, seems to have remained unworn. It's really not so surprising that it next made its way to the auction block.

Video, above
Christie's auctioned the tiara in 2007. Surpassing initial estimates of $788,800 - $1,183,200, it sold for a whopping $2,071,389, the value due not only to the history and the large size and high quality of the individual diamonds, but to the Fabergé mark. As I said before, a Fabergé tiara is rare - and this one was scooped up by a Fabergé collector. The McFerrin Collection, owned by American collectors Dorothy and Artie McFerrin of Texas, is one of the most important private collections of Fabergé objects. They now count this tiara among their treasures, and have placed it (and plenty of other items) on extended loan to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for exhibit. A can't-miss, if you should happen to pass through Houston.

Have you seen this one yourself? Is it a favorite?

Photos: Christie's/Getty/Houston Museum of Natural Science

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 10

Video: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge laid a wreath at the Blenheim War Memorial during their tour of New Zealand.
Hey, look at that - Kate took that coat Sophie wore earlier this year (covered here), and made all the critical changes: removed that top peplum flap thingy, and made it an actual color! Well done. It's definitely a coat that has enough architectural features to stand on its own, so it works quite well at this non-hat occasion. She also added sapphire and diamond earrings, and obviously those make everything better. (And yes, you can actually see them for she has - gasp - worn her hair up. All the way up. Let's call it the Hallelujah Ponytail.)
The coat is from Alexander McQueen, a custom combination of retail styles. She's also wearing a commemorative poppy pin for remembrance on her shoulder, as did others.
So which royal wore it better, do ya think? Going with the Duchess, myself.

Photos: Reuters/Net-a-porter

07 April 2014

Bonus Royal Outfit of the Day: April 7

The Cambridge family tour of New Zealand and Australia has commenced.
More like "Prince George and his entourage arrive in Wellington", amirite? Little scene stealer covered up my favorite part of any outfit - the diamonds - and I can't even be mad about it.
Yes, in addition to the red Catherine Walker coat and oh-so-Jackie-O matching Gina Foster pillbox hat, the Duchess borrowed a very appropriate bit of bling from the Queen's vault: the New Zealand Fern Brooch, which you can read more about at the Jewel Vault. Unlike, say, the Maple Leaf Brooch, this one doesn't have a history of loans, so this is a bit special. The tour doesn't have a lot of opportunities for formal jewelry built in, but it will be nice to see if she brings out any other surprises.

P.S. This is a double post day, keep scrolling!
P.P.S.: This blog is taking a couple days off and returning on Thursday, but the Jewel Vault will still be updated in the meantime.

Photo: @ClarenceHouse/Stuff screencap

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 7

The King and Queen of Sweden made an official visit to the Netherlands.
This is "only" an official visit, the type of which would typically warrant a black tie dinner rather than full white tie with orders, and might be an occasion to skip the tiaras. But these kids busted out the full show for us because they remembered they're royal and they can, and we thank them profusely, don't we? We do.

Queen Máx repeated a Jan Taminiau gown from her 40th birthday celebrations, to which she's added a belt (a much-needed change, if you ask me). She accessorized with her favorite Diamond Bandeau, and showed off her jewel creativity yet again by adding a citrine brooch to the center of a previously sapphire brooch. The color scheme played perfectly off of the yellow and blue of her sash, Sweden's Order of the Polar Star, a lesser order which she has had for a few years now. She'll probably one day be upgraded to the highest order, the Order of the Seraphim (as seen on her husband and Princess Beatrix), but that's something more suited to a proper state visit. Everyone here was wearing previously awarded decorations. During Day 1 she also repeated the outfit she wore to Princess Ariane's christening, which would be amazing if it didn't look so much like a tin man in need of a tailor.

Click here for a gallery from the visit...

Queen Sil repeated a red gown that will force me to repeat my figure skater comparison. She paired this with the Connaught Diamond Tiara, and the Order of the Netherlands Lion (her husband was decked out in the same) (same order, that is, not same tiara) (although I would pay to see that). Queen Princess B was lovely in lavender and her favorite tiara, Queen Emma's Diamond Tiara. Sparkles and lovelies all around, but Queen Máx reigns over them all. That's a tough color scheme to make work, that butterscotch color, but it's a wonderful combo with the blue of the sash and she comes through with flying colors, no?

Photos: Parool/RVD/Het Koninklijk Huis/PPE

04 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 4

Crown Princess Victoria wore a custom Elie Saab gown in beige silk with embroidered and beaded details on the bust and sleeves to the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in 2010. She also wore the Cut Steel Tiara.
Bit of a dismal run from Victoria in the current events department lately. Dismal bordering on disastrous, occasionally. And I've had a few requests to pull something, anything, out of the archives to remind us of the full force of her sartorial power. So here we go, one of the all-time bests.

Video: Victoria at the Nobel dinner
It's the best outing of the Cut Steel Tiara I can think of, and it gives me an opportunity to once again post an enlightening video - you might not guess that a tiara with no diamonds or other gemstones could possess such sparkle. I can only imagine that the gown was made specifically to accompany the Cut Steel Tiara, because it is a perfect modern interpretation of the type of dress that was the fashion in the Napoleonic era, when the tiara was crafted. Victoria has worn this dress again, but this appearance remains the gold standard.

Photos: Getty Images/All Over Press/Kungahuset

03 April 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Fringe Tiara

The Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Fringe Tiara
Princess Benedikte - daughter of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark, sister to Queen Margrethe and Greece's Queen Anne-Marie - wears a couple of tiaras with ties to her own royal history, but this classic diamond fringe comes from her husband's German family. It was a wedding present from Richard, the 4th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, to his bride Princess Madeleine of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg (1885-1976), for their 1905 nuptials. Made by the noted German jeweler Koch, it shares the classic fringe design - derived from Russian traditional kokoshnik headdresses - with plenty of other tiaras. This one is distinctive by the small size of the diamond spikes placed between the tallest diamond posts. Like many other fringe tiaras, it can also be worn as a necklace.
Princess Benedikte
The tiara was apparently left by Princess Madeleine to her grandson Prince Richard, who is Princess Benedikte's husband (they married in 1968). By the time Madeleine died in 1976, her son and the 5th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Gustav Albrecht, was gone, and Richard was officially the Head of the House of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, so skipping a generation makes some sense. (Gustav Albrecht was went missing in action in 1944 and was legally declared dead in 1969.)
Benedikte's tiaras: the fringe, her floral tiara, and the Star and Pearl Tiara
Princess Benedikte tends to choose this tiara for the biggest events she attends, things like Queen Margrethe's jubilee, Crown Prince Frederik's wedding, Crown Princess Victoria's wedding, and the weddings of her own daughters. Of course, these are usually the events that her children attend as well, and so her other tiaras are often on loan with this one kept for herself. It's an important piece and one that happens to suit her exceptionally well - the great thing about the classic fringe design is that it is almost universally flattering, but on some people it really shines, and Benedikte is one.

Which of her tiaras is your favorite?

Photos: AOP/Getty/Corbis

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 3

Video: Crown Princess Mary has been visiting Estonia, where they use the "Free from Bullying" program put out by her foundation. She wore this gray suit with tall black Prada boots for some of the events.
Here's what I appreciate about Mary: even when the outfit is pretty basic, she  manages to get at least some point of interest in there. This gray outfit? Well, it's gray. Gray and black. Sort of boring by nature. But then you see the swing of the skirt, that slight fullness, and it makes sense. (Also, she looks toasty warm, and I'm sort of envying her coziness.)
Click here for a gallery with this and more events and outfits.

Photos: BilledBladet/ETV

02 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 2

Queen Máxima, along with the King and Princess Beatrix, attended a dinner for the inauguration committee. She wore a repeated J. Mendel dress from the Resort 2010 collection.
This is a really gorgeous dress and an unusual designer choice for Máx, but it's fantastic. Unfortunately she managed to cover up the best bit - that gorgeous draping around the waist that makes it clear it's a design feature and not just an empire waist - with her wrap, so let's just collectively pretend that's not there.

Photos: RVD/Style.com

01 April 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: April 1

The Belgians hosted a state visit from China. To the state banquet, Queen Mathilde wore a repeated blue Natan gown and the bandeau from the Nine Provinces Tiara.
This isn't even an April Fools' Day joke: Belgium actually held a tiara event! It's been a looooong time. They haven't had a full scale state visit complete with state banquet for quite a while - government problems will do that to you (minor details, ahem). But Mathilde's bringing it back in a big way, essentially repeating the successful look and color combination from her first official portrait as queen but swapping in the similarly colored gown she wore in Luxembourg in 2012. That portrait was my best of the year for her in 2013, and just donning a tiara at home at all automatically puts this appearance in the running for this year's bests. Deeelightful. Click here for a video (which also shows Princess Astrid, the king's sister, in her tiara.) Click here for a gallery.
Princess Astrid (wearing the Savoy-Aosta Tiara) and Queen Mathilde at the banquet; Mathilde's tiara plus the gown's previous appearance and those official portraits
Mathilde was pure elegance at the welcome ceremony as well, click here for that - and thank the Shoe Gods she gave us some interest instead of going with natural instinct for more solid blue!

Photos: Deradactie/Xinhua/Reuters/Getty/Monarchie Belge

31 March 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: March 31

Princess Charlene attended the Rose Ball with the princely family. She wore a blue Akris gown and diamond and sapphire earrings made to match her Ocean Necklace/Tiara. Also in attendance was Princess Caroline, wearing Chanel, right down to the sneakers.
I was all about Charlene's dress - she looks fabulous, really - until I saw what's happening at the bottom. (Can we kill this sheer trend? Can we kill it with fire?) I have thus decided to pretend this look only exists from the waist up.

The rest of the crew was there, including a princess-y Beatrice Borromeo and Chanel-clad Princess Caroline and Charlotte Casiraghi. Click here for a gallery. And yes, your eyes do not deceive you - Caroline was sporting the same sneakers Karl Lagerfeld (designer of the ball) sent down the runway not so long ago, and my prediction that she'd be the royal to try these out came true. I guess she was injured, since she was using a cane, but let's be honest: she didn't need a reason for these.

Photos: Reuters/Getty/Palais Princier/Style.com

28 March 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: March 28

Crown Princess Mary wore this red Uffe Frank gown to the gala held before her wedding to Frederik in 2004. She wore it with the full Danish Ruby Parure. The dress has appeared several times since, including at an exhibit and for an official portrait.
So I was watching the documentary De Kongelige Juveler (The Royal Jewels) the other day - again - as one does - and I was reminded just how much I adore Mary's pre-wedding gala gown. Actually, it's not really the gown so much as that entire first appearance, because the whole thing was geared to make the most of the ruby set. She'd already worn the rubies with her hair up and a pale gown during the pre-wedding events, so swapping to red to make the most of their color and framing them differently by wearing her hair down really had great impact. She's worn the dress since with her wedding tiara instead, but it's just not the same.

Video: The pre-wedding gala, Mary and Frederik's arrival
But worn just like this - without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite royal gala appearances.

My re-watch was inspired by a lovely reader that wrote in about discovering the documentary. We've talked about it here in the past, but if you've never seen it, it's well worth your time. Part 1, focusing on Scandinavian jewels and featuring interviews with Queen Margrethe, Queen Silvia, and Mary herself, can be found here. Part 2 focuses on Russian jewels, and that can be found here. Enjoy!

Photos: Reuters/Scanpix/Kongehuset