31 August 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Heirloom Veils

Royal weddings are just rife with tradition, and that's one of the reasons why I love 'em. From borrowed jewels to bits of fabric reused time and again, royal families around the world have multiple wedding traditions to choose from.

Today's focus is a reader request (and a brilliant one at that) on one tradition in particular: the heirloom veil. It's the easiest part of a bridal ensemble to pass down through the generations, and several royal families have made a practice of passing wedding veils from bride to bride.

There are those brides that have carried a tradition one generation through; for example, Queen Sofia of Spain wore the veil of her mother, Queen Frederika of Greece, when she married. But today we're talking about those veils that have become a multi-generational tradition.

In fact, we just saw a perfect example of this: Princess Sophie married in the Isenburg family veil, a piece that includes Brussels lace and the family crest and dates from 1830. An antique veil was also a feature in one of the weddings we saw earlier this summer:
Left to right: Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Princess Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg
Princess Margaret of Connaught (granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria) married Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden in 1905 wearing an Irish lace veil which was one of her wedding presents. Her only daughter, Princess Ingrid of Sweden, wore the same veil when she married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 1935. Ingrid was about 10 years old when her mother passed away, so it was no doubt an extremely meaningful gesture. Ingrid took the veil with her as she became Queen of Denmark, and started a tradition that continues today: all of her female descendants have married in the same veil.
L to R: Princess Alexandra of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Princess Alexia of Greece, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg
The first of Ingrid's daughters to marry, Anne-Marie, spread the tradition into the Greek royal family when she married King Constantine of Greece. So far, Anne-Marie's daughter Alexia has worn it, and one imagines that we will see it again if/when her other daughter, Theodora, marries. Second, Queen Margrethe (then Crown Princess) wore it, and passed it along to the only non-descendant to wear it to date: Crown Princess Mary. Fitting for a future Queen of Denmark, wouldn't you say? Princess Benedikte wore it as well, for her wedding to German royal Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, and her two daughters, Alexandra and Nathalie, wore it for their own weddings. My vote for best-veiled in this lot goes to Queen Anne-Marie...but then again, I have an unnatural amount of affection for her entire wedding look.

Ingrid did not take all the veil tradition away from Sweden, though; they're doing just fine on their own.
L to R: Princess Sibylla, Princess Désirée, Princess Margaretha, Princess Christina, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria
Sweden's veil tradition stems from Queen Sofia, who passed this veil to her youngest son, Prince Eugen, who in turn gave it to Princess Sibylla (mother of the current king, Carl XVI Gustaf). Sibylla wore it for her marriage to Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1932, and her descendants have worn it since. Three of her daughters (Désirée, Margaretha, and Christina) wore it, as did Queen Silvia. Most recently, Crown Princess Victoria used it on her wedding day. My favorite way to wear this veil comes from Princess Christina. She didn't cover it up, like her two sisters did; she didn't bunch it up, like Silvia did; and you could still see it from the front, whereas it wasn't a huge feature of the front view of Victoria's bridal look.

Belgium has a lace veil tradition as well, as only befits a country known for its lacework. (Just a side note: if you've never seen it before, you may want to brace yourself for the glorious bastion of sleeve-age that is Princess Astrid's wedding gown.)
L to R: Queen Paola, Princess Astrid (see what I mean?), Princess Mathilde, Princess Claire
Here's the interesting thing about this veil: it comes from Queen Paola's Italian noble family, but it is still a Belgian work of art! It was originally worn in 1877 by Paola's Belgian grandmother, Laura Mosselman du Chenoy, when she married Don Beniamino, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, and it is made of three meters of Brussels lace. Queen Paola's mother wore the same veil at her wedding before it returned to Belgium when Paola wore it to marry Prince Albert. Since then, it has been worn by her daughter, Astrid, and her daughters-in-law, Mathilde and Claire. The veil's been restored twice - in advance of Astrid's wedding, and again for Mathilde's.

Infanta Cristina of Spain's veil is one of my favorites in this tradition. This veil has lived through an assassination attempt (how's that for history, eh?).
L to R: Queen Victoria Eugenia, Infanta Cristina
Originally commissioned for, and worn at, the wedding of King Alfonso XII of Spain and Queen Maria Christina in 1879, the veil's biggest test came when Queen Victoria Eugenia wore it at her wedding to King Alfonso XIII in 1906. Heading back to the palace, an anarchist threw a bomb at the royal carriage (the royal couple was unhurt). The veil survived, and was eventually bought by Spain's National Museum of Anthropology. After a restoration, they lent it to Cristina for her wedding day in 1997.

These are not all the examples out there; if I didn't cover it here, leave your favorite in the comments!

And tell me: who wore these veils best?

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mette-Marit, 21-27 August

Here's what Mette-Marit wore from 21-27 August:

  1. Attending a memorial service for the victims of the Norwegian attacks, 21 August.
  2. a) Beginning a visit to Hedmark, 22 August. Later (b) she slipped on a Montcler jacket and held a PUPPY, OMG.
  3. Second day in Hedmark, 23 August, hanging out with goats and stuff...you know, as you do.
  4. Celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary at Oslo Cathedral, 25 August, appropriately in white.
  5. At their anniversary dinner, 25 August, in the same belt we've seen on Charlotte Casiraghi. I kind of love that dress. Probably not on anyone else, though, just on her.
A few others at the cathedral:
Ari Behn being...well, himself; Princess Märtha Louise in a perfectly passable suit and the WORST SHOES EVER; and Princess Rosario in what must be Valentino, because it looks awfully familiar! (Princess Victoria was there as well, that'll be in her review post.)

Group shot of the dinner too:
What would we do without Sonja and Astrid to entertain us? That's one golden tablecloth, there.

Photos: Svenskdam/Scanpix

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mette-Marit, 14-20 August

Here's what Mette-Marit wore from 14-20 August:

1 - 3. Various outfits from interviews and photos for the couple's 10th anniversary.
4. Prince Sverre Magnus' first day of school, 18 August. What's funny is the difference between Mette-Marit's outfit for the occasion, and Queen Sonja's - she came along to see her grandson off to school:
The Crown Princess went with a regular mum on the school run look, while the Queen stuck with...well, very possibly the same thing she wore when she took her kids to school. Oh, white tights and scarf bow ties.

Photos: Budstikka

29 August 2011

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mary, 21-27 August

Here's what Mary wore from 21-27 August:

  1. Boarding the royal yacht, Dannebrog, for a summer cruise of royal visits. Who's looking at the outfit? There's a twin involved!
  2. Day 1 of the summer cruise, 22 August. Repeating one of my favorite purple dresses, topped with a repeated pink hat. I often find pink and purple too twee a combo, but this is working all over the place.
  3. Day 2, 23 August. Lurve! I know a hefty chunk of you are about to tell me that she might as well be back in maternity wear, but so help me, I go weak for a good swing coat. Just so stinkin' elegant.
  4. Last day, 25 August. More repeats, in a new pairing. Did not like the dress + coat combo at first, but I'm on board now.
  5. Leaving for a trip to Africa, 25 August. Perfect princess travel wear.
  6. Visiting a refugee camp in Kenya, 27 August.
I feel like this week just had a giant Mary's back! stamp right across it. This is precisely the elegance that makes me like her style in the first place, and we've been missing it for quite some time, what with the babies and all.

Also, this was a tremendously cute week. Husbands in uniform and babies with wee outfits and giant cheeks galore! Even an aquarium kiss, for the softies in the crowd.
Sometimes you just have to embrace the cheese. It's good for the soul.

What was your favorite outfit this week?

 Photos: Isopix/Peter Grosen/All Over Press Denmark/PurePeople/Abaca/Henrik Dam/Billed Bladet

Gold Star: Princess Beatrice in Italy

She did it again!
Yes, that's right, Princess Beatrice (a.k.a. Princess Beatrice's stylist, but pssh to the details) has once again orchestrated an Elie Saab appearance, this time at the pre-wedding party in Italy for Formula 1 heiress Petra Ecclestone's ridiculously over the top nuptial shindig this past weekend. It's just so cute, and fun! (And her SHOES are SPARKLY.) Gold star.

A slightly less shiny star (a Bronze Star?) goes to her sister Princess Eugenie at the wedding itself:
Must be Vivienne Westwood, and you know how much I love her in anything Westwood. YAY for curves doing all the right things.

And while we're at it, a couple of stars with no shine (Transparent Stars?) to Beatrice once again and her mother at the wedding:
Not so bad. Really, if we could just get Sarah to go ahead and buy the next size up (there's no shame in that, Sarah; sometimes - like this one - it'll actually end up making you look skinnier), and get Bea to give that dress a wee tug in the Northbound direction, we'd be set.

Photos: Bauer Griffin/Zimbio/Yannis Vlamos/GoRunway.com/Style.com/XposurePhoto.com/DailyMail/Reuters/Daylife

Event Roundup: The Prince of Prussia's Wedding

Relive the wedding of Georg Friedrich and Sophie, right here:

Sophie's rather interesting creation, plus tiara details!
A festival of current and former royal fashion at the wedding ceremony.

27 August 2011

Royal Fashion Awards: The Prince of Prussia's Wedding Ceremony

Georg Friedrich and Sophie's wedding brought a whole mess of current and former royals and nobles out of the German woodwork. I won't even attempt to comment on them all - good grief, there are so many that I couldn't even identify. Never fear, though, we have plenty to talk about between those we've met before and those that are just calling out to be met this time. (Lucky for us, and lucky for my German spelling skills.) Anyway, here we go:

Best of the Tasteful Near Misses
Princess Gisela of Saxe-Gessaphe
Left to Right: the Margravine of Baden, the Hereditary Princess of Baden, Countess Donata of Castell-Rüdenhausen, Princess Gisela of Saxe-Gessaphe, the Duchess of Braganza, Lady Nicholas Windsor
Most of the ladies in attendance at this wedding were nice and dignified, which is always good to see. But a few just missed the mark by a bit, these ladies included. The Margravine of Baden wore the same thing she wore to the Monaco wedding, except she added that belt (oh, so close!), and her daughter-in-law the Hereditary Princess had all the components of a successful ensemble (but the colors just miss!). The mother of the groom, Countess Donata, came in an excellent green dress, paired with red accessories (Christmas in August!). The Duchess of Braganza is terribly cute, but as usual she's dressed several decades older than necessary (she's only 44!). Lady Nicholas Windsor is pretty in purple, but that's pretty much a turtleneck tucked into a skirt (anticlimactic!). The prize, though, goes to Princess Gisela, for her taffeta take on a wrinkled bathrobe. (Wow.)

Worst of the Costumes
Princesses Louisa and Dorothea Orsini
 L to R: Princess Susann of Prussia, the Duchess of Castro, Princess Louisa Orsini, Princess Dorothea Orsini, Duchess Elizabeth in Bavaria, Countess Sandra Bernadotte
Some were dignified...and some came dressed for costume parties of varying themes. Duchess Elizabeth selected a Flintstones Safari theme, Countess Sandra went for a Minnie Mouse look (not helped by the fact that she looked so incredibly wee next to her husband!), and Princess Susann opted for the Detract From Your Hair motif. None of them hold a candle to our favorite perpetually themed Duchess, Camilla Castro, and her Pirates of the Caribbean 4 costume...but even she can't compete with sisters Louisa and Dorothea, and their courageous interpretation of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Go to a Royal Wedding theme. Thus, they shall share this "honor".

Best Dressed
The Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe
L to R: Princess Sarvath El Hassan of Jordan, Crown Princess Margarita of Romania, Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma, Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe, Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg, Princess Ursula of Bavaria
Returning to the classy and elegant...you can never go wrong with Sarvath, Sibilla, and Ursula. Carolina and Margarita are injecting a welcome shot of color (plus, I just love that Margarita always turns up in her wedding best. She always seems so enthusiastic!). My favorites were Kelly and Nadja, the Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe, whose navy ensemble wins it by a hair.

Most Fascinating Headgear
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia
L to R: Countess Tamara von Nayhauss, Princess Katharina of Hohenzollern, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, Archduchess Gabriela of Austria, Archduchess Eilika of Austria, Countess Sophie von Schönburg-Glauchau
And some humor to finish us out: those that fall into the "fascinating millinery" category. Tamara, Katharina and Sophie are all good until you get to the top. And then, suddenly, Tamara turns into a synchronized swimmer; Katharina turns into a shooting star or something else of an exploding planetary nature; and Sophie...well, that's a rainbow, friends. The dual Archduchesses of Austria make the category for different reasons: the overwhelming pinwheel nature of Gabriela's hat, and the underwhelming modesty of Eilika's headband. (The Habsburgs must still be in mourning for Archduke Otto, who passed away at the beginning of July - they wore black for all the wedding events.) But nobody - NOBODY - competes with the Russian Diva Supreme, Maria Vladimirovna. She's back at it, and that kokoshnik is an awfully overt way to stake one's claim to the Russian throne. (Also: the bow! And: the shoes!)

Who made your best- and worst-dressed lists?

P.S.: Stay tuned for the outfits from the evening gala!

Photos: Getty Images/Reuters Pictures/Daylife/a11/ZUMA Press/PPE

The Prince of Prussia's Wedding: The Bridal Gown

This really is the year of the royal wedding: HI&RH Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia married HSH Princess Sophie of Isenburg today, in Potsdam, Germany. Georg Friedrich is the great-great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, and is the current head of the House of Hohenzollern. Despite the fact that the Kaiser was booted in 1919 and Germany is now a republic, the wedding was broadcast live on German television.
The bride and groom have known each other since childhood, and dated for several years before getting engaged. It's lucky, really, for Georg Friedrich that he was able to find a titled lady to love. If he had married a "commoner", he would have lost his inheritance as head of the House, which requires "equal" marriage. In fact, the family is in the midst of a spat as two of his uncles are challenging the fact that they lost their inheritances because of marriage in court.
Anyway, none of that has anything to do with our current topic: the bridal gown. Sophie's dress was created by German designer Wolfgang Joop and includes multiple kinds of silk with unique asymmetrical pleats and insert. (A shape which is very reminiscent of the pleating on the gown she wore to the wedding ball in Monaco!) Sixty meters of material were used for the gown.
Over the dress, she wore a transparent silk organza jacket that extends back and creates the longer portion of her train. The dress is dyed to match the particular antique white shade of the Isenburg family veil, which is well over 100 years old and is fragile enough it had to be stitched on to the train to ensure it wouldn't drag on the ground.
The ensemble was capped with another one of Sophie's family heirlooms: the Isenburg Tiara, a beautiful and delicate diamond floral diadem.
Though this a radiant bride, I can't help but feel the dress is suffering from a mild personality disorder...the modern cut just isn't coming together with the dress shirt collar on the jacket. I preferred the ensembles she wore the day before the wedding, her civil ceremony dress and her lovely blue frock for the charity concert held the evening before:

There is a gala ball this evening which includes tiaras, and it has been reported that the bride will wear this gem, which belonged to Crown Princess Cecilie:
Pictures of the ball are just coming out as I write this, so stay tuned!

UPDATE: Reader Lily has been so kind as to send in a picture from Bunte of the couple at the evening ball! Sophie wore her wedding dress without the strange jacket deal - so much better - and the aforementioned tiara, which is completely breathtaking.
Many thanks to Lily, and all the other readers that pointed out Bunte pictures to me!

Photos: Getty Images/Reuters Pictures/Daylife/Nestor Bachmann/dpa/picture-alliance/PurePeople/Abaca/Bunte

26 August 2011

Flashback Friday: Mette-Marit's Greatest Hits

One last celebration of Mette-Marit's ten years of royal life: her greatest sartorial hits. She's gone from a plain, no makeup girl in ill-fitting suits to a Valentino-hoarding princess with the ability to kill any gala appearance tucked in her pocket. One of my favorite transformations, to be sure. The highlights, according to me:

In true Nordic princess fashion, Mette-Marit loves her white, and sometimes I love it too, especially when it's truly clean and simple. (Or, of course, in amazing wedding dress format.)

That said - I never, ever, object to a shot of vibrant color.

Not every gala appearance of hers is magical, but when she's on point, she's one of the best.

Sometimes her penchant for ruffles can be a bit tiring, but other times...
...it's the perfect complement to her minimalist day style.

She also has a track record of excellent maternity style:
Really, her whole wardrobe from the family's official visit to the United Kingdom while she was pregnant with Prince Sverre Magnus is worthy of some love.

(You know, I didn't intend for this post to be so pink and purple and blue, but I guess I have a Mette-Marit fashion type.)

There's something that I love about her even more than the gala gowns, though: SHOES.
This is a princess that can rock a serious shoe. And so long as she continues to do so, her neutral-loving outfits are all right with me.

If you can believe it, though, my absolute favorite Mette-Marit appearances don't involve tiaras or shoes (well, okay, shoes are involved, but you know what I mean).
Making a national costume look less "costume" and more "everyday" is a talent, I think, and this one has it in spades. Here's to many more stylish years!

What are your favorite Mette-Marit outfits?

Photos: Getty Images/Tim Graham/ANP/Belga/Svenskdam