20 September 2017

Royal Event of the Day: Dutch Royals at Prinsjesdag 2017

Programming Note: The blog returns on Monday. 

It's time for Prinsjesdag! The Dutch monarch addresses the government every September, reading a speech from the throne detailing plans for the coming session. Queen Máxima, Prince Constantijn, and Princess Laurentien all accompany King Willem-Alexander for the event. It's a special occasion with a special dress code - a throwback of sorts, with long dresses, orders, and hats, which was a much more common formal day dress code for royal events years ago - and that usually adds up to Máxima maxing out with a specially coordinated outfit. It's often one of her sartorial highlights of the year. And this year {drumroll please}...

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...{sad clatter of drumsticks dropped half-heartedly on the floor} This year was, you know, fine. Listen, it's perfectly nice! A workhorse solution to this dress code, basically.

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It's also just a longer, slate blue/gray version of a Natan dress that Queen Máxima and her Natan twin, Queen Mathilde, already own in pink. Which is a bit of an anticlimactic choice for a special event, you know what I mean? Disappointed by my own overly high expectations, AGAIN. I think there are better ways to do subdued, if that's what she was after (and, as always, there are many reasons she may have been after that).

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The use of aquamarine gems from Queen Juliana threw a bit of color interest into the ensemble. And adding a diamond necklace from the royal vaults is a little bit more jewel power than Máxima usually gives us for this occasion; it is during the day, after all, hence why there are no tiaras.

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Maybe she was hedging her bets a bit with bonus diamonds, just in case her dress didn't bowl us over. That's a solution I can get behind.

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Even Princess Laurentien feels a little subdued this year, no? Her dress is from Hardies, jacquard with a mermaid scale feel. The two Dutch ladies make a bit of a twin act, in these two belted dresses with their brimless hats.

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But of course, Laurentien's hat is a tilted not-hat hat, because there has to be a little Laurentien touch in there somewhere, right?

19 September 2017

Royal Flashback of the Day: Princess Sofia's Wedding Gown

Mattias Edwall / Kungahuset.se
Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia recently becoming parents for the second time is more than enough excuse to take a little trip down memory lane back to their wedding, right? Specifically, to Sofia's wedding gown, because we have another installment of reader pictures from the Swedish royal wedding gown exhibition at the Royal Palace several months ago. Special thanks once again to Janet and Viola for sharing their views! (I'm adding links to these detailed exhibition posts to my original post on the display, by the way.)

Courtesy of Janet
Princess Sofia's 2015 wedding dress came from Swedish designer Ida Sjöstedt. Sjöstedt's designs have become regulars on the royal scene since then, worn by Sofia as well as Princess Madeleine and Crown Princess Victoria.

Courtesy of Viola
The dress has a strapless base dress made of silk crepe with a train, and a long-sleeved Italian silk organza overlay with applied lace.

Courtesy of Janet
I didn't find this dress all that memorable, as royal wedding gowns go, at the time. But the great thing about seeing it on its own is that you get to see all kinds of detail you missed during the wedding broadcast - and I can see a lot of soft detail here that definitely didn't stand out at the time.

Courtesy of Viola
The other great thing is that we get a chance to focus on some of the accessories, because a big, long veil is a thing of beauty. Sofia's is made of tulle with hand-embroidered cotton lace.

Courtesy of Janet
Wedding shoes! Sofia's are from Charlotte Olympia, and while the heart-shaped sole is a brand signature and not a wedding special, that detail is a sweet fit to the occasion.

Courtesy of Viola
These simple dresses were worn by the young bridesmaids, which included Princess Estelle.

Courtesy of Janet
The exhibition also displayed a part of the wedding day that was only seen in paparazzi-style pictures from outside the palace: Princess Sofia changed into a simpler, one-shoulder lace gown for the party portion of the wedding reception.

Courtesy of Viola
And the backs! The lace overlay on the wedding dress looks particularly fine here, and it's interesting that the lace appears to be an apron-style front on the reception dress.

You knew I wouldn't leave you without the full kit to encourage your Tuesday procrastination, right? You need all the evidence if you're going to reevaluate your opinion of Sofia's dress, after all.

(So have you? Reevaluated your opinion, that is. Does the dress on display change your mind?)

18 September 2017

Monday Tidbits for September 18: Here Comes the Bride, and More

This weekend offered us a rare chance to see a special German tiara in action, so let's get right to it:

--The religious wedding of Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia and Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen was held this weekend in Bavaria. It was a very royal affair, at least where ancestry is concerned, because both the bride and groom are descendants of Queen Victoria. And the bride topped her classic white lace-adorned wedding gown with a truly royal accessory: the Prussian Meander Tiara.
Photo: Castleholic
The diamond tiara has a history of wedding usage; it was worn by Viktoria Luise's grandmother, Grand Duchess Kira, at her wedding to Prince Louis Ferdinand in 1938 and has been a part of other family weddings since. We last saw it in use on Princess Sophie, wife of the current Prince of Prussia. I like this tiara more every time I see it - I just wish that was more than once in a blue moon. Stay tuned over at the Castleholic blog for firsthand coverage of the wedding and the guests, and thanks to Sydney for sharing these pics! [Castleholic]
Photo: Castleholic
Photo: Castleholic

--I think the Duchess of Cornwall looks splendid in navy and white outfits with big hats, and fortunately she opts for that combo regularly. Twice recently, in fact: for a Battle of Britain anniversary service this weekend and for the naming of an aircraft carrier earlier in the month. [Express, Telegraph]
Clarence House

--The Swedish royal house gave us this lovely new official picture of Prince Daniel in honor of his 44th birthday on Friday. Daniel shares his birthday with Queen Letizia and Prince Harry. He also shares the day with King Carl Gustaf, who became King of Sweden on the very day Daniel was born. (I love that little royal factoid.)
Erika Gerdemark/Kungahuset.se

--And finally, Queen Máxima followed her recent jumpsuit triumph with...this, I guess. Okay. [Zimbio]

Coming up this week: Our annual Prinsjesdag coverage, and more...

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

15 September 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: Queen Máxima's A+ Day

I wasn't expecting it to be this much of a Máxima week, but if this is how she's warming up for Prinsjesdag next week...I am here for it. She had a two outfit day yesterday and it was a good two outfit day, so good that she might have even found the first jumpsuit I've ever been delighted to see on the royal scene. I KNOW.

Queen Máxima attended the opening of the new season of the Concertgebouw orchestra in Amsterdam on Thursday evening.
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See what I mean?! It's sleek and chic and a perfect fit for the occasion. Roland Mouret is not one of her regular labels, but after this, I'm ready for more.
Roland Mouret jumpsuit. Another model from this collection has appeared on the red carpet several times.

Máxima was busy during the day yesterday too:
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Opening the  Asian Library of the University Leiden.
And Carolina Herrera racks up another royal win and further solidifies her spot as one of my favorite royal-ready designers right now. This isn't the first time we've seen her wear Herrera; you may recall this splendid blue print gown. Is it too much to hope that her summer included a particularly well-advised shopping spree, from which more treasures await??

14 September 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Russian Nuptial Tiara

A German noble wedding linked in Tidbits over the summer featured a bride wearing a rather spectacular diamond tiara with a row of dangling emeralds. Many of you made the connection between the shape of that tiara and another wedding tiara with a similar tall, triangular kokoshnik shape - this one with some major imperial history behind it:

The Russian Nuptial Tiara
The Russian Nuptial Tiara was made around 1800 or earlier by St. Petersburg jeweler Jacob David Duval for Maria Feodorovna (Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, 1759-1828), the wife of Tsar Paul I, according to the Diamond Fund; other sources state it was made for Elizabeth Alexeievna (Princess Louise of Baden, 1779-1826), the wife of Tsar Alexander I. The date alone is enough to make this tiara a rare item; not too many tiaras can claim a creation date that long ago and even fewer can claim to have kept their original design and craftsmanship through the following centuries.

Elizabeth Alexeievna
The date of creation isn't the only thing that makes this tiara a valuable and rare jewel. The tall kokoshnik design is centered around a spectacular natural pink diamond, a 13.335 carat stone from the treasury of Paul I. This stone alone would be worth millions; in 2017, the Artemis Pink diamond earring featuring a 16 carat pink diamond sold for more than $15.3 million. (Also in 2017, the 59.6 carat Pink Star diamond sold for $71.2 million, setting a new record price.) The rectangular pink stone at the center of the Russian Nuptial Tiara was at one point backed with foil to enhance the pink color. This backing was later removed, accounting for the difference in color appearance in various photographs of the diadem.

Diamond Fund
And then there are the white diamonds. Including stones of the finest quality from Brazil and India weighing in at more than a reported 1,000 carats in total, these gems are exceptional in their own right. They form the scrolled base that surrounds the pink diamond, as well as the pointed top of the tiara. From the underside of the tiara's top section hang a multitude of briolette-cut diamonds, dangling so that they can tremble and sparkle with every movement the wearer made. The tiara is topped by a row of large upright pear-shaped diamonds. These design characteristics - a middle row of pendant stones and a top of upright pear-shaped diamonds - were also used in Elizabeth Alexeievna's Diamond Kokoshnik tiara.

Two imperial brides in the tiara and accompanying wedding regalia: Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (left) in 1902, and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (right) in 1908
As its name suggests, the Russian Nuptial Tiara became a jewel worn by generations of imperial brides. While the use of a wedding tiara is not unique among royal families, none take it quite so far as the Russian family did. Their brides donned an entire set of spectacular wedding regalia.

Other wedding jewels worn by Russian imperial brides: the wedding crown, necklace, clasp, and earrings
Not only was there a tiara to use, there was also a wedding crown to set behind the tiara, a pair of diamond cherry earrings dating from Catherine I, a diamond collet necklace with diamond pendants weighing in at 475 carats, a mantle (robe) to wear, and an Imperial Clasp - basically a brooch the size of your chest - to fasten the mantle. (We looked at the imperial wedding jewels in depth here.) There are tales of brides struggling to carry the weight of it all. Literally and, perhaps, figuratively.

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine (Alexandra Feodorovna, 1872-1918) marries Nicholas II in 1894
So often, the stories of these imperial jewels end in the same way: sold after the revolution, or seemingly vanished into thin air never to be seen again, or both. The Imperial Bridal Crown was sold but preserved, bought by Marjorie Merriweather Post and now a part of her collection at the Hillwood Museum. The imperial wedding necklace was never seen again. The Russian Nuptial Tiara was displayed on the table of treasures confiscated by the Bolsheviks, many of which ended up on the auction block or were destined to be dismantled and sold stone by stone, but the pink diamond tiara came to a different fate.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna (Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg, 1865-1927), at her 1884 weddding to Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich
Instead of selling or dismantling this diadem, the new Russian government kept it. They also kept a selection of other pieces reflecting the extravagant splendor of their imperial history. These jewels are still with the Russian government and are today held in the Diamond Fund museum at the Kremlin in Moscow.

The Russian Nuptial Tiara displayed with other confiscated imperial jewels, most sold or disappeared since
The Russian Nuptial Tiara is an extravagant jewel, to say the very least, and a true product of the court of excess from which it came. It remains, however, a piece of art with true historical significance and a marvel of fine gemstones - and, though I'm usually in favor of seeing things worn, I think this is a splendid fit for its museum spot.

A Russian favorite for you, or no?