Friday, December 31, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmm...: Princess Claire and the Royal Ruff

I know these pictures from the Belgian royal family's Christmas concert are a little bit old by now, but we need to talk about this.
Focus your eyes amongst the gray on the grayest of them all, Princess Claire.
What's going on here?? This is a serious question. Is that fringy thing a necklace, or a part of the dress? Are my eyes really spying a neck ruff here? Somebody please explain this to me.

There hasn't been this much action around a royal neck since the days of yore. And I do mean yore:
We don't guillotine people anymore, Claire. There's no need to carry neck protection to these extents.

Photos: Zimbio/Mark Renders/Getty Images Europe

Gold Star: Prince Harry in Berlin

I don't talk about royal men's fashion too much on the blog, apart from some incidental admiration and/or doses of eye candy for the lady (and selected gentleman) readers. It's not that interesting, really: suit, tie, repeat. The Danish royal men are prone to the occasional show of sartorial flare...
But even the best laid plans have a tendency to go astray.

So I was particularly excited to see these pictures surface of Prince Harry in Berlin.
 Now, this is how it's done.
Well fit coat atop a sweater atop a shirt and tie in coordinating patterns. I could get used to this.

Who makes your list of best dressed royal men?

Photos: PPE/ddp/Langbehn/Bauer Griffin/Zimbio/Getty/Daylife

Monday, December 13, 2010

Royal Fashion Awards: The Nobel Prizes, 2010

I meant to post over the weekend, my lovelies, but I ended up snowed in miles away from my laptop, a blizzard keeping me from my snark. Good thing reader Deidre emailed today to remind me of the overwhelming need for a post. I've never met Deidre, but I sense she's got that Claudia Schiffer look to her, topped off with an Einstein brain. Anyways: we shall continue forward in the spirit of "better late than never", for it is the most wonderful time of the year - that's right, time to award some Nobel prizes!

Norway kicked things off, awarding the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday with a concert on Saturday, and the rest of the prizes were of course awarded on Friday in Sweden with the traditional King's Dinner following on Saturday. To the clothes!

Most Typical
Queen Sonja at the Peace Prize ceremony, Princess Christina at the Nobel Banquet, and Queen Silvia at the King's Dinner
Nothing much to see here, friends. Queen Sonja held down the sartorial fort in Oslo with Mette-Marit out and about on her world travels, and she didn't venture a foot outside her comfort zone. I mean, sure, the hat's kinda oddball, but that IS her comfort zone. Princess Christina turned in a perfectly respectable appearance at the Nobel ceremonies in Sweden on Friday, and Queen Silvia did the same on Saturday (though I do not like that tiara and I can not be convinced otherwise).

Best Black Tie
Crown Princess Victoria at the King's Dinner
I can't hate on Crown Princess Victoria in a jewel-toned Elie Saab gown. That would be sacrilegious. But I can admit that this just wasn't the right occasion. There's too much going on at the neckline here for a necklace and a sash. Plus, that's some black tie hair right there. (What is up with that 'do? Part of the reason why the Nobel functions are so fabulous is because the Swedish ladies turn the tiara hair volume up to 11. This does not go to eleven.)

Best Repeat
Princess Christina at the King's Dinner
Yes, we've seen this one before, at Victoria's wedding. But it's fab, and thus she shall be excused from repeating a gown during the Nobel festivities. Yet again I fall prey to the allure of a luscious jewel tone.

Best Overall
Crown Princess Victoria at the Nobel Banquet
Oh, yummy. Elie Saab again, and this time absolutely perfect for the white tie event. The draping, the back - I mean, jumpy claps! It's even managing to make that steel cut tiara look alright (Napoleonic dress, Napoleonic tiara - nice), though this is yet another piece I can not get down with. It's just so...plume-tastic. And there's no diamonds on it! Come on now.

Best Use of Color
Queen Silvia at the Nobel Banquet
Combining colored jewels with colored gowns is dicey business. (Think back to Mary's combo of rubies and that mint-ish green dress at Victoria's wedding, or Sonja's coral and emerald pairing at the same event. Risky business.) But this - now, this was a good call. The sapphires and the green dress just play so nicely together. Well done, and the hair gets an A+ as well for having just enough volume to balance out the weight of that tiara.

Worst Use of Color
Queen Sonja at the Nobel Banquet
Well, this is amusing. Army green and fuchsia? Really? With a black cummerbund? Someone please tell me this is a recycle from an era gone past. I think what I like best is that she took such an overwhelming color combo, busied it up by contrasting the fabrics, paired it with an overwhelming pattern on the top, and then topped the whole thing off with MORE pattern - brooches and a choker that might as well be part of the dress, that neckline's so high. The magpie in me can't help but admire the spirit.

Who made your best dressed list for the Nobel Awards this year? Speak! Type!

Photos: Svenskdam/Daylife/Getty

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Royal Style Duel: Sarah vs. Mary

Poor Sarah Ferguson.
First she voluntarily places herself in fashion competition with her two daughters by dressing ridiculously below her age. Now she's got something that could be age-appropriate, but she's still placing herself in competition with younger princesses in a dress well-known from its outings on Crown Princess Mary.
I love Alexander McQueen (this is from the Fall 2004 RTW collection - both ladies have worn this dress more than once), and I love a purple dress, but I don't know about this one. Seems designed to draw lines exactly where you don't want them.

What do you think?

Photos: Daily Mail/Brennan/Simpson/Marcio Madiera/

Monday, November 22, 2010

Royal Fashion Awards: The Duke of Parma's Wedding

I'm not very familiar with a lot of the royals on parade for the Duke of Parma's wedding this weekend, but that's not going to stop me from snarking on their wedding attire, oh no. Especially when so many of them didn't even bother to do it up right...

Most Occasion Confusion
Left to Right: Princess Margriet, Princess Anita, Princess Christina and daughter Juliana
Now I know that the bride and groom were civilly married way back in the summertime, and the wedding's been postponed due to the death of the groom's father, but come on. It's still a wedding, ladies - spruce it up a bit! Margriet and Anita may as well be going to any old day function (alright, Anita's is a little bit sparkly, but still), and Christina and Juliana...I don't even know what to make of that.

Best of the "At Least They Tried" Category
L to R: Princess Mabel, Princess Máxima, Princess Aimee, Queen Beatrix, Princess Irene
Yes, you get credit just for making an effort on this occasion. Mabel gets credit for veering away from a total trainwreck, even though the outfit really doesn't make any sense. Máxima manages to look put together, even though it's not her best showing. (And somehow I feel like the trousers are alright here. Am I losing it?) I like Aimee's coat, but the shoes and the length are off - plus, her dress underneath is lace, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Beatrix...well, that's a lot of look when you add the wrap in. Per usual, really. Irene, she looks good, but I don't get the silver with that purple color. Shame, too, because the suit itself has potential.

Best of Those That Made the Effort
L to R: Princess Marilene, Princess Margarita, Princess Annette, Princess Carolina, Princess Laurentien
Marilene has turned up in a perfectly lovely wedding outfit, I like the combo of brighter spring colors and winter fabrics. Pregnant Margarita is one of my favorites: the different textures among the reds make her monochromatic look work. It wouldn't have killed Annette to put a hat on for the day, but her coat is well cut and the shoes are fab. Carolina is the only one out of the entire bunch that really made a lasting impression, with her gorge purple dress, so structural, and a fascinator to match. And now we've come to Laurentien, and I know what you're thinking: first I don't have a problem with trousers at a wedding, now I've included Laurentien among my favorites. I know. And you can't even see properly in this picture that her skirt is kind of sequin-y. But like I said, at this wedding you get points for bothering to put an outfit together in the first place, and I think Laurentien actually looks pretty good here.

Best of the Day
No competition. Princess Annemarie looks positively lovely. The dress, by Jacques Devos and Pamela Hoffman, is extremely flattering, and I love the mermaid cut and train length. There were a few photos that weren't as flattering, so I suspect this is a dress not meant to move around quite so much, but that's alright. The tiara, from the Dutch royal family, isn't one of my favorites - it always manages to look off because of that v-shape at the base - but this is the best I've seen it look. She's certainly bested Laurentien here, on whom this tiara always manages to look like it's about to fall off. Well played, Duchess.
What do you think? Who's your best dressed for the day?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Royal Fashion Awards: Monaco's National Day

It's always a mixed bag with the crew from Monaco, isn't it? For every well-dressed turn, you're bound to have someone else show up woefully misguided. Not that I'm naming names. Alright, I'm naming names:

Best Ridiculous
Charlene Wittstock, Day Events
Well, alright then, Charlene! This is ridiculous. Ridiculous in the most amazing way. I won't lie, when I first saw the pictures, I thought, "Yeesh, someone's trying awfully hard on their first National Day." But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. With a suit like this, you've got to go big or go home on the rest of the outfit, and she certainly did that, right down to the gloves. And hey, if Charlene's decided to bring more attention to tiny Monaco this way instead of through scandal (you know, the usual way), I'm all for it.

Most Typical
Princess Caroline, Day Events
And here we have an extraordinarily typical Caroline outfit. A little snooze-worthy, but I suppose too much oomph next to Charlene would have given me a sartorial heart attack.

Most Guilty
Princess Stephanie
It's the expression. She just has a knack for looking like she's done something wrong. In this case, she's taken a perfectly average coat and attempted to wear it like the Red Baron with that scarf. Maybe she was flying around, daredevil-style, beforehand: it's the only excuse I can think of for that hair.

Best of the Day Events
Charlotte Casiraghi
I should probably go gaga for Charlene here, but in truth, Charlotte's the one that has me lusting after her outfit. I'm loving the casual way she's got the jacket over the black and white dress (which is perfectly ladylike and flattering), and the all-black touch of tights. It's appropriate yet still completely in character.

Cutest Touch
Princess Alexandra
It's Hello Kitty. At National Day. Cute.

Best Reminder
Princess Caroline, Evening
Caroline can look a bit dowdy sometimes, I think, despite her couture-filled wardrobe. What an excellent reminder this look is: she's still got it. A touch of bling, a flattering dress, perfection.

Best Theme Commitment
Charlene Wittstock, Evening
She started the day on a retro kick, and she ended it with the most fantastic retro hair. She's also finishing her commitment to the Armani theme, with the second of two outfits I previously begged for a royal to sport. The only thing I'd change here is to get rid of the hand hold for the train of the skirt. It's a little awkward, especially considering there weren't even any pictures (that I saw, at least) of her not holding it up.

Best Men
Andrea and Pierre Casiraghi
You didn't think I'd let this day go by without an appearance from two handsome royal men, did you? Of course you didn't. Glad to see Andrea looking good - he's been looking a little rough around the edges of late.

Who topped your best-dressed list in Monaco?

Photos: Daylife/Zimbio/Getty/HuffPo

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Royal Engagement Outfits

I've been thinking about it, and I've decided this: the royal engagement outfit has to be one of the hardest outfits in royal life to get just right.

First of all, it's not an everyday business meeting. (Well, I suppose once upon a time it was a business meeting, but I should hope we've moved past that by now.)
Now, I love me some Tatiana, but her engagement outfit just wasn't...special, you know? And even when you fancy the day-to-day suit up, à la Letizia, you're not immune to criticism.

Second, it may not be an every day event, but it's still not an evening occasion - Sophie's engagement suit I recall being criticized as too "evening" just because she went for a little beading. And there's something off about Charlene in a long dress next to Albert in a regular old suit.
That said, it's not a casual occasion either, Mathilde. (I guess they were going for the young and fresh angle?)

Thirdly, one must be careful not to date oneself.
Because as these two ladies well know, the engagement photos will remain long after the marriage ceases to exist.

Yes, timeless is the way to go. Princess Elizabeth looks well-dressed even 60 years later.
And at least Madeleine can be proud of her engagement outfit, even if she didn't end up being proud of the engagement.

Now, let us revisit the case of Miss Catherine Middleton:
Another one for the timeless category, I say. Not too fancy, not too casual. Made by a British designer (Issa, a fave of Kate's as well as Beatrice and Eugenie). Hits it on all points, all while managing to avoid too great a comparison to the inevitable:

Tell me: who tops your all-time best dressed royal fiancée list, and where does Kate rank on your list?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Royal Style Duel: Mary vs. Victoria

Yet another thing I'm way late in covering: another royal twin appearance!

Mary sported this gown first in white at Victoria's private pre-wedding party, followed by Victoria herself in the gray version while on duty with Willem-Alexander:
You think Victoria and Mary had a little fashion chat at the party? That's the scenario I'm going with, just because the picture of a couple of princesses sneaking off for a bit of girl talk makes me smile.

This, of course, is from Malene Birger:

Now, here's something I thought might be fun: let's put it to a style duel and see who wore it best! Cast your vote below:

Photos: Svenskdam

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Style Speculation: Kate Middleton

So: Kate Middleton's day in the sun has arrived. Let's talk about her.

I've never covered Kate on this blog. Three reasons for that, really:
  1. I may or may not be harboring a slight resentment for the girl, ruining my fantasies of snatching old Wills for myself. (What? A girl's got to have something to daydream about.)
  2. Her's never interested me. I do not think she's badly dressed, per se, but I don't see an innate flair there either.  That said....
  3. I've never felt it quite fair to hold her to the same standards as I would a princess. She's been going it on her own, likely without the help of a stylist or the team of designers, hair and makeup people and other assorted lackeys a royal would have access to. And certainly without a full-fledged royal budget.
But she's engaged now, so the game is afoot. Let's revisit her most recent appearance:

Clarence House says the couple were engaged while in Kenya, which was before this appearance, which makes this the first of Kate's official princess-in-waiting outfits. It's a little boring, no? Not bad at all, but there isn't anything making my skirt fly up here. I'm hoping this all changes, and soon. I hope that Kate gets herself a stylist, or that some designer will take her under a wing.

See, I have a theory, and it goes like this: a royal family needs all kinds of people in it for greatest appeal. You need your workhorse royals (like the Princess Royal, and Queen Elizabeth), but I think you also need a bit of glamour to make it work, and the Windsors don't have that right now. Even crusty old me can admit that Kate's a gorgeous girl with a hell of a figure, which makes her potentially the best thing to happen to British fashion since Diana. I'm not sure that will happen, though, precisely because it would invoke a Diana comparison. And one can only imagine the royal family's thoughts on that.

UPDATE: Photocall time! Diana's ring, which I think is sweet.


While I switch my daydreaming focus over to Guillaume and Harry, tell me: What do you think? What are your predictions, and your hopes, for the style of the future Queen Catherine?

Photo: Zimbio/Reuters

Look at these fancy updates.

I have, at long last, done a bit of housekeeping (blogkeeping?) around this place. Observe:
  • Over to the right you will now find a link to this handy dandy event roundup of the Greek royal wedding posts, for your viewing pleasure.
  • You will now find all of the related weekly and monthly review posts including Crown Princess Victoria's wedding linked up to that event roundup post.
  • Once again on the right, you will find links to the royals covered here by country, to aid you in searching out your favorite royal. The "Other Royals" tag includes all countries not regularly covered here.
  • And you will also find, to your right, a box to subscribe to the blog. One musn't miss one's updates.
And may I say, in closing, much love to those of you that still visit the blog despite the sporadic posting. Things are looking up for a return to a regular posting schedule soon!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gold Star: Letizia at the Prince of Asturias Awards

Regular readers of this blog (or, at least, the regular readers I had when I posted on a regular basis) will probably have noticed that I don't always have the kindest words to say when it comes to Letizia and her fashion choices. Irregular readers will also have noticed this, based on the angry comments I've received from ardent Letizia fans.

So I feel the need to state here, for the record, that my snark is based on fashion only. Frivolous and harmless, just like it says over there on the sidebar. I think Letizia's one of the hardest working princesses on the block, and you won't catch me saying anything ill about that. Her style's just not my cup of tea, is all. To each their own.

So I was extra excited when I saw these pictures pop up (quite some time ago, I'm totally tardy in writing this), if for no other reason than I finally get to prove that I have no personal vendetta against the Princess of Asturias. When she gets it right, she gets it right.

Look how pretty:
I ADORE this. That slight fullness in the skirt is just so dainty and ladylike and delicious. Good shoe choice too.

And good makeup, and good hair:

Gold star: awarded for instantly making my list of all time favorite Letizia outfits.

What's your all time favorite Letizia outfit? Share! Me, it might be that red dress from Frederick and Mary's wedding. Or this.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Royal Trend Watch: Safety Woes

Here's a lil' tidbit about yours truly: I'm an interior designer. My particular job involves developing the aesthetics of large buildings, offices and such. What I'm saying is this: I spend a significant amount of my time mucking about construction sites and the like.

Why am I bothering you with this information? Because I want you to know, when I say this, that it comes from deep personal experience:

There is no way to make construction hard hats and safety gear look good. Mette-Marit, I sympathize.

Let me tell you, there's nothing worse than having your style smashed by safety requirements. (Well, alright, there's a whole lot out there that's worse than that. But my world is small and shallow.) High heels are not encouraged in these environments, which is blasphemous. And I'm not even going to get into what these things do to your hair.

Poor royals. Factories, construction sites, you name it: many have tried to rock their safety gear....

...all have failed. A most unfortunate royal trend.

But, hey, I think Mette-Marit's come up with the first step to combating the woes of safety wear:

If your scarf is big enough, it'll cover everything else. Someone needs to tell Letizia.

Photos: Corbis/ANP