21 October 2016

Royal Wedding Flashback of the Day: October 21

The Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg are celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary this week. Let's celebrate too, by getting lost in this dreamy dress all over again:

Christian Aschman/Cour grand-ducale
It's been a while since I looked back at this wedding, and I really have found myself freshly falling in love with this dress. It's not just that it's Elie Saab Couture - although, fair enough, that alone is a bit of kryptonite for me - it's that it was so perfectly made for this occasion and for this cathedral. It really is a royal wedding dress.

Guests start arriving at 12:00; the bride arrives at 40:00.
After luxuriating in the information coming out of the Swedish royal wedding gown exhibition, I'm now dying to see this one given similar treatment. If there was ever a creation that deserved a closer look, right?

This wedding was a feast above and beyond the wedding gown, though. Tiaras galore, guests and hats and more! You can relive the whole thing with the full roundup of our coverage here.

Christian Aschman/Cour grand-ducale
Happy weekend!

20 October 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Yusupov Diamond Sunburst Tiara

The Yusupov Diamond Sunburst Tiara
The Yusupov family held the greatest private fortune in imperial Russia and had a jewel collection to match, one built thanks to a couple generations of serious stone admirers. Prince Felix Yusupov (1887-1967) was the heir to the lot, and he wanted to marry Irina Alexandrovna (1895-1970), a niece of Tsar Nicholas II. Some in her family were opposed to the match because Felix had what was considered a checkered past, but he won the endorsement of the Dowager Tsarina, and the couple wed in 1914. (Prince Felix had quite the life. As a young man, his exploits included dressing up in his mother’s clothes and jewels for nights on the town and he had romances with both sexes. In 1916, he was part of the group that murdered Rasputin. Later, a libel lawsuit he brought against the makers of the film Rasputin and the Empress set legal precedent leading to those disclaimers you see in films proclaiming that the work is fictitious and all persons portrayed in it are fictitious.)

Prince Felix and Princess Irina
Anyway, Prince Felix and Princess Irina made a glamorous couple. Together, they took great care with Irina's jewels; when they departed on their honeymoon, they made a pit stop in Paris to drop her collection off with jeweler Chaumet, who redesigned whole sets (rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and pearls) while they were traveling.

A Chaumet display of Yusupov jewels
Chaumet was also behind the diamond sunburst tiara pictured above, one of Irina's wedding gifts from her husband. The dynamic diadem features layers of diamond rays bursting out from a central round diamond. It was a fresh take on the famous kokoshnik-inspired Russian fringe tiaras, and one that looked very fashionable when worn low in the style of the day.

Princess Irina in the Yusupov Diamond Sunburst Tiara
When revolution came to imperial Russia, the Yusupovs were able to make it out with a few of their most valuable gems. These were mainly single stones of such great size and importance they carry their own names: the Polar Star Diamond (41.285 carats), the rose Ram’s Head diamond (17.47 carats), the Pelegrina Pearl (133.16 grains, not to be confused with La Peregrina, of Elizabeth Taylor fame), and several others. These items were slowly sold off for funds in exile. A pair of diamond earrings said to have belonged to Marie Antoinette also made it out of Russia, and eventually ended up with American collector Marjorie Merriweather Post. Those earrings are today in the Smithsonian.

Those pieces aside, Prince Felix hid most of the family jewelry in the Yusupov Palace in Moscow. The Yusupov jewel collection was one of considerable fame, so of course the Bolsheviks came looking for it. One of the Yusupovs' loyal employees refused to give up the location and was executed, but the jewels were ultimately discovered and confiscated.

Looking over the confiscated Yusupov jewels
The family's collection is pictured above, ready to be examined and likely dismantled in preparation for sale. Visible on the table is the Yusupov Rock Crystal Tiara, another of Princess Irina's wedding presents; the family's version of a classic pearl drop lover's knot tiara can also be seen. Their Diamond Sunburst Tiara is upside down in the middle of the table, and it has never appeared again. Alas, it was probably dismantled to be sold stone by stone.

If the tiara were around today…which royal do you think would wear it best?

One final note: Cartier also made at least one tiara in a very similar design (with a yellow diamond or star sapphire center), which is still in existence. I've often seen this identified as the Yusupov tiara, but it is not.

Photos: Chaumet/DR

19 October 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: October 19

If you weren't a fan of the Duchess of Cambridge's recent stab at floral prints, boy oh boy, has she got a treat for you.

The British royal family hosted a reception for Olympic and Paralympic athletes yesterday.
Kensington Palace Twitter
Heh. Really, I'm not at all surprised she's dipped into Alexander McQueen's recent range of poppy prints. You can get into the symbolism of poppies if you like (we'll be seeing lots of them for remembrance soon, as November approaches), but I don't think she needed a reason and I like that she's worn it at an event outside of that.

She chose this dress for an event where it's hard to get a look at the full ensemble view, which means we can't properly assess this skirt length situation (this is, I would say, the hardest of all lengths to pull off), and that's SNEAKY, so...well played.

This reception was packed with royals - you know how they love their Olympics - and there's more on the Queen's brooch selections for the day over at the Vault.

18 October 2016

Royal Exhibition of the Day: October 18

The ladies of the Swedish royal family joined forces yesterday (minus Princess Madeleine, who had two sick kids) to open the Royal Palace's new exhibition, Royal Wedding Dresses 1976-2015. It includes the wedding gowns of Queen Silvia, the late Princess Lilian, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine, and Princess Sofia.

Photo: Kungahuset.se
Queen Silvia's speech opening the exhibit was really sweet. She remembered her husband's aunt, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, calling her after her engagement and inviting her to Copenhagen, where she gave her the traditional sprig of myrtle used by all family brides. And to her daughter and daughter-in-law, she said, "I had the great fortune to have three children who have been wise enough to follow their hearts. Just as I did myself." See? Sweet. (You can read the speech - text in Swedish - here.)

Photo: Kungahuset.se
A group of royal wedding gowns is always going to be worth your time, but this one includes even more treats: veils, accessories, pre-wedding event dresses, the dresses that Sofia and Madeleine changed into for the party portion of their receptions, young bridal attendant outfits, and more. Excuse me while I investigate flights to Stockholm...

Thanks to the exhibition, we also have some fabulous HQ shots of these dresses, and they reveal details unseen when the gowns were in action. The exhibition will be on display in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace of Stockholm from October 18, 2016 to March 12, 2017. (Click the photos below to enlarge.)
Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén, The Royal Court, Sweden
Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén, The Royal Court, Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria, 2010. Gown by Pär Engsheden.
Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén, The Royal Court, Sweden
Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén, The Royal Court, Sweden
Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén, The Royal Court, Sweden

Princess Madeleine, 2013. Gown by Valentino Couture.
Photo: Lisa Raihle Rehbäck, The Royal Court, Sweden
Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén, The Royal Court, Sweden
Photo: Lisa Raihle Rehbäck, The Royal Court, Sweden

Princess Sofia, 2015. Gown by Ida Sjöstedt.
Photo: Lisa Raihle Rehbäck, The Royal Court, Sweden
Photo: Lisa Raihle Rehbäck, The Royal Court, Sweden

17 October 2016

Monday Tidbits for October 17: Unfortunate News, Unfortunately

Death, illness, and accident - good grief, royal houses, you better have something delightful up your sleeves for this week. We all need a little cheering up. But we'll get back to the fashion by the end here, so hang in there:

--Thailand is in mourning following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn - an heir that raises concerns for many - asked for a delay before taking the throne, to mourn his father with the Thai people. King Bhumibol Adulyadej reigned for 70 years following the death of his brother (from a gunshot, under suspicious circumstances) in 1946. He was the longest reigning living monarch in the world. The official mourning and funeral process for the late king will take months and more. [NY Times, BBC, Smithsonian, WSJ]

--Princess Christina of Sweden is suffering from chronic leukemia, the palace announced this week. She's feeling good but will undergo treatment and scale back her royal duties accordingly. Princess Christina is already a breast cancer survivor. [Kungahuset]

--Crown Prince Frederik had to miss a reception honoring the Danish Olympians and Paralympians after he suffered a fracture of the cervical spine due to an accident on a trampoline. He'll be fine, but will be wearing a neck brace for a while. Queen Margrethe couldn't resist poking a little fun at her son, noting in her speech that it's not so surprising that something should go wrong when you're jumping on a trampoline at nearly 50 years old. Crown Princess Mary was joined by Prince Christian and Princess Isabella at the event. [DR, Svenskdam]
DR screencap

--Over at the Jewel Vault, the new holder of that longest reigning living monarch title went for a spin in her open top Range Rover and presumably held her tongue while unveiling an ~interesting~ new portrait.

--And finally, back to the fashion: Crown Princess Victoria put her own spin on the rich fabric + uneven hem trend (as seen on Mary last week, in a different skirt) while attending an event this weekend. I realize that some of you may consider this another dose of unfortunate news, but I think she looked smashing. [Expressen]

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!