13 January 2017

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 13

Programming Note: The blog returns on Tuesday!
The Duchess of Cambridge undertook a couple engagements earlier this week.
So you've got your future Royal Coat Museum, and then you've got your future Royal Blue Museum just up the road. You can visit them both...or just permanently take up residence right between the two, your choice. It's a good blue - as I always say - though I will raise my contrarian hand and say the blue shoes are crossing the matchy line for me. (My matchy line being a lot closer than most matchy lines, you know.)
Dress from Eponine London

12 January 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Danish Ruby Parure, Revisited

The Danish Ruby Parure is, at this point in time, basically guaranteed at least one appearance per year: Crown Princess Mary wears it to the annual New Year’s gala banquet. She’ll wear it in portraits and for select other occasions – jubilee and birthday celebrations for her mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe; certain royal weddings – but uses other tiaras for the rest of her gala needs. Having just seen our scheduled 2017 ruby outing, it’s the perfect time to revisit this impressive set of jewelry and the impressive history behind it.

The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara
This tiara tale begins, like many others, at the court of Napoleon Bonaparte. When planning his coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804, he wanted to ensure that it would be the grandest possible event. He went so far as to give money to his marshals so that they could buy their wives the proper amount of jewels for the occasion. One of those men, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, bought a set of ruby and diamond jewelry for his wife, Désirée Clary, and she wore it on that historical day. This couple would later become King Carl XIV Johan and Queen Desideria of Sweden, and the jewels found a new Swedish home.

In the modern history of this parure, it is so well associated with Queen Ingrid of Denmark (who was born a Princess of Sweden, and who wore this set frequently) that many assume it made the trip from Sweden to Denmark along with the rest of Ingrid's wedding gifts. In fact it came over much earlier, with another Swedish princess that became a Danish queen: Queen Louise, who married the future Frederick VIII in 1869. Louise received the parure as a wedding gift from her grandmother, Queen Josephine of Sweden (Désirée's daughter-in-law), because the rubies and diamonds echoed the colors of the Danish flag. Queen Louise gave the headpiece to her son Crown Prince Christian's bride Alexandrine as a wedding gift, and she received the rest when Louise passed away. It was Alexandrine that gave it to Princess Ingrid of Sweden when she married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 1935.

Queen Ingrid, before and after her tiara changes
As with most jewels this old, alterations have been made over the years. The most extensive remodeling has been done to the tiara, which wasn’t even a tiara to begin with. It started as a series of individual floral ornaments; these were later assembled into a slender wreath tiara, as seen on Queen Alexandrine and on Queen Ingrid when she first received the ruby set. Ingrid turned it into something more in 1947 by taking two of the brooches that came with the initial parure and adding them to the tiara, giving it much more substance and turning it into a proper diadem that still had a lovely wreath structure from the random placement of the leaves.

Crown Princess Mary in the tiara before her changes
When Queen Ingrid died in 2000 she left the parure to her beloved grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, thereby ensuring that the future Crown Princess would have a truly grand and historical set of jewels to wear. Mary wore this tiara for two of her pre-wedding events in 2004, making it the first tiara she ever wore.

Mary's changes
Mary followed in Ingrid’s footsteps by wearing the ruby set as it came to her for several years, and then having it altered to suit her own needs. In consultation with Crown Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe, she had the tiara reconfigured and added extra flexibility to the rest of the set. This work was done by Dulong Fine Jewelry. 

Video: The ruby set under construction
Mary’s version of the tiara sits more upright on her head and feels more symmetrical and compact than Ingrid’s did; the alteration left a few leaves behind, and these extras were turned into a set of hairpins. She first wore the new tiara setting in 2010.

The hairpins, earrings, ring, and necklace
The full Danish Ruby Parure now includes the tiara, the hairpins, a magnificent pair of girandole earrings which can be worn in several formats (as just the ruby and diamond studs, the studs with one of the ruby and diamond pendants, or the studs with a few different pearl drop options), a grand necklace that can be worn with or without its various pendant attachments, a brooch with a detachable pendant (the pendant can be used on a necklace chain; the brooch has been worn in various positions including on a velvet choker and has been worn with a pearl drop), a bracelet, and a ring (a new addition, made by the Dulong firm).

2010: Mary in the remodeled tiara and the ruby and diamond studs from the earrings worn with pearls
Queen Ingrid tended to wear the whole ruby set at once, which is a grand but imposing amount of bling to add to an outfit. Crown Princess Mary started out wearing all the pieces at once, but she hasn’t worn it that way since she altered the tiara, preferring these days to pick and choose among the various pieces. I may miss the more natural feel of Ingrid’s tiara format and I may miss seeing the whole parure worn at once, but I can’t deny that Mary's changes have led to her using the set more creatively and to her using parts of the set without the tiara more frequently. She seems more comfortable with it, and this is all good stuff. Like I’ve said before: a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Of all the ways this set has been worn, which is your favorite?

11 January 2017

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 11

Yesterday, Crown Princess Mary was awarded the Berlingske Foundation Prize in recognition of the work she has done for Danish society.
So, basically, in a sea of Etro outfits that range from boho to boho-ier (that's not right), Mary manages to find the one that makes her look like she's just tastefully adorned herself in some spare crown moulding. From her tasteful palace. Where she tastefully lives. Yup, seems about right.
Dress from Etro (h/t to Heaven)
And is it just me or did she put a little extra bounce in her hair for the big day? (It was a big day, too; this is an important Danish newspaper honoring her for the great job she does.) The whole thing's working for her.

10 January 2017

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 10

On Friday, Queen Letizia closed out what I like to call Court Dress Week by attending Pascua Militar, a military ceremony. Similar to the two days of Danish New Year receptions, this event calls for a long skirt worn in the daytime.

I think she might be in a bit of a slump with this dress code, honestly. She debuted this Felipe Varela dress in 2014 at a reception for foreign ambassadors, and then wore it again to this event in 2015. (And the outfit we saw in between - last year - was pretty meh.) I'll be the first to admit that outfits for these events are a specialized category these days, and repeating just makes sense. But there are still ways to mix it up within the land of repeats, you know?

House of HM the King
(On the other hand, I will never object to classing things even further up with a good updo.)

09 January 2017

Monday Tidbits for January 9: Family Photos & More

Happily returning to some good news from the royal sphere, here we are:

--A happy sixth birthday to Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine! Beautiful new photos were released for the occasion.
Pernille Rohde, PR PHOTO/Kongehuset

--Over at the Jewel Vault, the Queen is back and all is well. Also, The Crown did well at the Golden Globes last night, so if you're just catching up on Netflix's royal drama, don't miss our jewel recaps of each episode.

--Here's a lovely photo of the Swedish royal family, taken last summer:
Photo Anna-Lena Ahlström, The Royal Court, Sweden

--Several of you sent this to me, and it's fascinating: Queen Elizabeth I’s long-lost skirt to go on display after being found on a church altar in Herefordshire. [Telegraph]

--And finally, Crown Princess Mette-Marit is a purple velvet dream, and it's everything. [Minmote]

Coming up this week: Spain takes its turn on the court dress stage.