22 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #4. The Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara

The fourth spot in our countdown of your favorite tiaras belongs to a tiara that has fallen from its second place spot last time around and has even fallen down in the rankings between your nominations and your final votes. But at the end of the day, you still can't argue with GIANT DIAMONDS.

The Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara
We revisited the history of the Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara (often called the Rose Cut Bandeau, though the diamonds are not actually rose cut) earlier this year, so click here to revisit its path from a diamond collet necklace, a wedding gift of Queen Emma's, to one of the most frequently worn Dutch tiaras.

Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Juliana, Queen Máxima
ANP Archief/Thai Monarchy
With so many appearances to pick from - seems like it's been Queen Máxima's favorite tiara over the years; Princess Beatrix is also a fan, and other Dutch royal ladies have taken it for a spin as well - we return to the obvious question: Which Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara appearance is the best Dutch Diamond Bandeau Tiara appearance?

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Crown Princess Victoria's wedding, 2010
I have three nominations, and they all go to our fair Máx, because no one pays attention to their jewels quite like she does. Her appearance at Victoria and Daniel's wedding gets a nom not because of the dress - this color is neither here nor there in the saddest way - but because of the jewel combination. What should you wear with your tiara of giant diamond collets? A necklace of even more giant diamond collets, OBVIOUSLY.

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Argentina state banquet, 2017
Anyway, for a nomination on dress power alone, I don't need to go any further back in time than March. Heavenly, this. And an excellent use of a "small" tiara to balance a major necklace.

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State banquet in Belgium, 2006
My final nod goes to this one, which I think is kind of a sleeper contender for Máxima's best ever, in any category. Clean lines on the dress, crisp white gloves, even the sleek sash with no stripes or whatever to fuss it up - that's how you highlight the simple design of the Dutch Diamond Bandeau. So very well played.

Which Bandeau appearance gets your vote for best of the best? Did this tiara make your favorites list?

21 August 2017

Monday Tidbits for August 21: Back to Work, Back to School

A few royal appearances in the quiet summer scene, before we stick our heads back into the world of tiaras:

--King Felipe and Queen Letizia returned from Mallorca following last week's devastating Barcelona terrorist attacks and have visited victims at hospitals and attended a service at Barcelona's Sagrada Família. [Sky]
CasaReal

--In happier returns to the royal scene, the annual back to school appearances have started, including several big first days in Denmark: Prince Vincent, Princess Josephine, and (a reluctant) Princess Athena all started school this year and were accompanied by their respective parents. Both moms shared personal snaps on the royal family's Instagram as well. [YouTube, Hello, Instagram]
Kongehuset/HRH Princess Marie
Kongehuset/HRH The Crown Princess

--Some American royal (royal-ish?) news: A legal battle is brewing over control of the $200 million estate of a descendant of Hawaii's royal house. [People]

--And finally, Crown Princess Mary's most princess-y of outfits to open the Odense Flower Festival is a welcome sight in these slow summer days. This is a good repeat.
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Coming up this week: The countdown continues.


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

18 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #5. The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (Queen Mary's)

The fifth spot on your favorite tiara countdown goes to another tiara that has held steady through the years, grabbing the same place this time as it did last time:

The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (Queen Mary's)
It goes by the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (the name by which it has been most popularly known for decades) and Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara, but it hardly needs a title at all - it's one of the most famous tiaras in the world. (I tend to use both names, and either is welcome here.) The "Cambridge" part of the whole deal is a reference to the fact that this tiara is not an original; in 1913, Queen Mary had E. Wolff & Co. and Garrard make a copy of a lover's knot tiara once owned by her grandmother, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge.

Two different tiaras, one design: Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge and her lover's knot tiara (sold in 1981) on the left and Queen Mary and her copy on the right.
Augusta's tiara isn't unique, either; multiple versions of this "lover's knot" design exist. Augusta's original tiara passed down away from the Cambridge name and into obscurity. It went first to her daughter, Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and on down through the family until it was eventually sold at Christie's in 1981. Meanwhile, Queen Mary's continues to capture the public spotlight.

Through generations: Queen Mary (with the original top row of pearls), Queen Elizabeth II, the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Queen Mary's version sticks to the basic design common in other lover's knot tiaras, featuring pearl pendants dangling from diamond knots in a diamond framework. Mary originally included the same row of upright pearls on top of the tiara as other lover's knot diadems (including her inspiration) have, but - in true Queen Mary form, never finished fussing with her gems - she later had the top pearl row removed.

Diana in Ottawa, 1983
Queen Elizabeth II inherited the tiara on Queen Mary's death in 1953 and wore it herself earlier in her reign. The tiara gained world fame when she loaned it to Diana, Princess of Wales following her 1981 marriage.

Catherine at the Spanish state banquet, 2017
It's now gaining even more fame as a loan to the Duchess of Cambridge, who first wore the tiara in 2015. (We revisited the complete history of this gem in honor of that debut, click here to refresh your memory.)

So here's the question of the day: Which appearance of this iconic tiara is the best one? Which combo of wearer to dress to hair to tiara really made it sing?

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Diana wears the tiara with the Catherine Walker "Elvis dress" in Hong Kong, 1989
Too obvious? I can't help it. It's just...*chef kiss* The whole thing! The high collar of that bolero jacket is an inspired complement for the tall, proud kokoshnik shape up top. I'd go so far as to say that the "Elvis dress" is solely responsible for my love of this tiara. That's some serious styling power.

What's your favorite CLK appearance? Did it make your favorites list?

17 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #6. The Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara

Your next tiara has made a roaring comeback in the past few years, from a piece that had essentially vanished from the royal scene all the way up to stealing the sixth place spot on your favorite tiara list, mainly thanks to a new wearer and a few high profile appearances.

The Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara
Much like your eighth place tiara, the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik has a solid shape reminiscent of the traditional kokoshnik headdress. This tiara features five large round aquamarine stones with a gorgeous deep aqua color. Aquamarines look spectacular as large stones, but they can be tough to integrate into a successful tiara design - an obstacle this tiara leaps over by using the kokoshnik shape and a delicate diamond trellis between the colorful stones. It can be paired with a matching brooch also featuring a large round aquamarine.

Princess Sibylla
The tiara is said to have come from Margaret of Connaught, first wife of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. Her jewels were divided among her five surviving children when she died tragically young in 1920, while pregnant with her sixth child. Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha brought it into the royal spotlight in Sweden when she married Margaret's son, also named Gustaf Adolf. Princess Sibylla and Prince Gustaf Adolf - who also died tragically young, in a plane crash - had five children, the youngest of which is King Carl XVI Gustaf. Princess Sibylla gave the Aquamarine Kokoshnik and brooch to her eldest child, Princess Margaretha.

Princess Margaretha, 2010
Princess Margaretha married British businessman John Ambler and moved to the United Kingdom, leaving behind the majority of her involvement with royal events and thus taking the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik mostly out of the royal game. Her daughter wore it for her wedding day, but it went so unseen for so many years that people began to wonder if the tiara has quietly been sold. She surprised everyone - and proved the sale rumors wrong - by popping up in the tiara and brooch for Crown Princess Victoria's wedding in 2010.

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Princess Madeleine, 2015
And now the tiara has reentered the royal game. Princess Margaretha stores it in Sweden and has allowed her sister, Princess Christina, and her niece, Princess Madeleine, to wear it. Margaretha has also worn it for other family events in Sweden since 2010.

Anna-Lena Ahlström, The Royal Court, Sweden
I think it's fair to say that the tiara's best showcase comes courtesy of Princess Madeleine. Aquamarine stones suit her incredibly well and she has a fair collection of them herself, including her 18th birthday tiara (the Swedish Aquamarine Bandeau Tiara) and a couple pieces inherited from Princess Lilian.

After debuting the tiara at the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in 2015, Princess Madeleine used it for one of the greatest tiara events in recent history: a tea party for sick children at the palace, for which she turned up in full on princess gear. Still one of the royal engagements worth revisiting any day. That event alone could give this tiara fairy tale status, although I think it was pretty much there already.

Does the addition of the Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara to your top 10 surprise you? Did it make your personal favorites list?

16 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #7. The Poltimore Tiara

This tiara entered into the Tiara Hall of Fame thanks to just one royal wearer, and even though it has now left the royal spotlight, it's still holding strong as your seventh favorite tiara - both last time and this time.

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The Poltimore Tiara
The Poltimore Tiara, made of diamonds set in silver and gold, with cushion-shaped and old-cut stones in clusters and scroll motifs, was made by Garrard in the 1870s for Florence, Lady Poltimore, wife of the second Baron Poltimore.

The Poltimore in its necklace and brooch formats
It's a thoroughly convertible piece: the large scrolls can be worn individually as brooches, and the long rows of clusters form a necklace when taken off the tiara frame. (The tiara comes in a blue leather case with brooch fittings and a special screwdriver included, of course.)

Lady Poltimore and her tiara
The tiara entered the royal spotlight in 1959, when the fourth Baron Poltimore sold the tiara at auction for £5,500. It was acquired for Princess Margaret and she began wearing it that same year in its necklace, brooch, and tiara formats. She wore the tiara during a state visit from the Shah of Iran in 1959, which may have been its public debut.

Princess Margaret on her wedding day, 1960
The following year, Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones wearing a Norman Hartnell wedding gown topped with the Poltimore Tiara. The detail of the tiara was well showcased by the divinely clean lines of her wedding ensemble, and the tall tiara both added inches to the petite bride's height and balanced the width of her veil and skirt. The tiara and the bride, at least, were a match made in heaven. From its iconic bridal outing to the end of Margaret's life, the Poltimore Tiara was the diadem with which she was most strongly associated.

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Wearing the necklace and one of the brooches with the Lotus Flower Tiara
The Poltimore is, of course, no longer with any member of the royal family. Princess Margaret's children, the Earl of Snowdon (then Viscount Linley) and Sarah Chatto staged an auction of her jewels and other possessions at Christie's in 2006 in order to pay the inheritance taxes on her estate following her 2002 death. The sale was headlined by this tiara.

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The press surrounding the sale and the royal addition to the tiara's history worked some serious magic: the Poltimore Tiara had an estimated value of £150,000 - £200,000 but it sold for £926,400 ($1,704,576). It was said at the time that the new owner was a private Asian buyer.

Wearing the Teck Circle Necklace
Princess Margaret wore a few different tiaras in her youth but was down to just three she wore in her later years, including the Poltimore. The second was the Lotus Flower Tiara, which went to the Queen and has been loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge. The third was the Persian Turquoise Tiara, which hasn't been seen since Margaret died. Meanwhile, her children are still set should they have any future tiara needs: the Teck Circle Necklace - which was used as a tiara by the Queen Mother and just as a necklace by Margaret - is with the Countess of Snowdon (who also has a wooden tiara, a playful take on tradition by her husband, whose company makes bespoke furniture and other luxury items), and the brooches that make up the Snowdon Floral Tiara have been worn by Lady Sarah. But as for the Poltimore, it has disappeared. For now.

If the Poltimore was still in the royal family, who would you want to see wear it?
and
Did it make your favorites list?

15 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #8. Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara

A kokoshnik is a traditional Russian headdress. A kokoshnik tiara is a tiara with a kokoshnik-like shape, usually with a fairly straight or solid top line. There can be many versions. But if you're talking about THE Kokoshnik, then you must mean the one, the only:

Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in 1888, when they were still the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Ladies of Society - 365 peeresses of the Realm - wanted to gift the future queen with a tiara for the occasion, so they did the reasonable thing and asked her what sort of tiara she might like to receive. Her request resulted in what I'd say is the most famous kokoshnik-style tiara in the world today.

Queen Alexandra
Alexandra's request was inspired by the jewels of the Russian imperial court, where bejeweled interpretations of traditional kokoshniks were all the rage. She would have had ample knowledge of the Russian splendor; her sister was Empress Marie (Maria) Feodorovna, who had at her disposal a staggering collection of jewelry, and her own kokoshnik fringe tiara served as inspiration.

Queen Mary
The version created for Queen Alexandra is by Garrard and has 61 platinum bars pave-set with diamonds. There are 488 diamonds, the largest two weighing 3.25 carats apiece. The tiara has been altered at least once; it could originally be worn as a necklace and originally included more bars.

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Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Alexandra died in 1925 and this tiara was inherited by her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary. When Queen Mary died in 1953, the tiara was inherited by her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. It has been in regular use by the Queen ever since. She wears it with some of her favorite diamond necklaces and earrings, and has also used its simple design as a foil for some of her more complicated colored stone jewel sets.

By Ricardo Thomas - Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library: B0570-24, Public Domain
The design of the Kokoshnik Tiara does indeed seem simple. It can even seem a little too simple in still photographs. (Some of our readers have dubbed it - lovingly, I'm sure - the Popsicle Sticks.) But the magic of this diadem comes when you see it in action. The pavé setting means that diamonds are everywhere, allowing it to capture and reflect every possible ray of light.

In motion, it's a wall of diamonds that dances under the lights. Certainly among the Queen's best diamonds, and just about as regal as it gets, I think.

Did THE Kokoshnik make your list of favorites?

14 August 2017

Royal Event of the Day: Jordan and Luxembourg at Sandhurst

A big royal gathering in Britain - hats and all - and not a Windsor in sight! That's because it wasn't a big royal to-do that brought sovereigns and more to the U.K. on Friday, it was family: Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan were among the graduates of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst taking part in the Sovereign's Parade. Military training at Sandhurst is a family tradition for both royal families; Princes William and Harry are also graduates of the academy.

Cour grand-ducale/Lola Velasco
The full floppy-brimmed crew from Luxembourg turned up in support (left to right above): Princess Alexandra, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Grand Duke Henrik, Prince Sébastien, Prince Louis, Princess Claire, and Prince Félix.

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Can it be that our fair MT has uncovered the one purple outfit that I'm just not crazy about? It can. It's that whole thing with the contrast between the pink-toned and blue-toned hues here. Nope.

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Stéphanie has no confusion about which side of her hue she wants to be on. She's as far on the Aqua Express as a person can get. Just not sure about the floaty dress with the heavier tweed jacket. About the only thing I am sure of here is that I need a great deal more information on Claire's shoes.

Queen Rania Facebook
 Jordan's crown prince also had the full support of his family (left to right above): Princess Salma, Queen Rania, King Abdullah II (who represented Queen Elizabeth II, inspecting the parade and giving a speech), Crown Prince Hussein, Prince Hashem, and Princess Iman. No hats in sight for these ladies; Queen Rania plays by her own rule book and formal hats aren't involved.

Queen Rania Facebook
Still, it seemed that she made an effort to go a little more basic than her usual style for the occasion - you can't really get more basic than a coat with a matching shoe, after all. But she had to throw in the asymmetrical waterfall hem for a little Rania touch. How else would we know it's really her?

11 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #9. The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara


Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik are delighted to welcome you to the ninth spot on our countdown of your top ten tiaras:

The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara
Your ninth pick shares some heritage with your tenth spot, the Cameo Tiara, because both come from the court of Napoleon and both have spent time in Sweden. The Danish Ruby Parure got its start as a set of jewelry bought by Jean Baptiste Bernadotte for his wife, Désirée Clary, to wear to Napoleon's coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804. The couple later became King and Queen of Sweden, taking the ruby set with them to their new country. The rubies then made their way to Denmark in 1869 as a wedding gift for Queen Louise, who was born a Swedish princess and married the future King Frederik VIII, and passed down until they landed in the hands of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. We revisited the complete story of the Danish Ruby Parure earlier this year, so click here to read up on its extensive history.

Queen Ingrid, before and after her alterations to the tiara
As the Ruby Parure made its way through the generations, the tiara began to take shape. It was originally just a set of floral ornaments which were later shaped into a slender wreath tiara. Queen Ingrid, Queen Margrethe's mother and the name primarily associated with the rubies until Mary came along, added a floral brooch from the set into the tiara to create the more substantial piece we know today.

The complete Danish Ruby Parure today
Crown Princess Mary continued the tradition of altering the ruby parure to suit her own needs. She changed the shape of the tiara to suit her better, creating a set of hairpins with the extra pieces. She added a ruby and diamond ring. She also added flexibility to other pieces, allowing pendants to be removed and swapped out across the parure. It's growing hard to catalog all the different ways Mary has used the Ruby Parure since she changed it, so many variations are now possible.

Between today's available variations, the multiple past tiara variations, and the many gowns the set has been paired with so far, one can't help but ask: Which Danish Ruby Parure appearance is the best Danish Ruby Parure appearance of them all?

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Crown Princess Mary in 2004
My nominations for best Danish Ruby Parure appearance begin with some of my very favorite Mary gowns, of course. Mary's not shy about pairing the rubies with a range of colorful gowns, taking full advantage of the fact that the red stone portion of the tiara is pretty small, and yet a red gown can't help but be a dream combo. This Uffe Frank dress was said to have been inspired by Queen Ingrid, who was the master of wearing allllll the rubies, so that fits. It was worn for Mary's second-ever tiara appearance...

In 2004
...and her first-ever tiara appearance also gets a nom from me. Which proves to me that Mary knew what she was doing with these rubies from day one. Impressive. (She later wore the same silvery ice blue Malene Birger gown to the New Year's Court gala in 2009, with much better hair but with only the ruby stud earrings.)

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In 2007
With my third nominee for best Ruby Parure appearance - the original appearance of that now-altered burgundy velvet Birgit Hallstein gown that I never miss a chance to fawn over - my Ruby Parure preferences are clear: the Queen Ingrid version of the tiara, please, and the full earrings and full necklace all worn at one time. I love the flexibility that Mary has added to the set and I love that she wears it so much more often since making her changes, but it means that she no longer wears all of it at one time, and man, I miss seeing the whole shebang. Alas!

What's your favorite Danish Ruby Parure Tiara appearance?
and
Did this one make your favorites list?

10 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #10. The Cameo Tiara

You voted for your favorite tiara, and the results are in! We're counting down your top ten tiaras, beginning with...

The Cameo Tiara
De Kongelige Juveler screencap
Your tenth tiara has a "love it or hate it" reputation, but apparently the scales have tipped over to the "love it" side! Sweden's Cameo Tiara is memorable, it's historical, and its most recent appearance was a particularly great one, so why not?

The Cameo Tiara on Queen Josephine of Sweden (top, both), Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden (bottom, left), and Queen Ingrid of Denmark (bottom, right)
As one of the oldest tiaras still in regular use, it's seen a long history filled with prominent wearers on its path from Empress Joséphine and the French imperial court to the current Swedish royal family. Click here to read its entire history, which we revisited last year.

Cameo brides: (top, L-R) Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, (bottom, L-R) Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria
It's an impressive set of jewelry, grouped together with a necklace, bracelet, brooch, and earrings. And while a tiara like this could easily become a niche selection in a royal collection as large as Sweden's, the Cameo's position as a family wedding tiara has kept it in the spotlight.

It's a statement diadem, and as such, it needs to be carefully styled. I love the Cameo myself, but I also find that my own appreciation varies wildly depending on the appearance. That's the big Cameo question, I think: how exactly should this thing be styled?

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Queen Silvia, 1998
Queen Silvia's most frequent solution to that question is to pair the tiara and its parure with like colors, matching the gold tones and the colors of the cameos with gowns from the bronze, coral, and orange families. That's too much for me, though (which I say as one who rarely likes anything in the coral and orange range in the first place). A dress like the one above has so much going on by itself, the Cameo Tiara and its accompanying jewels don't get a chance to shine.

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel's wedding, 2010
By Holger Motzkau 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0), CC BY-SA 3.0
Perhaps that's one reason why it's so successful as a wedding tiara. I mean, you can't get a much better canvas than a white dress. I have no doubt that Crown Princess Victoria's excellent wedding appearance swayed a good number of you over to #TeamCameo, and I agree. This was also a superior use of the rest of the Cameo set, using just the earrings and the bracelet without overdoing it.

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Queen Silvia, 2005
One strategy I'd like to see used more often: a little bit of contrast. This unexpected pairing with a blue gown is my very favorite non-wedding Cameo appearance. It's certainly one of the best showcases the parure has had.

Mostly, I'd just like to see the Cameo Tiara used more often. As of this writing, its last appearance was Crown Princess Victoria's wedding.
Crown Princess Victoria wearing the rest of the Cameo parure, 2016
SVT screencap
Although Victoria did taunt me at the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in 2016 by wearing the whole Cameo Parure - just minus the tiara. (She substituted the Cut Steel Tiara, which is also a Napoleonic piece.) The Cameo Tiara has been reserved for Queen Silvia except for Victoria's wedding, but my fingers stay crossed that it will be added to Victoria's regular tiara rotation.

How would you style the Cameo Tiara?
and
Does it make your list of favorites?

09 August 2017

Fabulous Exhibition of the Day: Christian Dior, Couturier Du Rêve

The largest exhibition in the history of the house of Christian Dior is currently on show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Christian Dior, Couturier Du Rêve celebrates the maison's 70th anniversary and incorporates designs from all of their past designers, from Dior himself to current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.

I've heard only rave reviews about this exhibition, so I was delighted when lovely reader Johanna emailed to say that she'd been to the show and was willing to let me share some of her pictures here with you all. Thank you, Johanna! Let's all take an imaginary trip to Paris, shall we?

The exhibition touches on some of Dior's dedicated royal fans over the years. The ballgown worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday portrait is included. So, too, is the little number above. Recognize this one?

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Diana, Princess of Wales wore this Dior couture dress to the Met Gala in 1996. It was a significant moment for the princess - being a big departure in style for her - and a big moment in the history of the label, because this negligee dress was John Galliano's first couture creation for Christian Dior.


We previously discussed this dress in depth here. It's so interesting to see it on display, though (along with her signature Lady Dior handbag), because the most memorable images from that evening involve Diana concealing most of the dress with her wrap - she didn't seem very confident in this departure of a dress.

And there's waaaaaay more outside of the royal sphere. Diana's dress stands in the center of a group of dresses worn by the stars. The dress on the right with the green belt was worn by Elizabeth Taylor to win her first Oscar.

 Here's another Oscar winner: Jennifer Lawrence's 2013 gown.

This ivory dress covered in designs was worn by Emma Watson.

A pregnant Natalie Portman wore this take on the puffy sleeve trend to the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier this year.


Even more pretty! The front gown with the tiered skirt is from John Galliano's time at Dior.

A group from Marc Bohan's time at the helm of Dior. Bohan designed Queen Silvia's starkly unadorned wedding gown in 1976 and Princess Caroline's sweet gown for her first wedding in 1978.

A group from Yves Saint Laurent, who designed the wedding gown for Iran's Empress Farah in 1959 while at Dior. The two remained friends and she was a regular client of Dior.

Here's one from Belgian designer Raf Simons, who designed for Queen Mathilde and the Duchess of Cornwall under the Dior label (though, regrettably, nothing quite this stunning).

The "Junon" dress with tiers of sequined embellishment like petals down the skirt, and the "Soirée Fleury" dress with rich floral embroidery. All great gowns should have names, no?

And a bit of Petit Trianon inspiration to finish us out. Ahhhhh. A mid-week dash of fabulous is never a bad idea.

If you can get there, go. Christian Dior, Couturier Du Rêve runs until January 7, 2018.

Photos: All are courtesy of and with thanks to Johanna, except as noted.

08 August 2017

Tuesday Tidbits for August 8: 3 Princes, 2 Princesses, 1 Queen

Voting for your favorite tiara closes soon! Have you made your pick? Might be time for a little eeny, meeny, miny, moe...

--The Duke of Edinburgh closed out his solo royal career last week in true Prince Philip style, standing outside in the rain for a parade of Royal Marines. He may still choose to accompany the Queen on engagements from time to time, according to the palace. {Sniff.} [New York Times]
Royal Family

--In, uh, less dignified news from the world of princes: Prince Laurent of Belgium, King Philippe's brother, is in trouble again for unauthorized contact with a foreign government, attending an event for the Chinese army without consulting the Belgian government - despite past warnings over similar behavior. {Sigh.} And you've no doubt heard about Prince Henrik, who's grabbed more worldwide headlines for the Danish monarchy in the past week than I've ever seen...and not in a good way. {SIGH.} [Politico, New York Times]

--Hey, remember that sparkly princess-y gown worn by the Princess Royal during the Spanish state visit? I was wondering how old it was...and sure enough, lovely commenter JNR found it back in 1985. Everything makes sense now.
Video: Malawi state banquet, 1985. Zoom ahead to the royal procession at 6:40.

--Over at the Jewel Vault, QEII's Balmoral break is in full swing, including a meeting with the pony who ate her posy last month.

--And finally, this is a good dress on Princess Marie, no? Nothing better than a crisp white dress in the summer. [Berlingske]


Coming up this week: We'll start digging into the results of your tiara vote, and more...


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

07 August 2017

Royal Dress of the Day: August 7

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, and Queen Sofia hosted the annual Balearic Islands reception at the Royal Palace of La Almudaina on Friday.
House of HM the King
Queen Letizia held up her side of this coordinating floral scheme with something a little special: a mantón de Manila (Manila shawl) dress! These traditional embroidered silk shawls came from China through Manila before trade took them to Spain, where they gained dramatic fringed edges and enough popularity to become a cultural symbol. Queen Sofia is a fan of the traditional version (see here), as is Infanta Elena (see here). Letizia carried an all black shawl in 2015 in Denmark, as well as on other occasions.

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Her dress version comes from Juan Duyos, who has used Manila shawls as inspiration in past works. It's gorgeous, and well worth the wait for those that have been anticipating a Duyos creation ever since Letizia and her stylist were photographed leaving the designer's studio earlier this year.

Putting a little twist on tradition seems just the sort of thing that would appeal to this modern queen - and it's not the first time she's had a little fun with the mantón de Manila style. She also has a black and white Lorenzo Caprile skirt from 2004 that pays tribute to the famous shawls.
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Letizia in the skirt at a state banquet for the Philippines in 2007. This was, to date, the only time she has worn the Mellerio Shell Tiara.
Wearing your Manila shawl skirt for a gala dinner for the President of the Philippines? I see what you did there.

04 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: Place Your Final Vote

You made your nominations and the top contenders have made it through to the final round in the battle to name your favorite tiara. Now it's time to make your final selection. One tiara to rule them all!

Together, you proposed more than 200 different tiaras to vie for the top spot in our contest for your favorite tiara. (Hello to those of you that made your first comments for the occasion! I hope you'll chat with us more often.) You nominated tiaras hailing from monarchies and museums and mystery owners; you nominated tiaras we see all the time and tiaras we've never seen worn; you nominated diamond tiaras and wooden tiaras and tiaras of just about every material in between.

The field has now been narrowed to the top 25 nominated tiaras. Your task now: pick just one as your most favorite of all.

Below are your 25 nominees, in alphabetical order (by the name I've used for their tiara posts; many are known by more than one name). Place your vote in the poll at the bottom of the post. The poll will be open until noon Eastern on Tuesday, August 8th.


The Baden Fringe Tiara
Crown Princess Victoria's signature tiara offers a rich royal history and a stylish twist on the diamond fringe, one of the most classic tiara designs. See the tiara's story here.

The Braganza Tiara
Also known as the Brazilian Tiara, this diamond floral tiara is the premier tiara in the Swedish royal collection and is among those reserved for the use of Queen Silvia. See the tiara's story here.

The Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (or Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara)

The tiara made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales, and now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge was commissioned by Queen Mary as a copy of one worn by her grandmother, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. (We use both the Cambridge and Queen Mary names for this piece here.) See the tiara's story here.

The Cameo Tiara
The tiara best known for its use at Swedish royal weddings boasts an impressively long history and memorable materials with its cameo, pearl, and gold design. See the tiara's story here.

The Connaught Tiara
Delicate diamond garlands shape this flexible tiara in the Swedish collection, which can also be used as a necklace and can have its pendants removed for use as their own necklace or earrings. See the tiara's story here.

The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara
This ruby tiara and its impressively complete accompanying parure became signature jewels for Queen Ingrid and then for Crown Princess Mary, with each royal lady putting her own spin on the historical set. See the tiara's story here.

The Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara 
Considered a masterpiece of craftsmanship from the time of the French monarchy, this emerald and diamond tiara has remarkably survived intact from its creation to today, where it is showcased at the Louvre. See the tiara's story here. 

The Dutch Diamond Bandeau
Sometimes called the Rose Cut Diamond Bandeau (though not actually made of rose cut diamonds), this frequently worn Dutch royal tiara is both simple and staggering, being composed of nothing but a single row of giant single diamonds. See the tiara's story here.

The Dutch Sapphire Tiara
Sometimes called the Mellerio Sapphire Tiara (though not actually made by Mellerio, as it turns out), this sapphire delight experienced an exponential rise in favor when Queen Máxima chose it for King Willem-Alexander's inauguration. See the tiara's story here.

The Fife Tiara
Featuring articulated diamond pendants in a delicate diamond framework, this tiara from Princess Louise of Wales, Duchess of Fife would probably be stunning in use - if only there were more modern examples of it in use. See the tiara's story here.

The Fleur De Lys Tiara
The premier tiara in the Spanish collection is currently earning its La Buena nickname on the head of Queen Letizia, who has made this another tiara with a recent boost in popularity due to a new wearer. See the tiara's story here.

The Floral Aigrette Tiara
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This Danish tiara is a splendid example of a classic diamond floral design with a big bonus: it's three separate pieces and can be worn on or off a frame, a flexibility used to full advantage by Queen Margrethe II. See the tiara's story here. 

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
 A classic design dating back to 1893, the "Girls", or the "GGBI", or - to Queen Elizabeth II - just "granny's tiara", is the Queen's favorite and arguably one of the most iconic tiaras in the world. See the tiara's story here. 

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara
This pearl drop tiara with intertwined diamond circles survived a daring escape from the Russian revolution to find a new home and a new emerald drop option in the collection of Queen Mary (and, today, Queen Elizabeth II). See the tiara's story here. 

The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure Tiara
One of Queen Silvia's favorite tiaras has a long history and a complete set of jewels to go with it, all featuring luscious deep blue sapphires. See the tiara's story here.

The Lotus Flower Tiara
Also known as the Papyrus Leaf Tiara, this delicate diamond and pearl tiara went from the Queen Mother to Princess Margaret and back to the Queen, who has loaned it out for a new life with the Duchess of Cambridge. See the tiara's story here.

The Modern Fringe Tiara
Another variation on the classic diamond fringe tiara from the Swedish royal collection, Princess Madeleine wears this one regularly and it is convertible from a tiara to a necklace. See the tiara's story here.

The Oriental Circlet Tiara
Designed by Prince Albert and originally made with opal centers for Queen Victoria, this ruby tiara is best known from its use by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. See the tiara's story here.

The Poltimore Tiara
The tiara may have been sold, but this huge, flexible diamond diadem will forever be associated with Princess Margaret's most fabulous moments. See the tiara's story here. 

Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara
A silver wedding gift for Queen Alexandra inspired by the popular Russian kokoshnik-style fringe diadems, this tiara is simple in pictures but comes alive like no other when seen in motion (there's a video in this post). See the tiara's story here.

Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara
 Also known as the Napoleonic Amethyst Tiara, this Swedish tiara is a necklace on a tiara frame, part of a parure of magnificent amethysts which was swapped around by Queen Silvia and is now worn by multiple royal family members. See the tiara's story here. 

Queen Sophie's Diamond Tiara
This big gun from the Greek collection went unseen for decades - long enough to make you wonder if it was still with the family - before an amazing surprise reappearance in 2012 on the head of Princess Marie-Chantal. See the tiara's story here. 

Queen Victoria's Emerald and Diamond Tiara
Another Gothic Revival masterpiece designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria, this tiara features a stunning top row of cabochon emeralds and was immortalized in paintings by Winterhalter before disappearing into the lines of Queen Victoria's descendants. See the tiara's story here.

The Spanish Floral Tiara
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Often referred to as the Mellerio Floral Tiara, though it is another that turned out not to be by Mellerio, one of the prettiest tiaras in Spain is one of the most classic examples of a diamond floral tiara. See the tiara's story here.

The Swedish Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara
This tiara went from obscurity to adoration when Princess Madeleine started to wear it, bringing new attention to its beautiful combination of large aquamarine stones and a diamond kokoshnik design. See the tiara's story here.


And there you go, those are your nominees! Place your vote - yes, sorry, just one tiara this time! - in the poll below. (If you're reading this via email or a reader, you may need to click over.) The poll will be open until noon Eastern on Tuesday, August 8th. Choose wisely...