Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let's Hear It For The Boys: The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding

We've admired the outfits of the royal ladies on parade at Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding; now it's time to spend some quality time and attention with their handsome escorts. As you well know, we never miss an opportunity to admire a well-dressed man around here.

The Groom and his Best Man have already been analyzed in all their uniformed glory, so let's round out the Windsor clan with the rest of the military men in attendance:
Windsor men in uniform, left to right:
  1. The Duke of Edinburgh echoed his grandson's red tunic in his Grenadier Guards uniform.
  2. The Prince of Wales wore a dress uniform from the Royal Navy, just as he had when he married William's mother.
  3. The Duke of York, once himself a helicopter pilot, also wore a Navy uniform.
  4. The Earl of Wessex is, I believe, in the uniform of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, in which he holds the rank of Royal Honorary Colonel.
  5. Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence wore his naval uniform, as he is the only member of this crew with an active military career rather than a retired or honorary one.
  6. The Duke of Gloucester was the only family member to honor William's active duty branch of the military in his Royal Air Force blue.
  7. The Duke of Kent came in a red army uniform tunic also. He married in red fifty years ago.
  8. Prince Michael of Kent paired his ceremonial dress uniform with the sash of the Royal Victorian Order, as he is not a member of the Order of the Garter like his blue sash-wearing friends.
A military uniform isn't required for full dapper status, of course. Morning dress will do just fine:
Windsor men in morning coats, left to right:
  1. Peter Phillips, looking handsome and not at all sleep-deprived for a new father.
  2. Mike Tindall, Windsor boyfriend extraordinaire and the next groom up to bat when he marries Zara Phillips in July.
  3. Viscount Linley, Princess Margaret's son and surprisingly the focus of many more pictures than his lovely wife was.
  4. Lord Frederick Windsor, son of Prince and Princess Michael and the groom at the last Windsor wedding in September 2009.
  5. Tim Taylor, wife of Lady Helen and son-in-law of the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
 Plenty more dashing uniforms to be had from other royal families:
Foreign royals in uniform, left to right:
  1. The Prince of Orange brought the same uniform he was married in.
  2. The Prince of Asturias was dapper in his naval uniform and the Royal Victorian Order sash.
  3. Prince Philippe of Belgium was handsome in black, though I can't help but feel his uniform was lacking in a bit of panache compared to all the ornamentation on these other gentlemen.
  4. Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg wore his distinctive orange tasseled waist band with the sash of the Royal Victorian Order. I wonder if this served as a reminder to Queen Elizabeth that she hasn't yet had a chance to bestow the Order of the Garter on this fellow head of state?
  5. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong from Malaysia was another head of state without the top English order on display. No U.K. orders at all, in fact.
  6. King Harald of Norway wore his true blue Garter sash, of course, and was also one of the only men in uniform to carry a sword to the ceremony. 
Some of the foreign royal guests opted out of military dress for the ceremony:
Sovereigns in morning dress, left to right:
  1. Prince Albert of Monaco. I was pretty surprised he didn't opt for a uniform. He went for morning dress at Felipe and Letizia's morning wedding, but a uniform at Philippe and Mathilde's. Personal choice?
  2. King Constantine of Greece, as an ex-King, was obviously without uniform. But jolly as ever, mind you.
  3. The King of Tonga showed up quite natty indeed, in his top hat, cane, and long coat. You will note the coat's lining matches his tie.
  4. The Sultan of Brunei came with his only wife, having divorced his second one last year. (Actually his second second wife - he divorced the first second wife too. Get it? Still with me?)
  5. The King of Swaziland came with a wife as well, one of the fourteen that he's currently married to. That's gotta get confusing.
Princes in morning dress, left to right:
  1. Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, looking totally happy to be there with wife Katherine, as some of you noted in the foreign royal ladies post.
  2. Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso of Lesotho is Prince Harry's partner in the Sentebale charity. You will note he has matched his tie to his wife's colorful national dress.
  3. Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, so dapper, came along with one of his sons...
  4. Prince Constantine, who is one of Prince William's godchildren. (And a future heartbreaker, for sure.)
  5. And last but not least, Prince Daniel of Sweden must have been having flashbacks to his own recent turn as royal groom. He's turning out to be quite a dapper prince indeed, isn't he?
Have any personal favorites? I confess, my heart still belongs to the best man.

I have found some of the lesser-known Windsor men for us to admire:

More Windsor men in morning coat, left to right:
  1.  The Hon. Charles Armstrong-Jones, son of Viscount Linley. And future doppelganger – man, does that kid look like his dad.
  2. Daniel Chatto, husband of Lady Sarah. Their two sons were also along for the wedding ride.
  3. The Earl of Ulster, son of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
  4. Gary Lewis, husband of Lady Davina, son-in-law of the Gloucesters.
  5. George Gilman, husband of Lady Rose, son-in-law of the Gloucesters. Not a bad showing for the three Gloucester men here, eh? Yum.

And even more Windsor men, left to right:
  1. Earl of St. Andrews, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
  2. Lord Downpatrick, the Earl’s son. I still don’t understand why photographers don’t take better pictures of handsome, unmarried Windsor men. Well, this one, at least.
  3.  Lord Nicholas Windsor, lookalike brother of the Earl.
  4.  James Ogilvy, dapper son of Princess Alexandra of Kent.
Photos: Getty Images/Daylife

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Royal Fashion Awards: Foreign Royals at the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding

    We handled the Windsors, now it's time to move on to the visiting royals. Not as big of a turn out as we're used to with those wonderful Scandinavian weddings, owing to the Windsors' restricted invitation policy, but there's still plenty to chat about. So let's get rolling:

    Best in National Dress
    Princess Lalla Salma
    Left to Right: Princess Mabereng Seeiso of Lesotho, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, the Queen of Malaysia, the Queen of Brunei
    I love when ladies bring their national dress, or the dress appropriate to their religion, to international events. All of these are intricate, with a hefty dose of color. Princess Mabereng looks fantastic in those bright colors, and both Queens are lovely in blue. But my best goes to Lalla Salma, whose gorgeous dusty rose ensemble is the perfect complement to her crowning glory: those red locks. Plus, she needs some love - poor Princess was identified as Lalla Salma of Thailand, Sheikha Mozah, and other variations in the press photos.

    Best of the Simple
    Charlene Wittstock
    L to R: Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Charlene Wittstock, Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia
    It's hard to get a nice clean line wrong, which is probably why Queen Anne-Marie usually turns up in some variant of this outfit and why Crown Princess Katherine chose this direction for her wedding ensemble. But for Charlene, now, I was surprised and fascinated. Her last turn at a proper hatted event was National Day, and after that I was expecting nothing less than over the top. Maybe that's why her simple turn ends up the best of the pack for me: it's surprisingly understated, elegant, and lady like, and Char looks pretty. Sometimes that's all it takes.

    Best of the Worst
    Queen Margrethe
    L to R: Queen Sonja of Norway, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand
    Sometimes things are the worst because they aren't flattering - sorry, Maria Teresa, the flaps on that jacket need to have a pow wow with Sophie's boob flaps from last night; and sorry to our Thai princess too, because there's just nothing truly attractive about that - and sometimes they're the worst because of incidentals. Like color, on Sonja, which I think was pale pink but looks a whole lot like white. Add in the white tights, and as soon as that coat closes over the red, she's Nurse Ratchet. And sometimes outfits end up on the worst list for reasons entirely apart for their appearance: I mean, seriously, Margrethe? This thing again? If you weren't even going to spring for a new outfit, you should have just sent Fred and Mary. Let them do it up right.

    Best of the Almost
    Princess Mathilde
    L to R: Queen Sofia of Spain, Princess Mathilde of Belgium, the Princess of Asturias
    Here we have the ladies that almost made the best dressed list, but for a few pesky details. Queen Sofia, for example, is in a great color with a cute little fascinator, but she's bedazzled her buttons with craft store rosettes. Letizia looks fantastic, that's a great color, and I do believe I could love the Depression era chic dress, but then she put on her hat. It's almost as though, for her first proper hatted experience, she got a little too excited and decided to smush every possible millinery element together: statement brims! nets! feathers and dohickeys! I know it'll be a long time before you get to wear another hat, but sheesh, Leti - pace yourself. Mathilde, on the other hand, gets the hat and outfit right, but the shoes are like a giant stop sign. So chunky, and so dark. Make it a sleek nude pump, and I'm sold, so she wins this one for me.

    Best of the Best
    Crown Princess Victoria
     L to R: Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Princess Ameerah of Saudi Arabia
    Oh, this was a hard choice. So many lovely ladies at this wedding! Máxima looks fantastic in Valentino: perfect color, lovely lace, I even love the turban (only on Máx!). Ameerah is a new discovery for me, but I love her already. Beautiful outfit and amazing hair. Plus, Wikipedia tells me she's a women's rights activist back home, and bonus points are certainly awarded for that. Marie-Chantal came kitted out in a very M-C sort of outfit. Much like Máx, there are certain things that only she can pull off, and I think this is her at her finest.

    But at the end of the day, the first one that stole my heart wins the game. How gorgeous does Victoria look? The color, the hat, the hair, the shape - every piece is working. Best of the best for me.

    I'm not missing as many royals here as I am for the Windsors, but there are a few holes. Notably, my girl crush Sheikha Mozah was on the confirmed guest list but I haven't seen a sign of her. Let me know if you spot anyone I've missed!

    Who makes your best- and worst-dressed among the foreign royals?

    Photos: Getty Images/Daylife/AP/Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Zimbio/Bauer Griffin

    Royal Fashion Awards: Windsors at the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding

    SO much to talk about. So, I'm breaking this wedding up into multiple posts. Multiple awards shows, if you will. We'll get started with the Windsors, who haven't had a major royal occasion to get all dolled up for in quite some time. And they proved their point: they still got it.

    Best in Traditional
    The Duchess of Cornwall
    Left to Right: the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth
    Sometimes it's best to stick with what you know. There's nothing crazy here from these three senior family members, but it's fancy nonetheless. The Duchess of Kent was absolutely charming, and much happier in the footage than this photo shows. At one point, entering the Abbey, she grabbed her husband's arm, and it just gave me the warm fuzzies. They've been through a lot, but those two crazy kids will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year. All of which is a major sidebar just to say: she's pretty in pink, even though from some angles it looked like she plopped her fascinator/hat thing right on top of her head like a gift-wrapped Duchess instead of off to the side where it belongs.

    The Queen stuck to what she knows too, in a simple but neat sunshine yellow frock. If she'd have added some shape to that hat brim so it looked less county sheriff and more proper Queen, she'd get the prize, but instead it goes to the Duchess of Cornwall. Big ol' Tracey hat like only she can pull off, simple but flattering coat and dress with just enough color to keep it out of "OMG she's wearing cream she's stealing the bride's thunder" territory. In short: the perfect understated outfit for a day on which the ghost of her husband's ex-wife was looming large.

    Best in Shine
    Zara Phillips
     L to R: Autumn Phillips, Princess Michael of Kent, Zara Phillips, the Countess of Wessex, Lady Frederick Windsor
    Easiest way to get your fancy on: throw a little shine in the mix. These ladies brought it something fierce in the shine department, and they all have their merits. I loved the full skirt on Autumn's coat. It's a retro flair and a clever way to mold a post-baby figure. She brought shine and shape to the party, so she gets bonus points. Princess Michael's suit doesn't bring anything in the shape department, and she's clearly attempting to make up for it with her enormous chapeau. Don't get me wrong, if anyone can pull that hat off, it's Marie-Christine; but with that jacket? No, honey, no prize for you.

    Sophie's doing alright in the shape department, but where she shines (amongst her shine...I'm really tired, guys) is in the details. Check out her sleeves in this picture. That's worth paying couture prices for. The other Sophie (Lady Frederick Windsor, of course) has no doubt also paid couture prices for her Armani ensemble, which would be boring and too old for her if it weren't for that fierce hat. 

    And speaking of fierce: ladies and gentlemen, I give you our category champion, Zara Phillips. Just look at her. Yacht-sized hat, shiny coat with amazing back detail, high heels...even the bag is fierce. Don't get me started on that facial expression. You guys, I can't wait to see how she brings it at her wedding.

    Best in Batty
    Princess Beatrice
    L to R: Lady Helen Taylor, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie
    It doesn't take much to derail a good look, you know. Everything's going along all smooth, and then all of the sudden, you're plunged into crazy town. Case in point: these ladies. Now, Lady Helen's faring the best here. She's very classy (as always), and the scattered floral print thing is an Erdem hallmark. But the random flowers plus the lace at the top of the dress just feels like the battered remnants of a shut-in grandmother's house instead of a proper look. Princess Anne is also faring quite well - and HOLD THE PHONE - I think we have a new outfit on our hands. It's the angle of the jacket flare and the way that hat is so precariously perched on her barnet that takes her into batty territory. This is Eliza Doolittle, pre-makeover. I'm a little afraid Anne's going to start heckling people in a cockney accent.

    On to the stars of the batty show: Bea and Eug. God love 'em, they couldn't even sit upright in the car with those hats on. I said it before and I'll say it again: I love Vivienne Westwood for Eugenie, and this is no exception. I just wish they'd left the bows off the jacket, because now it's all kinds of marching band chic, and I can't handle that. Well, I can handle it better than I can handle her sister, I guess. OH BEA. That Valentino coat is divine: princess-y, proper, and prim to the nines. And she goes and steamrolls the whole thing by plopping Medusa's cartoon hair on top of CRAZY EYES. Now she's like some Ursula Disney sea creature, out to get me. As if sleeping tonight wasn't going to be hard enough already. Thanks a lot, Beatrice.

    Now, note this: I'm missing a LOT of Windsors. I've only been able to find pictures of the backs of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Viscountess Linley, and not a shred of evidence of so many more that I saw on the broadcast. I expect more will pop up as photos continue to roll in, so check back for updates. And if you see something, as always, let me know!

    Who makes your best- and worst-dressed of the Windsor ladies on parade?

    More ladies have appeared! Yay!

    First, the Gloucester crew:
    L to R: the Duchess of Gloucester, the Countess of Ulster, Lady Rose Gilman, Lady Davina Lewis
    Well, this is one color-coordinated family. Isn’t that a fierce hat on the Duchess? Too bad about that 1980s redux dress. Looks like something whipped up for Diana by the Emanuels back in the early years. The Countess of Ulster’s got a strange layering thing going on; clearly the jacket (cardi?) wasn’t a born match for that dress. Also, she has a triangle on her head. Lady Rose is my favorite Gloucester. Sure, her coat could be a few inches shorter, but it has great detailing and is just plain enough for that hat. I should say, actually, she’s my favorite Gloucester that we can see, because Lady Davina’s still in hiding. That’s her in navy hiding behind her brother, and a blurry shot from the Abbey. Looks promising. 

    Next up, the rest of the Duke and Duchess of Kent's clan:
    L to R: the Countess of St. Andrews, Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, Lady Amelia Windsor (circled), Lady Nicholas Windsor
    I’m all on board with the Countess here, but what’s happening on her skirt? Overkill, I think. But she’s classy and age-appropriate. Her daughter’s also age appropriate…if she weren’t 18. Did she borrow this from her mum? Still in hiding but also looking rather aged is Lady Amelia, circled there. Of all these, I think my favorite might be Lady Nicholas in her pale pink. Her fascinator’s fun and the waist detail is flattering. I’m a little concerned about her ankles, though. Those shoes can’t be comfy like that.

    Now, some Ogilvys and a bonus royal...
    L to R: Princess Alexandra of Kent, Julia Ogilvy, the Lady Saltoun
    Oh, Princess Alexandra is doing her Princess Alexandra thing, and why not – it works for her. That’s class straight out of another era, and it looks like she’s passed  bit of that on to her daughter-in-law in her extremely refined suit and hat. The Lady Saltoun has gone for a bit of a youthful flair with her fascinator…and shades? Transitions lenses? Kicky.

    And now, the ones I was most waiting for...
     L to R: Lady Gabriella Windsor (front and back), Viscountess Linley (front, close up, and back) and Lady Sarah Chatto (times 2, since we had to wait so long to see her properly)
    Here we go, the three ladies that I most wanted pics of. How beautiful is Gabriella in these aqua shades? And how perfect is that hat-to-hair combo? J’adore. The Viscountess is also looking refined and chic with what must be a new short hair cut. There’s just enough detail on the front of this jacket to save it from blahs-ville. Last, but never least, is Lady Sarah. You know, she always works the minimalist angle. You’re more likely to see her in a beret and classic coat in either black or white than anything else. So the fact that she went retro with a swinging skirt and a fancy hat just makes this even better. Jumpy claps, am I right?!

    Photos: AFP/Getty Images/Daylife/Reuters/Isopix/Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Rota

    The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding: The Bridal Gown

    So much hype. So much speculation. The question is: did the final creation live up to expectations?
    I'll be honest with you: my first impression was a big ol' no. She did go with Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, which I was rooting for. McQueen is known for creativity and intricate detailing. The problem was, on my television screen, all I could see was a lace top over a plain gown.
    Good thing we have photos to help us out, because there is a tremendous amount of detail here that just wasn't visible in the broadcast, especially around the bottom of the skirt. In fact, the skirt and train are my favorite parts.
    The shape is divine, and the length is perfect: 2 meters 70 centimeters, or about 8 foot 10 inches. Not too long for Westminster Abbey, and a great proportion to the dress. Both the skirt and bodice feature lace appliques hand made by the Royal School of Needlework from varying forms of lace. Lace trims the underskirt as well, a feature which was clearly revealed as maid of honor Pippa carried the train around.
    The dress itself is ivory and white satin gazar, and Kate topped it with a fingertip veil of ivory silk tulle. She arrived with a blusher on, and her father threw it back during the first hymn to give us a clear view of the dress bodice.
    The satin bodice is corseted with padded hips that open the skirt like a flower, a divine feature I didn't notice until the newlyweds were leaving the registry area, and a very McQueen touch.
    The back is closed with 58 buttons, a detail that enhances the Victorian corset feeling.
    In addition to her veil, Kate's bridal accessories included a new pair of earrings given to her by her parents and a tiara on loan from the Queen. The tiara we had previously known as the Scroll Tiara (see details here) has been named the Halo Tiara by the Palace. We now have more info, and will no doubt have even better pictures of this piece to drool over as the photos continue to roll in, so look for us to talk more about the tiara later this week. Kate did her own makeup and went with a demi-chignon hair style. (Looks like those of you that speculated that the couple's pre-wedding visit to Darwen might have been a hair dry run were at least partially correct!)
    She also carried a tiny bouquet (seriously, if this wedding was supposed to be about the language of flowers, this thing doesn't speak loud enough to be heard) including myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth flowers.
    The more I look at this dress, the more I discover the little details it has, the more I like it, yet I'm just not blown away. Don't get me wrong: she looks beautiful. It suits her, and the style we've come to know her for. But my hope (and, yes, it was quite possibly an impossible dream) was that the gown would be original. Epic. Though this is lovely, it is a great deal more Grace, or Margaret, than it is Just Kate. And that's where my hopes get dashed.

    Were your expectations met by this gown? What sort of place in royal bridal history do you think it deserves?

    UPDATE: Here's Kate's gown for the evening reception, also McQueen. It's strapless white satin gazar with a full skirt and diamante embroidered belt, worn with an angora bolero cardigan for the weather.
    Really can't get past the size of that waist, myself.

    UPDATE #2: The dress is included in the Summer 2011 exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

    Source: The Official Wedding Website
    Photos:  AFP/Getty Images/Daylife/Diez Minutos/Daily Mail/Reuters

    The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge's Wedding: The Bridal Party

    So, Pippa Middleton: sexiest royal bridesmaid dress ever?
    The Pips, as I've taken to calling her, wore Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen just like her sister, and it included much of the same button and lace detailing. The slim-fitting cowl neck dress in ivory satin-based crepe placed the showcase firmly on Pippa's wee figure, and revealed just a hint of the royal in-law cleavage.
    All the better for accompanying the dashing Best Man, Prince Harry, I suppose. As expected, Harry wore his Army uniform. He is, of course, an active duty officer, recently promoted to Captain. (Specifically: it is a Blues and Royals officer’s uniform in Dismounted Review Order, with a Forage Cap.)
    The uniform features aiguillettes (ornamental braided cords), a gold waist belt and a cross-belt. Like Prince William, he wore sword slings without a sword. He also sported Army Air Corps wings (since he's a helicopter pilot) and medals from the Golden Jubilee and from his time in Afghanistan.

    And if he wasn't handsome enough with the uniform alone, they put him in the carriage with half of the wee members of the bridal party on the way home.
    All together now: awwww.

    The pageboys (Tom Pettifer, age 8, and Billy Lowther-Pinkerton, age 10) were dressed in the style of mini Foot Guards from the Regency period, featuring the insignia of the Irish Guards.
    The bridesmaids (Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, 7, the Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, 8, Grace van Cutsem, 3, and Eliza Lopes, 3) came from Nikki Macfarlane, a childrenswear designer who hand-made the dresses in her home with her daughter, Charlotte. Using the same fabrics and details as the bride's gown, the ivory and white dresses with full ballerina skirts are finished with pale gold silk sashes tied in a bow at the back. Capes were included, just in case the weather required it.
    The first thing I thought when I saw these dresses? Now, here's the Diana influence, right down to the yellow sash.
    Actually, no. That's not the first thing I thought. The first thing was: SO CUTE.
    Little Eliza Lopes, granddaughter of Camilla, probably won't remember this day, but I'm sure she had the time of her life.
    Even a boost for a balcony view from Grandpa Charles!

    What did you think of the bridal party? And was I the only one surprised we didn't see more of a Scottish theme? I was betting on kilts, heather colors of the highlands, or tartan somewhere in the mix.

    Source: Official Wedding Website
    Photos: Getty/Daylife/Daily Mail