venerdì 10 gennaio 2014

A Look at Possible Jewelry Options for the Duchess of Cambridge to Take on the Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand

With the upcoming Royal tour of Australia and New Zealand in April, I thought it might be nice to have a look at possible jewelry options available for the Duchess of Cambridge to borrow from the Palace vaults!

Of course, when planning a Royal tour, much thought is given to introducing elements of jewelry or clothing that allow the wearer to pay a subtle homage to the host country. Needless to say, the Queen has perfected this tecnique during her reign:

The Queen celebrated Canada Day in Ottawa, 1 July 2010, as part of her official visit to the country; she wore a red coat and dress and white hat with matching red trimming in the colours of the Canadian flag and finished off the look with the Maple Leaf brooch, made by Asprey  Co. in 1939 for her mother and most recently lent to the Duchess of Cambridge for her own Canadian tour in the summer of 2011. Photo Zimbio.
During a visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011 (the first ever from a reigning British monarch), the Queen wore a dress embroidered with thousands silk shamrocks and an Irish harp design made up of beads and crystals on her left shoulder. The whole look is perfectly rounded off with the aptly named Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara. Photo Express.
The Duchess of Cambridge herself has had ample opportunities during her two Royal tours so far to demonstrate her skills at diplomatic dressing, either by choosing dresses by local designers, or by tastfully mixing colours, embroidery and accessories to come up with the perfect look:

No doubt we will see more of these sartorial skills displayed during the three and a half weeks of the Royal tour of Australia and New Zealand in April, but instead of looking at potential designers (there's of course material for speculation on the subject, a choice extremely likely to be considered is Duchess favourite New Zealander Emilia Wickstead), I'll bring you more details on jewelry options for the tour.
Let's begin with some proper, old-school bling and consider the real sparklers in the Queen's collection, and probable candidates for being loaned to the Duchess, the Australian Wattle brooch and the New Zealand Silver-Fern brooch.
Both gifts to the present Queen during official visits to the two countries, they are large, stunning pieces.
The Australian Wattle brooch in 1954 by Melbourne-based jewellers William Drummond  Co.; it measure a very respectable 9 x 4.5 cm and is made up of clear and yellow diamonds mounted in platinum in the form of a sprig of golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) with a spray of Australian tea tree blossom (Leptospermum laevigatum).
Photo Telegraph.
You'd need some rather heavyweight cloth material to pin this to, or it would sag. I could totally see this pinned to the yellow Emilia Wickstead coat the Duchess wore when she attended a Buckingham Palace garden party in May last year (it was maternity, but in a way that allows for taking in and I wouldn't be surprised if we this make a repeat, non-maternity appearance) - of course it won't be possible, as I really cannot see a dress by a New Zealand designer worn on an official visit to Australia, but nonetheless these two would make a terrific pair in my opinion! :)
Gold wattle is the national floral emblem of Australia, and grows mainly in the south-eastern part of the country. D.H. Lawrence mentioned the flower in its 1923 novel set in Australia, "Kangaroo":
In spring, the most delicate feathery yellow of plumes and plumes and plumes and trees and bushes of wattle, as if angels had flown right down out of the softest gold regions of heaven to settle here, in the Australian bush.

I think it's a really poetic description for such a beautiful, delicate flower! (More on Australia's Wattle Day can be found on the Parliament of Australia website here).
The brooch, which can be worn either way up, was originally presented to the Queen by the Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, at a state banquet in Canberra, on 16 February 1954, during the Queen's first visit to the country (and the first ever by a reigning monarch). It appears to be a well-loved piece, that the Queen has worn on many occasions since, not only when attending Australia-related events.

The Queen in Kuala Lumpur, October 1989 (left, photo Getty) and upon arrival in Canberra in 2011 (right, photo Express).

The Queen celebrating her 60th birthday in 1986 (photo People).
The Queen and Prince Philip in Melbourne in 1954, shortly after the brooch was presented to Her Majesty (photo Radical Royalist).
Moving on to the other destination of the tour, New Zealand, one obvious jewelry possibility would be the Queen's New Zealand Silver-Fern brooch.
Photo Fashion Era.
Another substantial piece, measuring 7.3 x. 3 cm, it is made of platinum set with brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds in the shape of one of the most widely recognized emblems of New Zealand, silver fern (Cyathea dealbata), which features on the coat of arms of the country (as does wattle on the Australian coat of arms).
Photos Wikipedia.

The Queen was presented the brooch on Christmas Day 1953, during her historic visit to New Zealand as part of the Commonwealth tour she undertook at the start of her reign. The gift, apparently, delighted the Queen and was presented to her by Lady Allum, the wife of the Mayor of Auckland, on behalf of the women of New Zealand.
The Queen wearing the brooch on 11 November 2006 for the dedication of the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner (photo New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage)...
...and in the official portrait wearing her New Zealand honours taken to mark her 60th Jubilee (photo NewsTalkZB).
But the piece with a New Zealand connection I'm more excited about is a brand-new addition to the Queen's collection and was presented to her as a personal gift by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the start of his sojurn in Balmoral in September 2013.
Photo via @Monarchynz on Twitter.
Made by Eyris Pearls, a Christchurch-based firm specializing in jewels featuring blue pearls, it has a very modern design, featuring a large central blue pearl set in mixed-metal geometric flower design and what seem to be diamond accents.
As it was presented so recently, I've only been able to find out a single public occasion in which it has been worn, a reception at Buckingham Palace held on 28 October 2013 to mark the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka.

The Queen with Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma at Buckingham Palace - if you look closely you can just make out the brooch (photo via The British Monarchy on Facebook).
This is very modern in design, and a piece that I can definitely see lent to the Duchess for the tour.
The Silver-Fern and Australian Wattle brooches are of course stunning pieces, but definitely require to be pinned to some heavy cloth material to prevent sagging, and we haven't seen the Duchess wearing really substantial jewelry pieces so far execpt on very special and far-apart occasions (I'm thinking about the Maple Leaf brooch worn on Canada Day in 2011 and the Papyrus tiara she debuted in December 2013 at the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace).
Maybe we'll see the Blue Pearl brooch and the Australian Wattle? I just cannot see her going on a tour of two Commonwealth countries and only paying a jewelry homage to one of them, so for me it'll definitely be a question of both or none.
Or maybe she'll choose to pay a sartorial homage, following once again in the footsteps of the Queen, who wore a (rather garish, if I may say so...) yellow silk evening gown by Ian Thomas, embroidered with wattle sprigs on her 1974 visit to Australia.
Photo Vogue.
Anyway, before too long we'll see for ourselves! I'm so excited already :)
What do you think? We'll see any of the jewels I mentioned? None? All? Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

giovedì 2 gennaio 2014

"Fashion Rules" Exhibition at Kensington Palace - Part III, Princess Diana's Dresses

The first post of 2014 is dedicated to the third and final part of my review of the "Fashion Rules" exhibition currently on at Kensington Palace in London. Here you can have a look back at the first and second part of the series (dedicated respectively to the Queen's and Princess Margaret's dresses).

Today we'll take a look at the most recent dresses on show, those belonging to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. There aren't very many of them on show, just five, compared to the number of those worn by the Queen and Princess Margaret, by they make up a rather fascinating end to the exhibition, nonetheless.

The round case where the gowns are put on display.
Dress #1, one of my personal all-time favourites among the Princess's gowns, an evening dress of silk chiffon and satin with beaded trimming created by Zandra Rhodes in 1985 to be worn on the official visit to Japan the Princess undertook the following year with the Prince of Wales.
The dress pays homage to the host country (as is customary when planning royal wardrobes) in its colour, a soft shimmery powder pink, reminiscent of the colour of cherry blossom, in flower at the time of the royal visit. Princess Diana is seen below wearing it at a State banquet in Kyoto.
Evening dress of scarlet silk with beaded embroidery by Bruce Oldfield, 1986.
First worn on the royal tour of Saudi Arabia the same year.
Dance dress of synthetic velvet embellished with sequins and glass beads, by Jacques Azagury, 1985, worn by the Princess to attend a dinner given by the Mayor of Florance during a visit to Italy in the same year, as seen below. The dress was among those auctioned by Christies, New York, in 1997 and was bought by People magazine, which lent it for the exhibition.
Photo People.
A detail of the bodice (photo itv).
Strapless evening dress of midnight blue silk tulle decorated with diamanté stars, by fashion designer Murray Arbeid (who specilized in evening gowns - "he didn't do clothes that had to get up, go out and earn a living before the cocktail hour, according to Veronica Horwell of The Guardian - I just love that phrase!), 1986.
The Princess wore the gown for a dinner at Claridges in London in honour of the President of Greece in 1986, as shown below (I love how she paired it with raspberry pink gloves!)...
Photo The Guardian. the "Phantom of the Opera" London premiere...
Photo itv.
...and eventually Lord Snowdon photographed her in it for the Christies auction catalogue in 1997:
The final Diana gown in the exhibition is probably one of the most recent acquisitions of the Royal Ceremonial Dress collection at Kensington Palace and is the one you can see centre right in the photo above. A pink sequinned ivory crepe gown with asymmetric neckline, by Catherine Walker, 1991. It was acquired, among others, by the museum at the March 2013 auction of Princess Diana dresses.
Vogue Daily —
Above, the Princess is seen wearing it on an official visit to Brazil (photo Vogue).
So, what did you think of this array of fabulous dresses?
Be sure to leave a comment and let me know which is your favourite!