Archives for January 2015

January 27, 2015

Princess Charlene Burns a Boat for the Feast of Sainte Dévote

Today is the celebration of the feast day of Sainte Dévote, the patron saint of Monaco (and Corsica, as she was born there). With Monaco being one of the few Catholic nations in the world, today the Monégasque people focus on Sainte Dévote, her story, and celebrate her protection over Monaco.

A little backstory: Sainte Dévote’s name is actually unknown, but she is referred to in this way in an effort to reflect upon her devotion to God. After being martyred in particularly gruesome, torturous ways in Mariana, her body was snuck onto a boat by Christians so that it might receive a proper burial in wherever it landed – because it was certainly not going to get one where it was. The legend says that a dove flew out of her mouth and guided the boat to what is now Monaco, where she was discovered by fishermen and, of course, given the aforementioned proper burial. A small chapel was built in her memory, and still stands today, where flowers are said to bloom on her feast day – today – even in the January cold.

It doesn’t end there: when a common thief unsuccessfully tried to steal her relics over 900 years ago, he was caught and arrested, and his boat was set ablaze by the Monégasque people. Since then, Monaco has invoked the protection of Sainte Dévote, and has given her credit for several victories in its history, including the end of their Plague epidemic and saving Monaco’s independence from various invaders.

Each year on the eve of her feast day, it is customary for the royal family to set a small boat on fire in recognition of their loyalty to Sainte Dévote, and their gratitude for her protection over their Principality. On the 27th, there is of course a Mass said in her honor and a procession of her relics, along with a blessing over the whole of Monaco for her continued and steady protection.

From a religious perspective, it’s lovely to see the country unite in recognition of their patron saint. Religious traditions these days usually take the form of very quiet, civilized ceremonies, losing any vigor or passion that might be at the heart of the traditions themselves. But boat-burning is a delightful shift from the ordinary, a departure from the quiet and dignified to the zealous and passionate. The burning boat on the stones, the cold air breathing life into the fire, the crashing waves of the Mediterranean egging it on like background music: this meeting of the elements certainly make it a sensory feast.

From a non-religious perspective, we are just thrilled to get to see the Princely family involved in something so near and dear to their country’s heart. I love seeing a Princess wielding fire, too – very evocative and powerful, it’s the stuff of history books. Sartorially speaking, Princess Charlene usually chooses mostly muted, sometimes somber, always fashionable attire for the events:

For the boat-burning this year, Charlene looking very chic in a grey coat and black leather boots/accessories. She took my suggestion and cinched the coat this time, hooray! It is actually quite similar to her most recent look when she presented her twins, but with color changes and the cinching, which make it SO much better. I love, love, love this outfit on her! The black offsets the grey in just the right way. Each piece alone is lovely in its own right; together, their power increases exponentially. The one tiny flaw at which I will pick (sorry, I’m a detail person): the popped collar. I’m not a popped collar girl, even when it was en vogue. Charlene can carry it off, but I’d probably still prefer it laying flat. A small quibble in the wake of sheer perfection.

Her hair and makeup looked like perfection too. Anyone else notice that those bangs have mysteriously vanished? I didn’t hate them, but I’m not disappointed to see them gone. I love her eyes, and now we can see them! Speaking of eyes, it’s also worth a mention that the couple doesn’t look nearly as tired as they did a couple weeks ago. Perhaps it’s safe to assume that the babies are starting to do their nights? Every mom out there is crossing fingers and maybe praying for the intercession of Sainte Dévote on that one!

Normally on Sainte Dévote’s day, we see the Princely couple at the Mass and on the balcony; however, the photos that have surfaced show only Albert…it doesn’t look like Charlene was able to make it for either appearance. In case those are updated and somehow Charlene was there, I will certainly update the post! But at least we got to see her set a boat on fire, that’s something.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sainte Dévote’s day! (But do not try the boat-burning at home, ok?)

January 25, 2015

Happy Birthday to Princess Charlene!

Hello dear readers! Today marks the 37th birthday of Princess Charlene. As a special day for Charlene and Albert, and indeed for their whole family and much of Monaco, one would expect nothing less than flutes of champagne and caviar hors d’oeuvres. As lovely as that sounds, we here must speculate that this particular birthday might be a bit more low-key – perhaps of the “lying on the couch and eating some cake” variety – due to the 6 week old babies that are undoubtedly screaming their precious little heads off in the background.

That being said, I’ll keep things low-key around here too, by reflecting on my favorite Charlene sightings of this past year. We’ll skip her fashion week appearances, though, since we’ve already seen those in a recent post (wink, wink).

At the end of March, Charlene attended the Rose Ball 2014 in Monte Carlo. The event aids the Princess Grace Foundation, and Charlene looked effortlessly glamorous. I actually have a love/hate relationship with this dress, though – the top is amazing, and the bottom is not great. Hence the head-shot. Hope you don’t mind! Google the full-length version if you’re curious.

About a month after the Rose Ball, Charlene jetted out to California for The Colleagues 26th Annual Spring Luncheon, held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. This is one of my all-time favorites on Charlene – something about the cut is very 40s to me, and the green color is great with her eyes. There’s something about that smile, too. The photos from this event all have the same glow to them. Ah! That must be it. She was in her first trimester with the twins here, so that might explain the glow (and the smile).

In June, Charlene and Albert re-opened the Princess Grace Rose Garden after it had been closed for 8 months for renovations. I didn’t really adore the dress so much, but it was just nice to see her at an event in honor of her late mother-in-law. I love seeing her splash the champagne on the roses, too.

Again in June, Charlene went to the opening of the Monaco Yacht Club. Once again, the ensemble was nice, but it didn’t wow me. I was more into her new hair style – it felt really retro-glamorous, and the close-up head shots were gorgeous.

There’s that glow again. In August, when Charlene’s pregnancy was really starting to show, she and Albert appeared at the 66th Monaco Red Cross Ball Gala. They attend almost every year, so it wasn’t a surprise to see them there. Her pregnancy really made this a stand-out appearance in comparison to past years, though: she was radiant. Who needs diamonds when you have skin like that?

And last, but definitely not least, would be Charlene’s appearance on the balcony on Monaco National Day (November 19th). Given the twins pregnancy, it is understandable that she was slowing down her public engagements at this point (I think this was her last one of 2014), but the Monégasque people were delighted when she made an appearance for National Day. It’s actually the sheer delight from her presence that made this appearance worth a mention. Her smile is infectious!

And those, my friends, were my favorite moments of 2014. I skipped over quite a few – feel free to call me out on it if you feel jilted that I missed one of your favorites! Let’s hope that Charlene’s 37th year will put this past one to shame. We do expect to see the royal family and hopefully Charlene for the feast day of Sainte Dévote on the 27th, so cross your fingers and check back soon. Happy birthday Charlene!

January 19, 2015

Paris Fashion Week

So I’m a few weeks ahead of myself here, but I get excited about fashion weeks whenever and wherever they happen. And since this space is French-flavored, today I will focus in on the Paris Fashion Week, with the Haute Couture shows scheduled to take place at the end of the month. I present you with photos from years past, where Charlene was large and in charge at the events.

Charlene has been a fixture at Paris Fashion Week for years. And for good reason: the lady knows fashion, and she has become a fashion icon many times over. I think it started well before she married Prince Albert, but increased exponentially since becoming the Princess of Monaco.

Honestly, it would be hard for Charlene to not be a fashion icon. Much like her British counterpart, Kate, she’s tall, she’s gorgeous, she’s famous, she has impeccable taste, and – sorry, I’m going to be really blunt here – she has money. I hate to be crass, but let’s face it, you absolutely need deep pockets in order to keep up with fashion. At least if you’re wearing the real stuff. She is, in essence, the ideal model for any of these designers to woo, and they all undoubtedly are itching to score her business – especially with its impending publicity when she wears their pieces publicly.

This year, though, I assume Charlene’s viewing of fashion week will be much like mine: enjoyed from the comfort of the couch, with a pint of ice cream and a large, large spoon, after having just put the kids to bed. It will be quite different from years past, when she sat front-and-center at the Paris shows, getting a first-hand glimpse of Versace and Dior perfection. To have the means to actually wear such designers is enviable, but to be placed in front of the collections in the designers’ attempt to seduce you – now that, my friends, is power.

If she does manage to make it to Paris for the shows this year, it will certainly be a well-deserved break from the baby juggling she’s doing back in Monaco. Moms across the world will be applauding the fact that she is getting a chance to indulge in something she loves while others mind the babies. I hope she does get a chance to go, but I would be surprised if she were ready to leave her little tykes for multiple days just yet. But maybe she’ll squeeze in a day’s worth, perhaps as a birthday treat to herself? Let’s hope.

For me, even if I haven’t the deep pockets I’d like to have, I still love a good fashion week. For a fashion-lover, there is something so magical about being able to view the most recent work of the world’s top designers all at once. It would be like getting to taste the cuisine of the world’s greatest chefs for a week straight: pure, indulgent heaven. Like royal watching, it’s a nice departure from daily life, a full-on dive into an other-worldly realm of beauty.

Once the Haute Couture shows in Paris are done, I might do a review of what was shown, and perhaps discuss the possibilities that we might see on HSH in the upcoming year. Until then, cross your fingers for a Charlene sighting and I’ll see you again on her birthday!

January 13, 2015

The Princess Charlene Foundation

We are going to spend so much time on this blog discussing Princess Charlene’s fashion, babies, and engagements that it is sometimes difficult to remember that there’s more to being a royal than looking effortlessly glamorous and wearing lots of diamonds (though sign me up for that job, right?). Our favorite royal ladies often do loads of office work that usually center around charities, and Charlene is no different than any of them. I thought it might be nice every once in awhile to put aside the fashion and look at some of the work Charlene puts in behind the scenes.

I’ve got to be honest with all of you: I don’t love swimming. I can do it well enough, but I don’t love it. I enjoyed swimming as a kid, but as an adult I quickly lost interest. The chlorine (or the salt, depending on whether we’re talking pool or sea), the cold water, the mixed odor of sunblock and perspiration wafting through the air: it all gives me a headache. My one exception would be outdoor heated pools, especially if they’re part of a mountainside luxury resort and it’s snowing – now that can be sexy. But the normal, summertime pool is, for me, a vacuous experience. If it weren’t for my husband reminding me that it’s good for kids to swim, it would never even occur to me to take my child to the pool.

But I do love Charlene. And even though I don’t get it, I do admire her love for swimming and how much she embraces it. It also makes her an ideal princess for Monaco, given its proximity to water. To use her passions as a springboard for charitable work, Charlene created a foundation that reflects her love for swimming while giving back to the community. The Princess Charlene Foundation teaches swimming to children so that water safety, fun, and healthy exercise can be a part of their lives.

Charlene and her family have been involved in teaching swimming for years, but only after her increase in status was she able to make it more of a national quest. Indeed, she seems quite in her element when she’s teaching swimming to children, and she lights up when discussing the mission of her Foundation on its website (and on Media Events Monaco’s Youtube channel):

I am always struck by how much of Charlene’s personality shines through when she’s around water – is it just me? It’s almost like it’s more of a natural environment for her than dry land. I love seeing her laughing here with Albert, at the Charity Christmas Swim a few years ago. She’s the picture of fun.

I think he notices it too. It’s lovely to see how he supports her, jumping right in and embracing something that is a passion for her. It’s endearing to see them more relaxed and genuinely enjoying themselves – and each other – so much.

Now if I liked swimming, and if it were warmer than 4 degrees outside here in NY, I’d totally be in the mood for a swim now. Maybe after the spring thaw…who’s with me?!

January 7, 2015

Introducing: Gabriella & Jacques!

Finally, January 7th is here! All of us here have been waiting patiently for today, when Princess Charlene and Prince Albert II introduced the newest royals to their people. The Monégasque people cheered as the Princely couple appeared, some waving flags and others releasing red and white balloons into the air. I’ve heard that today was declared a holiday, so that one and all could gather under the balcony to greet the infants properly.

The Princely couple appeared on the balcony of the Palais Princier in Monaco around 11am today, each holding a very bundled-up infant. It is said that Charlene was snuggling Jacques while Albert held Gabriella, but truth be told, I don’t know how anyone could possibly know which baby is which. The pictures I’ve seen (and the ones I will show you here!) don’t seem to give any indication as to who’s who. But WHO cares! They’re both so cute and tiny and squishy!

The above picture is about the only one in which we can properly see one of the infants’ faces. Appearing on a balcony doesn’t quite give the photographers the option of being positioned above the couple (like when Prince George was born), but what can you do? At least this photo was snagged. Charlene and Albert both do seem quite taken by their new little ones, don’t they?

In addition to looking starry-eyed by the new Prince and Princess, let’s be real here: the couple looks tired. Not so tired they’re going to faint, but they seem to have that glaze, that certain je ne sais quoi that is so common behind the eyes of new parents. And anyone who’s done it with one newborn is probably foaming at the mouth over the idea of doing it with two. Now that’s a lot of work. (I remember looking at my husband at 2:30am one morning during the newborn stage, and saying “We are only having ONE child.”) But since they’re royalty, hopefully they have help!

Aside from the new humans on the balcony, I couldn’t help but notice that Charlene looked a bit different too: new bangs! What is the consensus here, love them or hate them? I am always so baffled at how Charlene looks good no matter how she does her hair, or what she wears. But for me, I’m not feeling the bangs. They’re nice, but she has a glorious face, and they seem to be a bit thick for her delicate features. As for her ensemble…

…I don’t love this photo, but I’m putting it in here just so you can see her whole outfit. Charlene chose an off-white, billowy pea coat and matching, high-necked sheath dress underneath, with beige gloves and boots. I had noticed the beige gloves on the balcony, but had no idea she would be wearing matching boots until I saw this full length shot. Très chic! I’ve got to say, it is impressive to pull off high leather boots at 4 weeks postpartum. I’d call this outfit a win just for that. I don’t personally love the exact color combinations – for me, the boots were a bit too dark for her skin and the coat – but as an ensemble, it was certainly appropriate for the event. I sort of wish she had cinched the coat closed for the walkabout, to make the whole outfit look more polished in the breeze. But these are minor issues – overall, I loved each element and thought she carried them off beautifully. Especially for having just given birth to twins!

Overall, what a lovely day for the twins to make their first public appearance. It was a joy to see the couple looking so happy, healthy, and proud of their children. Only 4 weeks old and already fulfilling royal engagements – I’d be proud of that too! Now let’s hope we get many more pictures the whole year through. Happy 2015, everyone!