Archives for January 2016

January 27, 2016

The Feast of Sainte Dévote

Good to see you again so soon, dear readers! Today is the feast day of Sainte Dévote, the patron saint of Monaco. In case you’re new to this space and you don’t know this already, Monaco’s national religion is Catholicism, so they take their saint’s day very seriously, and celebrate it with all the exuberance you could imagine. Namely: they burn a boat in the cathedral square on the eve of Sainte Dévote’s day, set ablaze by the Prince and Princess, and attend Mass services the following morning. (Photos courtesy of Facebook and Getty.)

The boat-burning is heavy with symbolism for the Monégasque people, who celebrate the fact that their saint arrived on their shores via a tiny fishing boat after being martyred overseas. She is said to have been put on the boat by fellow Christians, and a white dove flew out of her mouth and guided her to a land where she would receive a proper burial. She wound up in Monaco, and has ever since looked over the principality and its people. As a side note, the Princely couple gave Pope Francis a historical Monégasque coin from the 18th century, featuring Sainte Dévote, as a gift when they had their papal audience last week:

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A very nice, appropriate, and thoughtful gift for His Holiness. But back to the boat-burning last night!

The burning itself is terribly theatrical, with the Princely family bringing the burning torches to the kindling-branches underneath the small boat. The boat itself is red-and-white, the colors of Monaco’s flag. Once lit, the blaze roars throughout the square, with religious and lay persons alike watching, celebrating, and honoring their beloved patron saint.

Ok, enough of that. Onto fashion!

Princess Charlene looked beautiful last night! She selected a knee-length, grey wrap dress and scarf, and paired them with her favorite cream-colored accessories. The cape is new for me, but I love the way it creates something of a reverse-halo around Charlene when she stands in front of the flames. The outfit hits me in different ways depending on her angle, but overall I think I would categorize this as a win.

Her gloves and boots we have definitely seen before: at the presentation of Jacques and Gabriella last January. The gloves have been seen multiple times since then, the most recent being at the Papal audience last week.

Jewelry was elegant simplicity itself; hair and makeup were divine. I absolutely love the bold, red lip here, and I feel like its intensity almost gives a symbolic mirror to the boat-burning.

Charlene greeted the many crowds with gratitude and grace, stopping to talk to children along the way. I’m sure at some point she must have encouraged the youngsters to head home and get to bed, as the celebrations do take place rather late in the evening!

The following morning (read: today), Albert and Charlene attended a special Mass in honor of Sainte Dévote’s feast. The photos of their exit from the cathedral are absolutely stunning, mainly because Charlene looks ultra glamorous:

She donned a black coat with satin panels and exquisite tailoring for the Mass. It is breathtaking. We haven’t seen this coat before (at least I haven’t!), but we have seen a very, very similar cut before on Charlene. It is a lovely choice that gives her long, lean body a different shape than we usually see. I love it!

This might be my favorite holiday of the year: the tradition, the history, the theatric burning of the boat, it all just adds up to a gloriously dramatic, passionate event. A very happy Sainte Dévote’s day to you all!

January 25, 2016

Happy Birthday: Princess Charlene Turns 38

Today is Charlene’s 38th birthday, and I couldn’t quite decide which way to go with this post. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do a “how Charlene is celebrating” post, since those details aren’t generally shared (hint, hint to the Princely palace, we want to know!). So I thought perhaps a reminiscent look-back at Charlene’s 37th year. It was certainly one to remember – her first with her babies! – so it seemed fitting to reflect. But should we reflect on the happiest memories? Or on the most glamorous fashion? I couldn’t decide. So, my friends, we’re doing both. A mélange, if you will, of Princess Charlene’s happiest and most gorgeous moments of her past year.

(Sidenote: I obviously wanted to start with the introduction of her twins on the balcony, but alas, that actually happened before Charlene’s last birthday, so it doesn’t make the cut. Bummer!)

Just after Charlene’s birthday, Monaco observes the feast day of Sainte Dévote, and Charlene burned a boat with Albert in celebration.

Charlene looked radiant and happy, probably from two things: first, her new twin babies who were healthy and strong; second, to getting away from their adorable screaming for a hot second. I think all new moms know the look of another mom when she’s having her first night out of the house! (We’ll hopefully get to see another boat-burning in a couple days, as the feast day is just around the corner, so stay tuned!)

Charlene let a couple months go by with very few sightings, but given the fact that she was recuperating from a c-section, it was understandable. The next time I was really bowled over by her happiness and beauty was at her twins’ baptism:

Pure joy. I don’t think there has ever been a photo of Charlene looking more purely happy than she does here, descending the steps of the Cathedral with Prince Jacques.

And then, later in the month, we saw Charlene in this gorgeous, show-stopping gown:

To me, this was one of Charlene’s finest fashion moments. It is so, so reminiscent of the Duchess of Cambridge’s Roland Mouret gown, and both are stunning in their sleek elegance. Complete win, in my book.

I personally would love to glaze over the Red Cross Ball, because in all honesty, I hated this dress…or jumpsuit, to be more accurate. I hope some people out there loved it, but I just hated it. However! I couldn’t gloss over this event because of how striking Charlene looked from the neck up:

See how I cleverly give you the headshots, so you don’t have to see the jumpsuit? She was stunning, and the sheer intensity of her beauty makes this event ring in my memory.

I think, though, that one of the most memorably joyous moments from Charlene’s past year was throughout Albert’s celebration of 10 years on the throne.

When she greeted the crowds in French, telling them that he was the Prince of her heart, you could see the elation on her face as she turned to hug her husband. It was almost too cute.

But back to glam! Probably the most gorgeous gown of Charlene’s past year was the Dior that she wore to the Princess Grace Awards.

I was blown away by this one. Just looking at this gown, you can practically feel the weight of it, the heaviness of the embroidered embellishments and the whoosh of fabric in the low, A-line skirt. This was one of her finest moments, certainly of the past year, but perhaps of all time. Sublime.

And of course…

…National Day in Monaco. Charlene looked chic, dramatic, and incredibly proud of her two children. I can’t decide if the win goes to glam or happy in this one, since it seems to be such a superb combination of both. A wonderful, fitting way to celebrate Monaco and the Princely family all in one go.

Just as a sidenote, I recently realized that Princess Charlene actually shares a birthday with Virginia Woolf (if you like historical fiction and are interested at all in Woolf, I do recommend Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar). Not that the two women have that much in common, but perhaps there is an overlap in there somewhere: both strong, independent women with very clear identities, with decisive passion for their values and ideals. An interesting coincidence, and I thought it worth sharing just for amusement! Those little bits of trivia are always fun to know. Wishing Charlene the happiest of birthdays today, and the beginning of a beautiful new year ahead!

January 19, 2016

Princess Charlene Visits the Pope

Good morning to you all! Yesterday marked Princess Charlene’s fourth state visit to the Vatican, and we were all delighted to see that she invoked her privilège du blanc for the occasion (in case you’re interested, I wrote a post on privilège du blanc early last year). As the wife of a Catholic nation’s sovereign, she is one of only seven women in the entire world granted the privilege of wearing white in the Pope’s company. It’s a good thing, too, because she looks like an angel in white. Apropos for being at the Vatican, I think.

Charlene’s coat and dress were actually more of a cream shade, which looked amazing with her skintone. She finished the look with classic, nude pumps and a white lace mantilla. Read: angel.

The entire outfit was at once chic and understated – exactly what we would expect from Charlene at an audience with the Pope. The only part of the look that was vibrant and unexpected were her lips: bright red. I am usually quite fond of Charlene’s daring experiments with lip color; however, for an occasion like this, I probably would have preferred to see something a little more subtle. Not that it doesn’t go well with the outfit on its own – honestly, the combination is striking and gorgeous – but the tone of the visit just made it hit a slightly wrong note for me. But c’est moi, seulement! I do hope others enjoyed it!

She also donned the cream, leather gloves we have seen before, and a new (at least to me!) clutch.

Charlene was the epitome of piety and reverence yesterday, which seemed appropriate given how much she has tied into her faith. Charlene did choose to convert to Catholicism when she married Albert, completely of her own accord, and it is said that she found the faith deeply resonated with her own values. She has been an active participant in Masses, in all of the Catholic ceremonies that have taken place in Monaco, and was particularly enthusiastic over her twins’ baptism into Catholicism last May. She and Albert have even given public praise to Pope Francis for his fervent stand for the environment, on which they share very close common ground. It warms my heart to see her building her rapport with the Vatican ever-stronger, in particular with our beloved Pope Francis, as it is clearly a focal point of her spiritual wellbeing.

A good reminder for us all in this new year, to take our spiritual centers and nurture them in whatever ways feel right. Blessings to you all!

January 1, 2016

A Video Interview with the Princely Family

Happy New Year to you all, and do I have a treat for you today! The Princely Family recently sat down for a video interview all about their precious 1-year old twin babies. The tots were front and center, while Charlene and Albert answered all the questions anyone might have about or surrounding the children, from what their lives will be like in the future to family resemblances. It was a rare and beautiful glimpse into the family’s life, and it was probably the most intimate, lengthy, up-close interview I’ve ever seen the family (or, come to think of it, any other royal families) give. The answers, given in English by Charlene and French by Albert, provided viewers with a clear sense of the couple’s parenting style, which seems dedicated, relaxed, loving, and strong. And maybe a little exhausted, dealing with twins! But enough of my rambling: enjoy the interview! (Video courtesy of Youtube and Facebook.)

I particularly was amused by the moment at around 11:30, where Jacques seems to bring the background orchestra to a dramatic crescendo. Way to embody your power, little guy! This one will be giving Prince George a run for his money some day. It will be interesting, in the future, to see which of the two wins the title of world’s most eligible bachelor. My guess is that Prince George will be a runaway, but with Prince Jacques so close in age to him, it might be a close call. We shall see!

Here’s to a wonderful 2016!