King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium welcomed German President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt to Brussels yesterday for the first of a three-day state visit to Belgium.
For the official welcome, Queen Mathilde repeated the dove grey straw rounded pillbox with knotted bow trim on the back. The first time we saw this piece, it topped and elegant but slightly bland monochrome ensemble. Today, Mathilde paired it with an exquisite sea foam green and grey patterned coat and green dress. The pairing might be a subtle change from the original but one that balances the simple hat beautifully.
Black and white version at the May 19, 2001 wedding of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of The Netherlands
Both hats are fantastic- the shape of the large mushroom brim is wonderful and the contrasting trim, in classic navy and black, makes for such timeless and elegant combinations. I’m just curious why Princess Mathilde, as she was then, ordered such similar versions of the same hat and wore them so close together?
One royal who has embraced vibrant hued hats is Queen Mathilde. While she has numerous pink, magenta, and burgundy pieces, we’re going to focus our look today on all things truly red within her millinery closet. Over the past sixteen years of her royal life, Queen Mathilde has worn nine red designs:
1. 2. 3.
Introduced: May 8, 2001; October 15, 2002; June 20, 2006 Designer: All are Fabienne Delvigne
Within this group of nine there is considerable diversity of shape- a saucer, a calot, a pleated beret, picture hats in straw and wool (including one crown-less design), and two more avant garde numbers that involve pleats and rings. The other thing that stands out to me most here is that five of these nine pieces have been introduced into service over the past two and a half years (since Mathilde became queen). Some other European monarchs seem to have given up the tradition of hat wearing and I’m thrilled that Mathilde has not chosen to do the same. Of these nine pieces, which ones do you think she wears best?
Note: While hat #4 was also included in the orange inventory, I couldn’t leave it out here. It’s as red as it is orange so we’ll include it in both inventories.
Members of the Belgian royal family gathered at Notre Dame Church in Laeken today to take part in an annual Te Deum mass in memory of deceased family members. For the service, Queen Mathilde repeated a grey felt Garbo style hat with rounded crown and slightly floppy brim. Trimmed simply with a slim leather band around the base of the crown, this hat’s impact comes from the relaxed shape of its brim. It’s a stylish piece that Mathilde wears well (jump over to this post to see this hat paired with other outfits)
Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein (who is a first cousin to King Philippe) also attended the service this year. Princess Margaretha repeated a simple black brimless bumper hat. During past outings, this hat has appeared to be a pillbox but if you look closely at this photo, you’ll see a rounded crown surrounded by a bumper brim.
Princes Marie Esmeralda and Princess Léa (standing beside King Philippe, below) also attended although neither wore hats. While Princess Astrid, Prince Lorenz, Prince Laurent and Princess Claire often attend this event, they did not this year. This made for a less dynamic group of Belgian royal hats than we usually see at the Te Deum, leaving just two for us to admire this year.
Queen Margrethe’s sisters, Queen Anne-Marie and Princess Benedikte, both wore vibrant hats. In bright red felt, Queen Anne-Marie’s hat featured an unusually tall crown, a short, upturned brim; the piece was boldly embellished with a large knotted bow and curling black feather spines. Princess Benedikte topped her grey fur coat with a large beret-style design in raspberry felt. We have seen Princess Benedikte in numerous hats in this hue and the colour is fantastic on her.
Princess Marie-Chantal wore a Philip Treacy designed fascinator of straw twists and several different varieties of gold feathers. While some might argue that the spiky design gave some textural contrast to her tweed coat and dress, I have always found the combination of classic clothing and modern headpiece to be jarring and disharmonious.
Princess Alexia of Greece topped her grey fur jacket with a burgundy felt hat. With an indented crown and fluted, upturned brim, this hat is all about shape. I adore the grey and burgundy colour scheme of her ensemble but I’m afraid the stylised brim and crown shapes on her hat look rather dated today. Tatiana Blatnik (who would become Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark in 2010) wore a simple fascinator of navy feathers. The lightness of the piece, which feels better suited to a summer wedding or garden party, feels off balance against her winter coat
Princess Theodora wore an interesting loden green beret variation with high peaked side trimmed with a felt rose in the same colour. Dutch Princess Laurentien also wore an exaggerated hat- made of the same brown plaid as her tailored jacket, the piece featured a tall, indented crown and oval shaped brim. Unfortunately, the oversize fedora was too big for Laurentien and looked to be swallowing her up. In this pairing of exaggerated hats, I think Princess Theodora’s was substantially more successful.
Princess Mathilde (as was her title in 2006) topped her beautiful red coat dress and cape with a large matching hat. With a squared crown and upfolded brim, the hat was simply trimmed with a wide ribbon around the base of the crown. It’s a strong look for Mathilde but she carried it well. It’s a classic piece that I would love to see trotted out again.
Princess Märtha Louise of Norway wore a 1940s inspired hat by Anja Irgens. With a close fitting crown and diamond brooch detail, the star of this hat was its upfolded brim that swept around the hat in fluted waves. Märtha Louise has long been known for her quirky style and while this hat fits that style brief, the colour and shape are exquisite. Ten years later, it is still one of my favourite hats in her wardrobe.
Princess Benedikte’s daughter, Princess Alexandra of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg topped her gold bouclé coat with a purple fascinator. The headpiece, consisting of a purple silk rose and feathers that swept around the top of her head, provided a spot of colour and textural contrast to her ensemble. The Countess of Frederiksborg, who arrived with her young sons Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, wore in an ivory felt hat with asymmetrical upfolded brim. The hat was trimmed in a pleated sash of the same fabric as her coat, drawing the two pieces together in a unified winter white ensemble. Some of you might recognize the hat as the same one worn for Prince Felix’s christening (the last christening to have taken place in the Danish royal family at the time) in 2002- an interesting choice but a hat that Alexandra wore very well.
It is only once in a generation that a royal house christens a future king or queen and the scale of this event reflects its importance. Looking back, I’m surprised at how many hats withstand the test of time and could successfully (and stylishly) be repeated today. Which hats stand out most here to you?
As Queen Mathilde celebrates her 43rd birthday today, we’re going to take a peek at her blue hats. She has worn ten different ones so far during her royal life- here they are in the order that they have been worn:
1. 2. 3.
Designer: Fabienne Delvigne; Philip Treacy; Maison Van den Borne Introduced: February 2005;April 29, 2011; February 16, 2012
For hats of the same hue, it’s an eclectic mix! What is most interesting to me is that the first hat did not appear in Mathilde’s millinery wardrobe until 2005, more than five years after she became a princess. While I find the great similarities between hats #5 and #6 curious, I suspect that both calots were custom designs made in the same fabric as the clothes they accompanied. I don’t think #2’s grandness can be beat nor #4’s quirky sense of fun and I would adore seeing these two pieces worn again. What hats stand out most to you in this group?
It appears, dearest readers, that we have not completely joined in the current trend for cocktail hats but usually favour larger scale, dramatic hats with substantial brims. Thanks to everyone who cast a vote- you can review the detailed results of the poll below. And finally, if anyone can provide any design information about our winning hat, it would be greatly appreciated!