Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grand Duke Opens Freeport and Other News

Earlier today, Grand Duke Henri officially opened the new "Freeport Luxembourg" at Findel Airport. In the future, the 13,000 square metre large high security building located next to the cargo centre will be used to store luxury free of import duties. Those will only need to be paid once the goods - mostly wine, art, luxury cars and gemstones - leave the building. While construction took 22 months, it cost more than 55 million euros.

Already yesterday, Hereditary Prince Alois welcomed seven of his country's honorary consuls for a reception at Schloss Vaduz. The seven guests from the U.S., Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong were on a visit to Liechtenstein to learn more about the country and current ongoings. Pictures can be found at Vaterland.

On Thursday last week, Prince Nikolaus whiled in Washington D.C. where he was one of the speakers at the "Do Religious Freedom and Human Rights Clash in Today’s Democracies?" conference organised by the Transatlantic Christian Council at the Library of Congress.

Luxarazzi 101: Elie Saab

In a bit of a new category of our Luxarazzi 101 series, we will delve a bit deeper into the fashion territory by introducing some of the favourite designers of the Luxembourg and (to a lesser extent) Liechtenstein families. When talking about Grand Ducal fashion, the first person coming to mind of course is Elie Saab, one of the family's (and my personal) favourite designers. Some might allege that Saab is a one trick pony but even if he was - which I dispute - he does that one trick so much better than anyone else.
While Elie Saab's most famous Luxembourgish creations probably were two dreams in (off-) white, the weddings gowns of Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Princess Claire, the Grand Ducal ladies' - well, Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa's - love affair with the Lebanese designer started long before that.
Even though he had already made quite a name for himself in the Middle East and dressed Queen Rania of Jordan for her husband's enthronement in 1999, Elie Saab's international star broke when he dressed Halle Berry for the Academy Awards in 2002, the year the American actress took home the Oscar. About two years later - at least to the best of my knowledge - Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa also discovered the designer sporting his creations for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson (left) as well as for a pre-wedding dinner of the Prince of Astrurias and Letizia Ortiz (right). (Fun fact: The latter dress has also been worn by Catherine Zeta-Jones.)
While there didn't seem to be an awful lot of Saab gowns in the following years - again, to the best of my knowledge - the Grand Duchess rediscovered the designer sometime in the late 2000's and her love for his gowns simply took off from there. And who can blame her? Saab, who is an autodidact whose interest in fashion design started at the age of 9, simply knows how to dress a woman to the best of her advantage. (Fun fact #2: The second dress on the left has also been worn by Katy Perry.)
Born on July 4, 1964, in Beirut into a Maronite Catholic family, Elie Saab launched his own fashion label in 1982 at the age of 18. At the time, his focus and skills were specialised in designing bridal couture - stitching wedding gowns and dresses using high-quality quality lace, fabrics, crystals, pearls, silk threads and intricate embroidery. In 1997, he became the first non-Italian designer who was invited to join the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda as a member. In the same year, he displayed his first clothing collection outside of Lebanon in Rome. A year later, he showed his prêt-a-porter line in Milan. In 2003, the same happened in Paris after being invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
After first almost entirely sticking to his evening designs, Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa has also been sporting Saab clothes for day appearances. However in my opinion, some of the designs above just go to show that not everything Saab does is brilliant. While he can't do wrong with the sparkly numbers, I can't help but think that those boob flaps (which the Grand Duchess wore to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) won't flatter anyone ever.
Mostly famously wearing a stunning Elie Saab wedding gown in October 2012, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has worn (at least) another three of the Lebanese fashion designer's creations for the pre-wedding gala dinner of her own wedding, the dinner of the Dutch inauguration and the pre-wedding dinner of Princess Madeleine of Sweden. While Saab’s ready-to-wear collections - including at least the middle and right dress of Princess Stéphanie - are made and manufactured internationally, the brand’s haute couture is made completely by Lebanese and Syrian artisans in Saab's Beirut workshop. Like real works of art, these dresses can take hundreds of hours of work by the craftsmen applying by hand every lace panel, pearl, gem and sequin individually.
Unfortunately the only time that Princess Alexandra apparently sported an Elie Saab creation was one of those times the cour grand-ducale decided not to publish any pictures of the national day gala whatsoever. Thankfully there are heaps of visuals of Princess Margaretha wearing a stunning red Saab gown for the pre-wedding ball of the Hereditary Grand Ducal couple.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Princess Ingeborg's Emerald Brooch

Occasionally when we got nothing else to do, Team Luxarazzi browses through old pictures of the Grand Ducal Family and their relatives hoping to spot some jewellery or other interesting bits and things in them. Recently, we were successful once again when we found one of the grand ducal emerald brooches being worn by Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, grandmother of the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.

The daughter of King Frederik VIII of Denmark was married to Prince Carl of Sweden with whom she had four children, among them the future Queen Astrid of the Belgians. Princess Ingeborg is also the original owner of another brooch in the possession of the Grand Ducal Family. As we usually do, we are also going to name today's emerald and diamond brooch after its first (known) owner and thus make it the "Princess Ingeborg's Emerald Brooch" (though maybe we should start digging a little further back into the family's ancestry to see whether there is another prior owner).

Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, who either directly inherited the piece from her grandmother or via the detour of her mother, Queen Astrid, regularly wore the brooch as such or as a necklace pendant together with the other emerald jewellery she owned like the Emerald Peacock Tiara or her mother-in-law's Emerald Art Deco Tiara. These days, the brooch, which features a large emerald surrounded by diamonds, is (thus far) exclusively worn by Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa both in its original function as well as as a necklace pendant.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Coins and Orders

During a cabinet meeting on Friday, Luxembourg's government agreed that a commemorative coin to remember the 50th anniversary of Grand Duke Jean's accession to the country's throne will be issued on October 1st. The Grand Duchy's former ruler became head of state on November 12, 1964, upon his mother's abdication. (For more information on the abdication and accession matter, have a look here.) Naturally, Grand Duke Henri will also be featured on the 2 Euro coin as Luxembourgish law stipulates that the head of state has to be on every coin.

Meanwhile in Liechtenstein today, Hereditary Prince Alois awarded the Commander's Cross of the country's Order of Merit to Norbert Frick, ambassador of the permanent mission of Liechtenstein in Geneva, and politician Alexander Batliner for their services rendered to the Principality.

Source: Chronicle, IKR

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Special Olympics

Photo: Eric Herchaft / Collectif Huma
The European Special Olympics Summer Games, which are organised by Special Olympics (SO), kicked off with an opening ceremony in Brussels yesterday. The aim of the Games is to use sports to help those with intellectual disabilities better integrate in society and give them the opportunity to interact with others. Among those to attend the opening ceremony were Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Princess Nora of Liechtenstein.

Prince Félix Talks Wine, Faith, Baby Daughter

As promised, here is Prince Félix's interview with Dutch royalty magazine Blauw Bloed. (Here's a direct link in case the video above does not work for you.) Simply skip ahead to the 7:48 and 22:18 marks to see it as well as a tour of Château les Crostes. Princess Claire can also be seen in the video though she did not join her husband, who talked about their wine estate, their baby daughter, his faith and connections to other European royal families for the English-language interview.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Royally Speaking with Akram of Royal Couturier

In the 9th edition of our Royally Speaking series, I asked Akram of The Royal Couturier a few questions about royal fashion and more. 

Getting right into it… What came first, your interest in royalty or your interest in fashion and how did you get interested in the Princely Family of Monaco?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Both at the same time really, I was five and we had an issue of a society magazine and it had a feature about Princess Fawzia of Egypt and I was enchanted by her astonishing beauty, dazzling tiara and spectacular satin gown. But my interest in fashion grew over time while my passion for royalty had to wait until internet connection got faster. I've always been interested in less popular royals, the kind of royals that are "bullied" by press like Princess Beatrice and Princess Charlene. So when it came to blogging I picked the blonde newbie to start with. She proved to be worth following over the past 3 years and there was so much anticipated from her marrying Princess Grace's son. Grace was also one of my favorite royals, so the Grimaldis seemed like the perfect choice, after all, Prince Rainier and King Farouk of Egypt were best friends.

If you could give Princess Charlène one (or three) styling tips, which one(s) would it (they) be?
1. Get out of your comfort zone NOW. 
2. Explore the Grimaldi jewelry vault. 
3. Let me style you... and I'll do the first 2!

I’m constantly amazed by your skills to identify who wore which designer. Is there a secret behind it (that you care to share)?
It's just a lot of searching and communication really. I spot pieces on runways, celebrities and magazines, others are just "signature" pieces of designers. And I'm always emailing fashion houses and royal courts for confirmations, and if all these roads are blocked, sometimes Googling "strapless red gown" or "drop diamond earrings" would do.

Photo: The Place
Is there any designer that hasn’t been discovered by any royal yet but whose designs you would like to see on some royals? If yes, which designer (and which royal) would it be?
Given that Arab royals wear every single designer, I think we're the ones that are yet to discover that royals have discovered them. I think Delpozo would be the one I'd like to discover on many royals, I think Kate, Beatrice, Madeleine and Mette-Marit would look great in his creations. As for Charlene, I'm crossing my fingers she'll discover Valentino and Victoria Beckham soon!

If you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would find an invitation in their mailbox?
Okay, first thing the dinner is white tie and tiaras are NOT optional! So I'd invite:
1. Princess Fawzia: to ask her if she ever got the flowers I used to send on her birthday.
2. Queen Nazli: to ask her what on earth she was thinking all her life!
2 (b). If her majesty is busy she can send Princess Beatrice, I've been dying to see her in a tiara!
3. Queen Elizabeth: to see if she has any more hidden jewelry.
4. Princess Grace of Monaco: I have to see her to believe that this kind of beauty really exists.
5. Princess Charlene: On the condition that she'll impress me with her fashion/jewelry choices.
6. Princess Lalla Salma: I'd like to get to know more about her.

Grand Ducal Family Attends Concert

Photo: 2014 Cour grand-ducale / Marc Schmit / tous droits réservés
On Wednesday night, Grand Duke Jean as well as two of his sons, Grand Duke Henri and Prince Guillaume, attended the annual concert "in remembrance of the Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte" at the Philharmonie Luxembourg. The London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner and together with violoncello soloist Gautier Capuçon played Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Robert Schumann.

Hereditary Prince Welcomes the Best

Photo: Elma Korac / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
A few days after Grand Duke Henri welcomed his country's best students, it was time for Hereditary Prince Alois to receive his country's best apprentices at Schloss Vaduz. This year's was the 41st time that Liechtenstein's best apprentices were invited to the home of their prince where the 14 young women and 21 young men signed the golden book.

More pictures are available at Vaterland and Volksblatt.

Children with Crowns Re-Enact Princess' Life

Photo: Elma Korac / Liechtensteiner Vaterland /
Today, Princess Marie is celebrating her name day. As it has become a tradition she is doing so together with the children of the Principality - because her birthday falls into the school holidays - and let's face it, is there a cuter way to do so than with children wearing self-made crowns? No there isn't. 
This year, the Princess had invited the children attending the kindergarten and the primary school of Vaduz to visit her in her castle's garden but as the weather wasn't too good, they went to the Vaduzer Saal instead so everyone remained dry and warm. Nevertheless, the children were able to give their singing and dancing performances, and apparently even re-enacted Princess Marie's life (or at least there was a bridal couple and signs of the birth years of the princess' children).

For pictures, have a look at Vaterland and Volksblatt. Vaterland also has a video.