18 April 2011

it's not always about the dress


Mabel van Oranje on her wedding day, April 24, 2004, in a Viktor and Rolf   
duchessse satin gown created for her by the Dutch the designers-with a 3 metre train and 248 bows.

with all the speculation about wedding dresses of late, Kate-Catherine- soon to be, wife of William, what is the title to be- anyway?  " Her actual title upon marriage is as yet unconfirmed as it depends on whether or not Prince William is offered, and accepts, a royal dukedom. The duchies of Sussex and Cambridge are available but the whisper is that William does not wish for either. Technically this would make Kate the rather ungainly 'Princess William of Wales’, which also sounds hopelessly old-fashioned. "(from the telegraph online)

so- at this point-it's-
no word on the title,
no word on the dress.

what's all this about  a dress- the dress?
Well you may ask, 
Unfortunately, this can make or break a girl. especially if the girl is  Catherine- and Queen in waiting.
I wish her well on the dress.

what about life AFTER the Dress? here I wish her more so.
After style comes the substance. This Catherine would be Queen will be just shy of 30 years old and should be very able to make something of substance. Her age will help tremendously. No better example- than the charitable Diana when she was not vacillating between her love hate relationship with the press or her Prince.  Looking to Mabel might be a very good idea. Mabel though less in line for the Dutch throne-actually not in line since her marriage (here), is a longtime advocate of human rights. She married her Prince when she was in her 30's-already known for her advocacy and charity work.

Mabel's avant garde wedding gown was created by the Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf -appropriately so -as Mabel is actually a Princess and married to Prince Friso of Oranje-Nassau and daughter in law to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. She is fairly beautiful but with quirky Meg Ryan features and along with all that, she has heavy credentials as an international human rights activist.

A first draft of her gown created by Viktor and Rolf was nixed by Mabel and the pair of designers were easily persuaded to rethink the design-something less conservative. According to the gentlewoman story about HRH, Mabel says "she was not the sort of little girl to dream about her future wedding dress, neither was she going to miss the opportunity to create a wow." (that's style and substance) I think she hit the mark.

Never one to shy away from making an entrance or setting her own style as an Original, Mabel van Oranje always shows up to official family photographs, royal appearances with a gorgeous smile &  almost always wearing Viktor and Rolf.

her most controversial Viktor and Rolf to date-

was worn to last spring's wedding of Swedish Crown Princess  Victoria. Said to be the design duo's
21st century take on the traditional evening dress, it definitely expressed the idea of Mabel's dual role as CEO and Royal. Described as Glamorous, Daring, , Shameless and Inappropriate, the design was  much discussed-with one Dutch commentator saying- 'Not a dress is always wrong' but  'How dare she upstage the bride.' Of her critics- as you might guess, Princess Mabel paid little heed, acknowledging there are many more important things to worry about. It's obvious- her work and the world.

Perfectly timed for the British Royal wedding, Princess Mabel is featured in issue no. 3 of the gentlewoman. the story is written by Paul Flynn and the photographs of Mabel are by Inez va Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin.

Now Mabel serves as CEO of the ELDERS, working alongside Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan & Aung San Suu Kyi to collectively lend their influence to support peace and address the human suffering.



  1. This is without question; the most wonderful blog post I have ever had the pleasure to read.

    it is magnificent......and should be published around the world. Particularly right before the "Royal Wedding"!

    Brilliant. Beautiful. Thank you!

    Substance, courage and intelligence. Beauty , too.

    thank you.


  2. Love her and her beautiful wedding dress! She is indeed a wonderful example of a young woman of style and substance! And was not familiar with this publication - the gentlewoman - will have to check it out. They seem like a lovely couple!!

  3. Like you I wish Miss Middleton the best of luck in her new role as Princess William of Wales. I hope, however, that she will find a more suitable role model than Princess Mabel in both her conduct and her dress sense.

    Prior to her marriage Miss Wisse Smit (as she was then) caused extreme embarrassment to the Dutch royal family by her failure to disclose her relations with Dutch crime elements. She was allegedly the mistress of the drug kingpin Klaas Bruinsma. Whether she was or wasn't actually his mistress, he was surely not a suitable friend for a princess of a royal house. The upshot of the affair was that her future husband Prince Friso was forced to forgo his rights to the succession in order to marry her. The entire episode caused great embarrassment to both Queex Beatrix and the Dutch Government

    It would not appear that Princess Mabel shows much better judgement in her choice of couturiers that she has her friends. Her wedding gown, rather than flattering her and reflecting the solmenity and importance of the occassion, made her look like a clown. It was not a dress, it was a costume. The dress - if that is what one may call it - that she wore to the nuptials of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was beyond ridiculous. She looked like a fool and apparently succeeded in upstaging the bride through her outrageous costume. At least that is what the press reports would have us believe. In the other photos that you show she could just as well be wearing a potato sack - the dresses are just as shapeless and unflattering. However this type of sartorial tomfoolery is endemic of the entire high fashion industry these days so I don't expect she can be blamed entirely for her dress debacles. She may be involved with some good causes but she has failed to use much good judgement or common sense in many areas of her public life so far.

    Miss Middleton has, to my knowledge, exhibited both and I do hope that she will continue to do so. I wish her and her future husband all the happiness in the world in their future life together. I wish the same to Princess Mabel - as well as better judgement.

    I have enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading more in future. Your posts are always though provoking. Thank you!

  4. Penelope, glad you like this, and enjoyed putting it together.

    Q- it is a great magazine and I love the whimsy and femininity of the dress, she is gutsy.

  5. Anon. true,& based on what I read along with other sources, it seems the couple had agreed to what she would and needed to disclose-it would appear that they were in it together so to speak. It is definitely a story-and who knows all the facts-She didn't seem to have in mind at that point her becoming a Princess-what 10 years before the marriage? Had she, sure her misteps would have stopped the relationship with a Prince cold. I thought about this & obviously the Prince loved this woman & was more than willing to fore go a 2nd place position in line to a throne, rather than give her up. My understanding is that the parliament had to condone the marriage-which seems so archaic, OF course I can not begin to understand all of that. I thought the story here today included a link to some of these articles for all readers to follow this element of her story. I apologize for missing that in my last edit. I respectfully disagree about her clothes and though I would not have selected some of them- I give her credit for her focus on the Dutch design team- and they are avant garde so of course would not appeal to all or even a few. I find with style and substance as well- we can not always judge a person by their choice in friends or clothes.

  6. Here for those interested is a shockingly full discussion of the story called mabelgate. http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums/f128/mabel-princess-of-orange-nassau-pictures-part-1-a-493.html

  7. So wonderful to read about a public figure with a fashion point of view.... we need more! And hats off to the Prince for letting his wife be the Show Pony....and in my favorites Viktor & Rolf no less. Thank you for this post!

  8. Sorry, but this woman desperately needs some education in fashion sense. Or at least, to look at some pictures of Jackie Onasis for ideas!

    1. well-as I said it is not always about the dress!

  9. Indeed.....it is not always...about the dress!! In fact.......it should never be "just about the dress"!

    My take!!

    Penelope Bianchi



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