Royal Style – A History of Aristocratic Fashion Icons by Luise Wackerl is a history of royal fashion through the ages.
Royals have been fashion icons throughout history and this book features the most famous ones, such as Marie Antoinette and Elizabeth I (yes, Princess Diana too). The book is divided by chapters that feature the various eras. While many nonfiction books of this caliber suffer from a lack of images, Royal Style overflows with photographs, illustrations, paintings and a timeline. That alone makes this book worth it.
Some of the featured royal style icons are Grace Kelly, Princess Margaret, Wallis Simpson, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Queen Rania and the Duchess of Cambridge.
What I love
The history tidbits! Wearing fashionable black was first introduced by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. I learned that Louis XIV wore high-heels with a red sole (hello, Louboutins!). Queen Victoria is described as the greatest bridal trendsetter. We do wear white wedding dresses because of her. Edward VII also has a section. He was a socialite and a trendy dresser. One of the chapters features the fascinating stories of the modern commoner princesses like Mary of Denmark, Queen Letizia of Spain and Mette-Marit of Norway.
The book is also a little bit gossipy (but not in a negative way). For example, the author dubs Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece “The Dollar Princess”. It doesn’t explain why, but I think that might be because it’s rumored that her father (founder of Duty Free) provided her with a large dowry that benefited her new in-laws, the exiled and cash-strapped Greek royal family. Anyway, she may have married into an exiled royal family but her Valentino wedding dress was fit for a queen at a price of $225,000 (another tidbit).
Quotes by Vogue, Elle, Manolo Blahnik and Michael Kors (among others) are interspersed throughout the book, which gives it a lookbook feel.
What I don’t love
I am disappointed that Désirée Clary (Queen consort of Sweden) and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) were not included.
Désirée Clary was the one-time fiancée of Napoleon and a fashionable member of Parisian high society. She loved her Parisian life so much that it took her over ten years to join her husband (King Charles XIV John of Sweden) in Stockholm.
Sophie was married to Archduke Franz Ferdinand. She may not have been the traditional fashion icon, but she was very much the talk of the town and the spouse of a future emperor.
That aside, I love owning this book because it combines my two interests, history and royals.
Royal Style is out of print, but you can find inexpensive used copies on Amazon.
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