The great stories of royal clothes. From mother to daughter: Princess Victoria’s Nina Ricci dress

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There is a room in the Drottningholm Palace in which the clothes of the queen Silvia. Protected from light and dust, they are placed in boxes and wrapped in tissue paper and, closed in special drawers, waiting to be worn again. In 2018 Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden, for the most anticipated event of the year she needed a dress that spoke of herself and her values.
For the Swedes, and not just them, the ceremony of the Nobel laureates it is a real catwalk: what goes on in that staircase, which has the allure of a Hollywood red carpet, has been talked about for years and years.

The future queen, very sensitive to the issues of fashion sustainability, he then wanted to give a signal by recovering from one of those drawers a dress by Nina Ricci that her mother had previously worn in 1995 for the same occasion.


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The wardrobes of the royals they are a cornucopia of stories. We saw it with the dress with which Elizabeth was crowned and with Letizia Ortiz’s white suit flaunted for the announcement of the engagement but also with theElvis dress of Princess Diana. Today it’s up to that fairytale dress passed from mother to daughter after 23 years without showing the signs of aging.

It must be said that it is easy to suspend time – but also space – with a crown on the head. It is also true that that silk taffeta garment designed by the French maison which at the time had the creative direction Myriam Schaefer he would not have disfigured even a Disney princess. The combination of colors, despite being three, was far from boisterous. The connection between the strapless pink bodice and the wide gray skirt slightly raised from the ground was an olive green band at the waist, slightly pleated like the bustier.

In the same shades the gigantic bow that Victoria had on the back that enclosed, as if that were not enough, a bouquet of handmade organza flowers. A very bulky item, however, worn with ease by the princess who, at the delivery of the Nobel Prizes, a ceremony that hosts 1250 people every year (Covid permitting), spends a lot of time sitting both at the award ceremony and at the banquet. To make the photocopied images of mother and daughter different, in addition to the hairstyle, also the diadem and jewels. If Silvia had the Queen Sofia tiara, Victoria preferred the Connaught tiara, a masterpiece of jewelry dating back to 1905 with very versatile hanging diamonds that can become pendants of necklaces or earrings.

Queen Silvia, wife Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, has always been highly regarded for her taste in fashion. It could not be otherwise since, thanks to marriage, it became the Dancing Queen the one of which they sing Abba. The record story would be a bit more articulated but the fact that the Swedish band made its debut with this success on the eve of the wedding between the king and the commoner born Sommerlath in Heidelberg on 18 June 1976 at the Stockholm Opera it is enough to create a legend.

For 45 years on the royal square, he has always shown balance by giving plenty of space to home designers, also allowing himself the luxury of embracing big international brands such as Dior for marriage and her first Nobel Prize, Armani especially for jackets, Salvatore Ferragamo mainly for shoes and some garments Valentino. With Givenchy the queen had a particular feeling. It is not the only one given that the brand often appears in the appearances of sovereigns such as Letizia of Spain O Maxima of the Netherlands.

Silvia appreciated the side romantic of the Parisian maison known for volumes, bows, flounces, satin and silk. «Our ambition has always been to give reality the color of dreams» said Robert Ricci, co-founder of the historic brand together with his mother Nina and it must have been this spirit that conquered Silvia. The first time in Nina Ricci dates back to 1993 and the occasion was obviously the Nobel. It was a very fluffy dress not too dissimilar as a model to the one she would have worn two years later – bodice and wide skirt – were it not for those black and white stripes and those bows scattered here and there.

Queen Silvia and her first Nina Ricci dress at the 1993 Nobel Prize winners. IPA photo

It was love at first sight, the queen confessed in an interview. «It wasn’t made for me but when I saw it I thought it was wonderful so I tried it on, it fit perfectly» she said «it’s just a dress but it’s special with all those flounces and bows. He was beautiful but for me also daring ». A dress that not only appeals to her but also to the Swedes who consider it one of their most memorable. In 1995, again for the Nobel Prize, here is our taffeta and pastel dress and, under the voice Nina Ricci, we finally record the white cloud of tulle and crystals for the 2001 award ceremony.

Each of these three dresses has a particular connection with the Swedish royal family. In an exclusive interview with It in 2018 for her 75th birthday, Silvia inevitably talks about her relationship with fashion. On that occasion he reveals that the tip of storing clothes in boxes and acid-free tissue paper comes from Parsons School di New York. “The clothes are very sensitive to light and the weight, also due to the embroidery, does not allow us to hang them” he said “putting them in boxes is the best way to keep them».

It follows that those rooms of the castle are equipped as an archive more than a wardrobe. Every so often Silvia’s dresses come out of the palace and end up on display in exhibitions (not only English royalty do!) Like the one in 2006 Our Queen – party and daily life set up in the Royal Palace thirty years after the marriage with the king. However, for some years now that heritage has come back to life thanks to the daughters, above all Victoria who could not find a better way than to dust off that Nina Ricci to pay homage to her mother to such an important event for the country and for them.

It is precisely in 1995 that the crown princess made her debut at the Nobel ceremony at the age of eighteen. When Victoria was born in 1977 she was not destined to the throne: since the Salic law was in force, the crown had to pass to a male heir even in the case of a firstborn woman. The scepter would have been up to Carl Philip came into the world in 1979, if the constitution had not changed in 1980. Upon reaching the age of majority, the future queen chose a simple red velvet dress with short sleeves to take her place at the Nobel Prize. Looking at her mother as a model, maybe that’s where she began to dream of having access to the maternal wardrobe.

Silvia says that when her daughters were teenagers they didn’t like her clothes. “Mom, do you really want to wear it?” they told her. But now he smiles at the idea that they go fishing in his closet mainly because she, many years before Kate Middleton and her companions, has always been a great supporter of the reuse of clothes. Several times it has been revised with a garment even on prestigious occasions and anniversaries: in 2017 she wore a designer dress of the German brand Georg and Arend which in Germany he had shown the year before. Never before had a queen “laundered” to the Nobels. Some of her clothes have accompanied her for forty years and that is why in Sweden she is seen as a champion of sustainability rather than parsimony. There is a blue velvet coat down to the feet that for her must really be the good one: from 1985 to today it has been immortalized numerous times.

“Each of us can do something for the environment” he declared, speaking during an exhibition opening “instead of buying new clothes we could recycle the old ones or use them more often, as I do“. Behind Silvia’s positions there is also an ethical implication and respect for the work of others. “It is important to show that you reuse your clothes” always reads in the famous interview with It «There is a lot of work behind each of them so I think it’s a shame to wear them only once or twice. I really admire those who create couture. There are infinitely beautiful dresses that live on and it doesn’t matter if they were created in 1960 or 1970, that kind of fashion holds up ”.

Silvia was really a pioneer on this. A witness gathered by the daughter who articulated the message with the language of the twenty-first century. If for the mother – it seems – it was all her sack flour Victoria in her style choices has been followed since 2010 by Tina Törnqvist. The strands on which the two move are for sure the promotion of Swedish design (the known Pär Engsheden next to the emerging Jennifer Blom and even a Tailor-made H&M for the 2016 Nobel Prize winners) and sustainability declined above all as reuse and moderate consumption.

There will certainly be a sentimental reason behind the choice to take up the 1995 Nina Ricci dress but let’s remember that in December 2018 in Sweden the phenomenon Greta Thunberg it had already exploded and although small, Victoria’s at the ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall was still a sign. There are at least four or five times in which the princess has drawn from the maternal wardrobe: considering that she did not like them as a girl, it is surprising that she has always borrowed precisely those dresses with the most retro flavor – very 80s as a genre – always finding the way to make them current.

Also there younger daughter Madeleine went to look in the famous room and even did so for her 2013 wedding to Chris O ‘Neill. The second dress worn at the party was once again by Nina Ricci, the white and graceful one from 2001 actually very suitable for a bride.

Scrolling through the photo album of Queen Silvia, especially those taken at the Nobel ceremony, there is still a lot to re-see. Madeleine now lives in Florida and Princess Sofia – Carl Philip’s wife – who hasn’t worn anything from her mother-in-law yet, we don’t know if she does it by choice or by label. Victoria is the only one at the moment who can enjoy what looks like a real one Wunderkammer of real clothes. Like her, the little one Estelle, also destined for the throne being the eldest daughter of the princess, she will be able to browse through all those sartorial creations closed in boxes. What a nice game it must be to unearth all those extraordinary clothes by hearing the sound of tissue paper wrinkling a little.

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