Belgian Queen Attends Venetian Art Exhibitions

Queen Mathilde was in Venice this morning to take in Biennale Arte Venice 2019 and an  international expo at Fondamenta del Arsenale. For this event, she wore a new green straw hat with rounded crown and wide, sidesweeping brim, simply trimmed with a wide hatband.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

It’s a good hat for Mathilde, who wears this muted olive shade well. The combination of embroidered dress and wide brimmed hat really is lovely, although a little boring.

Embed from Getty Images

What makes me a little crazy is that we have seen this- exactly this- before. Here’s what I find perplexing:

In the Catherine Walker’s autobiographical book, “Catherine Walker”, the Duchess of Kent tells of her annual disappointment viewing a new collection and learning some of her favourite pieces had already been snapped up by Diana, Princess of Wales (p.101). Even before the internet, Catherine Walker took the care not to create two of the same items for high profile royals. These days, in our hyper-digital age, I’m perplexed by the frequency that Queen Mathilde and Queen Máxima step out in the same outfits. Yes, the hats are slightly different but I’m equally confused as to why Ms. Delvigne did not recommended an alternate shape to whoever ordered this hat (obviously to go with this dress), second.

Designer: Fabienne Delvigne. Dress by Natan
Previously Worn: This hat is new. 

So, dearest readers- what do you think of royals wearing the same ensembles? What do you think of this addition into Queen Mathilde’s millinery wardrobe (see her other green hats here).

Photos from Getty as indicated 

34 thoughts on “Belgian Queen Attends Venetian Art Exhibitions

  1. I agree that this should not happen in general, and that the responsibility lies with the designer (Natan?) to manage the clients delicately and discreetly to avoid this. It does not matter whether the queens care or not about matching, in my opinion.

  2. I don’t mind that they “twin” and quite often! My sister and I certainly do, with clothes and shoes and we are not twins! We’ll go into a shoe store, disappear (we wear slightly different sizes) and call each other’s name. When the other comes around the corner, more often than not, we both have chosen the same pair of shoes!

    I worked for a large catalogue company (that has a secret!) and they had employee sales where the employees could come in and buy dresses for $1.00, shearling leather jackets for $50, etc. They warned us that we might see more than one person wearing a particular outfit on a given day. One day there were FOUR of us wearing the same houndstooth dress! We complimented each other on what great taste we had! We were called down to HR and they took a photo of the four of us together!

  3. Queen Mathilde twins again (or I guess I should say, twinned previously):

    Embed from Getty Images

    En su primer cara a cara, durante la bienvenida oficial a los Reyes de los belgas en Copenhague, ya se dio la primera curiosidad de estilo entre ellas: Matilde y Mary aparecieron con atuendos casi idénticos.

    The Spanish caption translates approximately “In their first face to face, during the official welcome of the rulers of Belgium in Copenhagen, we saw the first style curiosity between them: Mathilde and Mary appeared in almost identical outfits.”

    • This is two women wearing a similar colour, Matthew, but I wouldn’t consider it ‘twinning’. The cut, fabrics (notice the different textures) and designers are different. “Nearly identical” is a journalistic stretch here!

      I define ‘twinning’ as when two women show up in the same garment, from the same designer!

  4. Personally, I think its great fun seeing them in similar dresses – if the two queens don’t mind themselves, who are we to complain? If I may make a related but non-royal comment…

    A legend in my own family — my mother and her sister had identical taste in clothes resulting in them often buying the same dress separately, without knowing that the other had also bought it, so sometimes just for fun, they would dress alike on purpose. On one occasion, they were at a dinner from some organization dressed alike and went to the ladies room together. Apparently, my aunt was in the stall while my mother was using a mirror when a third lady walked in, also wearing the same dress. My mother thought fast and said, “My, don’t we both have excellent taste in clothes!” and the other lady laughed. Then my aunt emerged, also in the same dress, and the third lady turned pale (at least as my mother tells it), left the ladies room, and was not seen again for the rest of the evening!

  5. I just can’t imagine Natan not informing Maxima or Mathilde that the other queen picked exactly the same dress. That would be unacceptable and unprofessional. What if they both appear at the same event in the same outfit? I remember they once wore an almost identical coat for a visit. They laughed about it but we all know it must feel uncomfortable. So do they now call each other to make sure that doesn’t happen? Or do they llike Natan so much that they just don’t care?

    Anyway, I wondered what happened with the brim of her hat.

    • Actually, they don’t find it uncomfortable. They have done matching outfits several times now. And by all reports they are good friends in private, so the only logical conclusion is that they do it on purpose. I’m guessing they do it for fun and think it makes for an interesting photo.

        • I agree with you, HQ. They clearly have similar taste, and use the same couturier, but I do think that Natan and Delvigne should do a better job of informing them.

          That said, they both look fabulous, so it’s all good!

        • Then prepare to be surprised.

          This was noted several years ago on the Order of Sartorial Splendor blog, and there have been quite a few instances of the two queens wearing the same dress at different functions or wearing coordinating, or nearly matching, outfits when appearing together!

          By all accounts they are great friends, although lots of jokes were made about the unlikly nature of such a friendship. How to us – viewing at a distance – they seem two have such opposite personalities. Max, so flamboyant and outgoing, Mathilde quiet and serene. The speculation was they love to shop together, like any “girlfriends,” and find dressing alike to be a hoot. For those who have been watching this for years, it’s no surprise at all. (I like Mathilde’s version best, btw.)

        • Well, now you ‘’know’’ one. Me!
          I have a best friend with similar taste in clothing and we often buy the same item when shopping together and yes, sometimes we wear the same thing at the same time. We just laugh about it.
          I also know others in real life who aren’t bothered by it.
          This might be a cultural thing?

          • I wonder if it’s a cultural thing, as well as a generational thing? I’m very close in age to these two queens and feel like the time when I wanted to twin with anyone has LONG passed!

        • I’m not a young one either, lol.
          It’s not about cutesy twining for me, it’s just that at my age I wear what I want and don’t care if other women wear the same thing (even friends and family).
          I don’t think it’s age, when I was a teenager I was much more invested in being unique and individual than now. My prom dress was made by a wonderful seamstress because it HAD to be unique.
          My guess is, it’s a combination of cultural norms and personality. Some people just don’t care, while others are horrified by accidental twinning at a party.

          Anyway, to get back to our queens. They are friends in private, and they know this is happening. 90% of their daytime wardrobe is Natan-Delvigne and it’s been so for years. Obviously they don’t mind or they would change it.
          My theory is two possible scenarios:
          1) Natan-Delvigne have a lookbook they show both queens and they order what they like and they don’t care if the other orders it as well.
          2) One queen wears something, the other sees it, likes it and orders a similar outfit.

          • Interesting discussion. For me it’s quite simple: when you go somewhere (wedding, party…) you hope someone else isn’t wearing the same outfit. That would be awkward. So it must be a cultural thing? Then again, I personally really wouldn’t like it, but others just would care. So that indeed makes it a combination of cultural norms and personality.

            Because in the end, it just doesn’t matter. It just shows you both have the same taste. Nothing wrong with that. The best thing is to laugh about it.

            About your two scenarios: 1 seems the most logical. And maybe Natan tells them Maxima/Mathilde picked the same. But they just decide they don’t care. Because they wear whatever they like.

            Option 2 seems unlikely because they would have already seen the whole collection in the Natan store or in a lookbook. At least that’s what I think.

          • Maja and HatQueen, if not a cultural or generational thing, or perhaps even a geographical thing, maybe just a personality thing? I once worked with two women — not friends or related to each other — who coincidentally both bought the same very distinctive bright red dress, which they both then wore to the same meeting. One of them, Judy, thought it was wonderfully funny that this had happened. The other one, Wendy, was horrified, and “required” that going forward, Judy notify her a day in advance if she was planning to wear the dress to work so that Wendy would not also wear hers.

            Now I live in a retirement community where several of the women among my circle of friends not only go shopping together, but also borrow each other’s clothes, both of which were activities I previously thought were only done by teenage girls! So, just a personality thing, I think — either you like doing it and think it’s fun, or you are appalled by it.

  6. Mathilde has worn a few other larger brimmed hats like this, and I always appreciate it to mix things up from the small hats she usually favors. I also thought it was interesting how in a few photos you can see she flipped the brim down in the front, which gives it a different look (one I like!). The sage green is a nice color, and the parasisal makes for a good quality hat.

    That all said . . . I can’t believe this is exactly the same material for the dresses! As soon as I saw this on Mathilde, I said aloud, “That looks almost like Máxima!”. And sure enough it is! It’s a nice enough look, but to be repeated on two queens of neighboring countries with almost identical hats from the same milliner is too much for me. Maybe they don’t care and are even getting a good laugh out of it at our expense, but I personally would hate to be wearing the same thing as a colleague and friend.

  7. It is indeed a mystery, how a queen comes to be wearing a nearly identical hat and dress to another queen. Could Mathilde have actually requested her ensemble in full knowledge of Maxima’s similar one ? Of course we have no way of knowing, but this unusual situation does raise
    questions about how decisions are made in connection with the Belgian royal wardrobe.
    I think Mathilde carries wide-brimmed hats very successfully, and there are quite a few lovely examples she has worn in the past. Of course, so much depends on the styling: Here’s a felt one (somewhat similar to today’s) from 2016 which I feel Mathilde is wearing really well (bonus views of Max wearing a similar hat shape for comparison! it was a sort of hat twin day :))
    Embed from Getty Images
    I like Mathilde’s new green hat a lot and would love to see it worn again. Just not with today’s dress. I agree with Wies Maudit that a crew neckline such as Mathilde is wearing in today’s post visually shortens her neck, (in fact a crew neckline is difficult for a lot of women to wear well) and I selected the 2016 pic because it shows Mathilde wearing a boat neckline, which is a more flattering choice for her to pair with a wide hat, as it opens up the distance below the hat. Note also how the 2016 dress does NOT have a contrast belt (unlike today’s dress). Mathilde looks her best in dresses that do not put a coloured horizontal line across her waist, because although she is about the same height as Max, her legs are longer (compare the two in the 2016 pic) – which means she has a short waist. As a result, a coloured belt will always make her proportions look unbalanced – which then makes the hat look unbalanced — and then a midi-length dress like today’s will exaggerate that effect – so, just based on these design elements alone (and there are more I won’t go into) for me it’s the dress that’s the problem, not the hat. A flattering dress like the one in the 2016 pic convinces me that Mathilde’s wide hats just need to be partnered with the right clothes in order to create a fabulous look.

    • It only shows that small details can make a huge difference. Sometimes a centimeter more or less neckline, hemline or hat brim can make or break a look.
      There is another aspect to be taken into account. When we age, our body changes. Even when we keep our weight, the silhouet will be different. A look carried off succesfully at the age of 45 may suddenly look out of balance at 50. But with a few adjustments, we can look fantastic at any age.

      • Very true Wies, that a woman can look fantastic at any age. Queen Elizabeth, the late Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and Duchess Camilla. are proof that the right adjustments can result in a flattering look, every single time. It does break my heart a little that younger royals do not consistently get this level of fine tuning on their clothes and hats, given that all their ensembles are custom-made. Expert advice is right at their fingertips. Their style doesn’t ever have to be the “hit or miss” experience that fashion is for the average person.

  8. Why not both have the dress and hat? It’s a very pretty outfit and they both look lovely. I really don’t see a reason why not.

  9. the cut and style definitely works for both…i agree the fabric pattern is very similar. then again, these lovely ladies seem to enjoy ‘twinning’ so…have at!

    • But do they know they are ‘twinning”?? Couture clothing, such as this dress and hat, are custom made. This process, understandably, takes several months so it’s entirely possible that one queen sees the other in the dress but it’s too late, as hers is already being made! If they are notified about the other’s order and choose to twin, that’s certainly a choice they are both free to make.

      I just appreciate Catherine Walker’s client-centered approach to making sure both Princess Diana and the Duchess of Kent had unique pieces. It feels like some designers these days just want as many of their designs on royal bodies as possible.

      • I don’t mind them wearing similar outfits, but you make a good point HQ. It seems to me they might have been aware they were twinning because of the slight differences in the dresses. Maybe Natan recommended they put the busier part of the pattern in different places to distinguish the two dresses.

        • That’s a good observation- cutting the border print in different places is a good way to make the dresses slightly different.

          Your thoughtful comments have made me think about why this bugs me so much. In the end, if I had all the resources that these queens have to dress in whatever designer clothes I wanted, Natan is not where I would go!

  10. Perhaps neither queen is offended by wearing a very similarly-patterned dress as they seem to be close friends, have worn similarcolor-coordinated outfits when together in public in the past, and each wears their clothes with their own style and elan. I think their fabulous personalities add a uniqueness to everything they wear!

  11. Wow. I thought this “look” was familiar. But, like HQ says, it is almost identical! Right down to the belt, shoes and color! It’s surprising that no one close to Queen Mathilde or the designer caught this, especially since two very high profile Queen’s wear the same designer.

    The hat is lovely, but I agree with mittenmary that higher sitting hats are becoming on Queen Mathilde. I would also add that she looks great in brimless hats worn at the back of her head.

  12. I’m not sure this is the best style for Mathilde. Hats like this beauty which sit higher on the head suit her better, I think.

    Embed from Getty Images

  13. These two need to get together over tea and come to an agreement that in 2020, one of them gets exclusive rights to Natan. In 2021, the other gets Natan. And so on. They both have more money to spend on clothes annually than the GDP of many small countries so broaden your horizons a bit, ladies. You can do better.

  14. Perplexing indeed! I thought the embroidery on Queen Mathilde’s dress looked familiar.
    The problem is that when two high profile ladies (Queens of neighbouring countries on top of that) wear very similar outfits, one can’t help comparing. Q. Mathilde’s hat seems of better quality (being made of parasisal), but the large brim suits Q. Máxima better. Between the high neckline of the dress and the large hat, Mathilde’s neck seems visually shortened. A smaller scale hat would have suited her better I think.

  15. I am confused as to what the colours are in the dress. I can see the hat is green and I like the hat in general. As both dresses are shown together, it is hard to have an opinion .

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