Austro-French Royal Wedding

It’s extremely rare for us to see the kinds of dynastic marriages that were more common a century ago so when one happens, as it did at Les Invalides in Paris on Saturday between a couple with combined roots in the houses of Habsburg, Napoléon, Savoy, Aosta, Bourbon Two-Scillies, Arco-Zinneberg, and Orleans, it garners much attention.

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The groom, Prince Jean Christophe Napoléon, is great-great-great nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte and current head of the Imperial House of Napoléon. The bride, Countess Olympia von Arco-Zinneberg is the great-great-great niece of the French Emperor’s second wife, Marie Louise of Austria and, through her mother, a great-granddaughter of Charles I and Zita, the last Emperor and Empress of Austria-Hungary. Thus, these nuptials echoed the 1810 wedding of Napoleon Bonaparte I and the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, bringing the Imperial House of France and the Austrian House of Habsburg together again, albeit in a love match without the strategic political motivations! (Through her father, Olympia is great-great-granddaughter of the last King and Queen of Bavaria and through her mother, the 3x great-granddaughter of  King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. Through Prince Jean’s great-great-grandfather, King Leopold II of Belgium, he is related to the Belgium, Luxembourg, and the British royal familes).

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Countess Olympia chose a graphic gown from Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2019 bridal collection. Made of a large scale leaf motif silk applique lace, the sleeveless gown follows a simple A-line silhouette with v-neck bodice held by spaghetti straps. The skirt’s full circle shape is raised in front and extends to what looks to be a cathedral-length train at the back, the lace providing a scallop around the edge.

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The gown was topped with a matching capelet, which Countess Olympia removed for the evening reception held at the historic Palace of Fontainebleau. A long silk tulle veil edged in the same leaf pattern lace topped the look, anchored with a diamond bandeau tiara that once belonged to the bride’s maternal grandmother Princess Margherita of Savoy-Aosta.

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Attendants wore ivory silk frocks with Peter Pan collars, puffed sleeves and full skirts accented with mint green ruched sashes tied in bows at the back. Their sweet look was topped with head wreaths of ivory roses and fresh green hydrangeas.

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The bride’s mother, Maria Beatrice of Arco-Zinneberg (née Archduchess Maria Beatrice of Austria-Este), wore a in a deep navy straw vertical Philip Treacy saucer rimmed with a narrow cuff of midnight blue velvet. The hat is beautifully trimmed with purple butterflies and handmade silk orchids that link with its velvet brim edge. Countess Olympia’s sister,  Countess Maximiliana, helped the bride manage her dress in a black veiled caolot hat with pleated silk abaca forward leaning ruffle. If any readers have come across photos of Olympia’s other four sisters, Countess Anna Theresa, Countess Margherita, Countess Giorgiana, and Countess Marie Gabrielle, please share links in the comments.

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The groom’s mother, Princess Beatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies , topped her graphic cape with a cream felt fedora trimmed with a russet brown ribbon hatband. I’ve not located a photo of his sister Caroline but Jean’s paternal grandmother, the Dowager Princess Napoléon,  who has considerable French and Italian aristocratic heritage of her own, wore a black veiled pillbox hat. The sheen on the hat’s straw pairs so well with her printed suit.

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The hats are off to a good start- we’ll look at those worn by extended family and royal guests next.

Photos from Getty as indicated 

15 thoughts on “Austro-French Royal Wedding

  1. I like the overall look of Countess Maria Beatrice’s ensemble, but I wonder if the hat should be placed slightly differently? It seems to be sliding a bit too forward, but maybe that’s just me. Still, a win nevertheless. Countess Giorgiana’s cocktail hat is nice with that pleated material fanning off the back, although it’s interesting that black was chosen instead of a color.

    Princess Beatrice looked great, but I agree with Wies this hat feels a bit casual for the occasion, especially when compared to the other hats; I think some feathers would make a big difference. Princess Alix looks quite chic, and I agree the sheen of the pillbox pairs nicely with her skirt suit.

    Looking forward to the rest of the coverage.

  2. I wrote about the daughters but WordPtess ate the contents.

    I’m 99 percent sure that the attendant is Maximiliana not Giorgiana who looks very different. Unfortunately not a single photo showing the other sisters has been published.
    I’ll add photos later as I’m afraid that this message will be eaten as well.

  3. What a beautiful couple! I love the outspoken pattern of the dress and the wonderful lace work on both gown and veil. It works very well with the Empire style tiara. The newly weds look happy and relaxed and not at all weighed down by the considerable weight of their combined family trees!

    The bride’s parents look very handsome as well. Countess Marie-Beatrice is the epitome of chic, in an (apparently) simple, monogrome dress combined with that lovely P.T. hat, beautiful necklace and fun purse.
    I like Princess Beatrice’s graphic ensemble, though I might have preferred it in another colour combination. The large felt hat goes well with the cape, but the ensemble spells a bit “sport-chic” to me (as the French say) and seems slightly under dressed compared to the rest of the party.

    • Yes, Princess Beatrice’s ensemble is a bit underwhelming – particularly for the mother of the groom!
      I love the mother of the bride’s hat, though – chic and striking. And whoever that chap is with the Dowager Princess, his hat is by no means least among those pictured.

  4. Yes, I agree with above comments! The gown was so different, it took a little getting used to,but I love it! The two mothers look very elegant. When Jane Fellowes wore her fedora to Archie’s christening, I thought the style too casual for the occasion, but here, with the larger brim and matched so well with the colour blocked cape, it looked fab. The purple and blue Philip Treacy is beautiful.

  5. What a beautiful couple. I think the bride is stunning and I love her dress, veil and tiara.

    I’m an unabashed Game of Thrones fan, and Rose Leslie wore this gown in red at the final season premiere party. It’s lovely in red, and glorious in white, especially with the capelet.

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    Both mothers look wonderful! I really like the Phillip Treacy hat the bride’s mother wore. The butterfly and orchids add whimsy and color to the navy ensemble. She looks very chic.

    Who would have thought beige would look amazing at a wedding? The dress/cape the groom’s mother wore is lovely. I really like the design, and her fedora tops it off really nicely. She also looks very chic.

    • Great spotting, Shanon! The dress is dazzling in red. I wasn’t sure at first that the leaf patterning worked in a bridal gown — it sort of puts the focus on the dress rather than the bride — but I think I’m coming around.

  6. I love the leave motif, which is believed to be a nod to Napoleon Bonaparte’s love of laurel. Her tiara is placed the way her ancestor Marie-Louise, Duchess of Parma, second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, used to wear hers. Amazing union of two families who faced each others on battle fields. Lovely bride and groom! Splendid day! Congratulations!

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