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PARIS — Even in Europe, where the majesties roam, the presence of three crowned heads under the same roof is a rare occurrence. But that’s just what happened Monday night at Versailles, when Queen Silvia of Sweden, Queen Paola of Belgium and Queen Rania of Jordan graced the Nuit Internationale de l’Enfance, a benefit for former French first lady Anne-Aymone Giscard d’Estaing’s Fondation pour l’Enfance.
As befit the company and the setting, the Monarchs played their best fashion card — to dramatically different effects.
This story first appeared in the December 5, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Rania was the Queen of Hearts, so slim and elegant in a Jean Paul Gaultier couture gown. No fiddle-faddle distracted from its ruby silk-velvet fabric, while its understated pagoda sleeves (each sprouting a chiffon lining the color of young willow leaves) made the subtlest nod to Eastern opulence, as did Rania’s upswept hair. But at her age, Rania needed no fancy jewels to top off the outfit — just a diamond bracelet sparkling on her wrist and ruby drop earrings. Rania has sometimes been hailed as the new Diana, but at Versailles, her pitch-perfect allure make her seem more like the new Jackie.
The Queen of Diamonds was Silvia of Sweden. At 59, she’s an old-school queen bee, and looked every inch the part from her silk pumps — custom-dyed to match the sea-foam green upholstery of her dress — to her bomb-proof hair. But a necklace of antique diamonds — so simple, so massive — emanated regal authority like kryptonite spews those inescapable death rays. With all due respect to the other majesties, Silvia’s garb declared, “We are the Queen.” Who’s going to object? But the sewn-on corsage, in the same fabric as her dress, was less sea foam than sea sick.
The Queen of Clubs — the local bicycle club, presumably — was Queen Paola of Belgium. While rumored to be among the very richest of the European monarchs, she couldn’t quite hold her own against the other royals. Her dress — a Valentino couture velvet jacket over wedding-cake tiers of chiffon ruffles — was dark brown. Her jewels were old-fashioned rubies or garnets. And her coif, a kind of hair-sprayed pompadour, had the no-fuss antiglamour seen among former professional tennis players. While Her Majesty would have fit right in at the Huntsman Ball following a weekend shoot at the schloss, in Versailles’ gilded halls she was so understated that the paparazzi hardly popped a flash.