As the eldest daughter of Grace Kelly, Princess Caroline of Monaco knows a thing or two about maintaining an elegantly cool demeanour at all times, a talent which has surely come in useful during the recent upheaval in her family.
Her sister-in-law, Princess Charlene, has spent the past seven months in South Africa where she reportedly fell ill with a sinus infection which required multiple surgeries and prevented her from flying. After finally returning to Monaco earlier this month, it was revealed on Friday – just as she was meant to be making her first major public appearance for months – that she had been admitted to a treatment facility for ‘exhaustion, both emotional and physical’.
It means that Charlene, who has developed a reputation as a modern royal style leader thanks to her wardrobe of streamlined Armani gowns and Dior daywear, will remain away from the limelight for the foreseeable future. In her absence, it is 64-year-old Caroline, Prince Albert’s eldest sister, who is emerging as Monaco’s leading fashion star.
For Friday’s National Day celebrations in the principality, it was Caroline who took centre stage, chaperoning Albert and Charlene’s six-year-old son Prince Jacques during the festivities while wearing a black tweed Chanel skirt suit from the Métiers d’Art
Collection which was shown last December and described, rather appropriately by creative director Virginie Viard as “a little princess-y”. Completed with a tulle ruffle collar and delicate headband/ veil hybrid, the look was timelessly sophisticated.
For the evening gala, Caroline changed into another Chanel design, this time a full-skirted black and blue puff-sleeved dress from the autumn/ winter 2017 couture collection.
That the Princess was dressed exclusively in Chanel is no surprise – she’s a long-term ‘friend’ of the maison and was close to its late creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, who dressed her from her youth until his death. Now, Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, is an official ambassador and spokesperson for Chanel, too, so the love affair runs in the family.
But while Caroline once took an understated role in Monegasque life, she’s stepped up her presence in recent months to become a kind of stand-in First Lady to her brother, and her wardrobe has evolved to match.
There have been more Chanel looks, from the painterly black gown from the label’s spring 2021 collection which Caroline wore when she accompanied her brother to the Monte Carlo gala for Planetary Health alongside Sharon Stone in September, a relaxed mocha top and skirt from the spring 2016 couture offering seen at the Red Cross summer concert in July and a sharp black tuxedo suit, worn at the opening of a jewellery boutique earlier this month.
Caroline doesn’t only wear Chanel. In the summer, she looked effortlessly glamorous in a cream jumpsuit by US label Halston when she attended the Grand Prix du Prince at the Monte Carlo Jumping competition (she and her daughter are both keen equestrians).
Both Charlene and Caroline have inevitably been compared to Grace Kelly, and it’s clear they’ve both taken pointers from her iconic style, but both women have honed a look of their own, too.
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Now in her 60s, Caroline – who has been separated from her third husband, Prince Ernst of Hanover, since 2009 – has allowed her hair to go grey in recent years, making a very modern statement about ageing gracefully. Rather than being ultra-coiffed and tweaked like many Monaco citizens, Caroline exudes easy elegance and unfussy yet impeccable style.
It’s an attitude which she’d have whether her sister-in-law was off the scene or not, but which has undoubtedly helped her to step up over the past few months, one Chanel look at a time.
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