Summer is traditionally the deadest period of Norwegian newspaper journalism. It is so dead that it is called cucumber season, because the stories of cucumber-growers (or other similar small pebbles of stories) suddenly become almost front page material. They therefore naturally all rejoice when something unexpected crops up.
One of the big topics in the Norwegian media this past summer was the storm of the royal dresses. More precisely, Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s dresses. It started after she was interviewed by Dagbladet. Published in July.
[On the critique that she spends tons of money on clothes she wears on conferences, and meeting poor people, and bringing a stylist along on this trip] “There are some lines drawn up in this role I have, on how to dress and how to behave and everything like that. I try to stay within to those lines, and I can see a certain use in relating to them. But if there is something I think I have to work on, it is the critique I get for that.”
Including the above quote, she also said that it becomes tiresome when she is out working for more serious issues, but what ends up in the media is what she is wearing for the events.
(It should be pointed out that Dagbladet chiefly is, and has been, a republican-minded tabloid newspaper.)
Of course, people followed up on Twitter (as they’re wont to do…). The most quoted one was probably from the editor of the magazine Kapital, who said:
“Isn’t it something wrong somewhere when Mette-Marit, who is living on money from the state, spends 10s of millions on dresses?”
The subsequent discussion led to the following revelation from the palace spokesperson, Marianne Hagen, on the Crown Princess’s clothes purchases, and that it is not correct that 10s of millions have been spent on clothes:
“Something is bought at the regular price, some things are presents, some things are rebated and the majority is bought on sale.”
This of course led to yet another discussion that might definitely be problematic when the Crown Princess receives clothes for free from designers. In Norway, the politicians have to account for such gifts or borrowed items. The royals don’t have to.
Norwegian designers mentioned that the Crown Princess has stopped by from time to time and picked out things she likes. She is also known to be friendly with Valentino as well as the editor of Italian Vogue, and it was around the time she did that, her approach to her wardrobe changed.
The Danish author Jens Høvsgaard came out against the royal spending in both Denmark and Norway earlier in 2013, and had the following quote in the article from Dagbladet.
“It is worrisome if Mette-Marit receives these dresses as gifts. You don’t give gifts which are that expensive without getting anything back. She uses her royal highness to advertise for the large fashion houses.”
In Denmark they (er… Journalist from Billedbladet) concluded that this could never happen with Crown Princess Mary – because she chiefly wears Danish design, and, well, cheaper brands, like Prada. Høvsgaard retaliated.
“In Denmark we have a sort of shop-keeper mentality. We’ve chosen to focus on how fantastic our princess is. It’s a Danish understanding that it is so good and great that Mary is named, again and again, a style icon.”
He also adds that he thinks both Mary and Mette-Marit are working, unecessarily, as advertising space for designers.
The whole discussion led to the hashtag #kjoleforskole on Twitter, after someone mentioned how far the money for expensive dresses like Mette-Marit was wearing could go very far in Africa. The idea for an auction was born. A line of Norwegian celebrities, regular women, as well as Princess Ingrid Alexandra donated dresses to the cause. It wasn’t without controversy, since they chose to go away from the International Aid functions and go more directly to the people who needed it, but the end result was (last I heard) 160,000 Norwegian KR to a school project in Africa.
Mette-Marit is also regularly auctioning off her more everyday clothes (as is Princess Ingrid Alexandra) at the Norwegian site Bloppis.no, where the proceeds go to an environmental organization for youths.
For me – the issue isn’t so much how much the gown or suits cost, but for the amount of money that is perceived being spent on them, I wish Mette-Marit (and her stylists) could have chosen better outfits for her body shape. Also, it might have been better to go with classic, timeless designs that she can wear again and again if she is spending that much money on it. Like her mother-in-law, who I don’t think spent much less on her outfits back in the day, really.
I really doubt any royal women are (or have been) spending small amounts on their clothes. The difference is that those who are born royal, or married in long ago, have built up a wardrobe after many years in the game. The recent crop of Crown Princesses, and, now Queens, are building up their wardrobe. With varying degrees of success.
I wish Mette-Marit would go for more Norwegian designers especially when out and about, and on huge royal events- even when she is getting their stuff for free/cheaply/discounted, the PR in those cases are weighing up for the designer in the end. When she is wearing Pucci, we can excuse her in our national minds, because at least the chief designer there is Norwegian.
Let’s face it, Valentino hardly needs the free advertising from the Crown Princess of Norway.