First up is the Bustle Dress. The bodice seems quite well fitted and the shape is lovely. I think the straps are a decent width and look quite supportive. However, I don't feel the second set of off-the-shoulder straps really work here. They look messy in appearance and look accidental, rather than being a deliberate style choice. I also think no care has gone in to how the fabric for these straps has been gathered and the final effect. In addition to the second pair of straps, there is also a pearl chain. This doesn't look as bad as the off-the-shoulder straps, so I am not sure if I would keep it attached or not. The off-the-shoulder straps are also detachable, and I would definitely remove them in an instant. The regular set of straps and the neckline has been topped with a line of lace, which sadly does not sit very well on the dress. I think a lot of this is to do with the pair of bows at the bases of the straps, which disrupts the lace, causing it to sit awkwardly. I wouldn't have bothered with the strap bows anyway, because they look too fussy on a bodice which already has a lot of details. The ribbon used for these bows, and some of the small bows on the bodice, is really shiny and cheap looking too. There is a waist bow, which has a simple, but well defined shape. It is a bit too big though, especially when teamed with the large bow on the chest. When you factor in the over-skirt and other bodice details as well, it looks overcrowded. I personally wouldn't have bothered with a waist bow, or at least not a big one like this. The bodice features 2 sets of criss-crossed ribbon and a row of shiny ribbon bows between them. This part of the bodice also looks cluttered, although these details do get concealed a little bit by the chest bow. The chest bow actually has a lot of potential in my opinion. It has an interesting layered effect with the different materials used, and I really like the charm in the middle and the chain with the dangling crown charm. Annoyingly, it is the chest bow which is detachable, but the strap bows and waist bow are not detachable. It is really frustrating when you can't get rid of the bows you dislike, but you can remove the only bow you do like! The back is fully shirred, which means plenty of stretch, but also that the shirring is quite exposed. However, the style of print and the dark colour choices makes the shirring look a tiny bit less obvious. The stock photos show that the skirt has a lot of volume and flares outwards generously. It should hold plenty of petticoat. I really dislike the shape of the over-skirt. Something about the way it has been gathered doesn't look right to me. It makes the material sit funny, which causes some odd lumps and bumps. I also feel unsure about the choice of material used here. There is a bustle on the back of the skirt which is made of the same material, so at least that part is consistent. The bustle actually looks okay, with it being a nice shape and having well spaced out tiers. However, having both an over-skirt and a bustle is absolute overkill in my opinion. It is far too much detail and it makes the back look really bulky. I would get rid of the over-skirt and just have the bustle, which I think could have potentially looked pretty if the over-skirt wasn't there. Despite all this detail going on, the print is still displayed excellently on the front. The skirt is tiered, with the join being topped with a chiffon ruffle, but fortunately this sits above the border print and isn't too distracting. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold lace layered well on top of a chiffon ruffle. I personally am not a fan of how the gold lace looks, but the chiffon ruffle has been well gathered.
Here we have the Collared Dress. The bodice looks well fitted. Although the bodice shape is quite simple, I think it looks really smart and suits the overall 'feel' of the dress. I don't even mind the straight neckline, which is something I seem to end up complaining about a lot on this blog usually! The straps look a decent, supportive width. There are some small military style epaulettes on the shoulder part of the straps, but unless you were looking from above, you would not really see this detail. The waist is topped with a belt, which I absolutely adore. Some may say the belt is a bit basic looking, but I like it like this. It really helps to define the waist area too. The bodice features a fake jacket 'lapel' design with a row of buttons running up the middle, and several lines of gold lace. I think these details have been set out really neatly and the 'lapels' are a good shape and size. My only slight complaint is the placement of some of the buttons. I am not a fan of the buttons that appear on the lapels, or the very bottom button in the row of buttons, which is so low down it is almost sitting on the lapels. I really like how the lapels and neckline have been lined with gold braid. It keeps the lines looking sharp and not too 'frilly'. The back has a small panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards plenty. I think there is the potential to create a great shape. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem features some small flaps with buttons, which are a suitable match for the bodice details. This is then finished off with a gathered ruffle. I think pleats could have looked quite smart here, but the ruffle looks pretty too.
Finally, this is a rough idea of what the print looks like. I will update with a clearer picture if I can. This series comes in black, wine and deep blue. The dark colours are very mature looking and I think all 3 colours fit the overall 'feel' of the series. As for the print itself, it is not particularly original, but it is well set out. I really like the thrones and I feel the way the curtains drape around them frames them perfectly. There are some lovely extra little details in this print as well, such as the roses trailing around the pillars and the subtle golden 'M' hiding behind some of the thrones. The brand name is placed on a banner underneath the throne, which is broken up with pretty roses. Overall it is a nice, regal looking print.
So overall I have some mixed feelings about this series. The print is lovely, but not something that I would go out of my way to get hold of. Despite being pretty, there is nothing particularly original or groundbreaking about it. As for the dress designs, I think I have made it very clear that I favour one design over the other. So I guess it is safe to say I would not buy this series, or at least not at full retail price. My top choice would be the Collared dress in black, as I really like the deep purple on that colour way.