C20th Royal Fashion History
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Fashion History
Queen's Clothes Exhibition to
Celebrate The Queen’s 80th Birthday 26
July to 24 September 2006
exhibition 'Dress for the Occasion' of 80 of her Her Majesty’s evening dresses and personal
jewellery. The fashion history exhibition which began at the Summer Opening of
Palace shows fashion history of a revered and modern Queen's important
often bejewelled gowns.
Clothes from the 1940s to today are
displayed and feature all the Queen's
most famous designers, including
Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. In her twenties the Queen had a handspan waist.
Those super slender waist gowns are shown on dress forms each
crafted using the Queen’s original measurements.
Dress for the
Occasion is the exhibition which features 80 evening gowns to
celebrate the Queen's 80th birthday. Caroline de Guitaut is the curator
of the exhibition and has arranged the 80 dresses since the 1940s in
colour groups and a neutral section of creams and whites.
also show how the queen’s figure has changed from slender young girl to
mature stately woman.
The jewelled embroidered green silk dress dress above was designed by
Norman Hartnell. It is an example of a typically fabulous gown designed
for the state visit to Ethiopia in February 1965.
The Queen's Wardrobe
The Queen’s wardrobe represents a working wardrobe
designed for maximum visibility. For half a century her clothes have
been used as an expression of diplomatic gesture. Never mind the
film, ‘If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium’, for the Queen if she
is in Japan there must be a recognition of the emblematic cherry
blossom, or if in Canada there must be acknowledgement of maple
leaves. Emblematic flora and fauna of a host country or special
guest wherever she may be, is delicately hinted at somewhere in the
gown, the fabric print or trimmings.
knows her flag colours well too. She shows the greatest diplomatic
touches in often honouring other countries by wearing those same
flag colours in her clothes. Her wardrobe is invariably dictated by
such diplomatic gestures to other countries. This has resulted in
the making of some truly fabulous strongly coloured gowns over the
There is also a need for neutral toned gowns as they are a perfect foil
for gaudy sashes and other regalia. These satin dresses left and embroidered with
gold, diamanté and pearls by Norman Hartnell are good foils for strongly
clashing garter sashes.
evening and state gowns have often been works of art with sumptuous
embroidery and fine embellishments. More of the Queen's gowns are
shown on the Queen & Commonwealth:
The Royal Tour 2009.
Queen Elizabeth's dresses have been simply stunning,
adding not celebrity bling, but just a touch of tastefully
acceptable glamour for a woman who is not an actress, yet finds
herself constantly in the public eye.
whether day or evening always suit the occasion. They still look
appropriate and regal in photographs years later. They pay a small
tribute to well established fashion trends, but the styles never
stray too far into fads that might look the worst excesses of an era
10 years later. Any exhibition of the Her Majesty’s clothes is
always an eye opener as you notice the quality and richness of
colour of the heavy satins, the exquisite beading and somewhat
amazingly how very tiny her waist was in the earlier years of her
Whenever I get an opportunity to see the
Queen’s clothes at an exhibition I jump at the chance to study them
Dress for the Occasion is an exhibition of Fashion History in the making – simply wonderful.
Copyright Pauline Weston Thomas - Editor in Chief
Exhibition which begins at the Summer Opening of
Buckingham Palace 26 July 2006 will
show clothes from the 1940s to today and feature all the Queen's
most famous designers.
Dress for the Occasion exhibition runs until September 24 2006 at
Buckingham Palace State Rooms, London SW1 (020-7766 7300.
Whilst this exhibition has long since passed, another exhibition of
28 of The Queen's special dresses is on view during summer 2009. Read
more on Queen & Commonwealth:
The Royal Tour 2009.
Link to State
Apartments, Kensington Palace web site where royal ceremonial robes are
Jubilee Colouring In Pictures of the Coronation
Go straight back to Hartnell's Design
of the Queen's Wedding Dress
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