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NEW YORK: Queen Elizabeth II might have the most elaborate wardrobe on the planet.
“Every outfit worn in public is carefully calibrated to inspire or remind, to signal gratitude or respect, to convey a sense of power or familiarity,” The Mail wrote on Sunday in 2015. “Her Majesty does not set trends or doesn’t follow them – but while she’s deaf to the siren calls of fashion, she has her own singular style.
From her Hermès tiaras, hats and scarves to her Launer London handbags and even her umbrellas, the Queen’s style has been hyper-documented since her birth, her days as a young princess, her ascension to the throne and now, more than 70 years after her reign, as she celebrates her platinum jubilee at 96.
Now known for her shiny coats (to be seen by huge crowds) with matching brimmed hats, the Queen was a glamorous young princess and monarch in decades past.
Some highlights of the Queen’s style over the years:
Cotton or wool? The very birth of the queen has sparked a style debate, writes Bethan Holt, the Telegraph’s fashion editor and author of this year’s ‘The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style’.
Her wardrobe from the outset was a subject of national fascination with layette sewn by her mother and grandmother, and a little help from underprivileged women across Britain. Stating that woolen babies looked like “little gnomes”, Lilibet’s mum, then Duchess of York, opted for frilly cotton, rejecting anything too difficult.
When Sister Margaret arrived four years later, the princesses often paired her up, dressing the same until they were teenagers. But the future queen as a daughter “never cared about clothes”, according to her former governess, Marion Crawford.
“She wore what she was told without question, except for a long, drab raincoat which she hated,” Crawford wrote in her controversial memoir, “The Little Princesses.”
The young heiress
With her uncle’s tumultuous abdication and her father’s rise to power to become King George VI, Princess Elizabeth became heiress presumptive (in the absence of any future male heirs, which never materialized).
Enter fashion designer Norman Hartnell, according to Holt. While there were other designers, he was responsible for dressing the family as they emerged onto the world stage, including the two princesses aged 11 and 6. wrote Holt.
During World War II, 18-year-old Elizabeth began to make more public appearances, training as a mechanic in early 1945 towards the end of the war. It was the only time she wore pants (and jumpsuits) on a regular basis, according to Holt.
The Queen was, and remains, a practical dresser when needed, but also glamorous in shimmering dresses when the moment came. And she often wore short sleeves or no sleeves at all, which no longer happens today. She pictured photos with Prince Philip in a simple light-colored dress with above-the-elbow sleeves and low peekaboo heels on her size 4 (6 US) feet shortly before their wedding in 1947.
“People want to see their royals look like royals, but they also don’t want to think taxpayers’ money is wasted,” said True Royalty TV editor Nick Bullen. .
The wedding dress
Hartnell transformed the flowers of Botticelli’s “Primavera” into a dress of white crystals and pearls. But it wasn’t easy. There were diplomatic issues in the still miserable aftermath of the war, Holt wrote. Customs seized 10,000 seed beads from the United States, and journalists were assured that the origins of the silk produced in Kent and woven in Essex were worms of ‘nationalist’ China rather than the “enemy” Japan.
Thousands of people in the UK have sent their ration coupons to Princess Elizabeth to use for clothes. It would have been illegal, so she saved hers and asked the government for another 200, Holt told The Associated Press.
“It showed the thirst there was in the country for this great moment of glamour,” she said. “For the past few years we have known the Queen and Prince Philip as this sweet old couple, but we have to remember that in those days they were this dazzling and glamorous new couple on the scene.”
The wedding was not without drama behind the scenes. The Queen Mary’s Fringe tiara, made by Elizabeth’s grandmother from a necklace given to Mary by Queen Victoria, broke just before the ceremony and was sent to jeweler Garrard for repair.
The dress and the wedding offered “a real moment of hope,” Holt said.
She settled years ago on skirts and dresses just below the knee, but her hemlines were sometimes a problem for senior members of her family. In 1952, the 25-year-old queen led her family in mourning at her father’s funeral in accordance with strict dress codes established under Queen Victoria’s reign, according to Holt.
As Queen Mary curtsied to her granddaughter and kissed each cheek, she warned: “Lilibet, your skirts are far too short for mourning,” Holt wrote. The new queen’s dress floated well above her ankles but respectfully below the knee, while her grandmother’s reached to the floor. All, including Queen Elizabeth II, were enveloped in black veils, as Queen Victoria was for 40 years after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.
“The evolution of the Queen’s style from young princess to the longest-serving monarch in British history has led her to be in tune with the times but not follow fashion,” Bullen said.
find a uniform
The queen we know today wears block heels or sensible brogues, usually handcrafted by Anello & Davide, with a custom Launer perched on her arm and a brooch on one shoulder. She goes with kilts and skirts in tartans and plaids like her country style. But the early 1950s queen charmed the world with pinched waists, pencil silhouettes and full, floaty experiments as a post-war fashion earthquake took hold in the country.
“In the early years of her reign, she really embraced Dior’s New Look aesthetic, and women saw her outfits as inspirational, much like people do with the Duchess of Cambridge today” , said Kristin Contino, style reporter for Page Six. .
There was playful glamor in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, including a daring multicolored evening dress in 1999 for a Royal Variety Performance. Created by Karl-Ludwig Rehse, it featured a vibrant sequined diamond pattern bodice in bright yellow, blue, green and pink.
There were also a few pants days and a turban phase in the 60s and 70s among a wide range of hat styles.
The Queen learned of her father’s death during a stopover in Kenya en route to Australia. Some reports say she was wearing jeans for an encounter with a herd of elephants when her father died in his sleep at Sandringham, Holt wrote. She donned trousers while on safari in Zambia in 1979 and trousers in 2003 as she left King Edward VIII Hospital in London after knee surgery.
It was Margaret, the rebel, who was recognized as a fashion plate at Dior and other designers, and her influence on Elizabeth was tangible. The little sister helped the Queen scout new British designers and introduced her to newcomers, like milliner Simone Mirman, according to Holt. Mirman created some of the Queen’s most notable hats, including her Tudor-style “medieval helmet”, as Hartnell called it, in soft yellow, for Prince Charles’ investiture in 1969.
“Margaret was really in tune with fashion. She would have been the one who read Vogue. And so she often accompanied the Queen on dates to help inject a little extra flair into her appearance,” Holt said.
Usually attached to British designers, the Queen has a long-standing fondness for silk scarves from French fashion house Hermès. The brand has released several special models in his honor. She did it in 2016 with a horse-themed scarf to mark her 90th birthday.
You don’t equate today’s queen with a mad rush to copy her style, but for a brief stint in the 1950s, women could do just that thanks to her love of cotton dresses in delicate floral or abstract prints. of Horrockses Fashions, a British ready-to-wear brand, Holt said.
Another look from those early years also stands out. In October 1952, shortly after ascending the throne, the Queen caused a stir at the Empire Theater for a royal viewing of the musical ‘Because You’re Mine’. She wore a Hartnell tuxedo dress in black with a white front and wide halter-neck lapels, paired with long white gloves, a tiara on her head and a diamond bracelet on one wrist.
She hit all the magazines and newspapers the next day. Manufacturers rushed to copy it. It was nicknamed the Magpie and she never wore it again.
The Queen likes to coordinate colors, sticking to brights and pastels in today’s floral coats and dresses.
This also goes for its clear birdcage-shaped umbrellas. They are made by Fulton Umbrellas and are available for $30 or less, although the Queen’s are custom made. She owns about 100 of them in a rainbow of colors, but contrary to reports, she doesn’t own 200 of her favorite Launer bags, Holt said. Gerald Bodmer, who rescued Launer in 1981 after a period of decline, was keen to clear up this myth.
“He says she has multiple styles in multiple colors. He says 200 is way off target,” Holt said.
Launer lengthens the straps of her leather bags so she can hang them more easily on her arm, and they make them lighter to carry. And what is she wearing? Bullen said he had heard there was still a lipstick, a handkerchief and a picture of Prince Philip, who died last year at 99.
Irish designer Paul Costelloe, who dressed Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s, told the AP of the queen’s style: “She’s kind of like a schoolteacher, a good schoolteacher. She never shocks. She’s right. »