Queen Elizabeth IIwith the longest service period in Britain, who He passed away on ThursdayShe has remained resolutely silent about her political leanings throughout her time on the throne, as stipulated by her role in her country’s constitutional monarchy. However, an indelible part of her legacy – along with her unwavering devotion to her country, its traditions, and the symbolism of the crown – was the creation of the prototype for a new type of women’s clothing in the latter half of the twentieth century.
“It must be seen to be believed,” The Queen famous saidFrom the moment she became sovereign in 1952, when she was twenty-five, she has had this goal in mind.
Restricted, to a large extent, to compliments and pantomimes (while at the same time participating in nearly 300 public events annually), she fully realized that portraits could nonetheless speak volumes – and that she was dressed not only for her people, but also from For future generations. More than the sparkly evening dresses she wore as a young queen, which delivered a dose of pixie dust and glam after World War II but were of a piece with royal fantasies that came before, that was her unique contribution. Her skill was at breaking new ground while convincing the world that she was doing her job faithfully, and keeping to tradition.
She was an accomplished and committed practitioner of fashion diplomacy, paving the way for that Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge (among other women whose roles have required fluency in political biology) To work with designers and brands to extend a hand of friendship across borders. She has used her position to highlight the local industry before Brigitte Macron or Jill Biden.
And she has been adept at dressing for the media: she created (and popularized) the practice of wearing the brightly colored suit as a way to blend in with the establishment and stand out in a crowd, thus providing a strategic model for figures like Hillary ClintonAnd the Angela Merkel And the Nancy Pelosi.
Long before Kim Kardashian showed up at the 2021 Met Gala in a full-body black dress and dress, underscoring the fact that she was so ubiquitous to pop culture that she could be recognized simply by her outlines, the Queen, Little Woman in a Hat With a handbag hanging on the curvature of her arm, she is recognizable by her imagination alone. Which is why no matter which actress was directing Her Majesty (Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton), she could easily look the part.
Although Elizabeth lived as many trends as she did with Prime Ministers (15) and US Presidents (14), including eras of mods, punk, Teddy Boys, and Sloane Rangers, she never followed them. She set her own. And though she was often described as subtle in her style, she was way ahead of the curve in approach.
The constancy of her clothing was a sign of reliability in the face of global change, and a physical expression of her function as a living historical symbol and a meticulously used instrument, as has been foretold. She learned, after all, to appreciate the use of uniforms early on, when she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945.
Her strategic wardrobe started with her in 1953 coronation dress, a satin ivory pattern embroidered with the world’s selected plants – including English roses, Scottish thistles, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, New Zealand silver fern, Pakistani wheatgrass, Australian rattles, and South African protea – initiating what could be decades of symbolism Diplomacy is considered. So much so that Daniel Conway, a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Westminster, told CBC in 2016 It has become an essential part of British Foreign Policy.
The Queen wore a green and white maple leaf dress to a state dinner in Ottawa in 1957; A white dress decorated with California orange poppies for a Hollywood dinner with Ronald and Nancy Reagan in 1983; A pink dress embroidered with peonies, China’s national flower, for dinner with Deng Xiaoping in 1986. She arrived in Dublin in 2011 wearing a bright green dress and coat when she became the first British Queen to visit the Republic of Ireland.
But her intent was not limited to her foreign trips. She was also well aware of her place on the local agenda.
She settled on her harmonious appearance from hat to suit or dress and coat to two-inch shoes, in order to make herself easily recognizable to her subjects, and stuck to her faithfully for years, beacon in periwinkle, rose, jade, lilac, and grape. “I can never wear beige because no one will know who I am,” she once admitted Robert HardmanRoyal biographer. For her 90th birthday, her lime green suit was so bright that she earned her own hashtag: # neon 90. In fact, her use of color inspired a book by Sally Hughes called Our Rainbow Queen, one of at least seven books on the Queen’s style. (The repetition also served, when necessary, as a kind of shield against the launchers and arrows of public opinion.)
Norman Hartnell (who made the Queen’s wedding and coronation dresses) and Hardy Ames were her original local fashion designers, followed in recent years by Stewart Parvin and Angela Kelly, who had been decorating them for more than two decades (and author of two books on royal style). The Queen’s famous chest-shaped bags (she had over 200 bags) were from Loner London, which she was granted a royal order in 1968; Her cotton shirts were from Grosvenor Shirts Ltd. On Jermaine Street.
Weekends and holidays at Balmoral in Scotland allowed her to highlight Scottish tartan and English tweed. In 2018, I sat in the front row at London Fashion Week to open a store Queen Elizabeth II Prize for British DesignAwarded to a young designer, extending her patronage beyond what she might be able to wear herself.
Her political expertise extended to recycling clothes and fabrics already in her wardrobe before it became part of the celebrity’s broader campaign for sustainability. In response to changing public sentiment, she was elected in 2019 to Stop wearing real fur (Unless it’s already in her wardrobe.)
That she did all this while being seen somehow out of fashion, using eyelash safety and a boring fit to hide how tactical her choices were, was a major class in clothing misdirection. And as those mantles and suits migrate from their coffers to museums and royal archives, to be preserved for future study, we must remember them not only as relics of the reign, but as instruments of a modern and peculiar kind of realpolitik.
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