Monday, 2 November 2015

Who's Queen?

Okay, this is Princess Anne's.
But look at the beading!
I make no secret of the fact that Her Madge is one of my style icons - nantastic suits with giant brooches and always a boxy bag, how could she be anything else? I first really started to appreciate her clothes when I saw a small exhibition of some of them at the Fashion Museum in Bath. Besides the petite size, what really struck me was the workmanship, especially in some of the Norman Hartnell gowns. Needless to say, when I saw that there was going to be an exhibition of 150 items from the Queen's wardrobe next year, my first thought was that I had to see them.
According to the Royal Collections website, the exhibition is being split across three official residences. The one at Holyrood is going to focus on tartan in Royal dress, which could be very interesting. Hopefully they won't omit the tweeds either, or cashmere knits, as Scotland's textile heritage is world-class. The exhibition at Windsor Castle will show official day and "magnificent" (I quote) evening wear, plus fancy dress costumes from wartime family pantomimes. The biggest exhibition, and the one I'd really like to see, will be at Buckingham Palace, and will cover Royal couture for major events, including the Queen's wedding and coronation.

At that long-ago exhibition I mentioned, because the dresses were behind glass it was possible to get really close to them. And, oh, the workmanship in one Norman Hartnell dress! It was patterned all over in beaded ripples. So much work. So beautiful. The embroidery and beading on things like the Coronation gown must be staggering. I'd be happy just to go and see a selection of Hartnell pieces, frankly. It's funny how his name seems to have vanished - the names of the French couturiers, even the ones whose houses no longer produce clothing, are remembered far better than the likes of Hartnell and Hardy Amies.

I've been itching to do some more embroidery - once I've got the tank top off the knitting needles, I might do that rather than start knitting straight away. (Plus if I knit more, that will deprive Ziggy and Pippin of the chance to play in my wool stash, which they have just discovered. It would be a shame to spoil their fun.) Norman Hartnell did actually put his name to some commercially-produced embroidery transfers. As I already have lots of transfers, I shall probably find something 'Hartnellesque' and have a go at that.

Anyway, whether I get round to doing any embroidery or not, I really want to go to see that exhibition. I think it would be interesting for anyone interested in fashion and image-making; outside of Hollywood, political figures are the people with most interest in image creation, and the Queen's had decades at the top of that game. For the art of image-making, as well as the art of dressmaking, I reckon the exhibition is going to be fascinating.

16 comments :

  1. I agree, it sounds like a really good exhibition, especially the clothes from her younger years. I do hope there is a special handbag and brooch section too! I think I have some Hartnell embroidery transfers somewhere, I do like a bit of embroidery.

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  2. I'd like to see that too.

    My understanding (and it might just be a complete lie, or legend) is that Hartnell was seriously upset at having an embroidered leek (An onion!) on the dress to represent Wales, with threats to quit over it.

    I stick to quick embroidery projects these days-handkerchiefs, monograms on shirts, that sort of thing. I wouldn't have the patience to do another tablecloth (I did several years ago).

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    1. In that case, why didn't he use daffodils instead? They'd be nicer than leeks!

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  3. I can't say Queenie does it for me as a style icon, but I do like a good exhibition of clothing, there is definitely something special about seeing the work on high quality pieces up close.
    Embroidery sounds like a lot of very hard work! I'll be fascinated to see what you make, I have neither the skill nor the patience for fine detail! xxx

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    1. I enjoy the meticulousness of embroidery - I find the detailed work appealing. I'm not very good at it, but it can be fun. I tend to prefer woven or embroidered patterns on clothing to prints, though I am coming round to liking some prints.

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  4. I have seen the Queen's coronation dress! I can't remember what exhibition it was, or how long ago, I was with my Mum ( a dressmaker by trade) I do remember that much, and that we were both blown away by the embroidery detail.
    I think the tartan collection sounds fab, darn it being in Scotland.

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    1. I told Pete about it last night and he started talking about a trip to Edinburgh. I hope he means it!

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  5. Sounds like it'll be a great exhibition; who doesn't want to see the clothes of a queen up close? Even if you don't like the monarchy it's still fascinating! I really must catch more exhibitions, this country is so good for them...

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    1. I find royal clothing fascinating because there's so much diplomacy involved. People go on about Kate being a diplomatic dresser, but the Queen's been doing it for 60-odd years, picking the right colours, cut or symbol for an occasion or guest. It's not so much clothing as costume.

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  6. I completely agree and wish there was a way for me to see it in person, too (so very unlikely, as no travel plans, let alone to Europe, are in the cards for me at present). Please share your thoughts on it if you're able to attend, dear Mim. I will visit vicariously through you. :)

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. If I make it there, I will definitely share my thoughts!

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  7. Oooh, sounds wonderful. I'll add it to my list of exhibitions that I really want to see and then never get round to *sigh*

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    1. Ha, I have one of those! I guess we're lucky to live in a country with so many interesting things going on.

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  8. The Queen always carries Launer handbags which are made in Walsall so gotta love her for that.
    That jacket is a work of art. I'd love to see your embroidery but don't spoil the cats' fun! xxx

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    1. Oh, the cats have plenty of things to have fun with. This morning I confiscated: my makeup brush, iPod headphones, Pete's bow tie, a pen, a laundry lint ball and an entire tub of cotton buds that they'd scattered across the floor. (They do have a huge collection of vastly expensive cat toys, but no, they'd rather maraud with whatever's to hand.)

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