July 4, 2009

The Wardrobe of a Queen-Elizabeth II

This summer 28 key dresses from the Queen's wardrobe archive go on display at Buckingham Palace. On her first Commonwealth tour alone the Queen took 100 different outfits in 1953. Add all the tours she has made since then and you get an awful lot of dresses.

It was Autumn 1953. The world waits for the first sight of its new leader. After half a century of middle-aged men, the idea of a beautiful young woman ruling over the Commonwealth seems like the stuff of fairy tales. For millions of Australians, Canadians and Indians, Queen Elizabeth II is more than a figurehead; she is the living embodiment of authority, elegance and grace. Stepping out in a series of dazzling dresses, many of them by the legendary couturier Norman Hartnell, the 27-year-old embarks on a six-month tour throughout the Commonwealth countries that will cement her position as ruler of much of the free world.

Since that first tour the Queen has made 170 official visits to Commonwealth countries – they still account for about a third of her foreign travel. Over that time she has used her outfits to craft carefully an image of a world leader. Politics are important, but clothes are crucial, too. Resplendent in satin, shimmering with beadwork, adorned with priceless jewels, the young Queen used her wardrobe to send a message to the world about status, power and her unique place in history.

Starting as a young woman in fairytale ball-gowns, she has moved through the crisp tailoring of the 1960s and into the softer lines of the 1970s, before settling into her present incarnation as a chic senior stateswoman whose style is admired by a younger generation (the model Agyness Deyn has cited her as a style icon). This summer 28 key dresses from the Queen’s wardrobe archive go on display (along with jewellery and millinery) at Buckingham Palace as part of 'Queen and Commonwealth: the Royal Tour’, an exhibition to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth.

Read more at Telegraph.co.uk

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