During his seventy years of reign, His Majesty seems to have tested all the shades of the color chart, from chick yellow to fluorescent green through fuchsia or royal blue.
Whichever color she chose, she was always “flawless,” according to her nephew Harry.
An inimitable style that she has progressively forged, with the help of seamstresses and consultants in charge. The first, Norman Hartnell, had created one of her most emblematic outfits, her wedding dress. In ivory silk, embroidered with 10,000 pearls and encrusted with crystals, she had dazzled the British who had just emerged from the Second World War.
Norman Hartnell also made the silk gown he wore to his coronation in 1953.
He said he was inspired “by the sky, the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars and anything else that could be embroidered on a dress that had to be historic”.
“Making dresses for the queen is no easy task,” Hardy Amies, the Queen’s official designer from 1955 to 1990, who styled the pink suit she wore during her Silver Jubilee in 1977, once said.
It is a woman, Angela Kelly, who for more than two decades has ensured that the queen is always perfect. This humble English from Liverpool joined Elizabeth II’s dressing team in 1993 and became her personal stylist in 2002.
While in prison, Ms. Kelly cut the monarch’s hair on her own, she said in a book authorized by Buckingham Palace.
If Her Majesty was a loyal customer, recommending her was no easy task. The real “dress code” in fact obeys specific rules, beware of missteps!
“There are no written rules but there is + etiquette + and protocol,” Grant Harrold, a former royal family butler, told AFP. Impossible to see the monarch in black tights or red enamel. She only came out in flesh-colored tights. As for the paint, it had to be very soft pink, considered more elegant.
– Color block –
On the closet side, “never a skirt above the knee,” observes Mr. Harrold. For the jewels he gladly opted for a brooch or a pearl necklace, preferably in three rows.
If the queen perpetuated somewhat outdated traditions, rarely going out without a hat, some of her habits, such as wearing gloves in summer and winter, also had a “practical” side, underlines Grant Harrold: it was about “being careful not to do not catch a germ or a cold “when he shook hands with his subjects.
But the main feature of his style was the choice of colors, intended to quickly identify the 1m63 monarch.
“The Queen is known for her brightly colored plain dresses that aim to ensure she is easily recognizable on special occasions,” explained Caroline de Guitaut, curator of an exhibition dedicated to Elizabeth II’s dresses in 2016. .
On weekends in one of her country residences, the queen gladly left her hat in the wardrobe for a simple scarf, kilt and pair of boots. But during her official engagements, her Majesty was a follower of the “color-block”: the same color, from head to toe.
For Michele Clapton, costume designer of The Crown, it was like “a uniform, an armor”. “He can be in her garden with her corgi and then the next moment appear in a dress, hat and gloves,” remarked the costume designer in an interview with Vogue in 2016.
Her wardrobe was sometimes a means of conveying messages, such as showing an Irish shamrock or Canadian maple leaf on an official visit, a subtle way to honor her guests.
He is said to have used his inseparable Launer bag, of which he would have had more than 200 copies, to send secret signals to his team.
Discretion was obviously required to work in the Queen’s service, as Rigby & Peller, a high-end bras manufacturer who lost her status as an official supplier to Elizabeth II, learned the hard way by revealing the underside of royal lingerie.
First ambassador of British fashion, Elizabeth II took part in her first London Fashion Week only in 2018. On this occasion she presented the first “Elizabeth II fashion award”, an award then awarded every year to a new talent in the sector.
Dressed in a blue tweed suit, the queen outshone fashion superstar Anna Wintour, who sat next to her.