London: Royalist romanticism rules runway
This is the season of The Crown in London; when designers have fallen back in love with Queen Elizabeth, after witnessing the most royalist runways in eons.
The Crown, the hit television series that chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth, is only one of hundreds of documentaries, fictional films and exhibitions that have covered her life. However, by its very sophistication, glossy finish and brilliant costumes, the series seems to have captured the mood in the UK better than anything in the media. That was apparent throughout the past four days in London. A longing for the pageantry of the royal family, its dressed up sensibility and even its not-infrequent naughty moments – always covered in minute detail by British tabloids and broad-sheets, that odd English term for a quality newspaper for the thinking bourgeoisie.
And, ever so quietly, the royal family has played a direct role in this trend. One year ago, Princess Beatrice led 25 editors and buyers on a private exhibition, Fashioning A Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe, curated by Caroline de Guitaut. It included four Andy Warhols of Elizabeth II to the exquisite lace robes she and Princess Margaret wore to her father George’s coronation in May 1937.
Take the season’s best show by Erdem Moralioglu, whom de Guitat gained access to the Queen’s own private wardrobe in Windsor Castle. Inspired by a 1958 photo of the Queen meeting Duke Ellington the result was mesmerizing display of jazz singer meets British monarch. Some of these clothes have to make it into the next season of the Crown.
While the season’s biggest show, Burberry, inspired by social portraiture, was riddled with historic references. Take the key look, an inverted regimental coat made into skirts and coats. It looked like a still turned upside down from The Madness of King George, the comic historical drama about the 18th British monarch’s declining mental health.
And the pirate hats in Henry Holland’s show. Well, they could have been taken from the head of Rupert Everett, who played the Prince Regent in the 1994 film. Albeit, Holland’s clothes are very much for young ladies who like a very late Friday night.
The stand out color of the season – a pastel lime, the same watercolor much favored by the Queen Mother. Indeed, Giorgio Armani’s whole Emporio Armani collection was down in vivid Regina colors, so much so that Armani claimed it “was a homage to Queen Elizabeth.”
If you doubt this influence, consider that The Crown’s costume designer, the legendary Michele Clapton this month just won another Emmy for The Crown, adding to an earlier one for Game of Thrones. Another immensely influential series on fashion.
More generally there was an ode to ladylike insouciance. Erdem produced a small photo book for his guests which began with the Queen shaking the hand of Duke Ellington, but ended with her dancing with abandon with naval cadets onboard a ship in 1947, in the year of her marriage, four years before she became queen.
The trend even began in New York, with the last show of the season there by Marc Jacobs, which featured bright African turbans and toppers, created by British milliner Stephen Jones, in the very bright colors favored by Queen Elizabeth. And continued in London. Take a finely crafted show by Peter Pilotto. Though inspired by the Japanese flower arranging art of ikebana, the collection felt like an ode to English gentility. With bias-cut frou frou dresses; silk crepe finished with metallic lace and imperial purple cocktails covered in Victoria Liberty Style floral prints.
Incredibly, the royalist fashion trend happened in the very week when the front pages of the broadsheets were devoted to the ousting of the Queen’s senior advisor, Sir Christopher Geidt. Apparently forced out by Prince Charles and Prince William, in part because he wanted a slimmed-down monarchy where Andrew’s two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, had little role to play.
For those who missed the series, The Crown is available on Netflix, and season two starts December 8th.
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