The Queen of Fashion

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Fashion has always been at the heart of royal courts. Long before photography was invented we have the old masters’ paintings to give us a taste of the beautiful, richly ornate gowns worn by the aristocracy and royalty. Such was the prestige of a royal commission that great efforts were taken to avoid imitiation. It is said that Jane Bidney ordered the destruction of the lace design she had made for Queen Victoria’s wedding dress so it could not be copied. Which is nothing compared to the fierce, if possibly apochryphal, tale that would have us believe that Ivan the Terrible blinded his own architect, Postnik Yakovlev, after he had built the Cathedral of St. Basil. Queen Victoria would never have conceived that mode of exclusivity, but she was careful to keep a detailed record of the garments she wore. Such royal records have added depth to recent exhibitions of royal wardrobes that remind us of the range of gorgeous fabrics used – from beautiful laces, pink and silver silk, satin and broderie anglais and rich velvet. As a rule, royal fashion has always been filled with creations that were stunning – from the ornamental accessories complementing en vogue hairstyles, to delicate, richly embroidered dresses which are true works of art. From the Victorian era of costume designers like Eugene Lami, to the twentieth century styles of Norman Hartnell and the contemporary styles of today’s leading fashion gurus – from Armani to Valentino. Fashion article 1912Today’s royals are more in the public eye than their predecessors; some even become the symbol of fashion for their country – the late Princess Diana and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark being two notable such ladies. However, today’s royals, apart from the very few among them who make their livelihoods advertising the designer clothes they wear, are pretty tight lipped about whose famous creations they are displaying. The record shows that Christian Dior Fashion House dressed Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Windsor and Princess Grace of Monaco. Princess Caroline of Monaco, amongst others, favoured Karl Lagerfeld’s clean, classic, minimalist styles. But for most contemporary royalty a little informed guesswork is needed. A favourite is Giorgio Armani, whose clothes are relaxed and easy to wear, and at the same time sophisticated with an understated elegance with earth colours and beautiful tailoring. If royalty has shown it knows how to combine fashion with dignity, and whilst it is fun to wear the finest fashion, it’s also a competitive game. Here we have selected what we think modern young royal ladies would enjoy wearing and suggest which royal lady is currently ahead in the fashion stakes. We begin with Norway’s Princess Martha Louise, who likes to wear all the colours of the rainbow. An ideal designer for Martha could be France’s Jean-Paul Gaultier. (Extract from?Royalty Magazine Vol. 19/12)