Now, here’s a royal thrill that doesn’t involve a certain Kate! Hartnell to Amies: Couture by Royal Appointment at London’s Fashion & Textiles Museum puts the spotlight on Queen Liz and the rest of our favourite royal family and offers a glimpse at their role as international fashion icons. Ever wondered what HRH wore pre-Charles? Or how they made her intricately made Coronation dress? Then this is the show for you! Featuring blissfully elegant designs by the royal couturiers themselves – Norman Hartnell, Frederick Fox and Hardy Amies – the exhibition grabs you by the hand and takes you step by step through these regal wardrobes and their impact on the industry as a whole.
Prepare to feel aristocratic; with sketches of the decadent ensembles worn by Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother and previously unseen drawings of the embellished gold wonder Queen Elizabeth wore at her coronation in 1953, the show is anything but casual. The highlight for us were the photographs taken from Queen Elizabeth’s epic tour of the Commonwealth —13 countries in total— in which her savvy styling and 100+ costume choices by Hartnell and Amies are captured and made her the unquestionable trendsetter of the period.
Don’t miss out on the fashion history lessons either and find out more about the two honoured courturiers. Find out why Norman Hartnell’s romantic dresses were the only way to make a royal entrance and how the not-so-insignificant commission of the Queen’s ’47 wedding dress made him a household name. As for Amies, discover a talent unlike any other, the designer exquisitely walked the tightrope between women and menswear and even pulled out the first ever men’s only catwalk show. And lest we forget the hats! Milliner Frederick Fox, originally from Australian stock, created tasteful hair pieces for the whole family and they’re all there for you to marvel at.
But it’s not all frothy gowns and romantic trains, there’s some androgynous tweed suits that we wouldn’t mind getting our own hands on and a sumptuous velvet cocoon coat offering up a heavy helping of wrapped-up chic for those who aren’t dreaming of being a princess.
Needless to say, with over 50 historical examples of fashion from private lenders the exhibition offers a truly rare opportunity to see incredible heritage craftsmanship close up, so catch it before it’s too late as the exhibition only runs until February 2013! Now, where did our Prince Charming get off to?