They may look garish for some but Queen Elizabeth II’s brightly-coloured outfits are a power dressing tool that allow her to make an impression, according to a new exhibition opening on Saturday.
Exhibits at the Buckingham Palace show range from her christening gown to the eye-catching bright green wool-crepe and silk dress she wore at one of her 90th birthday celebrations earlier this year.
The queen’s wedding dress from 1947 and the one she wore at her coronation in 1953 are also exhibited together for the first time in “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe”.
“The Queen is well-known for block colour dressing using vivid and bold colours to ensure she is easily visible on important occasions,” Caroline De Guitaut, the exhibition’s curator, told reporters.
De Guitaut said the dresses reflected the multi-faceted role the Queen plays as sovereign not only of Britain but also of the Commonwealth states, as well as being commander-in-chief of the British army.
The curator said that hats also played an important role in making her easier to spot in large crowds, which is why they often have elaborate trimming.
The monarch’s preferences for headgear range from cloche hats made popular in the 1960s to the Breton style of the 1970s and 1980s.
Nowadays, she is rarely seen in public without a hat.
Details such as colours and design gained a whole other level of significance during her state visits.
“The Queen?s ensembles are carefully designed to ensure they are appropriate for the climate like the oriental-flower patterned dress Her Majesty wore to a state visit to Singapore,” De Guitaut said.
Others respect religious or social conventions like the ensemble worn for her state visit to the Middle East in 1979, in which the Queen was covered as much as possible to respect local traditions.
“Clothing can do things for women sovereigns that it can?t do for men and the Queen has definitely used that as a tool in her reign,” De Guitaut said.
The exhibition, which runs until October 2, is one of three organised by royal officials this year showing off 150 outfits and is billed as the biggest ever.