Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rule Britania!

In case you missed the post at A Dress A Day, the Royal Collection is staging " A special exhibition for the
Summer Opening of the State Rooms,
Buckingham Palace, 2006
," consisting of a display of 80 of Queen Elizabeth II's gowns and assorted jewels. The Collection was kind enough to offer a beautifully photographed and magnified online display of 18 of the gowns, some jewelry and portraits of the Queen wearing both, to those of us who can't fly in to see the exhibit itself.

As a slut for jewelry as well as over-the-top clothing, I spent a happy 45 minutes examining each garment and jewel in minute detail. Both are beyond extravagant, as suits items that are more symbolic than practical. I also noticed that the Queen didn't look all that happy stuffed into gowns and jewels for her formal portraits. Perhaps it's unseemly for The State to crack a smile while on the clock, but I think her gloomy look just proves my theory that anything that becomes work is ruined, including the simple pleasure in putting on a pretty dress.

At any rate, I'm now on the hunt for a black tiara to wear with my Queen of the Night Halloween costume, which is about as royal as I'll ever get.

The black and white and yellow dresses pictured here aren't from the Royal Collection. Both are home sewn dresses in the design archives of the University of Brighton (click on the link "Fabrics forming Society"). They have some of the elements of the royal gowns of the 50s -- wasp waists, big skirts, embroidery -- and they were no doubt a lot easier to wear. I bet their original owners were delighted to wear them. These dresses inspire me, too. I know I'm not going to have access to embroiderers in this lifetime, but I could find some flocked or embroidered material and pretend I do. I'll add "make 50s dress with lace overlay" to my list of things to do.

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