Elizabeth II; Long live Britain’s Super Mom!!
The queen is the most photographed woman in the world while at the same time the bestselling icon for magazines and journals carrying her image.
As the exhibition “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe” draws to a close many Britons and foreigners are taken by nostalgia. They know the owner of the wardrobe to be an extraordinary woman who successfully balanced blending with British moms while attracting attention so that those same moms can come back home and say “I just saw the queen!”.
They also know that this kind of gentle imposition and loving exposure are about to end when the queen passes away taking with her this particular kind of magic. Truth be told, the queen is the most photographed woman in the world while at the same time the bestselling icon for magazines and journals carrying her image. She is oblivious to the scarcity law, as the world does not seem to satiate from her style; her imposing demeanor and her tender coldness.
She is the living spirit of a Britain that rejoices in sacrifice; treats wealth with elegance and knows the limits between self and state interests. And her clothes resemble this personality that is about to wade goodbye to a world increasingly engulfed in Kardashian vulgarity.
From a very young age princess Elizabeth received from her father King George V1 the logic of duty. The Royal family was the umbrella of hope; the light of progress and the handkerchief to collect the sorrow of the British people. Demeanor and clothes had to match such roles. As his brother Edward VII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, King George wanted to proclaim the different approach to leadership that he would instill to the throne of England and his two children.
Britain was about to enter a major conflict and needed to be tied together as a big family and the last reigning and successful family had been that of Queen Victoria. So he shepherded his family to a remake of Victorian style including clothes. Norman Hartnell was summoned to court to define the clothing style for the queen and the two young princesses. Hartnell was a visible contrast to Elsa Schiaparelli the Duchess of Windsor’s favorite designer.
Hartnell had to project an image of the reigning family that would bring its members close to the daily lives of their subjects, while at the same time position themselves as role models. Clothes had to tell this story. And Hartnell delivered! During the crucial war and post war years the royal family wore austere and inspiring clothes. Country life was triumphed through sport jackets and kilts of Balmoral tartan in remembrance of Queen Victoria who designed the tartan with her husband Prince Albert.
Some of this clothes were designed by Bernard Weatherill of Savile Row. These outfits represented the leadership approach that was to be developed and perfected by Princess Lilibeth once she would become queen when she indicated “Family does not necessarily mean blood relatives but often a description of a community, organization or nation”.
Wedding, Coronation and Royal Galas were imbued by Hartnell with the spirit of Britannia. Flowers from all over the empire; royal emblems and feminine drawings were gracefully blended in Her Majesty’s official wardrobes. And she always participated in the design and development of these clothes. Because, as another royal designer, Hardy Amies once declared “I do not dress the queen. The queen dresses herself. We supply her with her clothes — there is a difference.»
As time passed her leadership would be defined as a reservoir of soft power resembling that of any mother in a home. To put it in her own words “ I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” And to do that she needs to be seen and this explains her taste for bright shiny colors that would allow any bystander to see her and come back home thinking of her as Britain’s Super Mom.