|In the Buckingham Palace gardens|
I don't know about you, but when I think of the Queen Mother, I don't generally think of a fashion icon. In the span of my memory - and I'm willing to guess most of yours as well - she was firmly settled into the last phase of her style, which was anything but fashionable. But search back in history and you'll find a different story; a time and a place in which Queen Elizabeth and her unique style captivated the public. Today, we're flashing back to what has become known as the White Wardrobe.
In 1938, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were scheduled for a state visit to Paris. Pleased with the success of a gown Norman Hartnell designed for her for a 1937 Belgian state visit, the queen commissioned more than 30 new outfits for her trip. But five days before the relatively new monarch and his consort were scheduled to depart, Queen Elizabeth's mother died. Countess Strathmore's death sent the Court into mourning.
|Details and sketches of the wardrobe|
|During the visit|
|A few of the dresses and gowns from the wardrobe|
When George VI came to the throne in 1936 after the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, he famously asked Hartnell about a new image for his wife and showed him some of the romantic Winterhalter portraits around the palace as inspiration. The White Wardrobe is the absolute embodiment of that romantic image: lace and satin and crinolines in day dresses and evening gowns. Even the accessories rise to the occasion - could there be a daintier accent than a parasol? The queen's new look was designed to flatter her figure and lengthen her petite frame, rather than stick to any sort of trend.
|The creations on the queen, in Paris (first three), later at Buckingham Palace (fourth from left), and a refreshed and redesigned dress during the family's 1947 tour of South Africa and Rhodesia (far right)|
|A sampling of the press the tour garnered, with this quote from a French diplomat: "To-day France is a monarchy again. We have taken your Queen to our hearts. From now on she rules over two nations."|
|The White Wardrobe on display|
And you? Are you captivated by the White Wardrobe?
Photos: PA/The Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Michael Pick/Norman Hartnell