13 January 2012

Flashback Friday: Queen Margrethe's Style

Queen Margrethe is a fascinating lady. She is quite possibly the most intellectual sovereign currently reigning (she was educated at Cambridge University and the Sorbonne among other institutions, and speaks 5 languages), and is certainly the most creative. Born just a week after Hitler invaded Denmark in 1940, she's lived through great change in her country...and, in the far more shallow waters that you know I love to bathe in, great change in style. She's grown from a more generic (but regal) style into one that can always be counted on to bring something worth talking about. No runs of beige dresses for this queen, oh no.
Young Margrethe's classic style
She and her two younger sisters (Princess Benedikte, who married Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, and Princess Anne-Marie, who married King Constantine of Greece) grew up with the ladylike style of their mother, Queen Ingrid. It took a while - in to her reign as queen - for Margrethe to gain the confidence to go her own way.
Colorful Margrethe
At some point along the line, Margrethe really tuned in to her creative streak and embraced it wholeheartedly. She's quite the artist, really. She's an illustrator - one of her first public works was the Danish edition of The Lord of the Rings. She paints in various mediums, and her work has been exhibited in several different countries. She dabbles in graphic design, including monograms for all her family members. She's designed some ecclesiastical garments. And she's done a lot with costumes and scene design for productions on both the stage and the screen.
One of these is for the stage...just one.
Her love of, and skill in, costume design translates directly to her own style of dress. She can be quite utilitarian during the day - though never afraid to throw a quirky hat on top - but at night, she really shines. She's worked with various designers over the years - Balmain, the ubiquitous Jørgen Bender, Birgitte Taulow, others - but the end result is always thoroughly Margrethe no matter who does the actual crafting. She's dedicated to a particular brand of regal, queenly appearances. You can picture her gaining inspiration from the priceless paintings surrounding her every day, or the fairy tales she brings to life in the productions she's involved in. I like her best at night, in the richest fabrics possible, covered in jewels.
Rich theatrical fabrics
Sometimes I think it must be hard for a woman like Margrethe to be a constitutional monarch. She's smart, and obviously an out-of-the-box thinker, and yet in certain areas she's not supposed to have opinions. She still does, of course, and voices them from time to time (she caused a row by criticizing xenophobia in Denmark in one of annual New Year's speeches, for example). But I think the artistry, even as displayed by her style, becomes the way that she expresses herself while maintaining the required silence on other matters.
The woman loves a big sleeve
What's fascinating to me about Margrethe's style is that, on the one hand, you know for sure she's put thought and care into the image she wants to project; she knows exactly what it means to dress for her role as queen. And yet, on the other hand, she seems to absolutely not care what anyone else thinks. She'll require a spare seat on either side at the dinner table for her Carmen Miranda sleeves as often as she wants; she'll wear her ridiculously festive floral raincoat and just smile when she sees your eyebrows fly up; she'll wear as many golden poppies as she pleases, and you can just lump it if you think she shouldn't! She is who she is, and that's the end of the story. As much as I can giggle about some of her selections (and oh, I do giggle), there's that underlying admirable quality to them all.
The height of theatricality
In honor of her Ruby Jubilee, the Amalienborg Museum is putting on an exhibition of her gala gowns. If your travels take you through Copenhagen in the coming months, it might be worth a stop. There will also be a book published which includes the queen's own views on her gowns. Meanwhile, Rosenborg Castle (which displays the Danish crown jewels) is putting on a pearl exhibit which will include that Pearl Poire Tiara that so many of you love. Field trip to Copenhagen, anyone?

Do you have an all-time favorite Daisy outfit? 

Photos: BilledBladet/SN/Scanpix/Life/Zimbio/Corbis