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Happy 88th Birthday to HRH Elizabeth II of England

Happy 88th Birthday to HRH Elizabeth II of England

Celebrating the royal style icon


Image: Iconic Photos
Image: NY Mag
Image: Reel Foto

Queen Elizabeth II of England – at 88 years of age – has become as known for her block colour dress and hat choices as her reign over the Commonwealth. We celebrate the fashionable monarch with a reflection on her royal dressers

At public events and of course on Christmas Day for her address to the nation, the style of Queen Elizabeth II is scrutinised and celebrated in equal measure. Back in the early 40s, when the queen was a princess, a gentleman named Norman Hartnell produced many of the finest evening dresses in Her Majesty's wardrobe. His signature style of the 1940s and 1950s was full-skirted dresses in sumptuous silks and duchesse satins – before Hardy Amies began famously designing clothes for The Queen in the early 1950s and established his name with the deceptive simplicity of his accomplished tailoring.

Portraits taken by Cecil Beaton that were released to mark Her Majesty's birthday in 1969 feature some of the most memorable designs by Hardy Amies.

And then, in the 1970s, The Queen awarded her patronage to Ian Thomas, an assistant designer to Norman Hartnell before setting up his own salon. Thomas's flowing chiffon dresses from the 1970s reflect the relaxed style of the decade. Maureen Rose of the same house continued to design for her after Ian's death until the late 80's.

Between 1988 and 1996, Her Majesty's dresses were designed by John Anderson. His business partner Karl Ludwig Rehse took over the mantle after his death in 1988 and the Queen still wears his designs today... As does Stewart Parvin, the youngest of Her Majesty's designers, who trained at Edinburgh College of Art. Parvin began to design for The Queen in 2000 and continues to do so.

Currently, Angela Kelly takes the position of Personal Assistant and Senior Dresser to The Queen. Her role includes designing items specifically for The Queen, which she has done since 2002, and famously for The Queen's huge Diamond Jubilee year in 2012. "The preparations for the Diamond Jubilee began in earnest in 2010, when I started to research and purchase fabrics," says Kelly. "But since the Queen is frugal and very aware of costs, I was keen to use fabrics from our stockroom, some of which date back to 1961 and before."

The dressmaker has also disclosed other royal style secrets in the past, such as how the Queen taught her to "squeeze" a fabric sample to test how badly it creases before deciding to use it, or how hemlines of coats and dresses should be weighed down to avoid any embarrassment in windy conditions.

Angela and her established team try and use both old and new fabrics when designing... And more often these days, in one block colour – specifically which has become a subject of debate and speculation prior to big events by the public. 

Having knighted Sir Paul Smith and presented OBE awards to the likes of Stella McCartney, The Queen is well aware of the world of fashion... And notion that is fondly reflected.

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!