HM The Queen and the 1960s and 1970s
Her Majesty the Queen is the most widely-travelled monarch in history. During lengthy royal tours, she has maintained the long tradition of diplomatic dressing – her designers have considered the customs of the host country, the climate, the setting and any ceremonial dress her hosts might wear.
References to the host country were made in the design of her evening gowns – for example, colours of the host country’s flag. Accommodations were also made in her dresses’ designs for the display of royal insignia across the chest and the gowns were usually fashioned in pale colours to ensure that she stood out against large crowds and in black and white film and photography.
The striking colour of this evening dress and floating fabric were typical of the relaxation in formal dress that emerged in the 1960s and 70s. Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent travelled the world and were inspired by garments of other cultures. As Head of State, The Queen has always been mindful of the appropriateness of her dress during travels abroad. Here the flowing kaftan shape is daring, fashionable, yet still appropriate, while the bold colour stands out against a background of men in black.
Image: Hardy Amies for Her Majesty The Queen, 1979. Lent by Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto. Worn by The Queen on a state visit to Bahrain in 1979
As is still the case today, the royal wardrobe was the perfect advertisement for the British fashion industry and it was The Queen’s responsibility to promote British design in her wardrobe choices.
High impact dressing
Many royal individuals have used dress to create spectacle or to communicate a message to the wider world. Velvet robes, gleaming silks, sparkling jewels and intricate embellishment have helped The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales to create a lasting impact on a public with expectations of how a queen or princess should look.
The satin of the bodice is covered with two layers of chiffon embroidered with small pearl beads that form swirling cloud patterns. It is embellished further with diamante of different shapes and sizes. When the light catches this detailing, its full impact can be seen.
Image: Hardy Amies for Her Majesty The Queen, 1972. Lent by Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto. Worn by Her Majesty The Queen during a state visit to France in 1972 and for the official Silver Jubilee portrait in 1977