Couture By Royal Appointment

0 Posted by - April 11, 2013 - Diary

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The work of the Royal dress designers, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, were on display in the Fashion and Textile Museum recently. A great introduction to names you may have heard but weren’t aware of their work.

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Being in close proximity with the pieces, you could admire the detail and workmanship from every angle.
There were day and night outfits on display but the eveningwear really shone.
Hand embroidery and delicate beading, lace and brocade were all on show.

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This evening coat showed great skill in beading placement, which if not carefully done could have been heavy handed. Careful choice in colour and simple shapes all help to showcase the handwork.

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Much thought and attention was paid to daywear as there was to night.
The fabrics may not have been as shiny and dazzling but the subtle details were elegant.
It is actually much harder to use beading in daywear without it looking too flashy.
Case in point; the mother of pearl bluebells on the black dress above.

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Most prints had a botanical flavour but it never got tired as a subject.
Print can hide details but time was still spent on hand finished trims and closures.

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Gowns were made of luxury fabrics in full skirted silhouettes.
Intricate detail was kept for the bodice where various nip, tucks, drapes and necklines were played out.

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Even simple sixties shift dresses were beaded but in a geometric fashion in keeping with the mod influence.

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Debutant gowns were decorated with youthful butterflies and dainty bows.

Hartnell-&-Amies-12Examples of elegant illustrations of the time were dotted around on walls complete with hair, make-up and accessories. The whole look was thought of from top to toe and matching accessories were the trend of the time.

Hartnell-&-Amies-11Brocades and jacquards all had a metallic element. The pink and silver trench coat was a particular favourite (I love me some pink) complete with bound buttonholes and embroidered buttons.

Hartnell-&-Amies-14A custom made dress for Barbara Cartland (Queen of pink) was encrusted with beaded and sequined flowers and a caped back. The intricate neckline really framed her face.

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A more streamlined look developed in the seventies with bold colour, larger scale prints and strong silhouettes.
Like a breath of air after the detailed fifties gowns.

Hartnell-&-Amies-13Quirky accessories like perspex shoes brought fun to the fashion on display.
The mid sixties really hit their stride in terms of fashion.

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Hats were a must in finishing off an outfit and Frederick Fox was the royals milliner of choice.

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The crepe flowers adorning the Queen mother’s hat even had pollen detail.

Hartnell-&-Amies-18The exquisite embroidery samples were beautiful.
The bee and honey piece was very McQueen Spring Summer 2013.

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 The green piece was in honour of Canada with its green maple leaves.
The embroiderers also handmade their annual Christmas cards which were a nice touch.

All in all, it was an elegant afternoon and I finished it with afternoon tea in their cafe next door.