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Queen's dresses on display

An exhibition of the Queen's dresses is now running at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Olympic dressIf you're interested in couture, especially applied techniques, it's probably well worth visiting the exhibition of the Queen's clothes now showing at Buckingham Palace until September 29th.

On display are 28 gowns and day outfits that she's worn on Commonwealth tours over the past 50 years.

Our image of the Queen is so strong that we often don't stop to thin about how manufactured it is. 

Queen yellow dressQueenie herself is basically a horsewoman, most at home in tweed skirts, brogues, Barbours and the like (a la Helen Mirren in the movie). But for public appearances, her clothes have to meet a number of strict criteria. They can't blow about in the wind (hems are carefully weighted), they must cope with whatever temperatures they're designed for (hence the continuing popularity of matching dress and coat, as you can take the coat off and still be dressed up underneath) and above all, she has to be visible, hence the fondness for strong colours. 

Queen Canada dressIt might surprise some people who aren't familiar with how the Queen dresses abroad to see that many of these clothes are in very strong colours such as emerald green and peacock blue. These are often worn in countries such as India and Pakistan, in marked contrast to the strong pastels for which the Queen is known in the UK. 

Maples leaves close upBut above all, for lovers of applied techniques, it's worth getting up close and personal with these gowns - no-one in the world can afford such good embroidery as the Queen, and some of it is a real work of art, especially the work by Hartnell, often using other countries' national symbols (maple leaves shown here for her visit to Canada) or echoing their national colours.

Also included in the exhibition are more than 100 presents received by the Royals on their Commonwealth visits. 



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