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Comment 06 MARCH 2012

Diplomatic dressing and timeless elegance

06 MARCH 2012

The object of the national gaze for over half a century, the Queen has a vested interested in fashion, but knows exactly where to draw the line.

"That's too chic for me," Britain's longest serving monarch remarked to one designer, quipping that his suggestion was "all right for Miss [Joan] Collins but not really for me."

 

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Instead, contemporary fashion is blended with her own timeless elegance and the dictates of royal tradition.

Firm favourites are A-line cuts which are combined with eye-catching colours such as purple, yellow, peach, and red so her diminutive form stands out in a crowd.

Navy and black are banished to more sombre occasions such as Remembrance Sunday and memorial services.

When travelling abroad, the Queen follows local protocol – and these occasions yield some of her most memorable outfits.

During a visit to Turkey in 2008, she paid tribute to the country's wine making tradition in a striking grape print gown. 

And a white silk dress adorned with 2,091 hand-sewn embroidered shamrocks was the starring item on her first official trip to the Republic of Ireland, charming her hosts almost as much as her Gaelic greeting. 

 

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The crowning glory of her look is, of course, the headgear. Which is why milliner Philip Somerville describes his royal client as "the most professional hat wearer in the world".

A variety of designers have had the honour of dressing the Queen during decades of rule. Chief among them was Norman Hartnell, who created her wedding gown and many of the glamorous evening dresses that marked her early reign.

His signature style included full-skirted dresses in sumptuous silks and duchesse satins.

Nowadays, her wardrobe is in the hands of Stewart Parvin, Karl Ludwig Rehse and her personal dresser Angela Kelly, who is one of her closest confidantes.

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