New exhibition of royal costumes opens in Bath

Royal Costumes Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath
Image caption The exhibition looks at the changing fashions of royal women in the 20th Century

A new exhibition exploring the fashions of four generations of royals has opened.

Royal Women, at the Fashion Museum in Bath, features clothes worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

Curator Elly Summers said they showed the individual style of each woman as well as the evolution of fashion.

Some of the dresses in the exhibition are on loan from the Royal Collection.

Queen Alexandra

Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath
Image caption The purple silk chiffon dress was made around 1910 for Queen Alexandra. Her dramatic tartan evening dress was made by Doeuillet in Paris

Queen Alexandra (1844-1925) was a fashion icon, whose look was quite different from that of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria.

It is believed the purple silk dress made in 1910 was not worn; it was possibly discarded for mourning clothes on the death of her husband, Edward VII.

After her death in 1925, many of her clothes were sold and her tartan dress was discovered in the 1930s in a vintage shop in London.

Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath
Image caption Queen Alexandra's evening dress was made from lilac silk by Morin Blossier in about 1893

Queen Mary

Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath
Image caption Queen Mary (pictured in 1928) did not follow fashion and stayed true to her style, including this black and purple sequined evening dress and coat with fur trim.

Queen Mary's (1867-1953) style stayed constant through dramatic changes in fashions during the first half of the 20th Century.

The mother of George VI was known to be impeccably dressed; for evening wear she wore heavily beaded gowns and for day she wore tailored suits and large toque hats.

Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath/PA
Image caption Queen Mary wore this dress and cape of gold lamé and turquoise cut velvet to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey in 1947

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Image copyright Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
Image caption The Queen Mother wore the Norman Hartnell grey silk satin ball gown (right) to a dinner for educational charity the English Speaking Union in New York on 3 November 1954

The Queen Mother (1900-2002) loved fashion and took a keen interest in designs, fabrics and colours.

Norman Hartnell designed much of what she wore.

His gowns were hugely labour intensive - at this time he employed 400 staff, from cutters and seamstresses to embroiderers.

Princess Margaret

Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath
Image caption The princess wore this Christian Dior strapless cream silk chiffon day dress (left) in 1952 to Royal Ascot. She was also a fan of royal couturier Norman Hartnell who made her evening wear (right)

Unlike her sister the Queen, Princess Margaret (1930-2002) had more freedom to explore fashion.

Many of her earlier outfits were designed by Norman Hartnell, and she became a patron of Christian Dior after she was introduced to his New Look collection in 1947.

Image copyright Fashion Museum Bath
Image caption Princess Margaret wore this Christian Dior strapless black lace evening dress to a performance of Guys and Dolls at the London Coliseum on 23 July 1953

Royal Women runs from 3 February to 28 April 2019 at the Fashion Museum Bath.

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