From neck ruffs that would look more at home in an episode of Blackadder II, to exquisitely embroidered lace cuffs, delicate chokers made from hundreds of pearls and fine jewels and sumptuous materials, the new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery has it all and more, and goes to prove that even during the 16th and 17th centuries fashion statements were just as outlandish and attention grabbing as they are now.
The style of Anne Boleyn encapsulated in the distinctive pearl choker she wore, to the fabulous lace and stiff neck ruffs of her famous daughter Queen Elizabeth I, are all indications of how fashion was very much in vogue then as it is now. The designers of the time were every bit as imaginative and creative as the designers dressing the models on the catwalks of today. Aside from the monarchs themselves the denizens of the Court wore the very best in sumptuous and embellished fabrics and designs. This is the subject matter of the latest exhibition to be held at the gallery. Not only will you be able to view incredible and exquisite artwork but a few surviving garments from the period will also be on display.
Much like the photographs of today where we can look back at what we used to wear, the incredible portraiture of the period shows us how styles changed over the centuries, and how the fashionable attire of the royal courts changed what people were wearing around across Europe. It was after all for the people of the courts, the confidents, advisors, companions and hangers on to reflect the glory and magnificence of the monarch they so much admired – they believed the clothes that they wore should also be a reflection of this, being of the finest quality and latest styles. Design was very much at the forefront as to be noticed by the king or queen was everything, and the bolder and more adventurous the style the more likely you were to be noticed and given royal attention. You should remember that all of these clothes were made by hand, and the details all hand embellished, making them works of art.
The Clothes of Kings
It was not only the queens of the day that dictated the fashion of the land, kings too made their fair share of trending garments. It is believed that Charles II invented something very similar to the modern three piece suit back in 1666 for example, changing the way that the men in the upper echelons of society dressed. Though there may not be many garments from the period that have survived the ravages of time, there is a wonderful record of the fashions of the period contained in the portraiture of the Queen’s collection.
Anyone with a fascination for the Tudors such as King Henry VIII and his infamous daughter Elizabeth I will very much enjoy what the exhibition has to offer. The exhibition runs from May 10th right through until October 6th within the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.