Fashion Bytes — Accession Day

It is Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee year, with yesterday, 6 February, being the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Accession Day. The year-long celebrations include an exhibit of Cecil Beaton photographs of the Queen and the royal family at the Victoria & Albert Museum. That Beaton was chosen for the Queen’s coronation photos has always surprised me. Beaton was indeed a portraitist, diarist, and interior designer, among other things, but he is most famous as a fashion photographer.

This link between fashion and royalty is hardly new. Historically speaking the royalty set the fashions, after all. Fashion Bytes has previously discussed Diana; and Jenna has written the history of royal wedding dresses (we only wear white because Victoria set the fashion for it), and the display of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gown. The advertisements for the V&A exhibit have caused me to wonder what impact royalty still has on fashion. After the royal wedding last April fashion journalists were anticipating a ‘Kate effect’ on the runways which failed to appear, and yet there is certainly to be more coverage of the Duchess’s clothing choices than the Queen whose jubilee we are meant to be celebrating and honouring.

What are your thoughts on the exhibition? Is it strange that the Queen chose a famous fashion photographer for her official portraits, or is it merely proof of Beaton’s skill?  Does royalty have any impact on fashion, or is the effect more in magazine sales? What do you think is the reason behind the coverage of the Duchess of Cambridge, rather than the Queen herself, or even the Duchess of Cornwall? Is it ageism? Is it possible that royalty might influence what people wear even if they no longer influence designers?

Please share your thoughts.

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