This month, Members had two fascinating insights into dressing for the Coronation of HM Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. On Zoom, Costume Historian Jane Hattrick gave us a privileged look at the extraordinary private archive of couture designer Norman Hartnell. He designed both the Queen's wedding and coronation dresses as well as a glamorous wardrobe of garments that redefined the royal 'look' during the first part of her reign until his death in 1979.
Hartnell designed hundreds of ensembles for numerous Royal tours and State events, creating a Royal style and working wardrobes for Her Majesty that still resonate in terms of the Royal ‘look’ today. His Royal designing also inspired his fashion collections. Dr Jane Hattrick who has curated this private collection explored stories of fashion and Royal dressing through a study of original sketched designs, Royal correspondence and paperwork, photographs, garments and interviews with Hartnell’s staff.
This was followed, later in the month, by a presentation from Meredith Towne, who also took us to the coronation, but concentrated more on the wardrobe of the ordinary woman in the street. She modelled Coronation pinafores, petticoats, designer and home-made outfits and re-enacted street parties on post war rations. The original Coronation Programme which Meredith brought along testified to the extraordinary expense and spectacle of the event. How fascinating it will be to compare with the coronation of 2023.
Caroline Whiting is a trustee of C&TA, an art historian and guide at Norwich's Norman Cathedral who is passionate about textiles as an art form, from medieval to modern.