|A collection of formal
ensembles which have been worn by Her Majesty the Queen at
state occasions go on display at Hillsborough Castle
throughout the month of August. The dress in the foreground
was worn by the Queen for a portrait by Karsh, from Canada,
while the dress at the top of the stairs was worn by the
Queen during a state visit to the USA in October 1957.
|This State Evening Coat is among the most dazzling of the items on display, and was worn by the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament in December 1982. The coat was also worn for a Malaysian State Banquet in 1974. US3009-543cd|
AMID the opulent decor of Hillsborough Castle, the Queen's richly bejewelled, discarded ballgowns went on display yesterday to the delight of the well-heeled coterie who turned out for the occasion.
Intricate beaded dresses in ivory, cream, pale gold, silver-lime and leafy green glittered on the mannequins adorning one of the castle's distinctive spiral staircases.
An elaborate full-length coat of shiny, powder-blue silk, trimmed with mink and worn by the Queen for the state opening of Parliament in 1982 also drew gasps among spectators who gossiped about the dainty proportions of the royal couture. Collectively designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, who famously denigrated simplicity as the "death of the soul", the dresses were full of careful detail and each were worn by the Queen during official visits, state banquets or portrait sittings. Betty Scott examined a high, round-necked gown worn by the Queen for a portrait by Karsh of Ottawa and at the 1977 Gilles Ball at Balmoral. Ms Scott, from Holywood, was "blown away" by the meticulousness of the design.
"It is a privilege to come into this magnificent building to view these magnificent dresses," she said."The drama and elegance of the outfits and the rich materials are something to behold. And I just can't believe how tiny the Queen's waist is, the dresses have such neat proportions."
Anna Millar was equally impressed.
"It is a pleasure to view all of this. I am stunned by the beauty of it all. I ran my hands over the collar of the queen's silvery jacket and it was so soft I thought that has got to be made of mink," she said. "I have a coat similar in design actually, though obviously not as fancy."
The special preview was attended by the Friends of Hillsborough Castle but the exhibits will be open to the public throughout August as part of the annual Saturday Tours programme.
Designer Norman Hartnell, who dressed the aristocracy of London, Hollywood, and the silver-screen goddesses of the 50s and 60s, famously designed the gowns worn by the Queen on her wedding day and on her coronation in 1953.
Sir Hartnell was appointed dressmaker to the Royal Family in 1938 and quickly distinguished himself as a master of elaborate, sophisticated design. His use of sequins, seed pearls, white crystal beads and extravagant fringes made him the perfect couturier of royalty and pomp.
For more information on the Saturday Tours to Hillsborough Castle contact 92 689 406 or visit www.nio.gov.uk