by Ivanna English
Photography by David Zulli
Stylist: Cruz Rendon
HMUA: Jenna Campbell, Sarah Stiles
Models: Alana Hernandez, Genevieve Miller
Once upon a time, in a land just across the pond, kings and queens ruled — not only with their bejeweled golden scepters but with the armor that comes with the sword. For anyone, commoner or God’s chosen, the choice of cloth often says more about a person than words ever could.
Always under public scrutiny, the all-elusive crown has been a topic of fascination, even for those on the outer-walls. From “Her Maj,” Queen Elizabeth II to Princess Diana, royal subjects thrive on their sovereigns: style.
The head of state’s job description involves grace, stability, mystery, and steadfastness. However, the lace and chiffon that decorates the nobility carries the heavy weight of crown jewels. As with most things European, with great power comes hundreds of years of sacred tradition to adhere. Shrouded in mystery were these tight units, until the invitation was extended to the world via a live broadcasting of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. This was a powerful move made by the young queen’s husband Prince Philip, and faced staunch opposition by the elder members of Parliament.
Throughout the years that followed, the young queen, while holding close to tradition, found her voice to be quite powerful, especially in the face of elder conservative men that had misconstrued her abilities as a female leader. Nonetheless, the fresh air brought on by a young female monarch attracted the hive of journalists to follow the spectacular family. From covering Princess Margaret’s controversial relations with Group Captain Peter Townsend, to speculations of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s awaited child’s name. One rather impressive element is the cloth that decorates them into the pristine divine.
To ensure that Her Majesty appropriately reflected her unique position all the while maintaining her power and status, devoted couturier Norman Hartnell tailored 100 dresses for the queen after creating both her wedding and coronation dresses. Now being the oldest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth’s presentation has evolved from the crispness of the ‘60s, the softer tones in the ‘70s, to the vibrant color patterns keeping her in Vogue today. The elder queen, now with cotton tufts of hair, is often seen with a monochrome, jewel-colored palate, that is meant to serve the purpose of making the queen eye-catching, to hold the attention of her viewers without creating a show of herself.Despite these efforts, the queen has inspired British fashion icon Agyness Deyn with her regal style, as is portrayed on the cover of the inaugural printing of Love magazine, commenting that Queen Lilibet is her muse. This queen’s Balmain style in the ‘90s caught the eyes of Dolce & Gabbana as they replicated the long, plaid skirts, neatly tied silk headscarves and lengthy jackets fitted to the figure as seen on their 2008 runway. After some critique that their creation was not much to bat an eye to, Gabbana remarked that this style, particularly long skirts, was new for this generation. This symbolism of stability and grace nonetheless charms the masses and sets an example for senior chic attire all the while working 15-hour days and ruling over 16 nations. *Mic drop.
As more heads are turned to the new additions to the royal family, particularly Duchess Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle — whether she becomes the Duchess of Clarence, Sussex, or Buckingham is still up in the air — many faithful followers are noting the reappearance of the late Princess Diana in their style choices. In homage to the late princess, Kate Middleton can often be found sporting attire much like Princess Diana’s taste, particularly in special moments, such as the Remembrance Sunday Service. Both women wore a black hat and trench coat combination with a red flower pin some 25 years apart.
Upon the advent of the ‘80s style in haute couture, Virgil Abloh’s Off-White Spring/Summer ’18 collection is a dedication to the late Princess Di, with soft tones and structured skirts that exhibit the life that remains in her legacy. Being the more fashion-inclined royal member, Diana often wowed the crowd with her presence both on and off duty. But her graces and her genuine concern for the people — and obvious disregard for tradition — made her the Princess of the Public and won over her people. Even with the constraints of a royal position, these women exemplify steadfastness, tenacity, and intrepidity, especially in their ways of adhering to their beliefs. Their heels remain firmly planted when it comes to positive progress in exchange for traditionalist manners.
From an outsider’s perspective, the gilded family may just be one that we must create some fantasy to fill in the gray areas of the unknown. To live with a bounty of the material world for many is quite the dream and could account for the multitude of royal reality TV shows and Netflix originals highlighting the lavish life. However, this fairytale is often misconstrued, and the outside world is in the dark behind a cloud of mist. It is with careful wishful thinking that one should concern themselves with others’ lives. As has been seen with the tragedies of Princess Margaret and Princess Diana, not even the closest figures to a Disney movie can replicate them.
This humanizing of the divine people only brings us closer to them and allows us to relate somewhat; although for many, wearing a gold, diamond encrusted crown remains a far-fetched dream. Despite the harsh realization that the head of state is not a vacant position, the commoner can most definitely wrap themselves in garments of silk and pearls and wear the invisible crown to rule over their own individual kingdoms as a boundary breaker. •