Big news, fashionistas and adorers of the British royal family: two worlds have collided. This week, Queen Elizabeth II made her first appearance—in all 91 years of her life—at London Fashion Week! What’s more, the Queen seemed genuinely happy to be there, sharing smiles and jokes in the front row of the Richard Quinn show next to the “queen” of fashion: Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
The surprise appearance by the royal made a splash immediately. As The Guardian reported, “There was a hush as she entered the room, with the audience standing up to greet the monarch and, of course, raising their phones to get that all-important social media picture.”
In a sky blue tweed dress with black gloves, the Queen greeted attendees and then sat down aside Anna Wintour, who was wearing a cheery romantic dress and her signature sunglasses. Both stood out in their bright colors against the black-clad fashionistas in their row. (Do we sense a budding friendship…?)
The pair was there to witness the last show of London Fashion Week by Richard Quinn, who was presenting his second-ever show. Quinn is an emerging British designer who created his eponymous label just two years ago, after graduating with an MA from the fashion uni, Central Saint Martins. His designs are remarkably unique, drawing heavily on bright colors and bold prints.
The Queen appeared elated from the moment she stepped out of the car to the end of the show, after which she presented Quinn the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Receiving the award is a considerable achievement. According to the Royal Family’s Twitter, “The Award, initiated in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society & diplomacy, will be awarded annually to an emerging British fashion designer who shows talent and originality, whilst demonstrating value to the community and/or sustainable policies.”
“It is a great pleasure to be here at London Fashion Week today,” Queen Elizabeth said as she presented the award. “From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham lace, and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting edge, practical designs.
“As a tribute to the industry, and as my legacy to all those who have contributed to British fashion, I would like to present this award for new, young talent. I would like to thank the British Fashion Council for selecting the first winner – Richard Quinn.”
Aside from cultural importance, the fashion industry is an important component of Britain’s economy; it’s worth $36.3 billion per year, and contributes 800,000 jobs to the economy. The Queen, in short, had a lot to praise.
Would you ever have expected the Queen to grace London Fashion Week with her presence? What do you think of Richard Quinn’s designs? And is this another instance of royalty making a greater effort to engage more with pop culture?
Though the Queen is fairly conservative when it comes to her own fashion, it’s certainly exciting to see her get so excited at the more risky and avant-garde designs of fashion week! A coming together of styles, if you will.
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Love, Your London Correspondent