Monday, February 28, 2011

Becoming a Queen -- Part II

There is no "Becoming a Queen" without a Coronation --

A crowning of the royal sovereign...


And so, when it came time to decide on a gown design for Your Majesty, I looked to the coronation gowns of queens in history. And it was the worldwide inclusiveness of the embroidery on the British gowns that struck me.

Historically, the robe played the primary role in the British Coronation ceremony. Typically, the dress was kept fairly simple since the robe had a tendency to obsure everything underneath.

But with the advent of Queen Alexandra, the dress rather than the robe began to take on increased significance.

Queen Alexandra paid close attention to her gown for the coronation of Edward VII (pictured left)...It was made from gold tissue and white net, embroidered with gold spangles and gold/silver floral sprays. At the time, Queen Alexandra chose to include Indian flora, the National emblems of rose and thistle, saxon crowns, fleur-de-lis, and the Royal crown as decorative, embroidered motifs.


Queen Mary's dress extended the trend started by Queen Alexandra for the coronation of George V (pictured middle). Her gown included elaborate embroidery of the National Emblems. And lastly, Queen Elizabeth (pictured right) in 1937 further expanded on this theme by including not only the National Emblems but the Imperial emblems of the British empire as well.

So when it was time for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the historical precedent had been set. And, it was this dress, the Coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Royal couturier Norman Hartnell, that become the ultimate inspiration for my gown...


The embroidery was designed and carried out by the Royal School of Needlework, taking 3,500 hours between March and May of 1953 to complete. The Queen chose not to wear a surcoat which lent even further significance to the gown itself.


The design was executed in seed pearls, crystals, colored silks and gold and silver thread. The embroidery was laid out to take into careful account the changes in the composition of the Empire since 1937 and the evolution of the Commonwealth.


The National emblems of the Tudor rose (England), the leek (Wales), the shamrock (Ireland) and thistle (Scotland), as well as all the emblems of the Commonwealth...the maple leaf (Canada), wattle flower (Australia), fern (New Zealand), protea (South Africa), lotus (India), and wheat/cotton/jute (Pakistan)...were all included on Queen Elizabeth's gown.

Since Mr. Hartnell had also designed Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown, her mother requested that more color be added to the embroideries so the gown would not appear too bridal with its silver/gold embroideries on ivory satin.

In doing his research for the design, Mr. Hartnell ran into a bit of a struggle regarding the inclusion of the Leek for Wales, preferring to use the floral motif of a daffodil:

Hartnell checked them with the Garter King of Anno and was horrified to discover that the emblem for Wales was not a daffodil, but a dull vegetable, the leek. The Garter flatly refused to allow the use of the daffodil. Hartnell finally 'borrowed' the leek on the cap of the Welsh Guards and his embroideresses interpreted it into an attractive motif using fine silks and diamante. The leek became a source of inspiration and most of the other emblems were interpreted in the same way.

The leek appears at the very middle top of the skirt just below the bodice.



To get final approval for the embroidered emblem designs, Mr. Hartnell presented this sampler to the Queen and her Mom...


(I noticed that the leek and/or daffodil is left out of this piece which makes me suspect that the final decision regarding the humble vegetable had not yet been made at the time that the sampler was completed?)...The only change to the embroidery design was to deepen the green for the Irish shamrock....

After the embroidery of the gown was completed, Mr. Hartnell added an extra shamrock on the left hip for good luck so that Queen Elizabeth's hand might rest upon it all day long throughout the ceremonies...


And so my challenge was to interpret these items in miniature on my little 8" gown...

Here is the rose, the maple leaf, the lotus and the wattle flower (gold sequins)...


The shamrock, fern, thistle, and wheat...


The protea flower...


And the leek!! (down in the lower right corner)...


And last but not least, tucked just under the ribbon garland, on the left hip...an extra shamrock...for good luck...


Because my gown had taken on such a British character, I decided to marry the British Union Jack flag with the American flag for my background, printing the words of the Norwegian proverb on silk...

In every woman, there is a Queen. Speak to the Queen and the Queen will answer.

Reminding us all of the majesty that exists within each one of us.

Your Majesty.

THE END



Sources:



42 comments:

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOODNESS ! ! ! Once again words escape me. This is just outstanding. The funny part is, that I saw this going together at your house and saw all the work and the stories and all and I am still and once again blow away.
What can I say, You are an outstanding story teller, stitcher, researcher and plain old wonderful inspiration.
Thanks for such a great posting.
Maureen in MD

Rachel said...

This is a wonderful exposition of the research you did to create your Queen. There was a fantastic exhibition of Queen Elizabeth II's gowns a few years ago, and all of her formal state gowns are embellished with national colours or emblems suitable for the country she is visiting and the event in question. There's a famous one for a visit to Australia where all the embroidery is wattle flowers.

Only one caveat - strictly speaking, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was never Elizabeth I. That was Elizabeth Tudor (died 1603). Only Queens Regnant (ruling in their own right) get numerals. /pedantry

Plays with Needles said...

Thanks Rachel. You're right. I made the change.

CJ Stitching and Blooms said...

Hello Susan,

Incredible beautiful work of art. I am sure the research that went into the "Queen Doll" was a labor of love and I truly enjoyed reading it all. Thanks for all the photo of the upclose stitching. Amazing stitchery. I have Allie book and I know have a greater appreciation of the "Queen" Hugs Judy

MichelleW said...

Amazing research and attention to detail - you blow me away! Your interpretation is outstanding.

FlowerLady said...

Absolutely stunning in beauty and detail. You are really amazing.

Thank you for sharing.

FlowerLady

Emerald Window said...

Fabulous! I am always so inspired seeing your projects, but reading the story behind their evolution is even better. Thank You.
Cenya

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

I am amazed at all of your research and beautiful photos as well as the beautiful work you did in your interpretation! Truly inspirational! Connie

Gerry Krueger said...

You have really outdone yourself with this post. I bow to your magniloquent majesty.

Before I leave for CT I HAVE to make sour cream rolls and potato leek soup...his very favorites. Hug Ger

Cathy K said...

Oh my! Your research and attention to detail blows me away. You missed your calling as a haute couture designer, dear one. What a beautiful and compelling post - thank you for sharing this with us. Will the Queen be attending the Adventure perchance?? Hugs,
Cathy

flower friend said...

What a wonderful post Susan and your own queen is a stunner.I saw the coronation gown many years ago in the Museum of London and what struck me was how tiny the queen is.

Dees said...

just: WOW!

Vicki W said...

Spectacular! I feel like that's all I ever say on your blog but everything you do is spectacular! I really enjoyed all of the background information on Queen's Coronation gowns. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

Evelyn and Lise said...

I am also blown away. I love this work and the background that you give us on all your work is great. We learn so much from your art. I do have a question. Would you please tell us in detail how you did the background. Thank you. Lise

Pollydo2003 said...

Wonderful work, I have been wanting to do something simular for some time, you now have given me many ideas to follow and more inspiration to start it. thank you.
Arlene

FloridaBird said...

GOBSMACKED!

Sheila said...

Susan, this is so beautiful! You are such an artist. When do we get to see your show on the road, hmmm? :)

Shirlee Fassell said...

You did such a beauitful job with your research and stitching... Just fantastic!!

Elmsley Rose said...

What a wonderful and beautiful queen. And she is SO "you" in design style - I just know you had fun with this one! :-)

Alisa said...

Stunning!

Sandie's Patch said...

FAB U LOUS!!!

Beautiful!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Sandie xx

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

Someday, Susan, you will be nabbed up to do a book of your own!!!

Queen Bee's Musings said...

Wonderful research and I so enjoyed learning from your sharing. Your queen means so very much now that we understand the meanings & details you placed. Amazing!

Lynn said...

I think my husband thinks I must look at porn with all the "oohs" and "aahs" that escape me when I read your posts!!!

I so do love this piece. Your embroidery is perfection not only in its precision but also in the meaning behind it. Thanks yet again for educating me!!

Carol said...

Dear Susan
I smiled when I read each reference to "research" because I know it was love of the art and subject that just drew you along to learn more and more. Add the persuit of perfection in your own design and vawala!

I often wonder where your needlework will take you.
xx, Carol

Catherine said...

I do believe that the gown has absolutely taken my breath away!

Createology said...

Your work is exquisite. The detail you have done from research to completion is amazing. This piece belongs in the Smithsonian for all to enjoy. Stunning Your Majesty...

rochambeau said...

Beautiful Bead and sequin work!!
Fabulous!
Constance

Coeur de freesia said...

Thanks a lot for all these details, it is very instructive.
And your queen. My God, it is gorgeous !

Balwearie said...

Beautifully done! I ADORE your thistle! And as my mother's family is Welsh, I'm glad you slipped that leek in there! BTW, I have found that copy of the Radio Times with the sampler of Charles and Diana's wedding -- I'll post a picture of it tomorrow.

wanda art. said...

W O W !!! SUSAN , YOUR ART WORK IS
BEAUTIFUL !!! IM LIKE IT !!!
hugz.......

coral-seas said...

Susan, what can I say that the others have not already said. I love the way you stitched the flower emblems, especially the thistle. And as much as I enjoy seeing your wonderful work every visit to your blog is made many times more special by what you have to say. Yet again you have opened a new avenue of exploration for me.

By the way, I think that each State has a flower emblem but does the USA have a flower emblem? Do you have a patron Saint? I am sorry I am not as informed about your nation as you are mine!

Gina said...

I was immediately struck by the skirt of the gown on the doll before I even read the story behind it. Wonderful! I'll bet that gown was heavy to wear though.

Allison Ann Aller said...

What a magnificent telling of this tale....I am supremely lucky to have such magnificent work in my book. Thank you, for all of us!

Heather Woollove said...

What an interesting blog post (so informative!!) and truly lovely needle-work. Your love and care shows strongly throughout your work.
Brava!!

Kimberly Jones said...

This is incredibly beautiful! I'm a novice stitcher and I am so inspired by your gorgeous handiwork! I also enjoyed the history behind Queen Alexandra's gown. Thanks for sharing such a wealth of information.

Judy S. said...

What a fabulous piece, Susan! And so very timely. I sure hope you saw "The King's Speech." Love that thistle, and I'm wondering how the protea came to be included. It's surely an unusual flower. If there were Oscars for embroidery, you'd surely win!

Chris Daly said...

As always your work is so exquisite. I love your Majesty and the inspiration that brought her to life.

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Susan, I saw Your Majesty at Woodlawn Saturday. I don't know if you are going to the show but she is sitting on a desk in the small walk through parlor, which everyone walks through exiting the entrance room.

I was sorry I couldn't see her better (she is behind velvet ropes and in front of a window which means she is somewhat in shadow) but Woodlawn's exhibit space is not very good. This is a historic house, after all, not an art gallery.

I was surprised and happy to see her, even if poorly, and enjoyed squinting at her, thinking over all the things you said about making her and smiling.

Thanks.
Jane/Chilly Hollow

Anonymous said...

I love her, but feel something is missing. I thought some more and it's she has no feet! She needs a couple of beads peeking out as the toes of her shoes.

lifemyway said...

Queen Elizabeth's gown is just gorgeous! All the detail put into the embroidery is amazing. Your interpretation of her gown is just fabulous! I love your Queen!

evy said...

It is a magnificent work, I am admiring!

Good day

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