Fear and Clothing
It's all about dressing the part
A reflection on the vagaries and charms of fashion
Have you watched The Crown on Netflix ? Apparently the queen has not. And Prince Philip harrumphed in a completely supercilious don’t be ridiculous manner when asked if he had gazed upon the rendition of his life. Pity. Because the series has rendered them fascinating .
Before, I never really gave a damn for the former colonial figureheads. It was a purely ideological position. And I got angry too. But now I am reconciled. I watched the most recent royal wedding with delight in my heart.
Up front confession: there are several characters in their long lineage that I have always had a small pash for.
• Anne Boleyn – misrepresented protestant who made short shrift of her neck and her advantage.
• Richard III – brilliant speechmaking, homicidal tendencies especially with the younger members of his immediate family
• Mary Queen of Scots – this may have something to do with her cinematic renditions.
Anyway in the current batch, who can fault the joyous naughtiness of Princess Margaret? – listen to her Desert Island Disks in the BBC archive. There is an incident she describes as she drives in the London traffic and a song she loves comes on and the entire neighbourhood of cars around her erupts in behind-the-wheel dancing. I think she probably caused that spontaneous seat-dancing – but to her credit she believes it is a factor of the music and the traffic. I quite adored her at that moment.
And if no one else comes out of The Crown smelling like roses, the queen smells like the entire summer garden. She is fragrant with all sorts of nuance and deep base notes and some thrilling top notes nobody expected. Not only is she manifestly committed to the entire repertoire of colour in the spectrum but she appears to be a woman of substance.I am only raising all these things because I saw a picture of the queen handing over a prize to a young South African Setha Mbuli – it is the Queen’s Young Leader award and Setha was the recipient for her work for people with albinism. Both of them look splendid. Do looks matter – yes it seems that on this and many other occasions it matters that you clean up beautifully and represent. Setha in her Hendrik Vermeulen gown, based on the precise color of her skin, and the queen, who worked this part out a lifetime ago and has put it into practice every day of her life.