Thinking about this year’s celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee reminded me of one of my very favourite objects in the costume and textile collections – this printed cotton day dress from 1953. The print has a pattern of carriages, orbs and crowns alternating with one of daffodils, shamrocks, thistles and roses, representing the different countries which make up the United Kingdom.
We are also lucky enough to have a dress in the collection which was worn to the Coronation ceremony itself. Lady Claud David Hamilton wore this beautiful pink satin gown with beaded bodice.
The design of the dress is deceptively simple. I love the bust shaping coming from pleats in the centre front, and the pointed shaped seam joining skirt to bodice. The cut is a little more complex when you look at it closely.
I think the comparison between these two dresses is really interesting. Although quite different in many ways, they were both purchased specifically for this very special occasion. The wearer of the pink satin gown was one of around 8000 guests attending the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The donor of the printed cotton dress bought it so that she could watch the ceremony on television at home. Out of a British population of around 36 million people, she was one of an estimated 27 million watching the ceremony on television, with an further 11 million listening on the radio.