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Fashion queens: Bath exhibition shows royal outfits

Discover how Royal women dressed

Queen Alexandra‘s mauve silk chiffon embroidered dress

Above: Queen Alexandra‘s mauve silk chiffon embroidered dress, about 1911

The Royal Women Alexandra, Mary, Elizabeth and Margaret. Public Life, Personal Style exhibition is on at the Fashion Museum Bath until April 2019.

Wives and daughters, sisters and mothers; none of the Royal women featured in this exhibition in Bath was Queen; yet each played a key role in the Royal Family.

Royal Women examines how these roles influenced their choice of dress. 

Highlights from the exhibition include Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ wedding dress, dating from 1863, on loan from the Royal Collection, and lent by Her Majesty The Queen.

Queen Alexandra dress

Embroidered chiffon evening dress by Doeuillet, Paris, 1910, for Queen Alexandra. Photograph: Peter Stone/Fashion Museum Bath

Also on display is an ensemble of gold and pale green velvet, worn by Queen Mary to the wedding of her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth. 

Items of dress belonging to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother includes a 1954 dove grey silk satin ball gown. Sounds dreamy.

Dresses worn by the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, show her glamorous side and her love of designers such as Christian Dior and Norman Hartnell.

The stories behind the dresses and the choice of colour, cut or style can tell us much about Alexandra, Mary, Elizabeth, and Margaret, the Royal women and how they chose to present themselves.


Her Majesty Queen Alexandra
1 December 1844 – 20 November 1925 
Queen Alexandra was a fashion icon, whose look was quite different from that of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria. She set a trend for chokers and high necklines and was well known for her elegant, tailored daywear.  

Her Majesty Queen Mary
26 May 1867 – 24 March 1953 

Mary was an imposing, tall figure. Her role was to be a steadying influence, reassuring the British public during the First World War, and her dress style reflected this. Mary’s style stayed constant through dramatic changes in fashions during the first half of the 20th century. Perfectly dressed, for evening wear she wore heavily beaded gowns and for day she wore tailored suits and large hats.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002 

Elizabeth loved fashion and took a keen interest in designs, fabrics and colours. Norman Hartnell designed much of what she wore – which included dramatic evening wear and soft pastel coloured daywear that flattered her small height.

Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
21 August 1930 – 9 February 2002 

Princess Margaret was glamorous and beautiful and was often photographed wherever she went. As Margaret was not Queen she had more freedom to explore fashion, something she took great pleasure in. Many of her earlier outfits were designed by Norman Hartnell, and she became a great patron of Christian Dior after she was introduced to his New Look collection in 1947.

Royal Women, Fashion Museum Bath, 3 February - 28 April 2019

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