LONDON – A dress worn by Queen Elizabeth II on a state visit to Japan in May 1975 is part of an exhibition of the British monarch’s gowns and jewelry that opened to the public Wednesday.
The evening dress of cream silk crepe with a fringe of gold beads and sequins was created by leading British couturier Norman Hartnell for the queen’s appearance at a state dinner hosted by the late Emperor Hirohito.
The dress is part of a collection of 80 of the queen’s favorite gowns, spanning almost seven decades, from the 1940s to the present day being exhibited at Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence in central London.
The exhibition, titled “Dress for the Occasion,” coincides with the summer opening of the palace and is part of the yearlong celebrations of the queen’s 80th birthday, which was in April.
“Whilst the dress (the queen wore in Japan) is not a particular Japanese style, it is a particularly fine example of a state evening dress worn by the queen,” said the exhibition’s curator, Caroline De Guitant, explaining why the dress earned a place in the exhibition.
“The dress features wonderfully beaded embroidery providing a marvelous foil for, and echoing the colors of, the Japanese Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum which her majesty would have worn to the state dinner.” The Japanese Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum is an enameled badge with a red sun and white rays, and a yellow chrysanthemum blossom.
The 80 dresses — one for each year of the queen’s life — have been arranged by color on mannequins crafted to the exact measurements of the queen at the time she wore the dress.
Many of the gowns were created to reflect the climate, local customs, or national colors and emblems of the countries the queen was in when she wore them. It also is to “make the queen visible” while carrying out her official duties, since taking the throne in 1952, a Royal Collection representative said.
The exhibition also includes a pink silk dress embroidered with tree peonies, the national flower of China, for a Chinese state visit in 1986.
Another striking gown is of bright green silk, one of the colors of the Ethiopian flag, which the queen wore to a state dinner hosted in 1965 by Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa.
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