Even though he was the creator of some of the most memorable royal wedding gowns around, (parts 1,2, and 3) without question THE most important piece of clothing Hartnell ever designed was Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation gown in 1953. But did you know he also had a hand in the May 12th, 1937 (83 years ago this past Tuesday) coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth? Let’s take a look back at his designs for both coronations.
As we already know, the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in 1935 was pivotal to Hartnell’s career, bringing him into the “royal circle.” Not quite two years removed from that event, many of the peeresses who were to attend the coronation naturally chose Hartnell to create their gowns. But he was commissioned by the soon to be Queen Elizabeth to create the gowns for her six Maids of Honour and the two young princesses as well, which no doubt had his designers working overtime once more. To have a hand in three “once in a lifetime” events is extraordinary. I can only imagine how honored he and his team must have felt.
I don’t have any sketches of his work on the MoH gowns, but I do have a couple of videos, so enjoy.
This next video has no sound, but QE and her Maids come in at around 0:47.
Lack of information is certainly not an issue with the 1953 Coronation of QEII, which saw Hartnell take the reigns on just about EVERYTHING short of the carpeting. The following are many of the sketches he created for the event.
The coronation gown. I really wish I could find the other four designs. Maybe someday!
Aren’t these drawings gorgeous?
Idea for the Queen Mother’s gown
I really wish these next four were in color! Dress designs for Princess Alexandra, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Kent, and another design idea for The Queen Mum.
I leave you with a video discussing the various dresses and gowns designed for the occasion, all appearing to be Hartnell creations. There are also some great videos at Getty featuring Hartnell himself, speaking about the robes, little hats and everything else he had a hand in. Check them out if you have the time. It’s truly a window into a whole other world.
So what do you think? Was he a worthy choice to design the fashions for all of these important events? Do you have any favorite fashion moments from either of the coronations? Share them with us below!