There are few people that can get the usually aloof fashion crowd giggling in a state of high excitement. But then there is only one Queen Elizabeth II.
Her Majesty was a surprise guest on Tuesday afternoon at Richard Quinn’s show, the last of London fashion week and his second ever. There was a hush as she entered the room, with the audience standing up to greet the monarch and, of course, raising their phones to get that all-important social media picture.
The Queen sat front row, of course – with a special cushion placed on her seat – beside Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, who in turn sat next to the monarch’s dressmaker, Angela Kelly.
Spurning this season’s front row trends such as trench coats and giant scarves, Her Majesty wore an ice-blue skirt suit, black handbag, black gloves and sensible shoes.
Although the 91-year-old monarch is hardly a regular at fashion week, she looked relaxed, placing her handbag on the floor like a “frow” pro.
She even shared a joke with Wintour, who wore her trademark sunglasses throughout the show.
When the audience stopped gawping at the actual Queen in their presence, there was Quinn’s collection to look at. It paid homage to his special guest, after a fashion. The British-born designer, who graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2016, is famous for outfits whose scarves cover models’ faces – à la Leigh Bowery in the 1980s – and that look was in evidence here. But the scarves were of the classic variety, the kind the Queen is known for wearing at Balmoral.
Other looks would have less luck in the royal wardrobe. See a leather mac with multiple zips worn with a neon-yellow motorcycle helmet and elbow-length PVC gloves. At this, the Queen looked on politely, wearing her much-practised game face.
Other pieces had retro florals – some of which could have had a place on her 1960s tour wardrobe – but transplanted to over-the-knee boots and foil-like gowns. In this context it became more the territory of Quinn’s known fan Lady Gaga or the model Adwoa Aboah, who closed the show here.
After the show, it became clear that the Queen was present to give Quinn the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II award for British design, organised by Kelly and the British Fashion Council.
Introducing her, the BFC’s chief executive, Caroline Rush, paid tribute: “Your Majesty, I know you do not wish to be known as a fashion icon, but for all of us in this room, who have this upmost respect for you … we know you undoubtably are.”
The Queen said the award was a recognition of the British fashion industry’s reputation for “outstanding craftsmanship” and was designed “as a tribute to an industry”. Quinn was chosen as the recipient in part because as well as his design work he runs a print studio in Peckham, south London, that is open to other designers and to college students.
Quinn accepted the award in the garb of a typical LFW designer in 2018 – a baseball cap and plaid shirt. After the show, he said the experience was “a bit surreal” but that his guest had an impact on his collection – prompting him to add those scarves. “I definitely think she is a fashion icon,” he said. “It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on Balmoral – my take on it, basically.”
- This article was amended on 21 February 2018 to remove a reference to Queen Elizabeth II being the Queen of England.
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