‘Think of me as I was now I am breaking up’ Queen Alexandra and the Art of Royal Camouflage 1863-1925

Strasdin, Kate (2012) ‘Think of me as I was now I am breaking up’ Queen Alexandra and the Art of Royal Camouflage 1863-1925. In: Royal Bodies Conference, April 2012, Royal Holloway.

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Abstract / Summary

Alexandra, Princess of Denmark, married Edward Prince of Wales on March 10 1863. From a role of European royal obscurity she was launched into a public life that was to dominate her world for almost fifty years. As Princess of Wales she became one of the most photographed women of her generation and her appearance was reported almost daily in the press and disseminated through popular photographic images. Alexandra has been the subject of a number of biographies since her death in 1925 but whilst all attest to the importance of her appearance in her public and private life, none of them have attempted to move further towards an analysis of her clothed body.

Upwards of 130 objects relating to Alexandra are now held in ten different museums worldwide. They range from glittering evening dresses to elements of daywear, shoes, coats, stockings and fans. These remains of her corporeality can be ‘read’ and allow an interpretation that adds to the supposedly ‘known’ biographical subject.

This paper will explore how Alexandra used dress to mask or disguise aspects of her physicality from the public domain. From a supposed childhood scar on her neck to a serious bout of post-natal rheumatic fever, the scars and frailties of Alexandra’s royal body were carefully camouflaged through astute sartorial decisions. Taking an object based methodology, surviving garments can reveal how these decisions were constructed in her working royal wardrobe.

As her aging body was crowned Queen Consort at the age of 58 in 1902 she adopted ever more glittering apparel in a bid to demonstrate her newfound majesty, but also I would suggest to distract observers from her fading beauty and thus protect herself from bodily reality.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Fashion & Textiles > Fashion > Fashion Design
Courses by Department: The Fashion & Textiles Institute > Textile Design
Depositing User: Kate Strasdin
Date Deposited: 05 May 2015 13:34
Last Modified: 05 May 2015 13:34
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/1583

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