Richard Quinn Mourns A Monarch
The SS23 collection saw 22 looks dedicated to the recently deceased Queen.
To those in the fashion know it came as no surprise when Richard Quinn chose to honour Queen Elizabeth II in his SS23 collection after her recent death at the age of 96. As the inaugural winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design Quinn’s career skyrocketed after Lizzie herself attended his AW18 show sat in the FROW with fashion royalty Anna Wintour. This was the only fashion show the Queen ever attended making it one for the history books.
Richard Quinn’s SS23 show was one of two parts, the first 22 out of 49 looks were made in the ten days between the show and the Queen’s death. Quinn, his core team of six and twenty showtime helpers worked tirelessly day and night to create the fantastical funeral-ready looks. When describing the process Quinn expressed it as “almost cathartic for us to put all our emotions of mourning into it”.
As the show began archive footage of the Queen’s coronation played on a screen overlooking the show space and a slough of black bedazzled veils and crowns began their descent down the runway. Quinn took inspiration from previous royals in mourning ensembles, most notably Queen Victoria’s elaborate wardrobe. After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria only wore black. Quinn also looked at how Princess Margret and Queen Liz dressed after the death of King George VI describing how he wanted the collection “to have that kind of real craftsmanship, the beauty of royalty, and try turn all the shapes and embroidery” that he does “into that idea of uniform dressing up they did when her father (King George VI) died”. Not only were the crowns reminiscent of the late Queen’s attire but so were belted coats and headscarves which echoed her Balmoral wardrobe and full-skirted gowns which conjured memories of when the once young monarch often adorned Norman Hartnell’s couture.
The second part of the show – the show that had been intended- played on the concept of public surveillance with the footage of The Queen being replaced with live footage of the audience. Things began to brighten up with the introduction of colour into the collection through bulbous bodysuits and exquisite embroidery. A continuous theme throughout the clothes was a unique silhouette that ballooned from the waist up sand curving into exaggerated shoulders hiding the wearer's neck making the model's bodies look engulfed by flowery predators.
We saw some of the Richard Quinn house codes we have learned to know and love, such as signature floral coats and latex tights. We can’t imagine Queen Liz ever tried those tights out. There were campy candy clown styles in the form of feathers and polka dots which would’ve looked right at home on the Met Gala's 2019 pink carpet or at a Harry Styles concert. Marvellous oversized rose brooches smothered the side of the model's faces offering an elaborate way to hide a bad skin day.
During ‘London Fashion Week’ (LFW) designers like Simone Rocha and Harris Reed have been championing the traditional bridal gown to close out their shows, so what better way for Quinn to end LFW than with an effervescent white lace confection of veils and skirts? The beautiful bridal look channelled a message of hope and light after dark, tying together what started as a sombre collection into the swelling bloom of something new and sweet.
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