Monday, April 13, 2009

The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway

While researching my last post about royal wardrobes, I remembered another beautiful exhibition of royal costumes and clothing that I saw at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2005. This spectacular exhibition was called "Style and Splendour" and featured the wardrobe of the stylish Queen Maud of Norway (seated on left of photo).

Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria was the youngest daughter of Edward, Prince of Wales and Alexandra, Princess of Wales, and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Born in England in 1869, Princess Maud took after her fashionable mother with her slender figure and refined sense of style.

Married to Prince Carl of Denmark in 1896, Princess Maud left England to her new home in Copenhagen. After a vote in Norway in favour of a monarchy rather than a republic in 1905, her husband Danish Prince Carl was chosen to be King of Norway and Princess Maud became a Queen in 1906.

Maud lived through a period of tremendous change in fashionable dress for women, from the elaborate and decorative clothing of the Victorian age through to the light, simple dresses of the 1920s. The fact that her clothing was preserved in the Royal Dress Collection of Norway allowed a rare opportunity to see those changes in dress in person, instead of only by way of photos.

Given my penchant for historical fashion, my favourite piece was this fancy dress costume which Maud wore to the Duchess of Devonshire's Ball in 1897. This costume ball specified that the 700 guests wear allegorical or historical costumes dating to before 1815.

This pink satin dress was appliqued with silk and silver thread in a lattice pattern and adorned with silver sequins and glass beads. the lace collar and cuffs were machine made. The dress was made by Morin-Blossier in imitation of late sixteenth-century dress from the court of Marguerite.

Pink was one of Maud's favourite colours and there are many pink dresses in the collection, although she enjoyed jewel tones as well. These two evening gowns are dated from 1910-1913.

If you happen to be going to Norway, the National Museum of Art/Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Oslo has an ongoing exhibition (until December 31, 2010) of garments belonging to Queen Maud from the Royal Dress Collection.

Otherwise, there is a beautiful book by Anne Kjellberg and Susan North called "Style & Splendour: The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway". The book is available from the Victoria and Albert Museum website.