Saturday, February 9, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: Queen Victoria’s Costume for the Stuart Ball, 1851

Queen Victoria's Costume for
the Stuart Ball, 1851
Designed by Lemi
Pearls, Silk, Gold Braid, Silver Fringe,
Irish Lace
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II
For the Stuart Ball of 1851, Queen Victoria commissioned the Royal Dressmakers to create a truly breathtaking gown for her—drawing inspiration from her court of King Charles II. Though we often tend to remember Victoria as the Dowager Queen, we must remind ourselves that during her marriage, she was a vibrant and vivacious woman with a taste for fine clothes and gems.

Beaded with seed pearls, the silk gown is also adorned with gold braid, silver fringe and lace. The underskirt was a luxurious brocade created in Benares. The lace is of the finest quality—created in Ireland—in a Venetian raised-point needle style. The lace was most likely purchased at The Great Exhibition of 1850.

While the exact makers of the gown are unknown, it is known to have been designed (with much instruction from the Queen) by Eugéne Lemi—a favorite of the Queen. In this magnificent costume, she’s sure to have made the grand entrance that she’d hoped for.

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