Sketches at ateliers, private fittings at Buckingham Palace – it’s all in a days work for the Queen’s loyal team of couturiers. So what’s it really like dressing the ultimate British style icon?
“It’s kind of old-hat now,” Stewart Parvin tells PEOPLE about his 11-year stint as the Queen’s dressmaker. “She is possibly the most charming woman you could ever meet, and she has this amazing ability to put you at ease.”
Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who has made more than 60 hats for Her Majesty since taking over from milliner Frederick Fox in 2006, couldn’t agree more. “She can be very chatty at fittings. I’m only there for a very brief amount of time, but she’s certainly friendly. She’s not at all scary.”
Secret tips of the trade include special hatpins supplied with each of the milliner’s designs, which are later fitted by the Queen’s hairdresser Ian Carmichael. And Parvin uses small weights in the hems of his skirts and dresses to avoid any inappropriate wardrobe malfunctions and to create a smooth finish.
And, of course, fabric choice is key. “Everything is beautifully fitted, and we make sure it won’t crease,” says Parvin.
Still, preparing a wardrobe fit for a Queen on her Diamond Jubilee is no easy task – both designers were busy night and day working on designing her royal blue crepe coat and matching hat and were in constant liaison with the Queen’s longstanding personal assistant and senior dresser Angela Kelly, who created her other three looks.
So what can we expect as she kicks off her 61st year as ruler? “She likes to have her face seen, because people have come out to see her, and she likes nice bright colors,” says Trevor-Morgan. Parvin also says warmth will be a key factor. “She does feel the cold, which is why she tends to wear a coat. At the end of the day, the Queen is nothing but practical.”