Queen Camilla’s Coronation dress

When Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952, she knew who she wanted to make her dress: Sir Norman Hartnell, the designer for Hollywood stars and the English nobility. He was the designer who signed her wedding dress five years earlier so it was perfect for the challenge. In eight months he created the white satin gown embroidered in gold and silver with emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, considered the most important used by the sovereign and emblematic of House Windsor. Therefore, the coronation of Camilla as Queen Consort, alongside Charles III, generated so much curiosity, after all, what she wears on May 6th will be of historical relevance. The chosen one was Bruce Oldfield.

Their models easily rank among some of the most recognizable in the world, thanks to their close relationship with the British Royal Family. After a 10-year partnership with Princess Diana (notoriously her early years, the 1980s to 1990s), he is currently one of Camilla’s favorites. In polarized times, Diana’s fans were naturally shocked and even offended by the choice, as if he were exclusive to Diana even today, but the truth is that Bruce has already worked with the Queen consort for many years, being a natural choice and hit. As he himself defined in a recent interview, he gave glamor to shy Diana and confidence to a mature Camilla.

Bruce Oldfield is one of the most famous designers in the world, having exploded in the 1970s and currently with dresses worn by Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, and Rhianna, among others. At the age of 73, he conquered several personal battles, starting with a childhood complicated by being the son of a single white Irish mother and a black Jamaican father. Bruce spent the first six months of his life hospitalized with gastroenteritis and never met his biological parents who gave him up for adoption. It was created with a lot of love by a seamstress who credits her love for clothes, and her first models were for her adoptive sister’s doll.

From an early age, he dealt with racism and a stutter that he managed by himself, relying on his determination and arrogance (in his words) to be someone. He entered the Faculty of Arts at the age of 18 and soon stood out.

The first to see his talent was the editor of English Vogue in the 1960s, Judy Britten, but it was the editor of Women’s Wear Daily London, Joan Juliet Buck, who recommended him as a stylist for the American chain store Bendels, which took him to New York and commissioned his first collection. When he returned to England in the early 1980s, already famous and in demand, he was in for a shock as the UK was going through a period of recession with streets full of rubbish and people without money. That’s when a princess changed her life forever.

In the early years of her marriage to Charles, Diana was seen in loose, closed, and almost professorial dresses. With a natural talent for dealing with her image, she decided that she needed to change and it was with Bruce Oldfield that she turned the corner to becoming a fashion icon. The partnership began when the Princess requested a special model for the Oxford Street Christmas Lights Lighting event. It worked so well that she started wearing all the most glamorous dresses signed by him. Perhaps the most famous is the glittering silver lamé one with angular shoulder pads, a bare back, and a full skirt. It’s hard to choose just one.

For those who still point to him as “Diana’s favorite”, it is important to remember that the double with the princess ended (as he says, ‘abruptly’) when she left him for Catherine Walker, in the early 1990s. The couturier remains certain that he was the one who put Diana in the “right direction” to create her signature, but gets irritated when people forget that he already had a successful career before and after her.

His association with Diana’s successor (and enemy) Camilla was natural and similar. Like the princess, the Queen Consort also needed to create a more glamorous look, especially after her wedding to Charles, after all, there are many official events, banquets, and ceremonies. Bruce helped her with the transition. The long, narrow, pale turquoise gown with his signature lace top was one of the highlights of her trip to Sri Lanka and even though Camilla also frequently wears models signed by Stewart Parvin, her confidence in the designer was confirmed when she chose it for create the Coronation dress.

Certainly, the fact that he is recognized for his genius in the construction of internal corsets – ideal for fastening middle-aged figures – the fact that he is British also weighed in on the decision. Always discreet, Bruce avoids talking about his most famous client but is happy with the challenge, which came at a good time. During the pandemic, he had to close his studio, which had been operating at the same address for 50 years, and after beating cancer twice, he feels more than ready to leave his signature on the most important event of the British Monarchy in the last 70 years: the coronation of a new King and a new Queen. We haven’t even seen it yet, but Camilla’s dress will certainly be studied and talked about for years to come, immortalizing Bruce Oldfield for generations to come.


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