A book to give vent to a passion and, at the same time, to explore the imaginative universe of “ifs” and “buts”. Ivan Canu, one of the most popular Italian illustrators abroad, has decided to dedicate a book to the woman who most inspired him: Queen Elizabeth II, caught within a dimension that can reveal itself to be double. God save the Queen – The works and days of Elizabeth II Windsor (Centauria 2021, pp. 130, euro 16.90) is the hagiographic reconstruction of an illustrious life. And it is, at the same time, the extraordinarily pop theorization of what could have happened if Lilibet had made different choices: if she said no to the UK, if she decided to live according to the fashions of her time, if she were a rocker, the female version of Elvis Presley, if she embraced punk. Among the pages, studded with modern and colorful illustrations, reality alternates, therefore, with its distorted equivalent, with a parallel world useful to contextualize the years in which Elizabeth II was born and grew up.
There is the story, in God save the Queen, and another story, only partially true. There is Winston Churchill, there is the Beatles, the revolutionary fashion of 1960s London, there is the evolution of a woman who became a Queen and an icon.
Of all this, below, we present an exclusive excerpt, capable of restoring a part of Elizabeth II, her vanity, the birth of a professional idyll culminating in hats and pastel shades.
MATTER OF STYLE
The new image of Elisabetta is the result of a figure called the steward: Angela Kelly, blonde personal assistant, counselor and curator, royal stylist very different from the invisible discreet “Bobo” MacDonald who has dressed and taken care of the image of the queen since it was Lilibet. Their relationship is intimate, constant, trusting. They confide in makeup, clothes, jewelry, as she used to do with her sister Margaret. Kelly has made a career from below in ten years: she is not a stylist, but she knows how to sew well, she enters the palace as a maid, then a dresser and finally a personal assistant. Divorced, she lives alone in Windsor in a grace-and-favor house (apartment granted by the Crown) and sees the queen every day, they decide the outfits, jewels, accessories, follows her on every trip. If at first she follows the advice of her flirtatious mother and gets dressed by the conservative Hartnell, since 1955 her wardrobe has been the business of Hardy Amies, who dresses a woman with generous breasts and a thin waist in fluffy, sometimes practical clothes (plus zippers). what buttons), long embroidered and a little sumptuous for the evening. Few suits he doesn’t like, a few padded shoulder pads in the Eighties. Pants only for riding and for the countryside. With stylist Stewart Parvin since 2000, Kelly has made a 75-year-old more inclined to the comforts of the countryside, a style icon, recounting it in 2019 in the book The other side of the coin – The Queen, the Dresser, The Wardrobe. The queen has passed fashions over the decades, without ever following them. We change three or four times a day, without repeating themselves, only English tailoring. Never vain, flawless, praised by the greatest international stylists. It is not surprising but his presence in 2018 at the age of ninety-two at his first ever fashion show alongside Anna Wintour, queen of «Vogue America».
CHRONICLES FROM THE WARDROBE
Watertight mahogany cabinets, cotton boxes and cases for every garment, even the furs she no longer wears; wall-mounted shoe racks, shelves for handbags: Elisabetta’s wardrobe is immense, organized with cards, tags, dates, places and occasions in which the garments were worn, sometimes also specifying who was present (to avoid someone seeing twice same dress).
Each dress, a hat. It is not just an accessory, it is like the crown, indispensable. It has more than five thousand, with feathers, flowers, bows, raffia, ribbons, stones. These are signed by designers such as Dior (who signed the one worn in 1969 for the investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales), the Danish Aage Thaarup (much loved by the Queen Mother), the American Sally Victor (Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite), the French Simone Mirman (in the Sixties and Seventies, a pupil of Elsa Schiaparelli), the Australian Frederick Fox, the New Zealander Philip Somerville who encodes the perfect Elizabethan hat: not too small and narrow, not too big and wide, it must leave the face and always in sight the curls. The queen’s cut has always been the same since the 1960s. The queen since 1990 no longer dyes her hair with Chocolate Kiss and always goes to Ian Carmichael twice a week or he joins her wherever she is. Kelly in 2013 discovers the stylist Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who replaces the legendary Freddie Fox, author of more than five hundred caps in thirty-four years of service. She prepares the colors by hand and cooks them until the perfect shades are obtained.