A Tudor Queen’s robes designed with Royal approval

LONDONDERRY costume design and interpretation student Aileen Faller has done it again.

The talented daughter of Finola Faller who is currently a student at Wimbledon College of Art, has been picked as one of a small band of new young talent to design costumes for a fashionably exclusive exhibition celebrating the Tudor and Stuart Royal Houses in the Queen’s Gallery, situated in the south west corner of Buckingham Palace gardens. It will open in mid-May.

The exhibition is being curated by Anna Reynolds and is in collaboration with Royal Collection Trust.

For her part, Aileen has been commissioned to reproduce the finery worn by Queen Catherine Parr, the last wife of King Henry VIII, in the Master John portrait of 1545, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

Excited by the project, Aileen said: “The designs are part of a festival of the Tudors and Stuarts and will take place on May 18 in the Queen’s Gallery. It is not open to the public and is for invited guests only and it is the first time in the history of the Gallery that they are putting on a fashion display.

“In October last year we were each given an image and we had to go off and research it and hand in a project design. We have to produce every aspect of the image and everything about the dress and the pattern and now they worn it has to be incorporated. I have a budget of £300 to do this, but whenever I initially went into fashion houses and told them how much I had to spend and what I had to achieve, they laughed at me. The dress I have to reproduce needs over 40 metres of fabric. I have to produce everything, the jewellery, the head dress, everything, and it cannot be cotton like we have today, it has to reflect the fabric of the period. I have to make even the shoes and undergarments.

“When I was asked to take part I just could not believe it. I am so excited. I am allowed to take two guests to the event and we all have to have a special model who must look like the subjects we are working on, so I have to find a model that looks quite like Catherine Parr. It’s not easy but I am really enjoying it. There are 1,800 pearls which I have to individually put on by hand and I have had to screen print the fabric to make the pattern for the garment so I have had to make a one-off pattern never to be found again.”

Aileen is among around 100 students taking part in the project to create historically accurate reconstructions of Tudor and Stuart fashion, alongside their own eclectic interpretations. Tudor and Stuart courts were renowned for their sumptuous costume. The exhibition explores how 16th and 17th Century fashion was used to carry meaning and convey important messages about wealth, social position, marital status and even religion. Costume was used as visual propaganda to present monarchs as leaders of taste and to create the image of magnificence.

The curator for the exhibition is Anna Reynolds, curator of Paintings at the Royal Collection.

‘In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion’ brings together more than 60 paintings, as well as drawings, jewellery, garments, accessories and armour.