Just 1.50, the secret weapon that preserves Her Modesty… Outfits that have curtain weights sewn into the hem
00:01 GMT, 14 April 2012
In the earlier years of her reign, not even the Queen was immune from the dreaded wardrobe malfunction in windy conditions.
But nowadays the royal hemline remains elegantly in place whatever the weather – thanks to a secret weapon.
Sewn inside the hem of each hand-made outfit are a couple of circular lead curtain weights, costing 1.50 for a packet of four.
Flyaway: The Queen was caught out by an unexpected gust of wind during a visit to Qatar in 1979, left, while the Duchess of Cambridge was left having to hold her dress down during a breezy trip to Canada last year, right
They are sourced from the Chelsea department store Peter Jones by her favourite couturier, Stewart Parvin.
The weights measure just over an inch across and weigh less than an ounce. Yet they are surprisingly effective.
‘The beauty of a handmade outfit is that it hangs just right but, of course, we have a few tricks up our sleeve,’ said Mr Parvin, 45, who has been designing for the Queen since 2001 and holds her official warrant.
Prepared for any weather: The Queen now has a couple of circular lead curtain weights swen into her hemline to make sure it stays in place
‘I just pop a couple of weights into the
hemline of her dresses and coats and it makes them hang beautifully. If
there is a flap in the coat then I will sew in one on each side of the
split to even it up.
‘And sometimes if she is wearing a lightweight chiffon skirt I will sew in a smaller lead weight the size of a pea or even a length of chain.’
Without the secret weights, other members of the Royal Family have fallen foul of the elements.
Most recently, on her first royal tour, the Duchess of Cambridge came perilously close to embarrassment in Canada last year when a gust of wind whipped her primrose Jenny Packham summer dress up around her thighs.
Mr Parvin describes the Queen as a ‘fashion icon’. ‘People don’t often realise it but the Queen is a classic beauty and has unbelievable style,’ he said.
‘She is quite unique among my clients in that I can’t think of anything I have put on her that I have had to say, “Oh, you shouldn’t wear that one”. Everything works.
‘She has an amazing complexion and I can put her in any colour you care to mention – from subtle beige and golds to fuchsia pink and lime green.’
Mr Parvin revealed that, even at 85, the Queen still takes a keen interest in fashion.
‘She know exactly what she wants and what suits her and yet also manages to move with the times. I send over sketches and fabric swatches, she will pick out what she wants, we have just one fitting at Buckingham Palace and that’s it. Done.
‘We use specially-sourced fabrics such as wool crepe that don’t crease, often with subtle patterns on them that hide the rigours of the day.’
Mr Parvin often works with royal milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who revealed that she prepares the dyes for the Queen’s hats in a saucepan on the stove.
‘It’s all hand-done and I literally cook it up slowly until I get exactly the right shade,’ she said.
Asked why one of the Queen’s hats had never blown off, she says: ‘We make old-fashioned hat pins with the heads covered in the same fabric as the hat itself, so you cannot see them.’