Working in fashion and from Liverpool, it would be sacrilege to not reflect on the fashion of The Queen and the Liverpool connection. Having once said about herself (Her Majesty) ''she had to be seen to be believed’’ the penchant for colour in the Queen’s fashion choices as she went into the 21st century was on face value by no means a choice she made alone it would seem and this continued to her final public appearances for the Platinum Jubilee.
Invariably, the reign as long as the Queen’s has necessitated a range of styles through the decades according to her age and fashion of the time. The 50s highly notable as so close to her accession. The 25 year old monarch who had not been primed as would be normally for this role made her first foray in to iconic fashion choices with the gown created by the go to designer of the eras Norman Hartnell that she wore for her coronation. This later to be shared with her granddaughter Princess Beatrice. The dress was altered for Beatrice. The redesign was reimagined and carefully overseen by Stuart Parvin and the Queens loyal and entrusted fashion designer and personal stylist. A person whom she had entrusted with her fashion choices, this person was her dresser, a person now believed to have become her closest confidante and best friend. A woman not of the establishment or with aristocratic connections to become a lady in waiting but one who heralded Walton, a working class district of Liverpool, that is probably more well known to football enthusiasts than it is royal enthusiasts as it is nestled on the fringe of Liverpool’s inner city alongside football clubs Liverpool and Everton. The person is Angela Kelly
As someone from Liverpool working in fashion it cannot be overstated the significance of what Angela Kelly has achieved in her appointment in coming to work for The Monarch. As personal advisor she has risen to the top of her profession. As a fashion designer and stylist it is always the coveted golden dream to see your work worn by icon. Angela Kelly has no doubt achieved that in designing and styling looks for the longest serving British monarch. She has certainly secured in place in the fashion hall of fame of as a fashion designer. A designer not in the normal sense as we know, but this is ultimately where her role took her to.
Kelly, a Liverpool working class hero, you could argue more so than Mr Lennon, as those of us from Liverpool know Walton is not Allerton - if you know you know - sorry Yoko. Angela was the daughter of a crane driver and her mother a nurse. Not formally trained, her mother taught her to sew and she left school without any formal training.
In 1992, while working as housekeeper and serving as the British ambassador to Germany at the time, Angela accidentally crossed paths with Her Majesty. As the Queen was leaving the residence, she gave Angela a gift to thank her for looking after her during her stay and the Queen enquired whom would be staying afterwards. Angela said she could not disclose as it was confidential under the official secrets act. The Duke of Edinburgh exasperated said surely you must be able to tell Her Majesty ? To which Angela respectfully refused. Angela got a call some months later offering her a position with the Queen. .
Initially as an assistant dresser, the scope of her role developed beyond, creating, organising, and mending countless of the Queen's unique looks. It has culminated in becoming a key designer of her clothing and her active years of service to the Queen have long been recognised and as she was rewarded with the Victorian Order and subsequently made a Lieutenant.
Her official title was personal assistant, adviser, and curator (jewellery, insignias, and wardrobe). The job has seen her act as a personal adviser and dresser to the Queen for almost 3 decades Her fashion credentials saw her front row next to Anna Wintour and Sarah Mower when the Queen made her surprise visit to London Fashion Week.
You can read more in Kelly's book, The Other Side of the Coin, an unprecedented insight to dressing the Monarch that was given her blessing by Her Majesty and another book may follow. It is remarkable that a such a close relationship was formed between two women from the polar opposites of society. It really did make me reflect on the friendship between Queen Victoria and John Brown. Angela is noted to have never lost her scouse accent and the Queen appreciated her candour and honesty an was rather good at accents even Angela's. Kelly is one of the few people allowed to actually touch the Queen and because of their close relationship, was on call almost all the time. She was pivotal to the Covid bubble that she was part of along with other courtiers who resided with the Queen during the pandemic and was reported to have moved into Windsor in May this year to be closer to the Queen.
Not bad for a girl for Liverpool. What, I hear you cry? Well you may be surprised there is quite a bit of snobbery in fashion when it comes to Liverpool. I have been on the sharp end of it at times and over looked for that very reason. What I have come to learn, is that these misgivings come from those who dont really 'know fashion'. When it comes to those the most successful at the highest and respected echelons of fashion, snobbery does not exist, All that matters is... is it actually good? Those with the best eyes only consider your talent, even those fashion queens who grace the covers of Vogue to which I can personally attest but will say no more as to whom.
What I am leading up to say is, it is with profound pride I write this post about Angela Kelly. She has led a remarkable career and for her special talent to be result in her appointment to the late Queen is an extraordinary example to anyone on their fashion journey and from Liverpool that it is possible. Talent see’s talent and Angela’s was no doubt recognised and employed by a remarkable and extraordinary woman, the likes we are yet to see ever again.
I’ll leave you with my favourite design made for the Queen for the wedding of The Prince and Princess of Wales, a picture of Angela herself at London Fashion Week as the viewed Richard Quinn’s show in 2018 and that fantastic design by the late Karl Ludwig Rehse - a fashion risk The Queen took for a Royal Variety performance, which I am sure can attributed to Angela's advice which brings it back to what Her Majesty said 'I have to be seen to be believed'.