By now you know I don’t review, or for that matter finish reading, any book I don’t enjoy….life is just too short. And you also know that I host a monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, that I have a blast doing and have very engaged attendees. In addition you have, if you follow this blog, been exposed to my Independent Bookseller of choice The Book Stall
As luck would have it, The Book Stall owner, Stephanie Hochschild, invited me to lead an occasional Fashion Book discussion at the store.
Stephanie Hochschild Chicago Tribune photo.
I gave her several titles to choose from which she presented to her amazing staff and their choice was The Other Side Of The Coin The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly LVO. It wasn’t my first choice, but guess what….it was definitely a fabulous choice, I LOVE the book!!! And the attendees did as well. I happen to be a major Anglophile and love the Royals, especially Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This book gives us insights that we might not have known and makes Her Majesty very human, it’s a delight. It is a MUST add to your fashion or your British Royals libraries.
Here I am with some of the attendees at The Book Stall Fashion Book Group Discussion. Photo taken with my iPhone.
The author, Angela Kelly, has been with The Queen for twenty-five years and is Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor and Curator and In-House Designer, the first in history to hold this title. She enjoys a very close working relationship with The Queen. Many of the photos have never been seen before and some are from Angela’s personal collection.
When Angela started Her Majesty’s wardrobe was not documented, a fact I can’t even imagine, she has over the years made sure each piece of clothing is labeled and catalogued, of course, including the accessories…the omnipresent hats and the exquisite jewels. This is a story unto itself. By creating The Queen’s wardrobe “in-house” has become a major cost saving.
Choosing a more modern approach to a modern monarch has evolved over the years and working with someone who trusts your judgement has taken time, but there seemed to me to be a connection from the start. With just a glance they understand each other.
Here are some of my favorite parts of the book…
It opens with paragraphs written by Angela’s four teenage grandchildren telling us how proud the are of their Gran and what it has meant to them growing up at Windsor and visiting Buckingham Palace and other royal residences, I truly enjoyed their charming recollections and obvious love for her.
The Queen’s sense of humor and that she loves a good laugh with Angela and others. Let’s remember her in the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony with James Bond (Daniel Craig)…not easily forgotten!
Fact…Her Majesty dresses herself…she might need a zip up or a hook hooked. Of course, the State occasions with the royal robes are a different issue and Angela is there to assist.
Fact…The Queen does her own make-up, the exception her Christmas address.
Fact….someone needs to “break in” The Queen’s shoes…Angela just happens to have the same shoe size!
Fact….The Queen attended London Fashion Week with Anna Wintour and Angela. She presented the inaugural The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Fashion to Richard Quinn in February 2018.
Fact…The Queen wanted to be photographed more informally with her hands in her pockets, a secret she had since she was a young girl…never done before and to me one of the most endearing stories, and there are many, in the book.
From the chapter Inspiration Is Everywhere…Angela was walking through Windsor Castle and saw a wonderful Wedgwood collection, the color was the exact blue that she had selected to do a garment and hat for Her Majesty’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour to Northern Ireland. She trimmed the coat and hat with fine lace replicating the delicate pattern on the Wedgwood pieces. One of my favorite outfits…don’t you agree!!
Obviously The Queen has been photographed by all the great photographers during her extraordinary reign…we would be hard pressed to find any better, well maybe Cecil Beaton, than Annie Leibovitz and the magnificent Vanity Fair spread….here two that hold my heart. And to my mind’s eye show us both sides of the coin….the private Queen Elizabeth II and the ceremonial Royal.
I was given this little gem of a book (pun intended!) by my friend and super supporter of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club, Mark Olley….thanks to him I have had a wonderful magical tour not only with Her Majesty but with her designer, friend and so much more, Angela Kelly, who has shared an intimate insight into one side of the coin which is Royal and on the other side of the coin is a woman who wants to put her hands in her pockets!!
All photos from The Other Side Of The Coin unless otherwise noted.