LONDON >> Queen Elizabeth II has always dressed with style and flair — but today marked her first visit to the showy catwalks of London Fashion Week.
The monarch squeezed in the front row, chatting with American Vogue editor Anna Wintour — who wore her trademark sunglasses — and presented an award recognizing British design excellence.
It was an unusual outing for the 91-year-old monarch, who seemed totally at ease at the type of event usually frequented by stars like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller.
She was elegant in a Angela Kelly duck egg blue tweed dress and jacket detailed with tiny aquamarine Swarovski crystals set off by formal black gloves.
Elizabeth carried a matching handbag — of course — and wore her mostly white hair swept back.
The queen didn’t bother with the statement stiletto heels favored by many of the younger fashionistas, opting for sensible dark low-heeled court shoes for the awards presentation.
“As a tribute to the industry, and as my legacy to all those who have contributed to British fashion, I would like to present this award for new, young talent,” she said.
The royal family has often hosted Fashion Week receptions for top designers and journalists, but the new award — and the queen’s personal visit — have added a new dimension to its support for the industry.
The lucky recipient was Richard Quinn, a recent fashion graduate of Central Saint Martins who started his own label in 2016 and has quickly earned recognition as part of the next wave of talented young British designers.
The London-based Quinn received the first Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. The British Fashion Council chose him for the prize.
His provocative show included a model wearing what looked to be a decorated green motorcycle helmet with a dark visor along with black and white polka dot leggings and a gauzy top with different size dots.
The queen, who has maintained an active schedule even as her 96-year-old husband Prince Philip has stepped back from public life, took to the catwalk to address the crowd and praise Britain’s fashion heritage.
“From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham lace, and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting edge, practical designs,” she said.
She also toured showrooms before presenting the award on the final day of fashion week, which brought hundreds of designers, buyers and journalists to London for a series of catwalk displays highlighted by Christopher Bailey’s farewell show at Burberry.
The queen’s visit followed a Buckingham Palace fashion reception hosted Monday night by Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge — who is expecting her third child in April — and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
The gala was attended by Wintour, model Naomi Campbell, designer Stella McCartney and other luminaries of the fashion scene.