When we moved house last summer, I unearthed my very precious copy of English Vogue: The 1953 Coronation issue. It is full of the most amazing images, both from advertising and from editorial. So, from now until the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, I’m going to run regular posts with images I’ve taken from it – this seems as good a time as any, as we won’t be celebrating the anniversary of the Coronation in the same way.
It’s a curious magazine. Chock full of advertising, largely for foundation garments and stockings, the editorial is surprisingly limited. There is some history about past Queens, and the pomp & ceremony surrounding the Coronation. There is a photo portfolio of notables, from pageboys to the Lord Chamberlain who are involved in the Coronation Day.
Cecil Beaton contributes an essay on shooting royalty, and there is a photo story showing the future Queen Elizabeth II as she grew up. And finally a portfolio fashion story featuring beautiful young English women, mainly aristocracy, with a smattering of actresses.
But it’s the ads that I adore. A window into a world that has all but disappeared. Where women wore hats and gloves as a matter of course – and it was a social solecism not to do so. Where foundation garments and stockings were worn on even the hottest summer days in town. It’s also fascinating to see ads for brands that are still in existence. Yardley, Berlei, Cow & Gate, Cussons, Martini, Caron, Wedgwood, Burberry, Helena Rubenstein, Elizabeth Arden, Lancome, Fenwicks, Kangol, Rochas, Clarks. And the hairstyles: Those wash & sets from which Vidal Sassoon liberated us all.
And I just have to share with you my favourite Coronation fact, found on Wiki:
“So that she could become accustomed to its feel and weight, the Queen also wore the Imperial State Crown while she went about her daily business, sporting it at her desk, at tea, and while reading the newspaper.”