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Coronation fashion puts spotlight on British brands and sustainability
06 May 2023

The King’s coronation will have a hugely positive impact on the British fashion industry, an expert has said. British brands were front and centre during the event, with Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and tailors from Savile Row all represented in royal and guest fashion.

“It’s wonderful that we’re actually showcasing British fashion and British designers to the world – I think it’s so important,” Edward Smith, head of brand of British fashion company Hawes & Curtis, told

Queen Camilla collaborated with her go-to fashion designer Bruce Oldfield for her coronation gown, which was a tailored ivory, silver and gold coat-style dress, embroidered with delicate garlands of British wildflowers.

Coronation fashion

Queen Camilla in Bruce Oldfield. Image: Andrew Matthews/PA Media

Buckingham Palace described the outfit as “simple and tailored”, explaining that Oldfield’s vision was to create a sophisticated and modern dress that showcases Camilla’s style and personality in its details.

The Princess of Wales also turned to much-loved designer Alexander McQueen, wearing a custom look by Sarah Burton, who was also responsible for her wedding dress in 2011.

Coronation Fashion

Princess Charlotte and the Princess of Wales in Alexander McQueen. Image: Yui Mok/PA Media

For the coronation, Kate’s ivory silk crepe dress was mirrored by her daughter Princess Charlotte, who was in a mini-me version with a matching silver headpiece.

Dame Emma Thompson was another celebrity championing British fashion. The Love Actually actress was regal in red, wearing a rose patterned red coat by London-based designer Emilia Wickstead.

Dame Emma Thompson in Emilia Wickstead. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Media

Wickstead is no stranger to royal events, having dressed Kate on multiple occasions – memorably in a pale yellow dress worn to the Service of Thanksgiving for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year.

The spotlight was also put on heritage jewellery houses, such as London-based brand Garrard, which was established in 1735.

Hello singer Lionel Richie accessorised his classic morning suit with the Fanfare Symphony Diamond and Mother of Pearl Cufflinks, retailing at £18,500, and the White Rose High Jewellery Diamond Brooch from the brand’s high jewellery collection, with price upon request.

Coronation fashion

Lionel Richie wears a diamond Garrard brooch. Image: Gareth Cattermole/PA Media

The brand has a historical relationship with the royal family – it was responsible for Diana, Princess of Wales’ engagement ring (now worn by the Princess of Wales), and the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, worn by Queen Elizabeth II in her accession photographs.

Garrard also had a hand in the coronation, saying in a statement they either created or significantly remodelled key pieces – including the Imperial State Crown worn by Charles and Queen Mary’s Crown worn by Camilla.

Coronation fashion

Katy Perry in Vivienne Westwood. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Media

American singer Katy Perry wore Vivienne Westwood – a tribute to the legendary British designer, who passed away at the end of 2022.

The bespoke lilac skirt suit was worn with matching opera gloves, a purple silk flower corsage and Westwood’s signature pearl and diamond choker.

It also tapped into another big trend of the day: sustainability, as the outfit was made from leatherette taken from the brand’s fabric archives.

The King has long been a champion of environmental sustainability, and this was represented in the coronation.

For the ceremony, Charles wore the Robe of Estate. Made of purple silk velvet and embroidered in gold, it was worn by George VI at his coronation in 1937.

Using old robes – instead of making them new – “shows sustainability”, Smith said.

King Charles II wears the Robe of Estate previously worn by George VI. Image: Yui Mok/PA Media

This is in line with Charles’ personal style, he said, explaining: “A lot of the outfits you see him wearing, a lot of them are very, very old. I believe he has some of the linings redone, heels on the shoes redone as well.

“So from that point of view, that really shows people should be reusing a lot more fashion, than actually going out and buying new stuff.”

While Charles was wearing ceremonial garments for the event, he’s most often seen in a sharp suit – and there was plenty of tailoring on show among the guests.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber in morning suits. Image Andrew Matthews/PA Media

“Morning suits were the predominant [style], there was obviously formal suits as well, but morning suits – the dark jacket, the striped trouser or the lighter coloured trousers, or the black jacket,” Smith said.

His favourite menswear look of the day was Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wore a pale grey morning suit with a waistcoat and pale pink shirt and tie. “That was one that was slightly different to everyone, but stuck out,” he said.

The craftsmanship of Savile Row was represented in British Vogue editor Edward Enninful’s suit.

Coronation fashion

British Vogue's Edward Enninful wore Huntsman of Savile Row. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Media

Made by head cutter and creative director Campbell Carey for the tailoring house Huntsman, Enninful wore a black single breasted morning coat with a blue waistcoat and grey striped trouser.

“Savile Row has long been a British icon, but has never received the respect and admiration it deserves,” Smith said.

Charles has been a longtime supporter of Savile Row, getting many of his suits made there – and Smith said this will be a “boost to British fashion”.

He accepts a Savile Row suit might be “a little bit out of reach for the average person in Britain” due to price, but suggested it could have a positive effect on British tailoring as a whole – even at lower price points.

Plus, now is the perfect time for tailoring to have a resurgence.

“Coming back after the pandemic, people have suddenly wanted to smarten up,” Smith said.

“I think [Charles] will aid that because of his tailoring and sartorial knowledge. The way he dresses – it will show the younger generation how to actually dress.

“How to accessorise a double-breasted suit – there’s a tie with a tie pin and hankie, there might be a lapel pin, there’s nicely shined shoes.

“I think it certainly sets an example – particularly for menswear.”

Reporting: Prudence Wade, PA Media on behalf of

Main image: Andrew Matthews/PA Media

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