Fashion & Beauty

‘The Queen and the Crown:’ A Virtual Exhibition

November 24, 2020

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A digital replica of the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s Beaux Arts courtyard, with its 60-foot ceiling, big brass chandelier and glass-tile floor, circa 1920s. / Photo courtesy of Netflix.

TWO WOMEN with the same name—Elizabeth—play the lead role in Netflix’s limited series The Queen’s Gambit and season four of The Crown. One is Elizabeth II, queen of England; the other is an orphan from Kentucky, who rises to the top of her game in chess, not known for its women champions. Both Elizabeths (and Margarets and Diana, too) understand how fashion can further their agendas. Whether or not you’ve seen either show, you can view a selection of costumes from each in “The Queen and the Crown,” a virtual exhibit that’s a collaboration between the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Netflix.

Visitors enter the exhibit to a view of the museum’s columned facade and arrive at its beautiful Beaux-Arts Court. Orchestral soundtracks from both shows play kind of hauntingly in the background.

You can drag your mouse 360 degrees to mannequins in outfits from Queen Elizabeth’s sashed and medallion-ornamented uniform for the Trooping of the Colour (a ceremony marking the official birthday of the British monarch) to Elizabeth Harmon’s outfits that frequently reflect the pattern on a chess board. Related objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection, such as an ancient Egyptian gaming board and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II made from hundreds of plastic toys and trinkets, are displayed alongside the costumes.

Click on an “i” to find out when a how a frock was made, when it was worn and its significance; on the camera pic for dress details. The arrow icon takes you to a film clip in the show.

The exhibition is curated by Mathew Yokobosky, the Brookly Museum’s senior curator of fashion and material culture. His past credits include exhibitions on David Bowie and Pierre Cardin. The Queen’s Gambit costume designer Gabriele Binder created the wardrobe for Elizabeth Harmon; Amy Roberts constructed the outfits for The Crown to resemble the looks worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.

The exhibit is open to the public virtually until December, 13, 2020.


—Janet Kelly


LEFT: Costume designer Amy Roberts created Queen Elizabeth’s early 1980s Braemar Games Suit with silk blouse as worn by Olivia Colman in The Crown. The Queen’s style of dress is always conservative, tasteful and, most importantly, stable. RIGHT: The suit as seen in “The Queen and the Crown” virtual exhibit. / Photos courtesy of Netflix.

ABOVE: This mid-to-late 1980s boucle wool “Power Suit” was worn by Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. Thatcher’s style evolves with the decade but also as her political stature changes. As she gets more established within her role, the Iron Lady dresses in much sharper shapes and wider shoulders. / Photo courtesy of Netflix.

ABOVE: Princess Diana’s 1981 fairy-tale wedding gown was designed by David Emanuel. The re-creation of the confection took three people four weeks and 600 hours to create, using 312 feet of fabric and 100 meters of lace, along with a 25-foot train. / Photo courtesy of Netflix.

LEFT: Visitors to the museum’s virtual exhibit can click on the “i” for information about the costume, the graphic of the camera to focus on details like a fabric swatch and the arrow for a film clip, which shows Elizabeth (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) getting ready for a match with Russian grandmaster Vasily Borgov. RIGHT: Inspired by French designer Pierre Cardin, this dress was purchased and worn by Beth while in Paris for her first European chess tournament. She’s not only a chess genius; she clearly has an eye for expensive and elegant French fashion of the period.

ABOVE: Elizabeth wears her go-to jersey T-shirt, based on one by Andre Courrèges both at an early-career chess match in Kentucky and hanging out with friends in New York City. The black and white in the shirt mirrors the divisions on a chessboard.


LEFT: The Bow Dress in the Brooklyn Museum’s virtual exhibit, “The Queen and The Crown.” RIGHT: Anya Taylor-Joy as Elizabeth Harmon runs through a Paris hotel wearing this mid-to-late 1960s flowy crepe dress, inspired by Pierre Cardin. She is rushing to meet her Russian nemesis in one of her most important matches. Unfortunately, she has a terrible hangover. / Photos courtesy of Netflix.


LEFT: Created by Gabriele Binder, this cashmere-wool coat and hat combination (it’s in the museum exhibit) was designed to mimic the profile of a White Queen piece in chess. After winning the world championship in Moscow, it’s Elizabeth’s triumphal outfit in the last scene of The Queen’s Gambit. RIGHT: Chess, anyone? Modeled after a late 1960s design, this chessboard of a coat is worn by Elizabeth for the final tournament in the show. She’s recognized as a chess star, signs autographs and takes interviews with journalists. In both these outfits, Elizabeth’s new confidence is reflected in her wardrobe choices./ Photos courtesy of Netflix.

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