Approximately 900,000 visitors saw the exhibition 'Style and Splendour', which opened at the V&A;, London, in February 2005 to coincide with the centenary anniversary of Norway's independence. On display was the spectacular wardrobe of Queen Maud, the British Princess who became Queen Consort of the newly independent Norway in 1905.
Daughter of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Queen Maud was renowned for her fashionable style. Her clothes document an extraordinary era of fashion history, from the decorative but elaborate dress of the Victorian era to the streamlined chic of the 1930s. Her wardrobe comprised royal robes, sporting wear and accessories. The display at V&A included some 50 outfits ranging from her wedding trousseau of 1896 to the latest Worth designs purchased just months before her death in 1938.
Queen Maud’s wardrobe encompassed both her public and private lives, from sumptuous state gowns and elegant evening dresses for official occasions to her riding habits, winter sportswear, and simple tailored suits for afternoons in the garden with her grandchildren.
“The wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway features an unparalleled collection of early 20th century fashion, all relating to the lifestyle and taste of one woman. The V&A Museum is delighted to be featuring a selection of ensembles from this exceptional collection,” said Susan North, curator of 17th and 18th century fashion at the V&A, when the exhibition opened.
Queen Maud engaged with contemporary fashion throughout her life, and commissioned the great couturiers of the day, notably Worth, Redfern and Morin-Blossier as well as accomplished dressmakers such as Blancquaert and the Norwegian designer Sylvian. Her wardrobe illustrated the impeccable standards of couture dressmaking and tailoring of the period. Flawlessly beaded gowns, perfectly cut and hand-finished suits, beautifully embroidered and appliquéd dresses all exemplify the superb workmanship of the era.
The exhibition closed in January 2006 and Queen Maud's clothes will now go back to the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design (formerly the Kunstindustrimuseet) in Oslo.