A velvet gown belonging to the Danish-born wife of King Edward VII that has been part of a private collection for more than 60 years has been donated to the Fashion Museum Bath after having spent decades lingering in an attic.
Richly embellished with beads and sequins, the down was designed by London dressmaker Barolet – as evidenced by the designer’s signature black and gold tag sewn into the waist tape – and dates from the early 1900s. The missing dress was discovered by owner Francesca Counsell Risius, who revealed that the piece was originally purchased in the 1950s as a royal curiosity for her great aunt’s shop in Tunbridge Wells.
Ms Counsell Risius said that her great aunt had given her “the dress in the late 1960s and I’ve kept it in a box ever since. I’ve carefully tried it on a couple of times, so has my daughter and occasionally we’ve taken it out of its tissue paper to show interested friends and family.” She also revealed that it had been her great aunt’s prized possession.
The dress’s authenticity was verified by dress historian Dr Kate Strasdin, who was “delighted” that the dress had been brought out of storage.
“This dress is a fabulous find, not just because of its beauty, but because of what the dress reveals about Alexandra’s fashion choices,” she said.
“Placing orders with smaller, less well-known dressmakers such as Barolet shows a measure of Alexandra’s determination to dress apart from her peers.”
Much of Queen Alexandra’s wardrobe was sold following her death in 1925 which makes finds such as these such an interesting and unique look into the past. Ms Counsell Risius’s family heirloom will be on display at the Fashion Museum Bath until next April alongside a tartan silk dress which also belonged to Queen Alexandra and was discovered in a vintage shop in London in the 1960s.
Queen Alexandra was the mother of King George V and great-grandmother to the current Queen Elizabeth II.