FASHION

Inside Richard Quinn’s Extravagant Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II


A model walking down the Richard Quinn runway at London Fashion Week with a crown on their head as a...
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images

Four years ago, the designer Richard Quinn’s fall 2018 show saw Queen Elizabeth II herself sitting front row. This season, the Queen’s passing shook up London Fashion Week, causing shows and parties to shift scheduling in accommodation and respect of her funeral. As a result, many designers put together creative tributes—but none so extravagant and full-fledged as Quinn’s.

Quinn is the kind of designer who indulges in a prints-on-top-of-prints ethos; he is every bit the maximalist. But his spring 2023 show proved he can also make magic with the darkest hue on the spectrum. Opening the collection was a series of all-black looks in remembrance and mourning of the Queen. (Quinn and his team reportedly created the 23 opening black looks in just 10 days after they heard the news of her passing.) Simplistic looks these were not. Embroidered puff sleeves, satin-y bows, sparkly encrusted beading, sheer veils, massive rosettes, and the designer’s signature latex gloves were all there.

Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images

The color black is an interesting choice. Yes, it’s associated with grimness and mourning, but here, it felt rather like a celebration of life in all its complicated layers. It also felt like a power move in all of its excess and opulence. Rather than hiding in the shadows and wearing something that meant attention was completely off of the wearer, these all-black garments did just the opposite. All eyes and attention were devoted to the pure decadence of black—and what Quinn can do with it.

Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images

Besides the fatefully inky hue, Quinn also played with the idea of reinvention of the Queen’s style staples (and notably, archive footage of the Queen played on a screen in the venue throughout the show). QEII famously loved color, so it was interesting to see how Quinn reinterpreted her staples with deft precision through his own vision—the black made each look feel like a new kind of uniform. We saw full skirts, headscarves, and even headpieces that resembled the crown. But the second half of the collection, featuring a vibrant cobalt blue cape coat, big bows and flourishing washes of florals, felt particularly of the late Queen’s aesthetic.

Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images

The end of the collection spearheaded even more of a celebration of life, with Quinn’s technicolor prints reinvented through florals. A flower-covered catsuit was bulked up with massive shoulders and the traditional bride look that closed the show was quite literally blooming with fresh white flowers. The oversized cocoon headcovering added a touch of retro-futurism, meshed with modern socialite.

Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images
Photo by Kate Green/BFC/Getty Images

Those bulbous cocoon shapes that punctuated the collection were most intriguing. They recalled a mix of ‘60s couture à la Balenciaga, with a hint of humor—necklines went all the way up to at least one model’s ears, and chests puffed out as if they had a shield or prosthetic underneath them. Would a modern Queen or royal wear these? Only in Richard Quinn’s surreal, dream-like world.