Blurred Identity Boundaries in Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz’s Wardrobe: Tradition, Modernity, Refashioning and Progressive Non-Conformity By Celia Reyer
Part 2 of 3
The latter half of the 18th
century was nearly an impossible time for highly visible royals to please public and court circles and their ever-changing opinions and expectations on ceremonial and fashionable dress. To appear impervious to the demands of wardrobe etiquette could result inone facingrepercussions, withthe gentler end of such repercussionsbeing public slander. Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz lived at a time whenthe subject of dress was a heightened topic, as the international fashion industry was developing duringturbulent times – times that did not allow appreciation of fashion, or make space for excessive artistic expression.
Through intimate accounts, a particular focus based on her views of dress has been revealed. Surprisingly, her sober personal aesthetic was in stark contrast to a Queen who revels in fashionable dress. Queen Charlotte was a rarity in that she did not utilise her privileged access to modishness and magnificence.
As years passed and family illness struck, Charlotte chose to refashion dated styles keeping her attention elsewhere. A future indicator of her recycling habits can be dated back to her wedding ensemble which was also worn for her coronation. From the surviving personal items after her death, her refashioned and worn garments and dresses handed down to her daughters could not stand the test of time and lost their identity in the inheritance process.
We can recall Queen Charlotte’s presence through her intimate material profile and documentary evidence archived in Museum dress collections. These artifacts provide a collective idea of her personal aesthetic,how her clothingwas personally worn, as discovered through forensic evidenceSince Charlotte was not a Queen who acquired fashionable dress in such a way as to eventually be collected, we are lead to believe her priorities were with family matters and personal interests such as botany and the various charitable causes she founded, including orphanagesand a hospital for expectant mothers. Arguably, Charlotte could be considered one of the early adaptors to a sustainable lifestyle.