LONDON — As the U.K. embarked on a period of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8, members of the fashion industry paid tribute to the country’s longest-serving monarch.
The queen ruled for 70 years and celebrated her Platinum Jubilee this year in June with a four-day weekend of festivities around Britain and the Commonwealth countries that retain strong ties to Britain.
Her health had been declining for the past year, although she continued to work and carry out public and private engagements.
On Sept. 6, she asked her 15th prime minister, Liz Truss, to form a government after Boris Johnson stepped down. Two days later, she died peacefully at her beloved Scottish home, Balmoral, surrounded by her children, and Princes William and Harry.
“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the queen was so widely held,” said King Charles III, 73, who spent his adult life preparing to become Britain’s monarch, and progressively taking on duties that had previously been carried out by the queen.
He made his first televised address the nation on the evening of Friday, Sept. 9, promising to serve his subjects with “loyalty, respect and love,” and paying tribute to his mother’s sense of duty, and lifetime of service.
Buckingham Palace confirmed the period of mourning would last until seven days after the queen’s funeral on Monday, Sept. 19.
The queen’s death reverberated throughout the world, with the fashion industry paying tribute to her in interviews, and on social media.
Joan Burstein, the founder and honorary chairman of Browns, and the doyenne of British fashion retail, was born a few months before Queen Elizabeth, in 1926, and the two had much in common, including a love of Launer handbags.
“I thought we had a pact to reach 100 together,” said Burstein in a telephone interview. “We all felt as if we knew her, and I felt so privileged to have met her when I received my CBE.”
In 2006, Burstein was honored as a Commander of the British Empire, and said the experience was unforgettable. “The queen had 200 investitures that day, and she spoke to every single person. She looked you right in the eyes when she talked to you. Her approach was magnetic. And she was so dedicated,” Burstein added.
“We have lost one of the greatest women in the world. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II showed us how to live our lives,” wrote Versace. “She lived with grace, fortitude, hard work, loyalty and kindness. She was an inspiration to us all. I send my deep and personal condolences to King Charles III and all of the royal family.”
Richard Quinn, who often references the queen in his shows, and who received the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design in 2018, said her death “is a moment of great sadness, for me and for the whole nation. Her legacy will never be forgotten. It was an honor to meet her, and I will carry the memory with me forever.”
McCartney posted a black-and-white image of the queen with one of her horses, writing: “It is with great sadness that we mourn today the passing of Her Majesty the Queen. On behalf of the Stella McCartney team, I would like to express my sincerest condolences to the royal family.”
Giorgio Armani wrote that “imagining, all of a sudden, the world without Elizabeth Il, Queen Elizabeth in the collective imagination, is very difficult for me. I think it is for all those who, in these long years of reign, have become fond of her even though they are not British. The idea of the monarchy always makes one dream: it is linked to history, and to fairy tales.”
He added that she represented “the epitome of the queen: balanced, loyal, unfazed despite the inevitable scandals. She was symbolic even in the smallest gesture. As a designer, I have always admired her very personal way of dressing and communicating as well as her reserve. I would have never changed anything about her. It saddens me to hear of her loss.”
Burberry’s new chief executive officer, Jonathan Akeroyd, said the company was “deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II will forever be remembered with deep admiration, respect and affection by everyone at Burberry. We join the royal family in mourning her loss.”
Burberry has been a royal warrant holder, or chosen supplier of goods, to the queen and her family since the ’50s.
Designer Harris Reed said “the queen is a woman who I always looked to for strength, style, and the most beautiful choices of color and elegance. She was a true inspiration to so many and someone that I profoundly admired.”
Andrew Burnstine, former executive vice president of Martha’s and currently associate professor of Fashion Marketing and Management at Lynn University in Florida, said he first saw the queen at the London Fashion Awards in the mid-1980s, with his mother, Lynn Manulis, then-president of Martha stores.
“The queen wore a stunning blue gown, with matching jewels (that must have just arrived from the vaults), for her appearance. The queen had the most kind words of respect and admiration for the designers in attendance, as well as for the entire fashion industry in the U.K. You could see the smiles on the audience themselves as they listened to every word she said. It was the queen speaking to her court, and they didn’t miss a word.”
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