My mother was in town recently and while we had fun poking around Harrods for a few hours, we had much more fun visiting the exhibition Style & Splendor: Queen Maud of Norway’s Wardrobe 1896 – 1938 at the Victoria and Albert Museum www.vam.ac.uk until January 8, 2006.
Before Diana, there was Queen Maud, a British princess who married a Danish prince who ended up becoming King of Norway. With an 18 inch waist, a generous budget, lots of occasions to dress for and a terrific sense of style, Maud amassed a fabulous collection of outfits spanning 40 years of fashion which are on exhibition at the V& A until January 8, 2006. Chic little hats, divine shoes, cross-country ski outfits and ball gowns galore are all beautifully displayed and described.
If you still have time and desire, also see the rest of the Fashion Collection at the V&A. My mother was in heaven revisiting the last 50 years of her own fashion lifetime and we had a great time discussing what we saw.
The exhibit is free to the public. When we were there, it was filled with noisy teenage girls on school field trips. They were discussing and drawing like mad and, I suppose, hoping to be the next British fashion phenomenon. For visitors who prefer a serene environment for viewing, it might be quieter on the weekend when all the would-be designers are safely at Topshop.
One final thought, my mother found really glamorous scarves in the V&A Gift Shop that looked like they came straight from Harrods and cost significantly less. The jewellery is clever and correctly priced as well. Fashion inspiration and retail therapy all under one roof. We recommend it.