She may never have sported a loose, louche Union Jack pullover, done up in slouchy mohair by Alexander McQueen, or carried a Lulu Guinness Union Jack clutch shaped like lips, but that doesn’t mean that Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this week, is necessarily immune to the charms of these heartfelt if quirkily rendered expressions of patriotism.
Sure, she averred in a speech to Parliament that “we are a moderate, pragmatic people, more comfortable with practice than theory,” and her own personal style leans to deeply appropriate head-to-toe monochromatic ensembles, but her subjects have long exhibited a wilder, younger sartorial spirit as well. After all, in the 60 years of her rule, she has reigned over not just Savile Row but Carnaby Street, not just Hardy Amies but Malcolm McLaren, not only Barbour but Biba.
To mark the crowning achievement of more than a half-century on the throne, Vogue.com offers this survey of the many varied and wonderful ways her imaginative citizens have displayed their love of country by employing the Union Jack over the last several decades. Could it be the strident array of stripes, its almost pirate-like jauntiness, that makes this quintessential symbol of the commonwealth so irresistible to designers, causing it to show up on everything from the finest Solange Azagury-Partridge gemstone rings to the grittiest Dr. Martens creepers?
Sometimes the ardor crosses the channel, as in the case of Chanel’s 2008 pre-fall quilted homage to the iconic flag. The affection can pour out from the other side of the big pond: Converse employed the design on high-tops; the elusive Rei Kawakubo, working 6,000 miles from Buckingham Palace in Tokyo, saw fit to put her models in Union Jack shorts and top their crazy heads with coronets for her spring 2006 collection. And come to think of it, the pattern has even found its way onto Wellington boots, which would be ideal for shielding the feet of a certain regal personage as she ambles through the grounds at Balmoral, her beloved corgis in tow.
Here are just a few examples of how designers have employed and embraced the Union Jack:
Converse Union Jack sneaker, 2009
Comme des Garçons, Spring 2006
Jimmy Choo SOHO scarf
Alexander McQueen jacket for David Bowie, 1997
For More Visuals: Vogue.com
By Lynn Yaeger