A life cut short through loss, betrayal leading to imprisonment and finally execution doesn’t fill me with positivity.


There have been a many depictions of Mary Stuart in film from Katharine Hepburn in Mary Queen of Scotland (1936) to Das Herz der Königin (The Heart of the Queen) (1940) a 1940’s German interpretation which saw Zara Leander in a historical musical role, yet one of the aspects of the movies that abide (majoritively) to the sixteenth century fashions also find themselves seeping into the creations of luxury designers.

MARY OF SCOTLAND 1935 Katherine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn as Mary Stuart (1936)

Mary Queen of Scotland (1936) Katherine Hepburn’s costumes designed by Walter Plunkett who specialized in period dress. Plunkett’s dress consisted of crimson silk velvet with gold thistle detailing. Alexander McQueen took inspiration from the Elizabethan era for its Fall 2013 Paris collection; this was later emulated by the designs of Valentino’s 2014 Haute Couture collection in New York.

Valentino Haute Couture 2014
Valentino Haute Couture 2014

Valentino’s Haute Couture Collection 2014 New York comprised of feminine lace blouses, column dresses and high skyward collars.

Valentino Fall 2015 Haute Couture

Margaret Furse was costume designer for Mary Queen of Scots (1971) in which Vanessa Redgrave battles with her cousin Elizabeth I (Glenda Jackson). This film depicts the Elizabethan attire that we are used to with the ostentatious embellishments on the partlet (jeweled bodice), ornate Elizabethan ruff (collar) and oversized kirtle (skirt) for which she was nominated for an academy award.

Camile Rutherford
Camile Rutherford in Mary queen of Scots (2018)

Camille Rutherford played the doomed queen in Mary Queen of Scots (2013) facing her final days of this world. The costumes were the creation of Rudolph Jolst. Whilst staying true to the time period he seems to make the outfits more practical, moving away from the heftier creations of previous designers.

During the 2015 Fall Haute Couture shows a myriad of designers took inspiration from Elizabethan dress to their collections including Victor & Rolf, Dior and Armani Prive amongst others

Victor & Rolf Fall 2016
Victor & Rolf Fall 2016

Victor and Rolf effectively deconstruct the ruff and provide oversized ruffles to the exterior of the garment whilst maintaining the covered neckline with a knotted silk scarf.

We are still awaiting Alexandra Byrne’s creations for Mary Queen of Scots (2018) due for release on the 18th January 2019. Byrn best known for Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) has seemingly incorporating modern fabrics such as dyed denim and playing with the ruffs seen above by Maragaret Furst. Byrne’s known for her lavish haute couture influences in her costume designs whilst staying true to the time period of the movie. Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) and Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) look to be offering a wilful power battle to envelop the audience and I shall be pre-booking my ticket promptly.

Hairstylist Paul Hanlon for the Gucci Cruise 2019 show sent the models down the runway with majestic Elizabethan inspired up dos.  It would seem that Mary still has more to contest with than the crown.

We may not be marching down the city streets in partlets, ruffs and kirtles but elements of popular Elizabethan fashions continue to be topical on screen and runway alike.

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