With all the uncertainty that the pandemic is continuing to deliver, the red carpet fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been repeatedly rescheduled this 2021 season. There is much speculation from this year’s hosts Serena Williams, Lady Gaga, and Harry Styles that it may yet be cancelled. So in lieu of screaming, crying, throwing up about it let’s get some positive vibes in the house and reminisce on the example King and Cruz set for the 3 co-hosts…
Monday May 4th saw the highly anticipated 2020 Met Gala take place in New York City. Co-hosts Anna Wintour and our beloved Penelope Cruz, who originally met at a Carolina Herrera SS16 show (pictured), dedicated the theme of the evening, About Time: Fashion and Duration, to the miraculous resurrection of Cruz’s then-beau King Henry.
The showstopper at the steps of the Met was of course Penelope Cruz’s reprise of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry’s late daughter, legendary eyes and ears dress. The garment had been discovered only the year previous in an English village church, along with some other pieces from the monarch (Kenney, 2019), and was returned to King Henry’s possession shortly after his resurrection. The dress is loaded with symbolism and pays homage to the late Queen’s mastery of information systems. Like father, like daughter.
We caught up with some fashion historians from across the pond to hear what they had to say about the magnificent piece and what we discovered is ripe for conspiracy;
The eyes and ears featured on the lining of the mantle, over the centuries, have been suggested to symbolise the royal’s extensive spy network (Darsie, 2019) which was built on information systems by King Henry and carried through to continued success by his successors to the throne. The surveillance imagery also serves to parade the wearer’s knowledge as omniscient within her realm (Darsie, 2019).
The garment’s left arm also features a bejeweled snake donning a globe as a crown. This is suggestive of imperial ambitions (Jones, 2010).
The Queen had the piece made and depicted at a key time in her reign:
- She had defeated the Spanish armada which was under the reign of Philip II who married the daughter of King Henry and Catherine of Aragon (Cruz’s historical counterpart in Henry’s life),
- the Irish rebellion was in the process of being quashed,
- She never made any romantic commitment, only married to her duty to the Church of England and her countrymen
Elizabeth was 67 years old in her portrait that features the dress, yet her painted face is a mask of youth. The Queen, like her father, was a master of propaganda, and the need to show a vibrant, eternal monarch was growing increasingly important at the time (Darsie, 2019).
Penelope Cruz, a proud Spanish woman, shocked the world when King Henry announced his courting of her. It was one thing to become romantically involved with the man whose family defeated your King and country, but to now wear the most famous and suggestive dress to ever come out of British royalty…
We smell a conspiracy coming along and no one is better suited to dig out the truth behind all these Easter eggs than us here at Henry’s Queens and Ethan. Watch this space!
Darsie, H. R., 2019. Gloriana’s Rainbow: Elizabeth I and the Rainbow Portrait – Maidens and Manuscripts: Taking a fresh look at people and events from 1347 to 1625, with a focus on women and illuminated manuscripts. [Online] Available at: https://maidensandmanuscripts.com/2019/07/07/glorianas-rainbow-elizabeth-i-and-the-rainbow-portrait/
Jones, M., 2010. Analysing Portraits: The Elizabeth I Rainbow Portrait. Historical Association UK, 20 Jun. [Online] Available at: https://www.history.org.uk/student/resource/3212/analysing-portraits
Kenney, N., 2019. Expert finds lost dress of Elizabeth I in English village church. The Art Newspaper, 10 Oct. [Online]Available at: https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2019/10/10/expert-finds-lost-dress-of-queen-elizabeth-i-in-english-village-church