The Holy Grail of Fashion History

An embroidered altar cloth that has been in the possession of St. Faith's Church in Bacton, Herefordshire, was recovered year ago because it closely resembles clothing worn by Queen Elizabeth I. The cloth is richly embroidered with flowers, and is woven with silver thread, which by law was restricted to royals. The organization Historic Royal Palaces researches and curates Britain's royal artifacts. Their fashion historian, Eleri Lynn, has determined that the cloth is most likely the only surviving fabric the 16th-century monarch actually wore as clothing.

She said: “When I saw it for the first time I knew immediately that it was something special. As I examined it, I felt as though I had found the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa of fashion. None of Elizabeth I’s dresses are known to have survived, but everything we have learnt since then points to it being worn by Elizabeth.”

The botanical pattern on the cloth bears a striking resemblance to that on a bodice worn by Elizabeth in the so-called Rainbow Portrait of 1602 and Ms Lynn believes it is “not inconceivable” that the skirt, which cannot be seen in the painting, is part of the same outfit.

Church lore says the cloth was donated by Blanch Parry, the Queen's chief lady-in-waiting, 400 years ago. Queen Elizabeth was known to give her clothing away to servants and friends. The cloth will undergo a restoration and then be put on display to the public. Read more about the discovery at The Telegraph. -via Metafilter

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