Lady Elizabeth Longman’s Royal Bridesmaid Dress To Be Sold

A Norman Hartnell royal bridesmaid’s dress and headdress from 1947 worn by Lady Elizabeth Longman will be one of the star lots at The Exceptional Sale on 2 July during Christie’s Classic Week.

This dress was worn by the late Lady Elizabeth Longman (née Lambart) a childhood friend of the Queen and is estimated at £30,000-50,000.

On loan to The Fashion Museum Bath from the 1980s to the early 2000s the dress will be on view in London during the pre-sale exhibition from 28 June to 2 July.

Benedict Winter, Christie’s Specialist in Private and Iconic Collections, expressed the significance of this item: “Christie’s is privileged to be offering this evocative and rare example of royal fashion history. This beautiful dress epitomises the glamour of Norman Hartnell’s commissions and the hope that the late Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s wedding gave to post-war Britain.”

The Genius of Sir Norman Hartnell

Sir Norman Hartnell’s designs from the inter-war period are the epitome of aristocratic style. Commissioned by The Queen Mother, Hartnell designed the wedding dress and eight bridesmaids’ dresses for the 1947 Royal Wedding, his biggest commission until the 1953 Coronation.

Lady Elizabeth Longman's Dress: Historic Fashion at Christie's
A Contemporary Portrait Of Lady Elizabeth Longman (Nee Lambart) In 1947

These floral dresses represented post-war British renewal and growth. Hartnell was inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera in the Uffizi and the high-Victorian fashions he saw while waiting for his first meeting at Buckingham Palace, as reflected in the portraits of the Royal Family by Winterhalter and Hayter.

Norman Hartnell’s impact on royal fashion is immeasurable. He dressed the Royal Family and set the tone for high society. The 1947 Royal Wedding dresses are the perfect example of his ability to marry tradition with modernity.

The floral designs and delicate patterns on the bridesmaids’ dresses were more than just fashion. They were a nation’s hope and renewal after the devastation of World War II, a testament to Hartnell’s genius.

Lady Elizabeth Longman's Dress: Historic Fashion at Christie's

Lady Elizabeth Longman: A Royal Connection

Lady Elizabeth Longman (née Lambart) (1924-2016) was the daughter of Field Marshal 10th Earl of Cavan and his wife Joan (née Byng) who was a lady-in-waiting to The Princess Royal.

Lady Elizabeth had both Queen Mary and Princess Mary, The Princess Royal as her godparents. This close family connection meant she was a childhood friend of Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II). This friendship led to Lady Elizabeth being appointed as a bridesmaid for the 1947 Royal Wedding, a bond that lasted throughout their lives.

Lady Elizabeth Longman's Dress: Historic Fashion at Christie's
The Late Lady Elizabeth Longman With Kate Moss Wearing The Bridesmaids Dress

Lady Elizabeth Longman’s life was all about service and the Royal Family. Being a bridesmaid in 1947 was a highlight of her long and wonderful life.

The lifelong friendship between Lady Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth II is a lovely reminder of the personal stories behind the royal occasion. Their connection through this dress makes it even more special.

Christie’s: Custodian of History

Christie’s Exceptional Sale is famous for its carefully chosen lots. The addition of Lady Elizabeth Longman’s bridesmaid dress to this year’s sale adds a historical and emotional layer to the collection.

The pre-sale exhibition gives the public a chance to see this piece of royal history. On view in London from 28 June to 2 July, you can see the intricate workmanship and history of Hartnell’s design.

Lady Elizabeth Longman's Dress: Historic Fashion at Christie's
Lady Elizabeth Longman's Dress: Historic Fashion at Christie's
Lady Elizabeth Longman's Dress: Historic Fashion at Christie's

Christie’s plays a crucial role in preserving and showcasing historical artefacts. The sale of Lady Elizabeth Longman’s dress underscores the auction house’s commitment to offering items of profound historical significance.

The opportunity to acquire such a piece is rare. Benedict Winter’s statement reflects the honour and responsibility Christie’s feels in presenting this dress to the public and potential buyers.

Images: Christie’s | Feature Image: Anefo, CC0

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