‘Black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute, it is the perfect harmony’. Coco Chanel, high priestess of the little black dress, and staunch Anglophile, famously opined, setting off a mania for black in fashion that only abated recently.
Chanel, as was so often the case, had her finger right on the pinhead. Our late queen wore colour so that she could be seen by those at the very back, which rendered the sea of black at her funeral all the more stark and poignant. Black, particularly, is the ultimate reduction (and, it so happens, the best foil for stunning, family-vault jewellery). Close up, it can be draining, but from a distance, it’s compelling, instantly conferring on outfits a timelessness. In black, even the most exaggerated, flashy silhouettes acquire a stripped away quality that leans towards the dignified. And quiet dignity was in plentiful supply.
Those worried that the State Funeral might be overshadowed by family melodrama or celebrity upstaging can rest at ease. Everyone in attendance did us proud. Mourning became them. From the smallest – Princess Charlotte in her touchingly simple black boater and Mary Janes, to one of the oldest guests, 93 year old Lady Pamela Hicks, once a bridesmaid at the late Queen’s wedding to her dashing Philip, now wheelchair-bound but redoutable looking in a broad brimmed black hat; from Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s First Lady, in her neat pillbox, the Duchess of Sussex in a cape dress and wide-brimmed hat and Jill Biden in a fitted-to-perfection skirt suit from Schiaparelli, to Baroness Scotland of Asthal, one of the few who could carry off an exuberantly coloured shawl over her black tailoring – there wasn’t one ouch moment.