Like two palace sentinels, a fur-trimmed coronation robe and an intricately designed brocade gown flank either side of a television screen as if standing guard as actress Claire Foy’s face appears out of the blackness; she is resplendent in her role as Queen Elizabeth II. Scenes from Netflix’s runaway hit series The Crown, a fictionalized portrayal of the British royal family, play in a continuous loop and it would be easy to simply stand there and be mesmerized. To do so, however, would be to cheat oneself out of a truly unique opportunity because just around the bend lies 40 iconic costumes from The Crown that not only offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the television series but a primer on the intersection of history and the sartorial choices of the monarchy as well. The stately, if not a bit imposing, entrance serves as the official welcome to Winterthur Museum’s Costuming THE CROWN exhibition.
The intriguing exhibition explores how fashion and, more importantly, costuming is used to add to a storyline and recreate significant historical moments. Alongside the dazzling tiaras, crowns, and voluminous gowns are some of the understated, quotidian outfits worn in the royal family’s private lives. The attention to detail, needlework, and overall craftsmanship is a testament to the extraordinary skills of Emmy® and BAFTA-winning designers Michele Clapton and Jane Petrie who worked on seasons 1 and 2 of The Crown. In addition to the costumes on display, there are bits of fashion ephemera and drawings and a viewing room with televised scenes from the series where patrons can see how integral proper costuming is to storytelling and to the onscreen portrayal of the royal family.
THE ROYAL TREATMENT
It’s understandable if one has come down with a serious case of royal fever after viewing the Costuming THE CROWN exhibition and, perhaps, a journey across the pond to visit Buckingham Palace isn’t exactly feasible. Don’t fret—there are plenty of ways to experience the life of the crown right here in Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley:
Afternoon Tea at HOTEL DUPONT – Is there anything more quintessentially British than a proper tea and is there a better venue than the swanky HOTEL DUPONT? The opulent Green Room has hosted formal parties, dignitaries, and the affluent set for years and for a mere $32, a pittance by royal standards to be sure, Delaware’s toniest hotel offers a full afternoon tea (complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and a glass of sparkling wine).
Note: Afternoon tea is offered on Wednesday and Saturday; reservations are required and can be made by calling (302) 594-3154.
Pizza by Elizabeths – Surely, one does not associate pizza with the Queen. (One would imagine pizza grease would stain Her Majesty’s white gloves.) However, local hotspot Pizza by Elizabeths offers pies fit for a queen and they all happen to be named after famous Elizabeths. In fact, upon entering the restaurant, a giant portrait of the Queen greets patrons and her namesake pie—an indulgent mélange of silken mushroom duxelles cream sauce, chicken, parmesan cheese, and chives—is a perennial favorite.
Delaware Museum of Natural History - The museum offers patrons the opportunity to come face-to-face with a real live monarch—butterfly, that is. The onsite butterfly garden is a delightful warm-weather attraction beloved by children and adults alike. Dinosaur displays, a collection of mollusks and shells as well as natural treasures from the Delmarva area round out the museum’s exhibits. Looking to hobnob with fellow nature lovers? The museum regularly hosts adults-only wine events.
Dining at Krazy Kat’s – Dining in a room filled with oil paintings of regally dressed cats (yes, cats), some dressed as generals, royals and aristocrats, might sound like the stuff of nightmares but they are most certainly conversation starters. Situated in the idyllic village of Montchanin, the restaurant offers elevated cuisine in a quirky but elegant setting. Take time to explore the area and book a room at the onsite inn and schedule a decadent treatment at the Spa at Montchanin Village—an experience fit for a king or queen.
Costuming THE CROWN runs from March 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020 at Winterthur Museum; a host of related events (including fun trivia nights and lectures) can be found here. The museum is set amidst a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling, verdant meadows and woodlands and a post-exhibition walk is a wonderful way to extend your visit to Greater Wilmington and Brandywine Valley area. Tickets to the exhibition can be purchased online or by calling (800) 448-3883.
The Crown is produced by LEFT BANK Pictures in association with SONY PICTURES TELEVISION for Netflix.