I vividly remember seeing this portrait years ago at an exhibition about Elizabeth I at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. It sang out with its self-confident fashion sense.
It comes as no surprise that this woman, Elizabeth Knollys (pronounced to rhyme with bowls), Lady Leighton, is thought to have been in charge of the Queen’s wardrobe – in effect a kind of fashion adviser or dresser.
Her own appearance is very sophisticated, the orange dress echoing her reddish hair, but toned down by the black slashed bodice (if that this correct technical term), with the pattern of the slashes seeming to mimick the bow fastenings, and set off by various jewels which also return in her sassy tall hat with its elegant pink feather.
A slightly later fashion moment, from the Jacobean period, has been preserved at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where a c. 1620 portrait of Margaret Layton is shown next to the actual jacket she can be seen wearing in the picture.
At Dunham Massey we hope to create something similar later this year: fashion student Jennifer Craig is working on a recreation of the costume of Vere Egerton, to be displayed near her recently acquired portrait. The current plan is to partly open up the costume, to show how it was constructed and what it would have been like to wear.
Jennifer is keeping a blog called Recreating the Costume of Vere Egerton to show the results of her research and the progress with the costume.