The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, which the FIDM Museum is currently fundraising to acquire, includes over 50 ensembles worn by British royal women. In this blog post, Associate Curator Christina Johnson examines a dress with royal provenance, utilizing letters in the Helen Larson Papers and additional primary source material to trace a path back to its original wearer.
After reading hundreds of her letters, I understand that Helen Larson was absolutely intrigued with royalty. Most of her pieces with royal provenance were acquired during the 1960s and 1970s, when she employed British costume historian and dealer Doris Langley Moore to bid for her at auctions as well as make contact with extended members of Britain’s royal family in hopes that they might part with old clothes worn by their illustrious relatives.
At Helen’s request in 1977, Doris wrote to George Lascelles, Seventh Earl of Harewood. He had been a member of Doris’s Museum of Costume Committee in the 1950s, when she was trying to find a home for her own collection of antique clothes. Photograph of Princess Mary as a young girl, Helen Larson Papers