What surprises me…

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was in Germany two days ago wearing this grey coat. Many noticed that some of the star designs on her coat resembled swastikas, which lead to criticism of the Queen. What I find surprising about this whole brouhaha is that:

  1. The crosses are largely made up from cheap hardware hooks and screws
  2. Judging by the picture that shows the edge of the coat sleeve, the coat is badly finished or shows considerable wear
  3. That a Dutch queen would wear something by a Danish designer (Claes Iversen) rather than something by one of the many talented Dutch designers
  4. That there are enough people in Germany to create a stink over an obviously unintentional oversight
  5. That there was an oversight – Come on! someone didn’t notice the resemblance?
  6. That people still confuse the Nazi swastika with the Buddhist symbol of rebirth/eternity

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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9 Responses to What surprises me…

  1. Thomas says:

    Well, as you know Jonathan, I am german.
    Of course the Swastika wasn’t an invention of the Nazis back then. The symbol as you mentioned it is very much older. Nevertheless there is always storm here about these things. It is a political and multi-faced thing and explaining it can fill books.

  2. Lizzie says:

    I’m not a bit surprised. The internet is very quick to jump all over any trace of political incorrectness, intentional or not. If a design is not appropriated, then it is offensive. Enough!

  3. Suschna says:

    Here in Germany it is a crime to display a Nazi-symbol publicly. Because of our history people here are much more sensitive than other countries regarding anything Nazi-related. The swastika is such a strong taboo that even the Buddhist symbol is immediately seen as a Nazi-symbol. Of course she and the designer did not have any bad intentions, it is really a matter of bad luck.
    (And maybe bad taste, as far as the whole style is concerned :-))

  4. Lauriana says:

    Although Danish by birth, designer Claes Iversen was actually educated in the Netherlands and works here too. The current queen consort seems to prefer the work of designers who work in this country but have their roots elsewhere (she also wears designs by Percy Irasquin).
    I am Dutch so I heard about this debacle with the coat. In fact, we discussed it at home. Personally, I think everyone involved in dressing royalty should be extra-careful not to give any cause for offense or scandal. Better to be a bit boring. So it seems a bit crazy that a design which vaguely resembles a swastika was not noticed…
    And yes, the more pictures I see of this coat, the uglier I think it is. The colour and cut are boring, the scale of the decorations is a bit clownesk and the workmanship seems to be very poor.

    • Jonathan says:

      So Claes is really a Danish-born Dutch designer – that makes more sense. I can identify as I am aware of many ‘Canadian-born’ English and American designers. I agree, better to be a bit boring than controversial – Queen Elizabeth has mastered that!

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