This is one of Her Majesty's big occasion gowns being readied for the Bendigo Exhibition. The photo shows the low satin bow at the back. The black gown to the left belonged to Princess Margaret and has the most beautiful jewelled shoulder straps.
This is a sample panel of the embroidery design by Norman Hartnell. The gown was made for a state visit to France in 1957. On a bouffant skirt in ivory Duchess satin, the emblems of France were embroidered in sparkling topaz, white and coffee coloured pearls, tiny amber beads, silver sequins, moulded golden acorn cups with an amber pearl acorn.
Representing the flowers of the fields are poppies and marguerites, acorns and sheaves of wheat represent the harvest and the two bees with pearly wings represent Napoleon's symbol of industry.
Maureen Markham, one of Hartnell's team of embroiderers who spent 3 weeks working on the gown, hoped that The Queen always sat on plush chairs so that the embroidery did not get squashed. The embroidery on the actual dress became more elaborate, building on the basic sample design.