Hooked onto the wave of pulsating rhythm and held captive by a powerfully mesmerizing stage presence, the audience of Queen’s “Magic” Tour in 1986 found themselves drawn into a spectacle like no other. At the heart of this sonic euphoria stood the flamboyant and endearing Freddie Mercury, garbed in a regal ensemble: a crown and cloak. While many perceived these as mere costume props, they served as symbolic artifacts, encapsulating the magic of Freddie’s performances.
Diana Moseley, the designer of Freddie’s signature regalia, recalls the impetus behind their creation. His penchant for theatricality was never just a matter of style or vanity; it was a tool for breaking down the barriers created by mammoth stadiums. Freddie indulged in playful acts of dressing up, wielding garments and accessories to connect with the audience in a manner that transcended the stage. This included adopting flags of host countries or donning whimsical wigs – all were part of Freddie’s unique playbook to reach across to his audience.
To understand the dichotomy of Freddie Mercury’s personality, one must perceive his two distinct facades: the unassuming, shy man off-stage, and the energetic, all-consuming performer that he transformed into once the spotlight found him. Moseley recollects witnessing this metamorphosis during shows at Wembley and other stadiums. The audiences’ enormous size and palpable energy would be enough to send tremors down any performer’s spine. Yet, Freddie would channel this energy, focusing it into his performance with laser-like concentration.
On a notable day in Paris, Mercury found himself standing in the grand foyer of a hotel, clad in his iconic crown and cloak. Before stepping into the cacophony of television crews, fans, and black limousines that awaited him, he offered a simple yet profound sentiment, “Right, as soon as I go out there, I’m theirs.” This stark declaration illustrates the consummate performer’s dedication – his understanding that the act of performing was a symbiotic relationship, a shared journey with the audience.
The crown and cloak ensemble, known for its appearance throughout the “Magic” Tour, was not a product of extensive planning or elaborate fittings. Instead, it was the result of an impromptu phone call from Freddie during rehearsals in Sweden. He expressed a desire for a grand finale that would leave the audience in awe. Freddie envisioned a grandiose, Napoleonic coronation, marked with a real crown and cloak. His desire was not for a parody, but for authenticity, for realness.
With just a week’s notice, Moseley was put to task. The creation of the regal attire was a testament to communal efforts and meticulous craftsmanship. Moseley’s studio was turned into a sewing bee, buzzing with people working diligently to craft the outfit. From hand-stitching the sumptuous dark red velvet cloak, inserting vintage fake ermine tails, to detailing the crown with jewelled accents, every element was meticulously worked upon.
Recalling the day she delivered the ensemble to Freddie’s suite at the Georges V hotel in Paris, Moseley quotes Jim Hutton, Freddie’s partner, “Freddie sashayed around regally but said something was missing. Then he grabbed a banana and used it as a microphone. He flounced about, trying to work out the way the cloak fell as he moved. He loved it. And so did all the fans that night.“
The crown and cloak ensemble became a significant part of Freddie Mercury’s stage persona, an authentic representation of his exuberance, his commitment to his craft, and his innate ability to connect with his audience. It was not merely a costume; it was an extension of Freddie, the performer – the one who, once on stage, belonged to the fans. So, the next time you look at Freddie Mercury’s iconic crown and cloak, remember, it wasn’t just a costume prop; it was the manifestation of the magic that was Freddie Mercury.
© Photos: Sotherby’s
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