The show's costume designer Rachel Walsh tells InStyle all about Joan Collins's look for her role as the queen's mother.
The Queen of England may not have to answer to many people, but there’s still one person who can overrule the monarch: her mother. On last night’s episode of The Royals, we were introduced to Grand Duchess Alexandra of Oxford—aka the woman who Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) calls mom. Played by Joan Collins, the duchess shows up to the palace decked out in plenty of ice, with a chilly personality to match.
Although at first she comes off as cold-hearted as her daughter, Collins's character shows a softer side when it comes to her grandchildren. And even though the duchess—or “Dutchie,” as Princess Eleanor lovingly calls her—arrives bearing gifts (how amazing is the diamond brooch she gave Eleanor?), she’s far from your average grandma. So, of course, Collins had to look the royal part. “We chose a really regal purple for her to wear, and then we had the dress made in that color,” the show’s costume designer, Rachel Walsh, tells InStyle. “It really suited her—and it was a nice contrast to Helena, who wore bright fuchsia pink in the same scenes.”
In fact, Collins’s style heavily influenced the costumes on the E! show—especially those of her onscreen daughter. “I loved the real power dressing that Joan’s character did back on Dynasty,” says Walsh, who was inspired by Collins’ '80s style for many of Hurley’s looks on The Royals. “We looked at those silhouettes and the shoulder pads and then contemporized them for Helena using solid blocks of really strong color. Whenever she’s in a scene, her color is always the strongest.”
Strongest or not, Collins’s royal purple look stood out—and the 82-year-old veteran actress rocked it. “She’s the queen of power dressing, so she knows what suits her,” says Walsh. “I bought her a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, and I couldn’t believe how well she could walk in them. She’s so elegant in the way that she moves—she sort of just glides.”
But even with the grace of a duchess, Collins’s character isn’t always oh-so-proper. Which brings us to our favorite line from the episode: hearing Joan Collins say, “FML.” Because, really, does it get any better than that?
Tune into The Royals on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on E!