Fashioning a Reign: The largest exhibition of Her Majesty The Queen’s wardrobe



Sir Norman Hartnell, pale blue silk faille evening gown worn at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, during the State Visit of King Olav of Norway in 1962.

In celebration of The Queen’s 90th birthday, three special exhibitions, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, will be staged across each of Her Majesty’s official residences during 2016.

Constituting the largest display of The Queen’s dress ever mounted, they will open at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh for Her Majesty’s birthday on 21 April 2016, at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in August 2016 and at Windsor Castle in September 2016.

Through the three separate but closely linked exhibitions, Fashioning a Reign will chart significant events in The Queen’s life and the nation’s history through an unprecedented collection of dress, jewellery and accessories designed for these occasions, from childhood to the present day. The Queen’s support of British couture and millinery will be highlighted through important pieces created for a world stage by renowned designers, including Sir Norman Hartnell, Sir Hardy Amies and Ian Thomas.

Over 150 outfits will be shown throughout the three residences, and the content of each exhibition has been selected to have particular association with the location. At Buckingham Palace, the setting for many memorable State and family occasions during The Queen’s life and reign, the exhibition will present the fashions of ten decades, from the 1920s to the 2010s. It will show the unique requirements of royal couture, from ceremonial and military attire to ensembles worn at family celebrations, such as weddings and christenings. Early childhood, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s wedding, the Coronation, and wardrobes created for royal tours and State Visits will all be represented.

Exploring the same themes on a smaller scale, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse the use of tartan in royal dress will be highlighted, while at Windsor Castle magnificent evening gowns and elegant day ensembles worn at official events will be contrasted with fancy-dress costumes worn by the young Princess Elizabeth for wartime family pantomimes at the Castle.


Sir Norman Hartnell, pale blue silk faille evening gown worn at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, during the State Visit of King Olav of Norway in 1962.


Sir Norman Hartnell, pale green crinoline evening gown made of silk chiffon and lace embroidered with sequins, pearls, beads and diamante.

Worn by the Queen in 1957 during her visit to the United States of America as a guest of President Eisenhower.



Ian Thomas, black silk velvet and taffeta dress worn by in 1980 to meet Pope John Paul II at the Vatican


John Anderson, silk evening dress entirely embroidered with beads and sequins in white, pink, gold and cream with gold thread worn for the Commonwealth Heads of Government reception held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1997. 


Stewart Parvin, pink silk dress with coordinating white jacquard coat and pink hat designed by milliner Philip Somerville worn for a garden party in 2009.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s