Who doesn’t love to celebrate a big birthday? While most of us plump for cake and a bottle of fizz, when you’re the head of state, the celebrations call for something really special. The good news is that you can indulge in the royal festivities by visiting Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe.
Spanning ten decades, numerous weddings, christenings, state occasions, international tours and even military attire, Fashioning a Reign isn’t just a spectacular journey through The Queen’s wardrobe, but also our nation’s history. Showing at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace from 23 July to 2 October 2016, the exhibition charts important events in The Queen’s life and the eye-catching ensembles that went with them.
You won’t fail to be wowed by the must-see outfits of the exhibition. On show together for the first time are Her Majesty’s wedding dress and Coronation dress. Both designed by the great British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell, each has a fascinating history.
The wedding gown is in ivory silk and decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls. It incorporates a 4.6m star-patterned train, inspired by the famous Renaissance painting of Primavera by Botticelli. However, it was created in 1947, when Britain was still subject to rationing, so Princess Elizabeth collected clothing coupons to help pay for it.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on their wedding day.
Her Coronation dress is no less opulent – it was created in the finest white duchesse satin, richly embroidered in a lattice-work effect with an iconographic scheme of national and Commonwealth floral emblems in gold and silver thread and pastel-coloured silks, encrusted with seed pearls, sequins and crystals. Hartnell even added an extra four-leaf shamrock on the left side for good luck, so that Her Majesty’s hand could rest upon it during the ceremony.
The Queen’s Coronation dress, designed by Norman Hartnell.
As well as Hartnell’s iconic gowns, The Queen’s support of British couture and millinery on a world stage will also be highlighted, with important pieces on show by renowned designers Sir Hardy Amies and Ian Thomas. Fashioning a Reign includes two other exhibitions of Her Majesty’s attire at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (until 16 October) and Windsor Castle (17 September to 8 January), showing around 150 outfits in total, with each display tailored to its location.