It is a fashion bonanza at the summer opening of Buckingham Palace this year, which begins tomorrow. The main feature of the 2016 exhibition is dresses worn by The Queen – including her coronation and wedding gowns – spanning her ten decades of life, as she celebrates her 90th birthday this year.
‘Fashioning A Reign: 90 Years Of Style From The Queen’s Wardrobe’ as the opening is entitled, showcases almost 80 outfits worn by Her Majesty over the years, as well as 62 of her famous hats.
The inclusion of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress alongside The Queen’s coronation gown is historic – they have never been shown alongside one another before.
Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth wed in November 1947, and the dress was shown last in 2010, just before Prince William married Catherine Middleton, now The Duchess of Cambridge. Then, it was on one of the mannequins, made to Her Majesty’s size, but now it is lying at an angle, perhaps due to the delicate nature of the ageing fabric. The veil lies beside it, as do the wedding shoes, thought to be a size 2.5-3 (UK).
Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen's Wardrobe. Highlights include the Coronation dress 2/2 pic.twitter.com/i1T2kEdrY0
— Emily Nash (@emynash) July 22, 2016
A few particularly interesting pieces are shown, including the yellow ensemble The Queen wore to Prince Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969. The hat by Simone Mirman, took inspiration from the medieval age as the event took place at the ancient Caernarvon Castle.
“The philosophy behind the design is that The Queen would largely be seen from behind as she placed the coronet on the Prince’s head, so having good design from the back was just as important as the outfit looking successful from the front,” says exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut.
The neon green ensemble worn to Trooping the Colour last month makes an appearance, perhaps giving it the quickest turnaround for an outfit, with just a month in the Royal wardrobe.
Now known as the James Bond outfit, the coral dress and headpiece worn for the Olympic Games stunt is also available for viewing, alongside other intricately designed gowns worn on various State occasions, many coming from Royal couturier, Normal Hartnell, and The Queen’s current dresser, Angela Kelly.
As with every year, the showcase follows on from viewing the State Rooms, and is spread across various areas, including the Ball Room, which was the largest room in Europe when built in the mid 1800s.
These gorgeous pieces really must be seen to be believed; they are accompanied by information regarding the designer, and usually a photo of where Her Majesty wore the piece.
The Queen is particularly famous for her hats, and there are over 60 on display this summer. Many are of traditional design, the ones we are used to seeing her in today, but there are plenty of unusual shapes and designs, many from the 50s and 70s.
Another piece of interest is the Royal christening gown. The white lace and silk-satin gown is a replica of the Victorian piece commissioned in 1841, for Victoria and Albert’s eldest child, also Victoria.
Princess Elizabeth wore the original for her christening, but a replica was made in 2004 for the christening of James, Viscount Severn. This is the same worn by Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
The Buckingham Palace exhibit is one of three displays honouring The Queen’s sense of style in celebration of her 90th birthday: Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse are also exhibiting outfits. The Scottish Palace’s showcase opened on The Queen’s birthday, 21st April and runs to 16th October 2016, while other pieces can be seen at Windsor Castle from 17th September 2016 to 8th January 2017. The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace runs from 23rd July to 2nd October 2016.
Book your tickets to visit here.