We can’t deny it, most of us have taken notice of what’s been worn by a Royal at a special occasion. Now here’s your chance to take a close look at the Queen’s outfits over ten decades of her life. Sue Parslow was wowed by hats and frocks fit for a Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Fashioning A Reign: 90 Year’s of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe is an eye-opening exhibition. There’s plenty of glamour and sparkle, of course, alongside formal attire and ceremonial garments too. And it’s not just fashion either, there’s a rotary dial telephone that the Queen used to make the first trunk call, and a commemorative jewelencrusted mini radar dish on display. A display of moving images act as a backdrop to the first section where you can marvel at the lace in the christening gown worn by the month-old Princess Elizabeth. It was originally commissioned by Queen Victoria for her first child in 1841 with the design based on the great Queen’s own wedding dress.
The robe was subsequently worn by over 60 royal babies until, in 2004, designer Angela Kelly created a replica robe made from lace and silk satin. BRITISH DESIGNERS Throughout her reign, the Queen has exclusively patronised British designers, including Sir Norman Hartnell who was responsible for many of the outfits worn by Her Majesty at State events, on tours and at family occasions. His exquisite drawings of his designs can also be seen in the exhibition. Designers are invited to submit outfit designs for upcoming special occasions and world tours for the Queen to make her choice. It’s important that she stands out from the crowd wherever she goes, but also that she is dressed appropriately for the climate, and of course the company she will keep. For example, on display are an outfits, worn for a visit to the Middle East where women must be covered up when outdoors, and another for a visit to The Vatican to meet the Pope. For some outfits fabric colours and embroidery were chosen to relate to a country’s national emblem.
A mimosayellow silk chiffon dress designed by Ian Thomas for The Queen’s 1974 visit to Australia is embellished with sprigs of wattle, Australia’s national floral emblem. A total of around 150 outfits will be shown across three royal palaces, the content of each has been selected to have particular association with the location. At the Palace of Holyrood for example the use of tartan in royal dress is explored, while at Windsor Castle magnificent evening gowns worn on official occasions will be contrasted with Princess Elizabeth’s fancy-dress costumes from wartime family pantomines. ■ Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe runs until October 2, 2016 at Buckingham Palace.