Take a Peek Inside Queen Elizabeth II’s Closet at Buckingham Palace

Your chance to see 90 years of HM's best looks.

Queen Elizabeth II reviews the company of Pikeman and Musketeers of the honorable artillery company at Armour House London. Photo: Mark Stewart.
Courtesy of Mark Stewart.

Throughout her record-breaking 63-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II has been an international style icon. In honor of Her Majest’s 90th birthday, which the Queen celebrated in April, the Royal Collection Trust is showing off a lifetime’s worth of fashion with over 150 of the Queens outfits—and 80 hats.

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen’s Wardrobe” opens this weekend at Buckingham Palace, with parts two and three at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (April 20–October 16, 2016) and Windsor Castle in Bershire (September 17, 2016–January 8, 2017).

Queen Elizabeth II's Norman Hartnell wedding gown. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Norman Hartnell wedding gown. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

The unprecedented peek inside the Queen’s closet includes the christening gown she wore as a baby in 1926, as well as both her Norman Hartnell-designed wedding and coronation gowns, which have never before been displayed together.

Another exhibition highlight is the Mantle of the British Empire, made by Marion Foale for Ede & Ravenscroft tailors in 1952. The Queen wore the striking red outfit, with its dramatic cape, for a 1969 portrait by Pietro Annigoni. Many outfits in the show have been paired with period shots of the Queen wearing them; the Mantle dress is accompanied by a small study created for the painting, the original of which hangs in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

A Mantle of the British Empire, by Ede and Ravenscroft and made by Marion Faole in 1952 for Queen Elizabeth II, displayed at Buckingham Palace in "Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen's Wardrobe." Courtesy of Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

A Mantle of the British Empire is displayed at Buckingham Palace in “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen’s Wardrobe.” Courtesy of Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

The exhibition will show the consideration that goes into each and every one of Her Majesty’s outfits. The beaded Angela Kelly dress the Queen wore during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic Games, for instance, was chosen because of its neutral, peachy pink color.

“The philosophy behind the design I believe is to have something in a color that wouldn’t be in any way representative of any of the countries participating,” Royal Collection senior curator Caroline de Guitaut told the Telegraph.

Outfits worn by Queen Elizabeth II are displayed at Buckingham Palace in "Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen's Wardrobe." Courtesy of Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Outfits worn by Queen Elizabeth II are displayed at Buckingham Palace in “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen’s Wardrobe.” Courtesy of Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

In addition to revealing fashion’s diplomatic side—”very much a tool in the female sovereign’s power to use,” according to de Guitaut—the show speaks to the design prowess of British couturiers.

See more dresses from the exhibition below.

Queen Elizabeth II's painted silk chiffon evening dress. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II’s painted silk chiffon evening dress. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II's Angela Kelly-designed crepe-wool beaded primrose dress and coat with matching hat adorned with handmade silk roses and apricot-colored leaves work for the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Angela Kelly-designed crepe-wool beaded primrose dress and coat with matching hat adorned with handmade silk roses and apricot-colored leaves work for the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II's cream silk chiffon dress with draped cape, graduated to the back. Richly embroidered with iridescent sequins in a geometric design. Worn for a Commonwealth Heads of Government reception at Buckingham Palace, 1977. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II’s cream silk chiffon dress with draped cape, graduated to the back. Richly embroidered with iridescent sequins in a geometric design. Worn for a Commonwealth Heads of Government reception at Buckingham Palace, 1977. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II's Norman Hartnell-designed 1973 day dress. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Norman Hartnell-designed 1973 day dress. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

“Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style From the Queen’s Wardrobe” in on view at Buckingham Palace, London, July 23–October 2, 2016.


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