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Review: Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe

Review by Ceri Wheeldon

Queen's coronation dress

If you get the chance do go along to visit the exhibition of the Queen’s Clothes at Buckingham  Palace as part of her 90th birthday celebrations. Knowing that I have a passion for clothes, I was taken by a friend for my birthday – we had a fabulous day out!

Fashioning a Reign exhibition from Royal Collection Trust on Vimeo.


Seeing the Queen’s wedding dress and Coronation dress on display, you really feel as though you have shared a moment in history. The detail and workmanship is absolutely exquisite…especially the detail in the Coronation Dress. Photos and film footage do not prepare you for the impact the dresses have in real life. Norman Hartnell drew upon his experience of the theatre to create clothes that would hold attention on the world stage.

Queen's evening dress by Hartnell

The dresses worn by the Queen as a princess and during the early years of her reign are so tiny…. her waist was minute. Walking around all the exhibits of the daywear you also get the sense of the history of fashion, from the timeless elegance of the 1950s to the not quite so elegant 1980s.  Outfits created for state visits and family weddings show so much attention to detail – it seems a pity to think that many would have been worn only once. The evening dresses are absolutely gorgeous and stand the test of time, the beading so intricate and the fabrics so delicate. Many were designed by Norman Hartnell whose work was absolute genius , his creations regal and feminine.

I can remember sitting cross legged on the school hall floor watching the investiture of the Prince of Wales  – it was interesting to see the outfit worn by the Queen – complete with hat. The exhibition brought back many memories. The display of just hats was worth seeing alone…all designed to have impact while allowing the crowds to be able to see the Queen’s face…again the detail in all the hats was really interesting to see close up.

Entrance to the exhibition also gave you access to the tour of the state rooms – all magnificent.

As you exit the tour via the rear of the palace you also get to see the garden and lake- we were lucky that it was a sunny afternoon.

A fabulous tour to take. Anyone interested in the history of fashion really should make the effort to go along. My friend and I loved it…we are planning to go and see more clothes currently being exhibited at Windsor Castle.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos of our own – so I can only share those from the official site.

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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