Fashioning a Reign

Fashioning a Reign at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

2016 marks the year of the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen, which is an important landmark event for Edinburgh. The Palace of Holyroodhouse, her official residence in the city, is marking the occasion by celebrating her 90 years of style with Fashioning a Reign – a special collection that charts The Queen’s life in beautiful outfits worn throughout her life.

The exhibition officially opened on the 21st April, The Queen’s 90th birthday, but I was invited along recently by the Royal Collection Trust to a special private viewing of the display, which I was absolutely delighted to attend.

A fashion sketch of a dress for Queen Elizabeth II

Turquoise dress with sequins worn by Queen Elizabeth II

Hats worn by Queen Elizabeth II

Silver Hat

Fashioning a Reign is the largest exhibition of The Queen’s dress and and accessories ever shown in Scotland, and includes many outfits that will be on display in Scotland for the first time. The exhibition includes outfits by the British couturiers Sir Norman Hartnell, Ian Thomas and Stewart Parvin, who in fact trained at the Edinburgh College of Art.

As I walked through the exhibition, I could see the changes in style as we moved through history, from the sweet hats and coats worn by young Elizabeth (apparently very few of these outfits actually survived to the present day), to the glamorous ball gowns worn in her early reign, up to the stylish coats and hats that are synonymous with her timeless style today.

Queen Elizabeth II Young Coat

Queen Elizabeth II Young Hat

The top of a dress for Queen Elizabeth II in California

A red dress for Queen Elizabeth II

Recent outfits worn by Queen Elizabeth II

The display at The Palace of Holyroodhouse is one of three Fashioning a Reign exhibitions, each showing a slightly different facet of the Queen’s style over her 90 years in the public eye. There will also be a display at Buckingham Palace (23rd July – 2 October 2016) and Windsor Castle (17 September 2016 – 8 January 2017).

Of course, the exhibition at the Palace of Holyroodhouse has a bit of a Scottish focus, with an array of Royal tartans and outfits worn at prominent events in Scottish history – for example, the outfit worn at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, The Mantle, Hat and Insignia of the Order of the Thistle, and the evening dress with Royal Stewart tartan sash worn by The Queen to the Gillie’s Ball in 1971.

Outfit worn by Queen Elizabeth II for Order of the Thistle Ceremony

Dress worn by Queen Elizabeth II for Balmoral Ball

If you are fascinating by the history of our Royal Family or have a passion for fashion and style, then the Fashioning a Reign exhibition is an absolute must-visit. The carefully curated collection tells the Queen’s story in such an unusual and engaging way – paying a visit is a perfect way to mark Her Majesty’s landmark birthday.

Fashioning a Reign is currently on show at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX and will run until the 16th October 2016.

Entry to the exhibition is included in your admission ticket to the Palace, which is £12.00 for an adult, £11.00 for a student and £7.50 for disabled/under 17’s. Under 5’s get in free.

Many thanks to the Royal Collection Trust for inviting me on this special private viewing of the collection. 

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