Crowning glory: the Queen’s wardrobe goes on show

A new exhibition at Buckingham Palace explores her majesty’s fashion journey over 90 years

From the neon overcoat she wore for her official birthday this June to the Norman Hartnell gown for her coronation in 1953, it could be said that the Queen has kept fashion in check throughout her reign. A new exhibition at Buckingham Palace, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style, shows how, to use modern parlance, the 90-year-old makes her clothes work for her – and not the other way round. Ma’am is always in charge.

The exhibition opens with screen prints from 1985 of the Queen by Andy Warhol, as if to provide official confirmation that she is pop culture royalty. Across five galleries and 10 decades her taste in fashion unfolds: sensible knee-length coats in bright colours, the ceremonial military uniforms and – of course – the hats. There are 62 in all, ranging from the turban-like styles favoured in the 70s to Bretons and the take on the wide-brimmed top hats worn more recently. All designs here are charged with a fundamental purpose: to be seen. “Clothes are never allowed to get in the way of whatever it is she is there to do,” says Caroline de Guitaut, the curator of the show. “Both the hats and the colour lend a sense of visibility. The hats, in particular, enable those around her to see her instantly.”


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