Inside the Queen's Wardrobe

Town&Country shares exclusive access to Her Majesty’s couture collection.

“The Queen just pops it on her head, and off she goes. She has confidence, because she has such a good relationship with her milliners.”

This is Caroline de Guitaut, the senior curator of decorative arts at Royal Collection Trust, discussing Her Majesty’s inimitable style on the occasion of a trio of exhibitions, "Fashioning a Reign; 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe." held across three sites–Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace, and Windsor Castle–to commemorate the year of her 90th birthday.

The Royal Collection Trust has just been awarded Best British Cultural Experience at the prestigious Walpole British Luxury Awards 2016, held at the Dorchester on 14 November, for the exhibitions. Michelle Emmerson, CEO of Walpole, said: “‘Fashioning a Reign’ not only celebrates one of the greatest style icons of a century, but also the outstanding skills of Britain’s incredible craftsmen, designers, and milliners. It was therefore of huge importance that we recognize the major contribution this inspirational exhibition has made to both the luxury and tourist industries, and the British economy as a whole.”


Dresses designed by Norman Hartnell, on show in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle

To celebrate the exhibitions, Town & Country gained exclusive access to the Queen’s exquisite wardrobe, photographing a selection of couture outfits in the grand setting of the Semi-State Rooms at Windsor Castle. The beautiful images appear in the autumn issue of T&C alongside a touching retrospective by the writer Jane Eastoe, who spoke with de Guitaut about the challenges and rewards of masterminding such an important set of exhibitions.

A Norman Hartnell gown designed for the Queen in the late 1940s, on show in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.

De Guitaut explained: “The Queen was consulted, for we must remember these are Her Majesty’s personal possessions, and not part of the Royal Collection. The focus and scope was immense. I was clear that I did not want it to be a chronological exhibition, but I wanted to celebrate British design, the work of the British designers, and the skills of the ateliers, tailors, and milliners.”

Asked about the creation of the unique pieces on couture on show, she commented: “It takes a lot of work to create clothes like this. Many hands are involved and long hours of work from sketches, through repeated fitting, to create the final product. It enables the Queen to do what she needs to do, and getting that formula right is the key to successful dressing.”

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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