It’s not often that the public are invited to step inside the closet of the most famous woman in the world.
But that is exactly what will happen when Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe opens its doors to the public on April 21 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland – the first of three special exhibitions timed to coincide with Queen Elizabeth‘s 90th birthday.
Announced back in October, the fashion exhibition will kick off at the Queen’s Scottish residence before moving to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, with each venue reflecting a different aspect of the Queen’s life.
The outfits in Scotland were chosen to represent “significant events in the Queen’s life and reign, Her Majesty’s support of British craft and design and tartan in royal dress” the Royal Collection Trust revealed on Friday, telling PEOPLE that not only will many of the iconic pieces be on display for the first time in Scotland but the public will be offered a rare “close-up and personal experience” with many outfits displayed outside of glass cabinets, in “full, open view.”
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One particularly iconic piece is the Queen’s turquoise-blue dress with matching bolero designed by Norman Hartnell for her sister Princess Margaret’s wedding in 1960. Not only was the outfit a stunning piece of it’s time but it also has historical importance – it was the last time that members of the royal family wore full-length day dress for a family wedding.
Still loved and worn by the Queen today, various tartans featured in the exhibition including several unique sashes and shawls. It will offer a rare glimpse of a cream embroidered duchesse satin Norman Hartnell evening dress with a sash of Royal Stewart tartan that the Queen wore to the Gillies Ball at Balmoral Castle in 1971.
The tradition of wearing tartan in Scotland began around 1538 and originated in the Highlands. Championed by Queen Victoria, whose husband Prince Albert designed the famous Balmoral tartan in the 1850s (which to this day can only be worn with the Queen’s permission) – the exhibition features a woven silk-velvet tartan dress worn by Queen Victoria in 1835-7 as an early example of tartan drew in the royal family.
Followed by exhibitions at Buckingham Palace from July 23 and at Windsor Castle from September 17, the trio of events will feature around 150 outfits in total – the most extensive display of Her Majesty’s clothing, millinery and jewelry ever exhibited.