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Be inspired

How to Dress Like a Royal: the best high street stores and exhibitions

Even though fashion is synonymous with changing times, British fashion brands and designers have been a constant source of inspiration and pull for visitors travelling to Britain. For those who wish to be inspired by contemporary and historic design, art and fashion there is plenty to offer in Britain at new exhibitions, iconic sites and hands-on experiences.

Crown to Couture exhibition 2023 | Photo by © Historic Royal Palaces / Oscar de la Renta Archive

Crown to Couture, Kensington Palace (5 April – 29 October 2023)

Through the Crown to Couture exhibition, visitors can discover how 18th century nobility fashion has inspired today's iconic red-carpet looks. The exhibition will take visitors on an immersive journey with over 200 objects on display including Lady Gaga’s MTV awards dress and Lizzo's Thom Browne 2022 Met Gala dress among other exclusive items. Experience Kensington Palace as it would have been 300 years ago, packed with the most fashionable and influential names of the day.

The Royal Ceremonial Dress collection, Hampton Court Palace (30 March 2023)

The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is a designated collection cared for by the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP). It contains 10,000 items from the present day to the 16th century, providing information about the history of fashion, life at court, British ceremonial traditions, and the lives of key historical figures. On 30th March, an exclusive member talk is being conducted by the HRP curator Matthew Storey to find out more about the collection's history and highlights.

Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace (March – 18 May 2023)

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) based at the Hampton Court Palace is an international centre of excellence for the art of hand embroidery. RSN assisted Alexander McQueen’s team in designing the bride’s wedding dress, shoes and veil for the 2011 royal wedding. This year the RSN is celebrating its 150th anniversary and the palace is opening its doors for their special events, which are otherwise not accessible to visitors. The exhibitions will display a stunning selection of hand embroidery, showcasing pieces from its historical collection through to contemporary work created by current students and graduates.

Crown Jewels, Tower of London (All year round)

London’s iconic castle and World Heritage site, the Tower of London, let’s you get up close to the Crown Jewels in the heart of this historic fortress. The Crown Jewels have been stored and displayed at the Tower of London since 1661, continuing a long tradition of storing precious objects here, including armour and royal regalia. The world-famous collection includes 23,578 gemstones that are set in crowns, tiaras, orbs and sceptres used over the centuries, some of which will be worn at the Coronation and at royal ceremonies in the present day.

Fashion Tour (2023), Victoria & Albert Museum (Till 16 December 2023)

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing many of the UK's national collections including, fashion, textiles jewellery and design. Plan a visit to the V&A family of museums in South Kensington, Dundee and Stoke-on-Trent that are open and free to visit any time of the year. Currently, the Fashion Tour (2023) is on till mid-December that covers 17th century court fashions, contemporary, cutting-edge designs and haute couture with exquisite accessories.

Fashion Exhibitions/Events in 2023

London Fashion Week: 10-12 June and 15-19 September

A crucial part of the global fashion scene, London Fashion Week is the highlight of London’s social calendar and takes pride in being a part of the fashion week ‘Big Four’ alongside New York, Paris and Milan. In the past, various members of the Royal Family have supported fashion events and been a part of fashion week to recognise the role the fashion industry plays in Britain, to support community events and to appear on the front row to see the latest season’s designs.

Royal Ascot: 20-24 June

Royal Ascot has established itself as a national institution and a major focus of the British social calendar, as well as being the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world. In the past Queen Elizabeth II and accompanying Members of the Royal Family arrived in horse-drawn landaus and spent the day watching the races from the Royal Enclosure. The royal event welcomes around 300,000 visitors every year for over five days, all dressed up in their finest clothes and hats. Fashion is a very important part of Royal Ascot and the most glamorous and unique outfits are as much of an attraction as watching the races.

British Designers - High Street Stores

From Harrods to The Shambles, Britain is home to some of the most famous stores, streets and markets in the world. Boasting an eclectic mix of home-grown and international labels, luxurious department stores, mammoth shopping centres and unmissable shops, it’s a true shopper’s paradise. Stores across Britain host a number of designer brands that the royals have loved. From high end boutiques in beautifully landscaped streets across Britain to designer outlets in Bicester Village and MacArthur Glen or the architectural award-winning Selfridges, Harrods and Liberty – visitors can take their pick from world famous designers, planet friendly fashion and sustainable beauty to dress like a royal.

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