‘Crown to Catwalk’ Exhibition – more details revealed!

3rd March, 2022

This time next month, our exciting exhibition, ‘150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk’, will have opened its doors at the Fashion and Textile Museum in the heart of London. Many of the pieces were delivered to the museum last month and we can’t wait to welcome you and share our 150th anniversary celebrations. We can now reveal more details about the exhibition.

The exhibition will showcase over 120 embroidered pieces and designs, spanning from 1872 to the present day. Presented thematically, the exhibition takes you on a journey through the many different elements of the RSN. Starting in the small gallery, visitors will be transported back to the Victorian era by bringing our early beginnings to life. It will focus on the RSN’s involvement in the Arts and Crafts movement during the period of 1872-1899, notable works include Walter Crane and William Morris motifs and design cards by Edward Burne-Jones, Gertrude Jekyll, and Madeline Wyndham.

As you proceed through to the Fashion and Textile Museum’s main gallery, you will be greeted by a regal glimpse into our work with the British Royal Family, including the 1937 Robe of Estate of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, which has not been exhibited since the 1990s, and Edward VII’s Coronation Cope from 1902.

The exhibition then embraces the skilfulness and flexibility of the RSN, showcasing ecclesiastical commissions; examples of works by the RSN’s lingerie department which operated until the 1940s; and our link to the military, including teaching returning soldiers how to stitch as an active therapy.

As the exhibition progresses to the mezzanine gallery, you can enjoy a curated selection of modern collaborations and partnership projects, including the eco-fashion campaign ‘Red Carpet Green Dress’ worn by Naomie Harris at the 2013 Oscars; a unique embroidered waistcoat, from the AW14 E. Tautz Collection, designed by Patrick Grant and embellished by RSN Degree Students. In addition, visitors will be able to see a Nicholas Oakwell couture dress worn by Erin O’Connor for Vogue and the unique Red Dress project conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod. (You can read more about The Red Dress here)

Throughout the exhibition there will also be inspiring work by our students, from past Apprentices and Future Tutor Students, who are now RSN Tutors, to students from our Degree and Certificate & Diploma courses.

The final room upstairs will showcase the work of the RSN Embroidery Studio as well as ongoing projects such as the RSN Stitch Bank. The space will also demonstrate how stitching can improve wellbeing, featuring printed montages of the NHS embroidered hearts of appreciation project and our ‘RSN Postcards from Home’ campaign which we ran during the Covid-19 pandemic. There will also be the opportunity for visitors to try embroidery for themselves.

‘150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk’ is a detailed exploration of the RSN from our beginnings to present day.


The exhibition opens on 1 April and runs until 4 September. You can book your tickets here.

There will be a Catalogue of the Exhibition which you can purchase at the museum or if you would like a copy in advance, you can pre-order it via the RSN Shop.