This weekend, the new exhibition ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ will open at Kensington Palace, displaying some of The Princess of Wales’ most famous outfits worn over the course of her Royal career. We got a sneak preview today, and want to share it with you!
Up close, you get a sense of the Princess’ presence: tall, slim and regal, but unimposing. One also realises The 80s and 90s silhouettes simply take the viewer back to the days of seeing Diana splashed across magazine and newspaper covers – all in the setting of her former home.
Many of the outfits came from Diana’s wedding dress designer, the Emmanuels. But Catherine Walker is also a prominent feature of the exhibit, as she helped the Princess shape her style and learn the ropes of Royal dressing, and high-end brands like Versace will also be seen behind the glass.
Worn in a shoot with Mario Testino, this pearl embellished dress and shrug by Catherine Walker features in one of the most widely-recognised images of Diana. It was also seen on Charles and Diana’s visit to Hong Kong in 1989, and later that year to the Royal Albert Hall. Featuring a stand-up collar, influenced by the Elizabethan ruff, it became known as the ‘Elvis dress’, due to its likeness to the King of Rock’s style.
The display replaced ‘Fashion Rules’ at the Palace, which had a number of outfits and accessories of The Queen’s, Princess Margaret’s and Diana’s on display. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Princess’ death in Paris in 1997; the exhibit will be accompanied by a special display in the sunken garden; it will have flowers and foliage inspired by memories of the Princess’s life, image and style.
Famous gowns such as the one Victor Edelstein worn to the White House in 1985 is sure to delight visitors; The Princess of Wales danced with the President and John Travolta at an official State Dinner for her and Charles’ trip. It is thought to be one of Diana’s personal favourites, and was worn with a pearl and sapphire choker.
Everyday working clothes are given their own category. This striking Catherine Walker suit shows how the designer helped hone Diana’s own personal taste and mix it with an appropriate working wardrobe as a member of the Royal Family.
Other dresses shown come from Diana’s post-divorce wardrobe, when Diana began to wear non-British designers, breaking with the tradition of her royal life.
Some of these pieces were already on show in the ‘Fashion Rules’ exhibition; others have been loaned from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, located at Hampton Court, such as this tweed suit, seen on Charles and Diana’s honeymoon to Balmoral. It was designed by Bill Pashley.
You can buy tickets to see the exhibition here. Special events such as after-hours viewing with champagne and lectures on Royal image are also to be held, with more details found at the link above.
We will leave you with more of the pieces to be seen.
Versace dress, seen on the cover of Harpers Bazaar:
Emmanuel pin chiffon blouse, worn for the Princess’ first official portrait in 1981
Photos with thanks to Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills