Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess


”There are lots of movie stars and celebrities, but there will be only one Diana” – Elizabeth Emanuel, Fashion Designer

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Once upon a time, there was a princess who didn’t know she was already one before she got married into the Royal Family of Great Britain and started to live in the Kensington Palace and later Buckingham Palace. Soon after everyone inside and outside the palace realised that this Princess was not the traditional blue-blooded one who inherited royal designations because of her ancestry but also because of her connection with the common people, because of her style, grace, charm, personality, humanity and beauty. Princess Diana – the real Princess that ever was.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
View of the Kensington Palace garden from one of the state rooms of the King Geroge II

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
If you are collecting tickets on the day of your visit, this is where you need to be at

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
King’s guests used to arrive at the card game events dressed in luxuriously-embroidered silks

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
King’s drawing room where courtiers risked their fortunes at card games

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Court Mantua with petticoat: Every woman at court wore a gown called a Mantua. The white Petticoat was a display of wealth and status, as large quantities of fine texttiles were unaffordable for most people. The flat surface allowed other courtiers to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the silk. This Mantua is hand embroidered with silver in a “Tree-of-life” design.
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Court suit: Courtiers dressed in highly ornate and colourful clothes in the 18 century. A glamorous appearance allowed them to attend court events because it indicated a privileged social position. Expensive accessories, and fine silks added opulence to men’s court suits. They were often hand decorated in minute detail using silver and gold.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
The Queen’s bed chamber

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of her tragic demise, so the Kensington Palace arranged an exhibition named ‘Diana- Her Fashion Story’, sponsored by Estée Lauder, to showcase the best of the wardrobes worn by the People’s Princess during her eventful life cut short so prematurely. It is a ticketed event that has started from 1 March 2017 and will continue until 28 February 2018 and you can buy the ticket online. Book in advance, the queue is real long, don’t say later I didn’t warn you!

I stepped out on a  glorious sunny day in London, and the walk towards the Kensington Palace was full of excitement, full of life around – people enjoying the sunshine, children playing, birds flying – all things lively, bright and vivid – so much synonymous to the personality of the Princess herself.

The exhibition was found to be neatly organised, with clear directions, brief descriptions and quotes related to the magnificent array of fashion statements made by Diana. The grandeur and the sumptuous, aristocratic interior of the Kensington Palace matched well with the gorgeous display of the clothes worn by the Princess.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
True!

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Nylon net lace overlay and velvet ribbon detail with matching scarf dress by Regamus. Lady Diana Spencer wore this dress as a young debutante, before her engagement to the Prince of Wales. Regamus was a popular brand for young aristocratic women taking the first steps into fashionable society.
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
On the left: A white silk chiffon gown trimmed with sequins and beads.The Princess wore this Sari-inspired dress of the ballet in Rio de Janeiro in 1991
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
A pink satin evening gown with white raw silk collar and cuffs. When the Princess posed for an official portrait by Terence Donovan, she needed a dress that stood out next to the Prince of Wales’s ceremonial uniform. Catherine Walker devised this stately yet feminine gown for Diana to wear
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
This cream satin dress with lace over bodice and satin belt was designed by Bruce Oldfield in 1990.Bruce Oldfield designed many dresses for the Princess. He recalled, ‘dressing her was quite different to dressing the divas who were going to swish parties. This was a question of dressing a young woman who… Was relying on us to steer her straight…in the concept of the garment… and the way it was made

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

The entire tour of the exhibition was routed in a way so that you get the chance to see the state apartments of the Kings & Queens from as early as 16th & 17th centuries. Since Kensington Palace has been a public Palace and private home for more than 300 years, its time we get an insight of the life of the royals from that era. After the visit to the apartments are completed, you then have to queue up for the actual Diana exhibition- I could see the hope, excitement and love people have for Princess Diana while being in the queue. Awestruck!

The exhibition showcasing some of Diana’s most iconic looks- from the demure, romantic outfits of her first public appearances, to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life- an extraordinary collection of garments, including the iconic velvet gown, famously worn at the White House when the princess danced with John Travolta.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Blue silk chiffon evening gown and matching scarf.
The Princess enjoyed films and would visit her local cinema disguised with a scarf and sunglasses. She sometimes adopted style ideas from film stars. For this dress, designer Catherine Walker took inspiration from Grace Kelly’s gown in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 film, To Catch a Thief
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Midnight blue silk velvet evening dress. The princes wore this dress when she danced with actor John Travolta at the White House. She wore this dress with her pearl and sapphire choker

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Cream silk crêpe embroidered with sequins dress.
The princess carefully selected her look to honour host nations on official visits. Catherine Walker embellished this dress with Falcons, the national bird of Saudi Arabia, when the princes visited there. The High neckline and long sleeves also respected local customs.

Diana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Sequinned evening dress. Every inch of distress sparkles with sequins. The spangled gown dazzled underthe camera flashbulbs that followed the princes everywhere. This dress is typical of Diana’s “Dynasty” phase, when she favoured large shoulder-pads and lavish fabrics

Diana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
A burgundy silk velvet evening dress with embroidered tail-coat
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Diana was photographed from all angles, everywhere she went. Taking full advantage of this, the Princess and Catherine Walker choose the embroidery on the tail-coat so it could be admired from all sides

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

As one the most photographed women in the history, Princess Diana had her wardrobe planned meticulously. From the moment her engagement to the Prince of Wales was announced in February 1981 there was a huge demand for news about her. Her image on the cover of any magazine could increase circulation by 40% and her fashion choices influenced popular tastes. The exhibition graced some of her popular magazine shoots as a cover girl- from Vogue to Harper Bazar, from Vanity Fair to Telegraph, you name it and she was on it!

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana learned the unwritten rules of Royal dressing, selecting appropriate dresses for different events as she herself explained in 1985, “you would be amazed what one has to worry about from obvious things like the wind… and you’ve got to put your arm up to get some flowers so you can’t have something to revealing and you can’t have hems too short.” State visits wardrobe, evening gowns, wardrobe for her social works and charity events, casual dresses for shopping trips to London’s Bond Street  – Diana’s sense of fashion reflected her relentless attention to elegance, comfort confidence and appropriateness. Yes, comfort too! Diana once asked Bill Pashley (one of her many designers) to produce two versions of the iconic tweed suit that she wore on her honeymoon. She favoured larger one as extra shoulder and allowed her to take part in country activities, such as shooting. The tweed fabric was in keeping with tradition and English country dress.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Illustrations of some of her dresses

Diana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana’s fashion choices became increasingly sophisticated through the 1980s as she learned what would work for public engagements and press photographs. The princess carefully selected her look to honour host nations on official visits. Catherine Walker, one of her go-to designers once created an embellished dress with Falcons, the national bird of Saudi Arabia, when the princess visited there. The high neckline and long sleeves of the dress also respected local customs.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
The iconic tweed suit that she wore on her honeymoon to Balmoral, Scotland

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Pale pink chiffon blouse with satin neck ribbon. Dianna loved the blouse so much that she asked Emmanuel to design her wedding dress
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Green and black tartan wool day-suit. As Dianna refined her image, she enjoyed both good and bad reviews. She commissioned Emmanuel to make this coat and skirt for an official visit to Italy in 1985. The boxy shape was a fashionable look in the 80s, however reviews were critical

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Red day suit. ‘When Diana discovered Catherine Walker, the princess found that she needed a designer who would concentrate on her.’ Jasper Conran’s words highlighted how important Walker’s partnership with Diana became. Together they haunt Diana’s image, developing what Walker called her ‘royal uniform’.
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Pale pink day suit. For charity engagements Diana wore simple suits, focussing attention on her work, rather than her wardrobe. When working with children she picked cheerful colours, in fabrics that would not crease. She wore this suit to the Daily Star Gold Award for Courage and Bravery in 1997

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Blue shift dress. This day dress is the only one displayed in the exhibition that Diana did not wear to official event. She chose it for a shopping trip to Bond Street in central London. After 16 years in the public eye, Diana did find her style for both formal events and casual outings
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Ice blue silk gown with beading by Atelier Versace (1991). As Princess of Wales Diana had adopted the Royal tradition of wearing clothes by British designers. Following her separation from the Prince of Wales, her royal duties ended and she started to work with foreign designers. Italian designer Gianni Versace was a favourite
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Grey silk satin with simulated pearl embroidery. Catherine Walker’s designs for the princess became simpler throughout the 1990s. This reflected general trends in fashion away from the excesses of 1980s. International best-dressed list praised Diana for a ‘non-dowdy modern style of royal’
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Black silk velvet and beaded evening dress. The princess wore this dress for a UNESCO charity event at the Palace of Versailles in December 1994. Catherine Walker recalled this was the first “sexy” dress she designed for Diana. The fashion world embraced her new look
Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Shift dress of cream printed silk with the glass beaded embroidery floral shift dress. The princess commissioned this dress to wear to the New York gala event before the Christie’s auction. She wanted the embroidery to be light and understated, as a contrast to the more elaborate outfits on sale.

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Proof that these photos are not taken by a ghost;)

The organisers saved the best for the last, there is a slide show in the last hall of the exhibition in which you see her photographed in various charity events and her involvement in many humanitarian causes. She would deliberately take off her gloves to shake hands with HIV patients, unlike any royals. Certainly I could not walk in her shoes to see how the world was through her eyes, but atleast I could get to see what she wore when she faced the eventful episodes of the world in her lifetime.

Diana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the PrincessDiana: Fashion Story of the Princess

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess
Snippets from the slide show of her humanitarian works

Diana: Fashion Story of the Princess

There is no doubt in saying that she was surely ahead of her time in terms of putting her best fashion-foot forward.

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