The one thing I really wanted to do when being in London early this month, was seeing the exhibition “Diana: Her Fashion Story” at the Kensington Palace. As this exhibition is highly popular, preordering an advance ticket is highly recommendable. I was not too lucky, as one moment they were still there, two weeks later when I actually wanted to order them – still weeks before going – suddenly all weeks were sold out. You can still get in though and see the palace and the exhibition. However if you are clever, you should be there at opening time, 10am, or even a bit earlier, when there is not much of a queue yet (at least not at weekdays). And especially in weekends and vacations it might be terribly busy. I luckily got in pretty quickly. I had a look at the Diana Memorial Garden before going in.
Arriving at the palace you at first explore the Queen’s State Apartments and the King’s State Apartments, before finally reaching “Diana: Her Fashion Story”. The exhibition was set up on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, this year. It shows 25 of her dresses, from rather unknown ones to some very iconic dresses that about everybody who has ever followed her a bit will recognise. There is some information next to each piece of clothing, which is very nice. On the walls are texts and some of the beautiful pictures Mario Testino took of her shortly before her death. There are also some sketches of dresses. As the exhibition was rather crowded and there was glass in front of the clothing, it wasn’t always easy to photograph them. The light wasn’t always that great either, especially difficult when the dresses had a dark colour.
Surprisingly for someone who was so much of a fashion icon later in life, before she got married to Charles, The Prince of Wales, in 1981 she borrowed most of her clothes from family and friends. The exhibition among others shows her romantic ball gown, once worn at an Autumn ball at Althorp House. Included is also the pale pink chiffon blouse (above) that she wore at her first official portrait, as well as the brown tweed wool day suit she wore during her honeymoon at Balmoral, Scotland. Of course after her marriage she needed totally different clothes than before. She became an ambassador for the British fashion, not only in Great Britain but also abroad, and learnt what clothes worked for which occasions. She slowly started to experiment and develop her own fashion style. Sometimes shocking the royals and media by her unusual choices.
The style of Princess Diana became more and more glamorous by the end of the 1980s. Changing her style again to something more business like after her separation, when she did more charity work and had no royal duties anymore. Towards the end of her life her dresses became more fitting and sexy. However she sold 79 of her most famous dresses for charity in June 1997 in New York. According to media reports around the time of her death she wanted to make a change in life and style again. Unfortunately she didn’t have the possibility anymore to show the world her new style.
The exhibition, celebrating the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Kensington Palace in London opened its doors on 24 February 2017 and will run until 2018. The palace shop at Kensington Palace has some postcards and a special book about Diana and her dresses (or rather I think they added some pics and a new cover to an older book). Of course there are also lots of other royal souvenirs.
In June 2017 the exhibition “Enlightened Princesses” will open its doors, and also “Victoria Revealed” will be reopened in the Summer of 2017. More than enough reason to visit the Kensington Palace (again), although I don’t think I’ll make it.