Diana: Her Fashion Story and Inside Kensington Palace

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On one of my two days off in London on my recent trip there, I decided to visit Kensington Palace – current home of Prince William and Kate Middleton and their children, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle along with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank and of course, former home of Princess Diana.Inside Kensington Palace London

Currently, along with your tour through some of the palace – the King and Queen’s State Apartments and insight into the life of Queen Victoria as you spend time in the rooms where she spent her childhood and became Queen, there is an exhibition of Diana’s most memorable outfits.

Inside Kensington Palace London
The famous golden gate at Kensington Palace where flowers were left after the death of Princess Diana (and are still left today)

Diana: Her Fashion Story

Tracing the evolution of Diana, Princess of Wales’ style – the exhibition is part of the ticket price of entry to Kensington Palace and runs until November 2018.

“Diana was very influential, she put london Fashion and London designers in front of the public at large.  When she was wearing something that was photographed it ha an immediate effect.” Roland Klein, Fashion designer

Diana’s patronage could catapult unknown designers to fame and her glamorous wardrobe raised the profile of British fashion worldwide.

The Princess’s close relationships with key fashion designers also helped shape her own image. Each public engagement had its own clothing requirements, both practical and aesthetic.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

Starting in the early years of her marriage to Prince Charles, you can see her fashion journey and the evolution of her style from a shy, demure teenager to elegant and glamours woman.  This dress was worn in their portrait by Terence Donovan (see below) in 1987.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

Princess Diana wore this sari-inspired dress to the ballet in Rio de Janierio in 1991.

On the same trip to Brazil, Diana deliberately and conspicuously removed her glove before shaking hands with an AIDS patient.  The gesture made international headlines and hlped dispel public fear of the disease.

 

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Gina Fratini for Hartnell 1991 – white silk chiffon gown trimmed with sequins and beads.

 

Another iconic outfit was this one – simple chinos and chambray shirt – worn by Princess Diana on her visit to Angola in 1997.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

 

Decked out in body armour this outfit serves as a reminder of just how horrific a weapon landmines are and how they disproportionally affect civilians, long after armed conflict is over.   Diana’s support for an international treaty banning landmines was seen at the time as a political stance, not merely a charitable one.  Diana insisted her interest in the cause was a humanitarian one.  The result is that now landmines are banned.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Victor Edelstein – midnight blue velvet

Another iconic moment in Diana’s life was the dance she did with actor John Travolta whilst wearing this dress at a Gala dinner thrown by President Reagan at the White House in 1985

Included in this exhibition are fashion sketches of outfits designed for the Princess of Wales.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

 

Included is a sketch of her wedding dress by designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

 

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, 29th July 1981. The couple leave the cathedral after the ceremony. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Princess carefully slected her look to honour host nations on offical visits.  Catherine Walker embellished this dress with falcons, the national bird of Saudi arabia when the Princess visited there.  The high neckline and long sleeves also respected local customs.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Catherine Walker for Princess Diana

Catherine Walker became a firm favourite designer for Diana and was happy that Walker could concentrate on her.  Their partnership helped hone Diana’s style and image over the year, developing what Walker called her “royal uniform”.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

This suit is from 1996 and was worn at the launch of HIV/AIDS charity, London Lighthouse’s new appeal.

Another Catherine Walker design was chosen for the charity auction of her wardrobe in 1997.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

The Princess commissioned this dress to wear to the New York gala event before the Christies’s auction.  She wanted the embroidery to be light and understated, as a contrast to the more elaborate outfits on sale.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Bruce Oldfield 1986 – Scarlet Silk evening dress with beaded embroidery worn on a state visit to Saudi Arabia in 1986

A champion for British designers whilst married to Prince Charles, Diana worked with designer Bruce Oldfield to achieve a glamorous and fashionable 1980s style that still worked for her royal duties.

Beyond fashion, the pair shared humanitarian interests.  Children’s charity Barnardo’s provided a home and education to Oldfield as a child.  Diana was its President from 1984 to 1996.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Yuki – 1986 – pleated silk evening gown with bugle-bead collar worn at the State dinner with Emperor Hirohito, Tokyo

Diana invited the Japanese born Yuki to design for her visit to Japan.  With only two weeks’ notice, Yuki made several dresses before the Princess had even seen his designs.   True to her experimental style, Diana completed the look with a contemporary headband.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

After her divorce from Prince Charles, her royal duties ended and she started to work with foreign designers.  The Italian Gianni Versace was a favourite.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Gianni Versace

This gorgeous dress was worn for a Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot with Patrick Demarchelier in 1991.

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

 

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace
Roland Klein Striped Suit

This striped suit was worn at Ascot (races).

Princess Diana - Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace

Inside Kensington Palace

Inside Kensington Palace (the bits that are on show, not where the current royal family lives) you can see some of the older areas that are on public display, and just a few of the amazing jewels worn by the royal family.

Inside Kensington Palace London

 

The King’s State apartments – The Georgians, 1700s

You get to explore the glittering court of George II and Queen Caroline and discover the era of music, fashion and the arts.

Inside Kensington Palace London
Enter from the King’s Staircase

 

Inside Kensington Palace London

King’s Throne where he received important guests

 

Inside Kensington Palace London

Inside Kensington Palace London

Queen’s State Apartments – The Stuarts, 1690s

Step inside the oldest part of the palace.  These intimate rooms were created for Queen Mary II who ruled with her husband King William III.

Inside Kensington Palace London
Queen Mary II bedroom

 

Victoria Revealed  – Queen Victoria, 1800s

See where Queen Victoria spent her childhood and became Queen.

Having recently watched the TV show Victoria and Albert it was lovely to see up close some of the spaces that they actually did inhabit.

Inside Kensington Palace London - Queen Victoria's Cradle

Inside Kensington Palace London
Queen Victoria’s desk where she received the red box full of government papers each day

 

Seeing this outfit that belonged to Prince Albert, how decorated, and how tiny it was (I knew Queen Victoria was a tiny person, but Prince Albert was also very small).

Inside Kensington Palace London
Prince Albert’s Clothing

 

Inside Kensington Palace London

 

Inside Kensington Palace London
Queen Victoria’s Jacket and Shoes

And before you leave the palace, don’t miss this fabulous Princess Diana wallpaper created from sketches by Julie Verhoeven based on famous photos and the wallpaper was created by the interiors firm Colefax and Fowler who are renowned for printing authentic period wallpapers.

Inside Kensington Palace London

And then you can enjoy the Sunken Garden in the grounds of Kensington Palace

Inside Kensington Palace London
Sunken Garden Kensington Palace

 

Inside Kensington Palace London
Mid-summer floral display in the sunken garden at Kensington Palace

 

Diana: Her Fashion Story - and Inside Kensington Palace London

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8 Comments

  • Welcome home, Imogen! Your fans have missed you!

    Looking at your fabulous photos of Diana and Kensington palace brings to mind a wonderful experience with two of my daughters about 10 years ago. We toured Paris and London and we wanted a memorable high tea experience, not at the hotels. Our last day in London someone suggested tea at Kensington Palace. All fans of Diana’s, this appealed to us immediately. Surely, the hotels prepared a fabulous meal, but my daughters and I will never forget our tea at the palace in the garden orangery. Thanks so much for the warm reminder.

    Oh, that dress with the Falcons…..sigh!nn

    Sooo happy you’re home.
    A faithful fan,
    Pat

  • Hello Imogen,
    Welcome back. These are great pics – I would love to do this tour! I really enjoy the style evolution of the Royal ladies, but Diana was especially lovely (I remember staying up late to watch her wedding – I was 11.

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