Diana: Her Fashion Story – Opens 24 February 2017
From her first public appearances in 1981, Diana, Princess of Wales, captivated the world’s attention as a princess, as a trendsetter and as a patron and advocate of charities. Twenty years on from her death, a new exhibition and temporary garden celebrating her life will be opened at Kensington Palace, her home for over 15 years.
Opening in February, the exhibition ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ will trace the evolution of the Princess’s style, from the demure, romantic outfits of her first public appearances, to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life. From her earliest royal engagements, everything Diana wore was closely scrutinised, and the exhibition will explore how she navigated her unique position in the public eye: learning to use her image to engage and inspire people, and to champion the causes she cared about.
Replacing the popular ‘Fashion Rules’ exhibition in Kensington Palace’s Piggott Gallery, ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ will display exquisite and celebrated outfits from throughout the Princess’s public life. The exhibition will bring together an extraordinary collection of garments, ranging from the glamorous evening gowns worn on engagements in the 1980s, to the chic Catherine Walker suits that made up Diana’s ‘working wardrobe’ in the 1990s. The Princess’s relationship with her favourite designers will be explored through a display of some of their original fashion sketches, created for her during the design process.
Exhibition highlights will include the pale pink Emanuel blouse worn for Diana’s engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon in 1981, and Victor Edelstein’s iconic ink blue velvet gown, famously worn at the White House when the Princess danced with John Travolta. A blue tartan Emanuel suit, worn for an official visit to Venice in the 1980s, will go on display in public for the first time. The suit, a rare survival of the Princess’s daywear, was only recently rediscovered and acquired by Historic Royal Palaces – the charity responsible for Kensington Palace - at auction.
Whilst in residence at Kensington Palace, the Princess admired the changing floral displays in the historic Sunken Garden and would often stop to talk to the gardeners who care for it. In 2017, the gardeners at Kensington will dedicate the new planting in the garden to Diana, creating a temporary White Garden.
Complementing the palace’s exhibition, ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’, the garden will be planted with flowers and foliage inspired by memories of the Princess’s life, image and style. Spring planting will include an elegant palette of tulips and scented narcisii through a carpet of 'forget me nots'. In the summer, pots of classic English white roses will surround the reflective pool in the centre of the garden and the planting will become more exuberant, with glowing ornamental grasses weaving through Cosmos daisies and billows of graceful Gaura. The garden will be installed for Spring and Summer 2017.
Eleri Lynn, curator of Diana: Her Fashion Story, said,
‘Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of the most photographed women in the world, and every fashion choice she made was closely scrutinised. Our exhibition explores the story of a young woman who had to quickly learn the rules of royal and diplomatic dressing, who in the process put the spotlight on the British fashion industry and designers.
We see her growing in confidence throughout her life, increasingly taking control of how she was represented, and intelligently communicating through her clothes. This is a story many women around the world can relate to, and we hope many visitors will join us next year, to get a closer look at some of Diana’s most iconic outfits, on display in her former home.’
Sean Harkin, Gardens Team Leader, Kensington Palace, said,
‘It’s a great privilege for myself and my team to care every day for the beautiful gardens of Kensington Palace, and we’re looking forward to creating a White Garden next year which celebrates the life of one the palace’s most famous residents: Diana, Princess of Wales. We hope to capture the energy and spirit which made her such a popular figure around the world.’