In 1991, Princess Diana was preparing to leave on a tour of Brazil, where she and Prince Charles would be attending a State banquet thrown by President Fernando Collor at the Brazilian Itamaraty Palace.
Diana’s style had been under the media spotlight since her marriage ten years earlier, and in that time her outfits had evolved from '80s meringue-tastic formalwear into something chic, streamline and sophisticated.
For the Brazilian tour, Diana capitalised on the flattering early '90s fashion for asymmetry. And in preparation for the State banquet, she commissioned her friend, the designer Catherine Walker, to make an ivory silk crepe dress with a single sleeve, that would be both stylish and modest, but above all would take into consideration the sensibilities of the Brazilian dignitaries.
A few months earlier, Brazil had lost the World Cup to Argentina. So Walker was instructed by the palace not to design anything in green, yellow or blue – the official Brazilian colours – and definitely nothing in blue and white – the colours of the Argentinian football team. The resulting dress was a hit both abroad and at home, and today hangs in Kensington Palace as part of its renovated exhibition: Fashion Rules.
In celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday this spring, some of the most important and eye-catching designer outfits worn by the Queen, Margaret and Diana are on display in five rooms hidden away at the top of this opulent palace.
Dedicated to the evolving styles of three of the most famous women in the world, visitors can explore a range outfits, from glamorous ball gowns to the conservative tailoring for "diplomatic dressing” that made up the royal wardrobes.
Discover how block colour or designer accessories were used to highlight a member of a Royal family in a crowd, the impact made by the perfect accessory (such as Christian Dior’s hand-painted scarf for Princess Margaret) and how outfits would be used to tell stories or relate information about the princesses.
Best of all, explore the list of style ‘rules’, outlining the requirements of clothing both abroad and at home, plus original sketches with annotations by favourite designers including Norman Hartnell. These little extras offer a unique insight into the pressures, restraints and expectations that come with being a member of the royal family, and mark this exhibition as one of the most insightful and interesting in London this spring.
For first time visitors, we also recommend taking the time to wander the rest of the palace, especially Queen Victoria's quarters, the glittering court of George II and Queen Caroline and the dark and intimate spaces designed for Queen Mary II, which together track the changing fashions of interior design throughout history.
|What||Fashion Rules, Kensington Palace|
Kensington Gardens, London , W8 4PX | MAP
|Nearest tube||High Street Kensington (underground)|
11 Feb 16 – 31 Aug 16, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Kensington Palace|