Before the doors opened at 10am, there was already a long queue of eager visitors waiting to see the iconic dresses of the beloved Diana, Princess of Wales. Luckily, all of those who queued outside were able to get in (apologies if there were those who were turned away) and form another queue for Diana: Her Fashion Story. Since the last exhibit on Fashion Rules (featuring dresses worn by The Queen, Princess Margaret, and Diana), Kensington Palace has had another refurbishment in the main hall and in the Pigott Gallery where the exhibition is located.
“There are loads of movie stars and celebrities but there will be only one Diana.” – Elizabeth Emanuel (who, along with David Emanuel, had designed the fairytale wedding dress)
We may have seen many of the dresses in the magazines before but sometimes, dresses have to be seen in person. For those of us – like me – who never had a chance to meet the charming and compassionate beauty, the dresses allowed us to imagine that we were standing in front of her. 25 dresses are on display at the moment: the first room has 5, the second has 3, the third has 3, the fourth has 9, and the last room has 5. Of all 25 dresses, 2 of these had already been displayed in the last exhibition, Fashion Rules (see post on Diana’s dresses). I was most looking forward to what I call the ‘Pearl Dress’ (it’s known as the Elvis dress to others), the ‘Princess Aurora Dress’, and the Grace Kelly-inspired chiffon evening gown. Please note, this fashion exhibition does not include her shoes, jewellery, or handbags.
“She was a princess. She had a style. She did everything with grace and charm.” – David Thomas
“A true princess walked in, I was amazed by her beauty and kindness.” – Mario Testino
“There will never be anybody to replace her. She was unbelievably genuine and completely unique.” – David Sassoon
Tickets to the exhibition for the opening weekend has already sold out but visitors can try their luck if they arrive early in the morning. HRP members, on the other hand, need not stress too much but it’s still worth arriving as early as possible. Hopefully the exhibit will not be as busy in the coming months so that all may admire the dresses without feeling rushed to move on.
NEW! Three dresses added on 16 August 2017
The black gown has replaced the ‘Elvis dress.
The red gown has replaced the green velvet gown by Victor Edelstein.
Two other dresses were removed: the Bellville Sassoon dress and Catherine Walker burgundy dress. The next change of dresses is on 3 January 2018.
NEW! Seven dresses and one outfit added in 2018
During my visit to KP in July, I spotted seven ‘new’ dresses and the famous landmines outfit. I especially liked the Edelstein evening gown and the blue silk dress by Catherine Walker.
In the Gift Shop, visitors can buy postcards of Diana in dresses that are currently on display, Harper Bazaar’s limited edition magazines, the Diana-inspired silk scarves and tea ware, and jewellery inspired by the famous Sapphire engagement ring (a good one for RepliKates). If you’d like to shop the Gift Shop online, the only items missing are the postcards of Diana (there is now a pack of Diana postcards for £6 and a pack of White Garden postcards).
Outside the palace, red-blue-and-white bunting, Union flags, and pictures of “England’s Rose” adorned the palace gate and railing. For those of you who’ve been to the palace on the anniversary of Diana’s passing anniversary (31 August), this is a familiar appearance.
Apply for a membership before going and collect your card at a different Historic Royal Palace (e.g. Banqueting House, Tower of London, Hampton Court, etc.). Otherwise, buy your ticket in advance. This will guarantee that you’ll be in the queue for the Diana exhibition.
Visitors to London can also get a London Pass. Please note that you’ll still have to collect your tickets in the Ticket office.
Take your time inside the exhibition – at least make sure you take enough photos (without flash) and have a good look at the details.
Support the palace with a purchase inside the Gift Shop! Members get 10% off in the Gift Shop and Cafe.