New show at Kensington Palace takes a look at Royals’ fashion relationships – WWD
LONDON – No, this wedding dress is not for rent.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress, in all its sparkling fairytale splendor, is the centerpiece of a new show at Kensington Palace and a sign of how much brides in the public eye have changed since Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married in July 1981.
The ivory dress with its thousands of pearls and sequins, puffed sleeves and 25-foot train was on loan from Princes William and Harry, who put aside their high-profile differences to pay homage to their mother and enrich the new show. , “Royal Style in the Making”, which opens Thursday at the Orangery, which is part of Kensington Palace.
The taffeta dress, by the former husband and wife couple of David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was designed for a 1980s television audience and to meet what audiences at the time wanted to see: a fairytale princess from fairies known for her love of frills, knots and Laura Ashley’s romantic wardrobe.
The gown, which was to be seen through Diana’s 153-meter veil, could not have been more different from that worn by another prominent (but not royal) bride just days ago at the cathedral from Westminster to London.
Last Saturday, Carrie Symonds, who married Prime Minister Boris Johnson, becoming his third wife, opted to rent her wedding dress from the circular fashion platform My Wardrobe HQ for £ 45 a day.
The ready-to-wear dress, designed by Athens-based Christos Costarellos, was designed for Instagram rather than television, with Symonds opting to flag its green credentials and send a different kind of message to a generation less preoccupied with opulence and property. than it is with overloaded landfills, carbon emissions and ocean pollution.
My Wardrobe headquarters said it has seen a more than 700% increase this year alone in the number of brides renting from the site and booking its fitting consultation services.
Even Emanuel, who recently regained ownership of his name and brand, has hoisted the green flag with a new collection of organic and sustainable t-shirts and is considering a sustainable “e-couture” line from rtw.
While not commendable, resalable, or even recyclable, the outfits and the many sketches on display at the Orangery are enduring pieces of history that have a lot to say about the 20th century British Royal Family and why which they chose to work with some designers.
“Royal attire is not about fashion,” but rather communication with the public, said Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Kensington Palace. “Traditionally, it was a question of combining stability and continuity with innovation.
She said the looks on display reflected “deliberate choices” made by the royal and his designer to cultivate an image in the public eye.
During a tour of the show, Acott Williams also described Diana’s choice for the Emanuels as a “daring commission” not because the dress was huge and the veil and train seemingly endless, but because the two designers were young and didn’t. necessarily understand the formalities of court keeping.
She noted that designers were under pressure “to turn a young girl into a princess” and to deliver “what people around the world wanted to see.”
Diana’s dress was also the first royal wedding dress in history to be designed by “new” designers rather than designers, such as Norman Hartnell or Hardy Amies.
The wedding dress commission wasn’t the only time Diana went bold with her wardrobe choices, as the world became obsessed with the style of the young princess, which would propel a whole roster of British designers. – from Victor Edelstein to Catherine Walker and more. – in the headlines.
“She never wore hats when she visited children because she said, ‘You can’t cuddle a child when you are wearing one. “Instead, she went for big jewelry that the kids could play with,” said Acott Williams.
She pointed to a sketch of David Sassoon known as the “considerate dress,” a colorful number Diana wore to boost people’s morale on an official visit. “She wore it so much the press got tired of it,” said Acott Williams.
The show also highlights Diana’s relationship with David Sassoon, who designed much of the Princess’s work wardrobe under the Bellville Sassoon brand.
Sassoon worked with Diana to define the professional appearance of the princess, who began taking on public office and charitable sponsorship from her marriage. Sassoon will create more than 70 clothes for her in just under 20 years.
In a video interview that is part of the exhibit, Sassoon says Diana was “very practical in selecting what she wanted and understood what the public wanted from the clothes she was wearing.”
Another creation of Bellville Sassoon, Diana’s grapefruit pink outfit, was reunited at Kensington Palace with the wedding dress for the first time in 25 years.
The show also shows how Norman Hartnell helped create an opulent and glamorous image for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who was so enamored with the style and attire that she hosted Buckingham Palace’s first fashion show in 1941.
Another of the Queen Mother’s dresses, Hartnell’s bias cut black velvet evening gown with beaded shoulders and neckline – a design that seemed to come straight from the set of “Dynasty” – is on display for the first time. times in the show.
The show also reveals Princess Margaret’s sense of fun. The late princess enlisted the help of set designer Oliver Messel to create an 18th-century Marie-Antoinette-style dress, in blue and gold with lace sleeves, for a charity costume ball in the early 1960s.
Acott Williams said the extravagant gown, accompanied by an image of Margaret with period hair and makeup showed the big role the theater had in the lives of the royals and also showed how Margaret “had more. freedom to play with the clothes “that his sister, Queen Elizabeth. .
The show’s main sponsor is Garrard, the royal jeweler who designed Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring which now adorns the finger of Prince William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The exhibition runs until January 2, 2022 in the recently renovated Orangery, which will once again become a café and event space once the exhibition closes.