If the suit makes the man, then the suit of armour makes the king. If the suit of armour makes the king, then the ball gown definitely makes the royal woman! There is no better place to see game-changing gowns worn by royal women than at the Fashion Rules Exhibition at Kensington Palace.
Kensington Palace was the home of Princess Diana for nearly two decades and from now until the summer, you’ll be able to see five decades of high-end couture from her collection, as well as that of Her Majesty the Queen and Princess Margaret. It’s a small exhibit, but they have chosen some stunning pieces.
The exhibit is structured in chronological order. First up were dresses worn by the Queen in the 1950s. I have to confess, the biggest thing that struck me by them was just how teeny tiny they are. Which makes sense, because the Queen is a teeny tiny lady. They were nice, if a little bit boring, but in post-war Britain, they must have been quite a big deal in their day. The fact that austerity measures were lifted after the war meant fashion designers were finally able to get their hands on large quantities of luxurious fabrics, hence big poofy skirts reigned. God save the hoop skirt!
Next up was Princess Margaret and the two decades that she dominated fashion – the 1960s and 1970s.
Her dresses reminded me so much of Grace Kelly from the same era. Both were very fashion forward women!
And then there was the ultimate princess – Princess Diana. There are five dresses on display from the 1980s and 1990s. Those from the 1980s are obvious from the tall, wide shoulders and drop waists. As Diana’s style evolved with the times and into the 1990s, her choices became more subtle and elegant.
Clearly the princess got a lot of sun when she was in Brazil, hence her skin colour is a sharp contrast to the pale pink of the dress. I absolutely loved this dress in real life. I would also love to see Duchess Kate rock the asymmetrical look. She has the same lovely figure as her mother-in-law and I think it would suit her nicely. Frankly, a brown paper bag would suit Kate nicely. She is flawless!
If you’re going to visit more than a few of the Historic Royal Palaces in one year, or make a few trips to the same one, it’s worth investing in an annual membership. You get lots of great perks like access to the Giles Deacon fashion show which was held at the Kensington Palace Orangery late last year.
I don’t really consider myself a fashionista. In fact, I don’t have that much of an interest in fashion at all (shock, horror!) However, I do like the way certain clothes make me feel, and I think it’s important for a woman to feel confident. Fashion and clothing have a large role to play in that and for royal women even more so. Sometimes I think of Duchess Kate and I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for her under the microscope.
What I love about the Fashion Rules Exhibition at Kensington Palace is the contrast that the dresses show between the myth of the royal women and their accessibility at the same time. You can appreciate the grandeur and richness of the garments but at the same time (if it weren’t for the glass) you can almost touch them. For a mere mortal, they are inspiring and real all at the same time.