Saturday, August 01, 2015

Royal Review: Fashion Rules at Kensington Palace

When I found out about this exhibit, I immediately put in on my list of must see things to do while I am in London. Having now visited it I can say that I am thoroughly disappointed. 

Covering royal fashion from the 1950s to the 1980s, the dresses featured in the exhibit were worn by The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. I think the thing that most disappointed me about the exhibit is the amount of dresses featured, which I think amounted to 20. Having reached the end, I asked whether there were any other dresses and I was told that was it! 

I would think that few people would consider the present Queen to be a style icon. At least not in comparison to her sister, Princess Margaret. The Queen has her style moments but for the most part has played it safe throughout her life. Looking at her hairstyle, it has barely changed; short with petalled curls. The Queen has favoured the same designers, Hardy Amies, Norman Hartnell, whose work is on display here. Her dresses are made from the best fabrics, with ornate embroidery and beading and the workmanship is truly something to behold. 

Princess Margaret could afford to be more bold in her clothing choices, but other than one dress with a kaftan and turban, I did not see that reflected in the exhibit. Whether through lack of availability or permission to display them, I think this is a shame. It would have been nice to get a better sense of Princess Margaret's style choices.

Diana's dresses are at the end and mainly cover the mid-eighties to early nineties. Unlike the Queen, Diana did not play it safe with one designer and the dresses displayed include work by Zandra Rhodes, Jacques Azagury and Catherine Walker, whose work she favoured towards the end of her life. The dresses featured are from Diana's 1997 dress auction, which have changed hands since that point. I'm not certain if the Royal collection actually owns these dresses or not but if so, it is at least nice to have her reflected in the exhibit. Here are some photographs I took during my visit.

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