DIANA: HER FASHION STORY at Kensington Palace

Diana, Princess of Wales fascinates me.  Judging by the queues to see Diana: Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace, I’m not the only one.  You queue to buy your ticket and then as you skip up the stairs thinking that your queueing time is done you get in line again.  On the day I visited, people snaked all the way across one room and round out into the garden.  Don’t let the queues put you off: the frocks are fantastic.

Diana: Her Fashion Story

OK, I know these are not frocks but they are iconic.  The tweed suit was worn by Diana for a photocall at Balmoral during her honeymoon.  Sounds ludicrous now, but it kicked off a trend for tweed suits, the ‘interview’ suit that I bought as graduation loomed was a blue tweed number (it also had a matching hat which I never wore!).  Next to it is the Emanuel blouse that featured in Vogue just as the engagement of Diana and the Prince of Wales was announced.  She liked it so much that the Emanuels were asked to design her wedding dress.

Diana Her Fashion Story

This sequin and pearl strewn dress is often called the Elvis dress.  Standing in front of it enables you to see just how many sequins and pearls were sewn on by hand to create the shimmery column.  I’ve always thought that the jacket looked like an Elizabethan ruff, so I was delighted to discover that designer Catherine Walker took her inspiration portraits of Elizabeth I.

Diana: Her Fashion Story

Most of the dresses on display are instantly recognisable from the many pictures taken of Diana.  This Catherine Walker dress embroidered with falcons was new to me.  It is demure and beautiful.  Diana wore it on a state visit to Saudi Arabia, the falcon is the national bird of Saudi Arabia.  Does the United Kingdom have a national bird, I wonder.

Diana: Her Fashion Story

It isn’t only dresses that are on display, one wall is dedicated to sketches that the designers made to show their ideas at the beginning of the design process.  It is amazing to see the sketches that became outfits so familiar from newspaper and magazine pictures.  These drawings are by Roland Klein.

Before you leave the Palace, make sure you go to the loo on the ground floor.  The corridor outside is hung with this rather fine wallpaper showing Diana wearing many of the dresses on display.  Julie Verhoeven created the design and it was made up by Cole and Son.

Culture Coffee Cake

My friend Wendy and I enjoyed a cup of coffee in the Orangery before we went to see the exhibition.  When we saw the size of the queue we realised that we should have gone to see Diana: Her Fashion Story first as the earlier you arrive the shorter the line. So popular is the exhibition that you are advised to book your ticket first, bear in mind that you still have to queue even if you have a ticket, so factor that into your arrival time.

24 February 2017 – 28 February 2018
Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX

Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
Admission: Adult £19, concessions £15, Children free
Members of Historic Royal Palaces and Art Fund members go free
Price includes admission to Kensington Palace

Wander MumHilary Style


  1. Moira
    May 17, 2017 / 7:36 am

    A fascinating blog, I remember the photos of her in that tweed suit, she looked sad even then. And I have certainly voted for your blog in the BiB awards. Good luck, your blog always delivers.

    • Catherine
      May 17, 2017 / 10:23 pm

      I do too, they’ve missed a trick not selling it in the shop!

    • Catherine
      May 23, 2017 / 7:31 am

      This one is a goody the Balenciaga show opens at the V&A this week 😊

  2. May 23, 2017 / 10:48 am

    OMG I would love to visit this museum and I do not do museums! But I find Diana’s life so fascinating and she was such an amazing woman! #CityTripping

    • Catherine
      May 23, 2017 / 11:46 am

      You need a jaunt to London, lots of other non museum stuff to do as well!

  3. May 23, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    I think at the time I found Diana quite irritating. But I’m older now, and a mother myself and I have learnt a bit of compassion, and the outfits are definitely interesting. I am suprprised you can’t buy the wallpaper!

  4. May 24, 2017 / 12:05 am

    Swoon! I’m not even fashionable at all, but I love exhibitions like this. So elegant and so many beautiful pieces. #CityTripping

    • Catherine
      May 24, 2017 / 6:22 am

      So beautifully made as well!

  5. May 24, 2017 / 3:11 am

    I am really fascinated by her story. When there was a Diana exhibit in a city around an hour away from my city, I drove out to see it. I’d love to see this exhibit as well!

  6. May 26, 2017 / 4:51 pm

    I’m not typically all that interested in fashion, but I do love the way the dresses really tie to events in history, and have such historical significance!

  7. May 27, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    The Elvis dress has always been one of my firm favourites. May try to visit when I’m down for Britmums! #citytripping

  8. December 15, 2017 / 12:05 am

    This is definitely on my exhibitions to visit after Christmas list. I’m always fascinated by the clothes of the rich and famous! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      December 15, 2017 / 12:06 am

      They are so beautifully made!

  9. December 17, 2017 / 5:58 am

    We visited this exhibition many years ago, but I didn’t see that wonderful wallpaper! #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      December 17, 2017 / 12:07 pm

      Wallpaper is quite new, I go reasonably often and it was the first time that I had spotted it.

      • December 17, 2017 / 5:03 pm

        Nice to see they keep it fresh!

  10. January 3, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    Ok. First things first – the UK DOESN’T have a National bird? They must. I also love that simple elegant falcon pattern. I would love to see this. I’m really not a royals fan, to be honest, “Royals” to me are more of a baseball team hailing from the state I was born in than Queens and Kings and princesses. But Diana was different and mesmerized people the world over. She was epic. An icon. I love those watercolors of her. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      January 3, 2018 / 6:01 pm

      No no national bird, there was a poll in 2015 to see which bird people would choose …. the robin won

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