Bruce Oldfield, Catherine Walker, Christian Dior, Dior, fashion exhibition, Fashion Rules, Hardy Amies, Hermes, Kensington Palace, London, Norman Hartnell, Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II, royal fashion, Vogue, YSL, Yves Saint Laurent
I had a second visit to Kensington Palace in London recently to have another look at the Fashion Rules Restyled exhibition. The exhibition is a display of some of the wonderful outfits of Her Majesty the Queen, Princess Margaret (late sister of the Queen) and Princess Diana (late mother of Princes William and Harry).
Whilst the exhibition provided a dazzling look at royal fashions from around the 1940s onwards, it also helped me to understand some of the protocols around what the royals wear. Everything is worn for a reason – an evening dress on a royal overseas visit in the colour of the national flag of the country visited, references to shared history, UK designers.
If any of the three royal ladies could be said to have more fashion freedom, it would have to be Princess Margaret. After the Queen married and had children, Princess Margaret moved down the chain of succession and it was therefore less important for her to adhere to some of these protocols giving the fashionable princess some freedom to indulge in international designers including Dior, YSL and Hermes and experiment with less traditional outfits.
Her Majesty, the Queen and Princess Diana had more formality within their wardrobes depending on the public function or event they were attending. The Queen was a Hardy Amies devotee and Princess Diana was hailed as reviving the British fashion industry by championing the likes of Catherine Walker and Bruce Oldfield.
The exhibition, which started in February 2016, will run indefinitely. Check the Kensington Palace website for more information.