Opening at Kensington Palace this summer in the newly-conserved historic Orangery, this new temporary exhibition explores the intimate relationship between fashion designer and royal client, revealing the process behind the creation of a number of the most important couture commissions in royal history.
On display will be the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales, on show for the first time at Kensington Palace in 25 years, in addition to a rare, surviving toile for the 1937 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; consort of King George VI.
The display also features never-before-seen items from the archives of some of the most celebrated royal couturiers of the 20th century, set alongside examples of the glittering gowns and stylish tailoring created for three generations of royal women. There will be some surprises for fashion fans.
Exhibition in partnership with Garrard and generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
The exhibition provides a sneak peek into the rarefied world of the atelier, showcasing how some of Britain’s finest designers create clothing destined for the world stage. From the symbolic power of a coronation gown to the romance of a royal wedding dress, the designs on show helped shape the public image of the British monarchy, and propelled the British fashion industry onto the global stage.
Original sketches, fabric swatches and unseen photographs from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection will form part of the display, demonstrating the unique attributes each couturier brought to the royal wardrobe, set alongside examples of their most famous work.
Film: A walkthrough of the Royal Style in the Making exhibition at Kensington Palace
On display will be a rare surviving toile for the 1937 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; consort of King George VI.
Created by London based court designer Madame Handley-Seymour - a favoured couturier of the dowager Queen Mary with an innate understanding of the rules and tradition of royal dress – the silk satin gown with its golden national emblems was the perfect choice to embody continuity at the start of an unexpected new reign.
The toile is an extraordinary full-size working pattern of the completed gown, and features the stunning design for the embroidery hand-painted onto it, highlighting the attention to detail required in planning for such an important state occasion.
See the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales up close, complete with its spectacular sequin encrusted train, which at 25 feet dramatically filled the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral, and remains the longest in royal history.
The dress, on loan from HRH The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, is now among the most famous in bridal history, and features a fitted bodice overlaid at the centre both front and back with panels of antique Carrickmacross lace that had originally belonged to Queen Mary, the groom’s great-grandmother.
Its gently scooped neckline and large puffed sleeves are trimmed with bows and deep ruffles of taffeta, a style popularized by the Princess in the early 1980s, while the full skirt is supported on a mountain of stiff net petticoats to create its famous silhouette.
Wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales, © Royal Collection Trust / All Rights Reserved