Diana: Her Fashion Story - a new exhibition at Kensington Palace

Visitors to Kensington Palace will have a special treat this year with a major new exhibition ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ opening this week in the palace that was her home for over 15 years. Twenty years on from her death, the exhibition and a temporary garden will celebrate her life.

Princess Diana dances with John Travolta at The White House wearing one of the gowns in the exhibition at Kensington Palace

Princess Diana dances with John Travolta at The White House wearing one of the gowns in the exhibition at Kensington Palace

The exhibition will follow the development of her iconic style, from the demure outfits she wore when she was newly engaged to the Prince of Wales to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life.  The garments will include the velvet dress she wore when she danced with John Travolta at the White House, the pale pink Emanuel blouse worn for her engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon in 1981, and the green velvet evening dress she wore for a Vanity Fair photo shoot with Mario Testino in 1997. 

Eleri Lynn, curator of 'Diana: Her Fashion Story', said: ‘Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of the most photographed women in the world, and every fashion choice she made was closely scrutinised. Our exhibition explores the story of a young woman who had to quickly learn the rules of royal and diplomatic dressing, who in the process put the spotlight on the British fashion industry and designers.'

Whilst she lived at Kensington Palace, the Princess admired the changing floral displays in the historic Sunken Garden and would often stop to talk to the gardeners who care for it. The gardeners will dedicate the new planting in the garden to her, creating a temporary White Garden to complement the palace’s exhibition. The garden will be planted with flowers and foliage inspired by memories of the Princess’s life, image and style. 

From the gates of Kensington Palace, that became flower-covered unofficial shrine to Diana in the days following her sudden death in 1997, to the extensive State rooms and gardens, the Palace is full of references to Royals who have lived there.

Visitors can learn about William and Mary in the Queen's State Apartments, experience the court of George I and II in the King's State Apartments and follow the life of Queen Victoria – who was born in the Palace -  in the rooms most associated with her

The Palace has been a residence of the Royal Family since the 17th century, and is presently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Jane Austen Among Family and Friends

A Happy New Year to one and all. We have chosen to launch our new blog with one of the Great Ladies of Literature, Jane Austen. 2017 is the bicentenary of Jane's death and the British Library is exhibiting Jane’s  teenage notebooks, plus family letters and memorabilia in January and February.

We thought you might enjoy some lesser known facts about Jane.

Jane and Cake Jane helped to run the Austen household and her letters allow us a peek into thrifty household management. Jane noted the cost of food items, which rose and fell as England warred with France, and she collected recipes for the servants to try. We also know that Jane liked cakes such as local Bath Buns and wrote to her sister: “You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me”.

Jane and Relatives It is well known that Jane spent much time in Bath and not so well known that she spent many months in Kent staying with relatives. She visited Royal Tunbridge Wells, the rival spa town to the more enduring Bath, stayed at nearby Tonbridge and Sevenoaks and frequently visited her brother, Edward at Godmersham Park. Jane attended balls during her visits to Kent and mentions 'the famous ball at Chilham Castle'. Jane was a regular guest at Goodnestone Park, the home of Edward's wife's family, Sir Brook and Lady Bridges. The beautiful gardens are now open to the public.

Sewing Jane All young ladies in Jane’s position would have been taught embroidery and the usually modest Jane was proud of her skill. In a letter to her sister Jane wrote: “We are very busy making Edward’s shirts and I am proud to say that I am the neatest worker of the party”.

Jane and the Monarchy Jane was not an admirer of Royalty, in a letter she stated that she hated the Prince Regent because of the unkind way he was said to treat his estranged wife, Princess Caroline, however the Prince Regent was a great admirer of Jane and is said to have kept a set of her novels in every one of his residences.

Jane and Dickens Jane’s fame grew until after her death. She shares a similarity with Charles Dickens in that neither of their grave stones state they were authors; Dickens out of modesty or perhaps humility, and Austen because her family did not consider it worth recording on the stone. She was buried in Winchester cathedral only because she died nearby.