- the 1950s, when HM Queen Elizabeth first came to the throne in the decade's nipped in waists (how tiny is the royal waist in this lovely lacy Hardy Amies ensemble from 1953??);
- the shorter skirts & diaphanous fabrics of her younger sister, Princess Margaret, during the 1960s & 70s;
- and the sparkly, shoulderpadded signature look of Diana, Princess of Wales during the 80s.
For FASHION RULES: Dress from the collections of HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, gowns galore plus film & photos will fill five rooms, exploring how these women reflected the style and trends of the day while at the same time negotiating the style rules of the royal wardrobe. Dresses for HRH by Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell illustrate the use of pale hues to not only stand out, but allow for the wearing of insignia and when worn abroad, to reference the host country, such as a Hartnell creation fashioned in the colors of the flag of Pakistan, where it was first worn. Princess Margaret had a tad more wiggle room in her sartorial choices, not only literally (starting with the boxier silhouette of the 60s) but in term of the times as well; the 60s weren't dubbed "swinging" for no good reason. And later during the 80s, the People's Princess not only enthusiastically followed fashion, but was herself much imitated; so much so, she is credited with almost singlehanded helping revive the then-flagging British fashion industry.
HIghlights of FASHION RULES include a stunning apricot silk gown (on show for the first time years), a purple Dior evening gown worn by Princess Margaret for the Silver Jubilee celebrations, Mary Quant-inspired minis, a kaftan (left) and ivory turban crafted from sari silk, a dropped-waist ballerina-length dance dress in blue by Jacques Azagury (below) and Murray Arbeid's midnight-blue strapless evening gown with dramatic fish-tail skirt.
"The exhibition completes the story of 20th century monarchy at Kensington Palace," add the exhibition's curator, Cassie Davies-Strodder. "The Palace is a magical setting to celebrate these modern royal women in their fashion heyday, providing a rare opportunity to get up close to these wonderful dresses and be transported to the times in which they were worn."
FASHION RULES will be on display beginning July 4, 2013.
- Lesley Scott