Style & Fashion

Diana once observed that she wanted to be thought of as a workhorse not a clotheshorse. Diana loved clothes; they were a passion and a public duty. As the Princess of Wales, her wardrobe requirements were complex; outfits were needed for her duties as a member of the Royal family, overseas trips, charity work and the many official functions and charity galas that required eveningwear. From the early days of her engagement it was inevitable that everything she wore, every new accessory and change of hairstyle would be scrutinized.

The Princess understood that millions of people followed her as a fashion icon and that the crowds who gathered to meet her expected glamour. She also understood that the worldwide media coverage her image generated could be used to good effect – to raise money for the charity causes she so passionately supported.

The exhibition displays 28 outfits from the early 1980’s to her last public engagement. They reveal inevitable changes in fashion style and the development of a young girl to a confident and mature woman.

In the 1980’s the Princess supported the British fashion industry, wearing clothes by Victor Edelstein, Murray Arbeid, Belville Sassoon, Catherine Walker, Bruce Oldfield and Gina Fratini. Diana placed British fashion, with its traditions of classic tailoring for day and romantic evening wear, in the international spotlight. Like any young woman she experimented and not all of her outfits were a total success – but in the 1990’s something rather different happened. The Princess now had the resources, the independence and the experience to create a unique and personal style. British designers continued to provide outfits, notably Catherine Walker and Jacques Azagury, but increasingly she turned to international designers, to Versace, Valentino and Chanel. Her look became more international with a sophisticated and simple silhouette. The effect was all in the details that became her hallmark; superb cut, materials worn with coordinated accessories, handbags, jewelry and shoes. Diana’s image will inevitably define a fashion look of the late 20th century.