Why Diana’s Fashion Story converted me…
One of the great perks of being a stylist is I get to attend many fabulous style and fashion events. In early June I was invited by a client (and good friend – thank you Anne) to visit Kensington Palace for a private tour of ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ exhibition.
I have to say, whilst I always admired Diana for her charity work and her determination to break with many royal traditions and protocols, I never really considered her a style icon. That is until now…
The exhibition takes you through some of Princess Diana’s most famous outfits during various stages of her life: the Emanuel ruffle blouse she wore at her engagement in 1981, her Victor Edelstein velvet dress she wore dancing with John Travolta at the White House and her Catherine Walker power suits of the ‘90’s.
What struck me first as I walked around was the realisation that Diana was so incredibly young when she was thrust into the limelight. Most 19 year olds can experiment with fashion, take chances, have fun and make mistakes - but for Diana, she had to do it with the whole world watching and documenting it - the pressure must have been immense.
Secondly I realised how clever and thoughtful Diana was when it came to her clothing choices. She would wear bright colours to exude warmth and approachability; she wore chunky accessories so that children could play with them; she made a point of not wearing gloves (the first royal to do so) so that she could easily hold people's hands. When she visited the blind, she made sure to wear tactile material, often velvet, and she famously wore a striking red suit when visiting an AIDS charity in 1996.
Finally, I got to see, through the most iconic images, Diana’s amazing style transformation. In the 80’s she obviously fell victim to fashion mishaps (but didn’t we all?) but as she moved away from frills, ruffles, oversized tartan suits and turned to more sleek, simple clothing she looked strong, confident, more at ease, effortlessly stylish and genuinely happy.
I have no doubt everyone who visits the exhibition (I would strongly recommend it) will come away with different thoughts but for me, as a stylist, it reminded me that:
- If you don’t experiment you’ll never really find your style;
- Clothing is the easiest and quickest way to communicate your message; and
- When you finally find your true style – boy does it show.
Have a great week-end and feel free to share this post.