Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Fashion Rules: Inside the wardrobes of royal icons. Princess Diana's dresses raise over £800,000 at auction.

Fashion Rules: Inside the wardrobes of royal icons
Kensington Palace's latest exhibition Fashion Rules allows visitors a peek inside the wardrobes of the Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Tomorrow will see the opening of Fashion Rules, Kensington Palace's showcase of gowns belonging to three of the world's most iconic women; HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Divided into a number of bijoux rooms, the selection of pieces on display is tightly edited and only those that most accurately depict the style, era and responsibility of the three women have been chosen for display.
It begins with some of the Queen's most intricate and tiny-waisted gowns - all of which have been lent by the monarch - and were worn in the 50s and 60s. Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell were her designers of choice for the period, and every item was created with the exact occasion in mind.

The Queen's dress by Norman Hartnell, which opens the exhibition Photo: Getty
 For example: Amies's grey silk organza gown is embroidered with delicate mayflowers for a trip to Nova Scotia in 1959 - the mayflower being the provincial flower of the region. Hartnell's duchesse satin evening dress is fashioned in the national colours of Pakistan, so that the Queen could wear it to a banquet hosted by the President of the country in 1961.
From the Queen's sober though spangled gowns, the exhibit moves to pieces from her sister, Princess Margaret's, wardrobe. Admittedly more rock'n'roll than her sibling's - there a number of fashion-forward pieces designed for Margaret by Marc Bohan of Christian Dior - they are still equally as regal. A Carl Toms-designed 'ethnic' outfit designed especially for a costume party that was hosted at the Princess's Mustique residence gives a taster of her more lavish, fun-filled social agenda.

The dress made by Hardy Amies for the Queen's visit to Nova Scotia. Photo: Getty
 READ: Princess Diana's dresses raise over £800,000 at auction
The final leg is dedicated to Diana, and includes two dresses purchased by the Royal Historic Palace in the recent auction which raised over £800,000 through the sale of 10 gowns.
One is the cream and pink-beaded asymmetrical Catherine Walker gown worn by the Princess in 1991, and the other - which is not currently on display but will be in a matter of months - the black velvet Bruce Oldfield gown she wore in an official portrait taken by Lord Snowdon.
All but one of the gowns are typically 80s, drop-waisted, brightly coloured (something Royals avoided in the age of black and white television as pale colours would allow them to be seen better), and swathed in sequins.
Curator Cassie David revealed hopes to one day display outfits belonging to the Duchess of Cambridge. At present, the mother-to-be is simply too new on the scene and most of her outfits are still ensconced in her personal wardrobe, ready to be re-worn in true royal style (many of the gowns on display were worn on numerous occasions by each of the three women).
So we'll have to wait a little while longer before we get to peruse Kate's high street and designer duds.
Fashion Rules, Kensington Palace from July 4. For more information visit hrp.org.uk.

Dresses that once belonged to Diana take a starring role in the exhibition. Photo: AP
Princess Diana's dresses raise over £800,000 at auction
A Victor Edelstein gown the late Diana, Princess of Wales wore to dance with John Travolta raised £240,000 in an auction of 10 of her gowns at Kerry Taylor today.

Ten dresses belonging to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, including a gown she famously wore while dancing with John Travolta, fetched over £800,000 at auction in London today.

The lots sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions included some of the "most important and iconic" dresses worn by Prince Charles's glamorous former wife, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.
The midnight blue Victor Edelstein dress Princess Diana wore when she famously danced with John Travolta fetched £240,000 Photo: EPA
 "Bidders today were able to buy a unique slice of British history", auctioneer Kerry Taylor said. "We attracted bidders from across the world, including three important museums so we are hopeful that now people will actually get to see some of the dresses that belonged to the People's Princess."
A midnight blue velvet gown by Victor Edelstein which Diana wore to a 1985 state dinner at the White House - where she famously twirled around the dance floor with Saturday Night Fever star John Travolta - was the star lot selling for £240,000. It was bought by a British gentleman as a surprise to "cheer up his wife", Taylor revealed.
Two Catherine Walker dresses - one black evening gown worn for a Vanity Fair photoshoot by Mario Testino in 1997, another burgundy crushed velvet gown she wore to the Australian premiere of Back To The Future in 1985 - each fetched £108,000

A Catherine Walker dress worn in 1991 which sold for £78,000. Photos: Rex/Kerry Taylor
 Other lots featured gowns designed by Bruce Oldfield and Zandra Rhodes, which sold for £50,400 and £48,000 respectively.
Diana, who became a global style icon and was famed for her charity work, wed heir to the throne Prince Charles in a lavish ceremony in 1981. They had two sons, William and Harry, but divorced in 1996.
At Diana's request, the 10 dresses were originally sold in a charity auction in New York in June 1997, just two months before she died.
Florida-based businesswoman Maureen Dunkel bought the dresses, along with four others. She was forced to put them up for auction in 2011 after she went bankrupt - but only four of them sold.

A Zandra Rhodes cocktail dress worn in 1987 that sold for £48,000. Photos: Rex/Kerry Taylor

This green velvet Victor Edelstein dress (left) sold for £24,000, while the midnight blue Victor Edelstein dress (right) Diana wore when she danced with Travolta fetched £240,000. Photos: Kerry Taylor

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