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Princess Diana’s Dresses Tell her Life Story | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A display of dresses worn by Lady Diana during a press preview of the exhibition entitled, Diana Her Fashion Story, at Kensington Palace in London. (AFP)

London – On the 20th anniversary of her death, the “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibition at Kensington Palace will feature the princess’s best dresses, which will tell how Diana evolved from a shy aristocratic lady into a strong famous woman. The exhibition excluded the dark side of the princess’s life, such as her divorce from Prince Charles, her secret lovers, and the car accident that killed her when she was 36.

Visitors were told that Lady Diana Spencer did not belong to the world of fashion. According to this two-year exhibition, Princess Diana owned just one dress, one top, one pair of shoes, and all of her other outfits were borrowed from her friends.

In her twenties, Lady Diana slowly grew accustomed to her new role imposed by her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. After the “romantic look” which was trending in the 1980s with lace and frilly outfits, the Lady began to wear designer evening dresses, which she used as diplomatic tools.

According to the exhibition, when her marriage started to fall apart in the 1990s, Lady Diana’s outfits began to change to reflect her independence and power.

Among the outfits on display is a pink top made of chiffon that she wore for her first official photo in 1981, and a brown suit made of tweed, from her honeymoon in Scotland.

Eleri Lynn, curator of “Diana: Her Fashion Story”, said that this exhibition reflects Lady Diana’s growing self-confidence, capability to control her appearance, and her smart communication through her outfits. Many women can understand this story, she added. The majority of the 25 exhibited pieces were brought from museums and special collections from London and abroad, in addition to five pieces that are part of Kensington Palace’s collection. Lynn noted that Diana did not know the exact value of her dresses and donated many of them to charity.

Among the pieces on display, visitors will find two woolen coats; one of which was designed by David Emanuel and which she wore it in Venice, Italy in 1985.

The exhibition organizers have sought to highlight small details in the princess’s dresses, like small wrinkles on one of her dresses caused by Prince William when he was a child in 1985.

In 1992, her divorce with Prince Charles was revealed and her wardrobe saw a drastic change. Catherine Walker, Diana’s favorite designer created sharp day suits, and the princess wore them to charity events and during visits to AIDS and cancer patients.

However, the most magnificent pieces can be found in the last hall of the exhibition, where the most famous dresses are shown. Lady Diana wore those dresses in a photo session with a famous photographer before an auction held to sell 79 of her dresses in New York two months before her death.