Princess Diana’s wedding dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, will go on display for the first time in 25 years as part of a Kensington Palace exhibition entitled “Royal Style in the Making”.
The iconic gown forms the centre-piece of the exhibition, which coincides with what would have been the Princess’s 60th birthday (1 July) and marks 40 years since her wedding to Prince Charles.
A further key piece on display includes a rare, surviving toile for the 1937 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; consort of King George VI. It was Madame Handley-Seymour – a favoured couturier of the dowager Queen Mary – who had “an innate understanding of the rules and tradition of royal dress”.
The display also features never-before-seen items from the archives of some of the most celebrated royal couturiers of the 20th century, set alongside examples of the glittering gowns and stylish tailoring created for three generations of royal women. And Kensington Palace is also promises “some surprises for fashion fans”.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress is being loaned by permission of The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex who will both be at Kensington Palace this summer for the unveiling of a statue of their mother on the sixtieth anniversary of her birth.
The Princess selected the young, British designers of her wedding dress herself and it was created using woven silk taffeta made by Stephen Walters of Suffolk.
Some 10,000 pearls were sewn into the design, which also features extensive hand embroidery, sequins and a bodice overlay created from a square of Carrickmacross lace which had belonged to Queen Mary. Several stiff petticoats support the shape of the skirt.
Famously the dress incorporated a 25 ft train (which is still the longest in Royal History), which provided some challenges since it barely fit into the glass carriage that transported the Princess to St Paul’s Cathedral, leading to the dress being badly crushed and wrinkled when she emerged from the carriage.
Nonetheless the design, in particular the puffed sleeves and bow trims, went on to be extremely influential with copies made by other designers within hours.
The Princess also had a spare wedding dress waiting in the wings in case the design of her first choice of design was leaked to the press.
“Royal Style in the Making” takes place at Kensington Place from 3 June to 2 January 2022 with entry incorporated into the price of a ticket for a visit to the Palace.