This may seem a bit specific, but of my very favorite things to see when traveling in Europe is royal fashion. Detailed embroidery, colorful silks, exquisite beadwork: I am very much here for all of these things. So it’s no surprise that Kensington Palace has become one of my favorite spots to visit due to its Fashion Rules Exhibit, which houses fashions worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana. Though I’ve been before, the exhibit is periodically updated, so many of these looks were new to me – and they are gorgeous.
This ivory silk crepe and sequined dress was worn by Princess Diana in 1991. The exhibit noted that she wore this on a trip to Brazil, shortly after they had lost to Argentina in the World Cup – and so she took pains not to wear anything in Argentina’s colors of blue and white. I love that level of detail!
At left, a salmon pink evening dress worn by Diana to the ballet in 1993; at right, the dress the Queen wore for her Silver Jubilee portrait in 1977:
Now, for some high impact sleeves. Both of these dresses were worn by the Queen, which I get a kick out of – her fashion used to be pretty dramatic!
After watching The Crown, I pretty much want to go back in time and give Princess Margaret a hug. Though her romantic life was fairly tragic, her fashion life was anything but – and her clothes are pretty much always my favorites at these exhibitions. For example, look at these stylish little jackets!
Princess Margaret wore the black cocktail dress on the left back in 1951 – it’s simple but so fun, I think. The blue dress was worn on a state visit to Kuwait by the Queen. I love the embroidered sleeves!
Two more of Princess Diana’s dresses: a tartan number worn to Balmoral in 1990, and a beautiful emerald green silk gown (Mario Testino photographed her in this in 1997):
Both of these gowns are fabulous, I think. The Queen wore the orange one to Bahrain in 1979 – it’s so gloriously 1970s, isn’t it? Diana wore the pink number on the right to Japan in 1986.
The oldest gown on display was this one, worn by Princess Margaret in 1949. I definitely like some of her later styles better!
The dress at left was worn by Margaret to Paris in 1993; she wore the one at right to Royal Ascot in 1952. I love the big white flower – and, indeed, the dress itself was called “Rose Pompon.”
I love the bodice of this green dress, worn by Diana in 1993:
And I think these yellows are just SO gorgeous. The dress on the left was worn by the Queen on a state visit to Germany in 1978; the one at right was worn by Margaret in 1995.
Another thing I love about the Fashion Rules exhibit is that it includes a ton of sketches of royal dresses. Not only are they works of art, but I also think reading the little notes on some of them is so fascinating and fun.
(^How fabulous are these coats? I love a good royal coat.)
(^More gorgeous yellows!)
(^Ummmm, how utterly fabulous is that jumpsuit on the right? I need to do some reconnaissance work to see if the Queen actually ever wore that…)
(^Gigantic bow goals.)
The Bottom Line: As a royal fashion enthusiast, I can’t recommend Fashion Rules enough. The rest of the exhibits at Kensington Palace are interesting and worthwhile, too, but for me this one will always be the standout. My only complaint? I wish there were more dresses on display.