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Princess Diana's royal couture dresses go on display at exhibition

diana off the shoulder

Princess Diana's effortless elegance gave the much-loved royal her reputation as a timeless fashion icon, and now some of her most exquisite dresses can be seen in a costume exhibition at Kensington Palace that opens on Thursday.Whatever Diana wore, the "people's princess" made a huge impact on fashion trends of the day, and her faith in home-grown designers meant she was credited with almost single-handedly reviving the British fashion industry in the eighties.


The latest display at the royal palace showcases the best of Diana's style, from the frills and shoulder pads to asymmetrical shapes and bright colours.Two of the dresses on display have never before been shown in the UK. The first, which Diana wore at Claridges in 1986 for a dinner given for the President of Greece, is a midnight blue strapless evening gown.Staying true to British talent, the dress was designed by London-born Murray Arbeid and flaunts dramatic layers of tulle netting and a theatrical fish-tail skirt.

The second dress, meanwhile, is a ballerina-length blue dance dress by Jacques Azagury, and has a dropped waist, oversize bow, padded shoulders and sparkling embroidery. Diana wore the gown at a dinner given by the Mayor of Florence during a visit to Italy in 1985.The Fashion Rules exhibition also takes a nostalgic look back at the styles of Princess Margaret and the Queen.Margaret was an exceptional fashion icon of her day, and her wardrobe reflected the more liberal era of the sixties and seventies when the young royal had greater freedom.

Her Dior purple evening gown, which she wore for the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations, showed Margaret embracing the new "slim-line" look of the time, and bright, bold colours.SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOMargaret also experimented with ethnic clothing, and favoured a stunning full-length kaftan and matching turban of fine ivory silk that she wore on holiday in Mustique.The Queen's dresses on display, meanwhile, reflect the trends for full skirts and intricate trimmings, as seen in her stunning apricot silk gown. The paleness meant she was easy to spot in a crowd and the black and white film of the day.


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