Fashion Rules at Kensington Palace

This is a guest post by Laura Porter of About.com London Travel especially for The Beaufort. Thank you Laura!

Kensington Palace is no longer home to the British monarch but it is still a royal residence and the most high profile young couple and child to move in recently are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George of Cambridge, Prince Harry of Wales.

New front entrance of Kensington Palace

The State Rooms of Kensington Palace are managed by the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces and are open to the public daily.  The Palace has been renovated over the last few years and the final section to reopen has an exhibition called Fashion Rules featuring dresses worn by three iconic royal women: HM Queen Elizabeth II, her sister Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales.

All three royal women have a personal relationship with Kensington Palace.  The Queen and Prince Philip stayed there before he went away with the Navy (and he also spent the night before their wedding at Kensington Palace).  Margaret and Diana both lived at Kensington Palace and raised their young families there.

Dresses worn by HM The Queen

Dresses worn by HM The Queen

The Queen
The Queen’s dresses are from the 1950s and it was the decade when she ascended to the throne.  She was 25 when she became queen in 1952 and was still a young and fashionable woman.  She enjoyed the nipped-in waists of the time and promoted British design by choosing Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell to creature her couture dresses for public life.

Royal Fashion Rules
Many people follow fashion rules – matching accessories, not wearing some colours together, etc – but royal dressing comes with even more considerations as The Queen had to think about how to stand out on a black and white film so could only choose block colours –  a rule she still follows today.

HM The Queen, Dinner Gown, Hardy Amies, 1959 (and the dress behind was for a trip to Pakistan so is green and white for the country’s flag colours)

HM The Queen, Dinner Gown, Hardy Amies, 1959 (and the dress behind was for a trip to Pakistan so is green and white for the country’s flag colours)

Ever Diplomatic
Diplomatic dressing is also still important today so certain colours and trimmings are incorporated for international visits.  Or avoided as Diana, Princess of Wales found out when she had to go to Brazil shortly after the Brazilian football team had lost the World Cup to Argentina so Diana could not be seen to show favouritism and could not wear the flag colours of either country.

Princess Margaret, Kaftan, Carl Toms, 1976

Princess Margaret, Kaftan, Carl Toms, 1976

Princess Margaret
The Queen’s sister had a lot more fashion freedom and she is represented in this exhibition with clothing she wore in the 1960s and ’70s.  Margaret adored fashion and her parties at Kensington Palace were frequented by the ‘in crowd’ of the art, fashion and music scene in London at the time.  She loved dancing and short dresses as well as embracing ethnic clothing.

Dresses once worn by Diana, Princess of Wales

Dresses once worn by Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana
The 1980s featured sparkles and shoulder pads for most of us so it’s no surprise to find Diana, Princess of Wales wore these styles.  Watching the film footage in the room with her dresses it seems she was a real clothes horse and the faster production meant a lot more clothes for her.  Again, her patronage of British designers helped revive the industry here.

Exhibition Information
Fashion Rules is at Kensington Palace and tickets to the exhibition are included in standard admission prices.  The exhibition is on until 2015 and dress displays will be rotated in that time to show more of the collection.  Adult tickets are £15 and children go free. Full info: www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger.  She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.  Laura is @AboutLondon on Twitter and @AboutLondon Laura on Facebook.

Concierge tip: Why not combine a visit to Kensington Palace (a short trip from The Beaufort) with one of our special hotel deals.