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There’s one group of people that are constantly setting and inspiring fashion trends worldwide. They are the British Royal Family. From Kate Middleton to Princess Margaret, royals past and present are an inspiration to women across the globe. That’s why this summer at the famous Kensington Palace in London, you’ll find Fashion Rules – an exhibition celebrating the most stylish outfits worn by the royals throughout the years. We couldn’t wait to take a look!
The exhibition “gives us a chance to get up close to some of the most beautiful and ornate dresses in one place, some of which have never been on display before,” said Cassie Davies-Strodder, the curator of Fashion Rules. The exhibition displays iconic outfits worn by Princess Margaret, the late Diana Princess of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II, but there must be one that stands out in particular? “The most memorable royal outfits are often those worn for big public events” said Cassie.
“The Queen’s beautiful silk evening gowns, designed by her favourite designers Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies back in the Fifties and Sixties, are always going to be remembered. Then there’s the stylish dresses designed by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior worn by Princess Margaret, which are a key feature in the exhibition.” We asked her about Princess Diana, who is, of course, remembered for her sometimes controversial fashion choices. “Diana’s look of big hair and dramatic evening gowns was widely imitated in the Eighties and Nineties; her style became iconic across the globe”
With their every move, and therefore outfit being constantly watched and scrutinised, a clever member of the royal family will morph themselves into a style icon. And that is what we have seen from Diana, Margaret, Queen Elizabeth and, of course, now Kate Middleton. Ultimately, any lady of the royal family has to adopt “the fashion ‘rules’ of each era and adapting them for the ‘rules’ of a royal wardrobe,” said Cassie. Getting the balance between style and what is expected of them as a royal is crucial.
And one thing we have seen from the royal family is staying true to their roots, tending to stick to British designers for their outfit choices. “In wearing fashionable clothes made by British designers the Royal family plays an important role in supporting and promoting the British fashion industry on a world stage,” said Cassie. We have seen many designers gain worldwide popularity after being the gown of choice for a royal family member. Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies have been Queen Elizabeth’s fave designers since World War II and we’ve seen their brands grow and grow; and Princess Diana made her favourite designers, Catherine Walker and Bruce Oldfield, household names after regularly being spotted in their designs, many of which are on display at Kensington Palace this summer.
This has been carried through into today, as the new fashion icon Kate Middleton steps into her role. “The Duchess of Cambridge reflects current fashions and adapts them for her royal role,” said Cassie. We regularly see Kate mixing high street and designer pieces, and she loves British high end designers, with Alexander McQueen, Alice Temperley and Jenny Packham being some of her favourites. Cassie explained, “As fashions have moved on, the line between the catwalk and the high street has blurred, and often each can influence the other. The Duchess of Cambridge’s style reflects this modern trend as you are just as likely to see her in a designer dress as a high-street outfit.”
Perhaps this is what we love so much about Kate: that we have access to the same brands and pieces as she does makes her style more appealing than those who only wear aspirational pieces that we know we will never get to wear! Kate has even managed to carry this through to her maternity style, wearing Topshop, Zara and Hobbs to public events. “I think she’s managed to seamlessly and elegantly adapt her maternity wear into her style and working wardrobe,” said Cassie.
The exhibition looks at the ‘fashion rules’ that royal family members developed and followed, and in the case of Queen Elizabeth still continue to exemplify today. “As the Duchess of Cambridge is still a young member of the royal family, her style is still evolving as she establishes her own fashion rules,” said Cassie. We love to see what Kate is wearing every time she steps out, and watching her style evolve is fascinating – so much so that fashion designers everywhere are desperate to dress her, even sketching designs that they would love to create for her. Which one will be next in her wardrobe?
INFO: Travelling to London this summer? Visit the Fashion Rules exhibition at Kensington Palace. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk/kensingtonpalace/WhatsOn/FashionRules