Over this past weekend I had the opportunity to drive down to Minneapolis and see Princess Diana: A Celebration. The exhibit has been traveling around the USA, always returning to the Althorp Estate every summer. Every piece is from the Althorp Estate (the Spencer family’s home in England) and the 150-piece collection of objects ranges from Princes Diana’s Wedding gown, to personal mementos of her childhood.
I am always a fan of seeing historical exhibits, but for me, this was on a very personal level, as I have been a fan of Princess Diana since I was a child. After reading four biographies, it was a dream come true to see a lot of these pieces up close. When you first walk into the exhibit, it is all about the Spencer family, and it truly sets the tone of Royalty. Next was a gallery of childhood photographs and videos of Diana, all taken by her father, along with her personal Diary, agenda and many other tokens from her childhood.
As you move through the different galleries, you begin to realize it is sequenced with the stages of her life; so naturally after the joy of her engagement, comes the Wedding dress. Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the Wedding dress had its very own room, paired with one flower girls dress. To stand there and be able to get within a foot of the dress and see the details had only seemed a dream before that day. In a room with the well known 25-foot train, is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that you are in a room with one of the most well known wedding dresses in the world.
With little about William and Harry, the years fast-forwarded and soon enough I was in a darkened gallery playing “Candle in the Wind.” Anyone who had watched her funeral knows what that song means, and each time it is heard, shivers run through my spine. With her funeral playing on a screen and her brother’s original tribute on paper, there was a reason for tissue boxes. There was also a separate room with books, on top of books of condolences, sent from people around the world. After her passing, many cities and towns set up books for people to write their personal condolence to the Princess of Wales; all of which are now a part of the exhibit, the amount of condolences collected is overwhelming.
Then I saw it, ‘Her Style’, excitement busted through me like a child in Christmas morning. I knew the next gallery would be nothing short of fantastic, and I was absolutely correct. The gallery consisted of over 20 pieces of clothing she had owned in her lifetime. Although she auctioned off 79 of her pieces before her death for charity raising 7.6 million, there were still many iconic Princess Di pieces (including 13 that were originally auctioned off).
Many pieces in the exhibit were designed by Jaques Azagury and Catherine Walker, two British designers in which she had been faithful to her entire adult life. There were two pieces I was excited to see, one being the Chanel suit, being a fan of Princess Di and Chanel, it was spectacular. Also my other favorite was the midnight-blue silk velvet gown she wore at the 1985 White House state dinner, when she danced with John Travolta.
In the exhibit there were also pieces from her shoot with Mario Testino, in Vanity Fair 1997, which was published just a month before her passing. To walk through the gallery of all her clothing was like a story, you begin at the beginning of her life, as an insecure newly married young woman, all the way to a sophisticated single woman in her 30’s. From beginning to end you can truly see the mesmerizing transformation of her style.
The end of the exhibit finished off with visuals of all of the charity work Princess Diana has done around the world. It also explains how the proceeds of the exhibit will be given to the The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Which is a charity that the Spencer family is still running, in which funds are divided up amongst all of the parts of the world Diana felt needed the most help. The gallery allows you to see the changes she made in the world of those in need, and is the perfect ending to an extraordinary exhibit.
From beginning to end, the exhibit was nothing short of astonishing. I recommend to anyone that has the opportunity to go see Princess Diana: A Celebration, to take the time and go see the exhibit. I guarantee it will not disappoint, as I had high hopes and it exceeded my expectations beyond my own imagination. Princess Diana has always and will always have a special place in my heart.
(all photos from people.com)