How Princess Diana's Honeymoon Dress Designer Nearly Lost Her as a Client (She Was Turned Away!)
At the Royal Style in the Making fashion exhibition, which opens Thursday at Princess Diana's former home of Kensington Palace, visitors will be able to see her iconic Elizabeth and David Emanuel bridal gown — dramatic 25-foot train and all — as well as another look the royal wore on her 1981 wedding day: a peach ensemble to leave with Prince Charles for their honeymoon trip to Gibraltar on the Royal Yacht Brittania.
Curator Matthew Storey revealed at a special exhibit preview on Wednesday that Princess Diana's collaboration with designer Bellville Sassoon "almost didn't happen."
When Princess Diana first visited the Bellville Sassoon shop, the 19-year-old had just become engaged to Prince Charles and was looking for an outfit for her official engagement photos. It was nearly closing time, and Diana wasn't finding anything she liked. Not recognizing Diana, the sales associate told her that Harrod's department store "is just around the corner."
"You can imagine how Belinda [Bellville] and David [Sassoon] felt when they realized the future Princess of Wales had been turned away," said Storey.
Fortunately, Diana came back with her mother and picked out the blue ensemble she wore for her engagement announcement and photos with Prince Charles.
The brand went on to create many looks for Princess Diana, including the peach ensemble on display alongside an original sketch by designer David Sassoon. Storey shared that two versions of the outfit were created: one with short sleeves and one with longer sleeves, depending on the weather.
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Princess Diana went on to wear the honeymoon outfit on several other occasions, including her 1983 tour of Australia.
Royal Style in the Making marks the first time Princess Diana's bridal ensemble has been displayed in nearly 25 years. It previously was part of a July 1998 exhibit at Diana's ancestral home, Althorp, almost a year after the royal's tragic death.
Other highlights of the exhibit include the 1937 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and a costume gown that Princess Margaret wore to a charity ball in 1964.