A new exhibit called Royal Style in the Making opens Thursday at Kensington Palace, where Diana once lived

By Stephanie Petit
June 02, 2021 10:22 AM
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Princess Diana's iconic wedding dress is back in the spotlight.

A new exhibit called Royal Style in the Making opens Thursday, with Diana's famous gown designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel as the centerpiece. The dress is on loan for the exhibit — housed at Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana once lived — by her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Visitors will be able to examine the intricate details of the gown, from its scooped neckline to its puffed sleeves trimmed with bows — and, of course, the dramatic 25-foot train that filled the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral when Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed in 1981.

This is 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.

The Princess of Wales' wedding dress is on display at the 'Royal Style in the Making' exhibition
Princess Diana's wedding dress
| Credit: VICKIE FLORES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Designer Elizabeth Emanuel told PEOPLE she can't wait to see the piece again. 

"It will be like seeing an old friend after all these years," she said. "I was looking at the images again today, and I can't believe how many sequins we sewed onto the dress. This is going to be a wonderful exhibition."

The exhibition will explore the unique relationship between fashion designers and royal clients, Historic Royal Palaces said, and will include other historic style pieces such as a rare surviving toile for the 1937 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth's mother, the Queen Mother.

Matthew Storey, exhibition curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said in a statement, "Our summer exhibition at Kensington Palace will shine a spotlight on some of the greatest talents of British design, whose work has been instrumental in shaping the visual identity of the royal family across the twentieth century."

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The statement continued: "We'll be exploring how the partnership between each designer and client worked, and revealing the process behind the creation of a number of the most important couture commissions in royal history. While one of the highlights will undoubtedly be Diana, Princess of Wales's show-stopping Emanuel designed wedding dress, which goes on show at the palace for the first time in 25 years — we've got some real surprises up our sleeve for fashion fans!"

Royal Style in the Making exhibition photocall in London
Princess Diana's wedding dress
| Credit: VICKIE FLORES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and the Spencer family Tiara, leave St. Paul's Cathedral
Princess Diana and Prince Charles
| Credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Other highlights of the display include original fashion sketches, unseen photographs from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and never-before-seen items.

"Royal Style In The Making" Exhibition At Kensington Palace
Princess Diana's wedding dress
| Credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

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The wedding dress display will kick off a period of celebrations at the palace in honor of the late princess. In July, William, 38, and Harry, 36, are expected to unveil the much-anticipated statue of their mother on the palace grounds. Diana — who died in 1997 following a car accident in Paris — would have turned 60 on July 1.

The Royal Style in the Making exhibit will continue until Jan. 2, 2022.