Well, not the living Princess Diana (obviously). The last few dresses she auctioned before she passed away in 1997 are on display at the von Liebig Art Center in Naples, Florida. The 20 dresses are all privately owned by People magazine, WE and private collectors and the exhibit won’t be traveling, so this is the only chance to see the gowns side by side.
Each of her dresses tells a story about her life and her personality. The Princess was praised for re-wearing and repurposing her gowns, which cost anywhere from $30,000 to over $200,000, to save money. (Apparently other princesses don’t wear the same thing twice?) Some ways she did so were to remove the sleeves and high necklines required on visits to the Middle East, to turn the dress into a strapless gown. A quintessential example: “Auction Dress #18.” Diana had this light blue chiffon and lace gown reinvented after visiting Qatar and wore the altered version to a presidential banquet in Cameroon and a charity event. The Great American Doll Company also used this dress as a model for the dresses its Diana dolls would wear.
Even in business, she had a playful side. For a 1983 Klondike Gold Rush party in Canada, Diana wore a Klondike-era pink dress with tiered rouching, long sleeves and a high neck. (The Naples exhibit is the first to bring this dress to an exhibit in the U.S.)
Along with the dresses, display cases full of memorabilia lined the small exhibition room and halls. Christmas cards, royal certificates and miniature dolls donning Diana’s more famous looks are squeezed between the dresses in their own cases. Diana used to spend hours writing thank-you notes to everyone she met each day, and many of those are on display as well. (Her handwriting was almost completely illegible, but it’s the thought that counts, right?)
Taking photos was not allowed at the exhibit because of the owners’ rights, but click here for a video from NaplesNews.com of all the dresses. If you’re in the Naples area, get tickets to the exhibit ($12), which will continue until June 27.
–Tara for TKGO