All Images: vogue.co.uk
The Queen's 90th birthday later this spring seems like an appropriate time to review the country's centuries-old obsession with Royal style, and Kensington Palace's latest exhibition, Fashion Rules Restyled, does just that. A revamped version of an exhibition of the same name launched several years ago, the new incarnation boasts all new dresses and accessories from the wardrobes of three of the most-watched royal women of all time - Diana, Princess of Wales; Princess Margaret; and the Queen - as well as a new list of "rules" which the pieces were required to adhere to.
Displayed across five intimate rooms, the pieces communicate just a few of the parameters within which designers creating pieces for the royals are required to work. From the high-impact dressing that befits glamorous events and the impact that can be made by the perfect accessory (including a scarf hand-painted by Christian Dior himself for Princess Margaret), to the use of block colour to ensure the royal in question is visible in the crowd, the royal fashion rules are depicted room by room. Perhaps most interestingly of all, the space dedicated to "diplomatic dressing" examines the role of fashion in ensuring that royals abroad receive a warm welcome.
The attention to detail present in Fashion Rules Restyled - as well as its palatial setting - is what makes it really stand apart from other fashion showcases of its kind. Each mannequin has been created bespoke for each dress; hand-dyed and cut away so as to appear invisible beneath the garment: a process that took more than four months. As well as issues of Vogue bearing royal cover girls or models depicting the fashion rule of that room, sketches also adorn the exhibition's walls.
Beautiful renderings of gowns, hand-drawn by designers including Norman Hartnell and Ian Thomas, are often accompanied by fabric swatches and suggestions by the creator as to how the piece may be altered to accommodate a particular piece of jewellery or hat. Those taking the time to look even more closely will occasionally be rewarded by a response in royal hand requesting a colour change or that a sample be made available before she agrees to the design.
For royal devotees and lovers of fashion alike, Fashion Rules Restyled is a treat - but those who consider themselves both will find it a dream way to spend a quiet Saturday.