The royal venue’s events showcase showed off this landmark exhibition in style
Words: Damien Gabet Photos: Lilly Sells
Before she was betrothed, Lady Diana Spencer had a single dress, one shirt and one smart pair of shoes to call her own; the rest she borrowed from friends. At her sartorial high point, she was the ‘most fashionable woman on the planet’.
Diana: Her Fashion Story seeks to track this evolution, while exhibiting some of the most famous (and expensive) dresses in history. On the opening weekend, the queues were two hours long. Thankfully, I attended the event organiser showcase a few days later.
Production pros White Light chaperoned me inside about half an hour ahead of time. Calmly, project manager Paul Gladman explained his team had 90 minutes – between the doors closing to the public and then opening again for the event – to install the AV for the evening.
Guests were greeted outside with an impressive 5K projection of the lady herself. Indoors, the Queen’s State Apartments hosted an 80s-themed drinks reception. The Eurythmics played over audio of era-defining news clips, waiters wore short white blazers, and garishly coloured uplighting bounced off scattered disco balls.
Here, I met events manager Alex Donnelly-Palmer, who described the ‘crazy’ scenes on opening day and gave me the event-booking lowdown. Private evening tours of the exhibition are available (for up to 60 people at a time) in conjunction with functions in the palace’s hireable spaces. What’s unprecedented is that alcohol is now permitted on the walk round.
As we toured the Pigott Galleries, I elbowed enough die-harders out of the way to see the £240,000 ‘Travolta dress’ and the infamous green check outfit from 1985 that the media lambasted her for – and which was found several years later in a ‘posh second-hand shop’.
Alex then delivered a speech on the Stone Staircase (where Victoria first clapped eyes on Albert, no less) before we took a lively tour of the King’s State Apartments. Caterer Blue Strawberry deftly sated appetites as I rounded the night off with a suitably 80s millionaire’s shortbread.
Simple coloured uplighting helped strengthen the 80s theme in the reception room
Music Sternberg Clarke
AV & lighting White Light
Staff Great Hire
Caterer Blue Strawberry
Design Hayford & Rhodes
This article was first published on Squaremeal Venues + Events, Spring/Summer 2017