Reporting Kristine Sorensen
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Princess Diana is a cultural icon for her royalty, philanthropy and dramatic life.
Over the next few days, Pittsburghers can get a better sense of who Diana was as a person, not just a princess, as the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show hosts the “Diana, The People’s Princess” exhibit.
Each gown tells a story, of a time and place in history, a fairytale with a sad ending.
The exhibit starts with Princess Diana when she was just Diana Spencer, a girl and later a nanny and ballet teacher.
Then, the royal wedding when Diana was just 20-years-old. It was the event that thrust her into the worldwide spotlight.
The gowns tell stories themselves, like her green velvet dress.
“It was worn by Princess Diana in the mid-80s when her children were very young,” said Maureen Dunkel, the owner of the dresses. “It was worn only to private dinners at Kensington Palace.”
Look closely at about the knee and you’ll see what appears to be tiny fingerprints, believed to be her son’s hand crushing the velvet. It’s an enduring image of a princess who was also a mom.
The pink taffeta and hand-beaded gown was worn on a state tour of India in 1992.
“It was originally designed without the bolera jacket, but with research into cultural, the jacket was created,” said Dunkel.
An image of Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta at the White House with the Reagans is enduring. Her dress was made for dancing.
“One of her favorite dresses I’m told,” Dunkel said. “She wore it up to six times.”
Princess Diana was the most photographed woman in the world.
Her dress designer realized she was photographed from all angles, so they started designing dresses not just for the front, but intricate detail also on the back and sides.
Diana’s style evolved from youthful to sophisticated.
It changed even more after she and Prince Charles divorced, and Diana lost her title and shed the limitations of dressing conservatively.
“This black halter was worn by Princess Diana in 1994 after she was separated from the Prince,” Dunkel added. “It’s really known as one of her first sexy dresses.”