Stylepoints: Fashions fit for a princess

  • Article by: SARA GLASSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 9, 2012 - 8:34 AM

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While fashion followers now track Kate Middleton's every outfit, Minnesotans can get an intimate look at styles worn by her husband's late mother.

An exhibition at the Mall of America, "Diana, a Celebration," features Princess Diana's royal wedding gown and 28 of her designer dresses in addition to other personal items and mementos.

Diana's style endures beyond her 1997 death for a simple reason, according to exhibit handlers Nick Grossmark and Graeme Murton.

"It's timeless," Grossmark said. "Even 30 years on, you could wear a lot of these things."

As shown in the gallery, that wasn't always the case for the young princess, whose style developed, especially following her divorce.

"She understood the power of fashion," Grossmark said. Murton added that Diana "said she wanted to be noticed as a workhorse, not a clotheshorse."

Here's a sample of what's on display.

Catherine Walker tweed coat-dress and Philip Somerville hat, 1989

This is one of Walker's signature coat-dresses. Walker was one of Diana's favorite designers and the two collaborated on many outfits. "She was very much a designer of the time," Grossmark said. He pointed out that Kate Middleton's mother wore a Walker ensemble to the 2011 royal wedding.

Ronit Zilkha orange suit, 1992

Diana was known to shop "off the peg," Grossmark said. That's the British phrase for off-the-rack. In the category of "royalty -- they're just like us," Diana would go shopping on her own and pick outfits such as this wool suit with a velvet collar and gold buttons in the Chanel style. She then paired this more accessible style with a high-end Dior handbag.

Versace pink suit, 1997

The Italian designer was a friend of Diana's and even dedicated his spring/summer 1997 collection to her. "By all accounts, they adored each other," Grossmark said, adding that this look is reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with the Philip Somerville pillbox hat.

Jacques Azagury cocktail dress, 1997

There are four gowns in the exhibit by Azagury, including this one that Diana wore to a performance of "Swan Lake" by the English National Ballet. It's an example of her more adventurous post-divorce style. "It caused a bit of a storm," Grossmark said. "It was quite short at the time and quite revealing." The heavy squiggly "spaghetti bugle beading" was a signature of Azugary's, as are the "Hepburn-esque" bows on the straps.

DIANA, A CELEBRATION

Where: Mall of America, Level 4, East.

When: Through June 10.

What: A collection of 150 objects on loan from the Althorp Estate, the Spencer family's ancestral home in England.

Tickets: $23.50 general admission, $13.50 for ages 11 and under, available at mall guest services and the exhibition box office. Group sales available at 952-883-8809.

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Sales & Events

THURSDAY

Maria Rivolta appearance: Meet the Buenos Aires-based designer behind the eponymous jewelry line at her only U.S. retail location.

6 to 8 p.m., Maria Rivolta Kiosk, Mall of America, S1802 Bloomingdale's Court.

FRIDAY

Band of Thrifters pop-up event: A trio of thrifters have joined forces for a joint shopping event of vintage clothing, accessories and collectibles from the 1950s through the 1990s. They'll feature a curated line of winter to spring transitional clothing and accessories.

Through Saturday, Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Av. S., Mpls., www.bandofthrifters.com.

Roberto Coin Collection Event at Wixon Jewelers: The store will cover your sales tax during the event, which features its full selection of the designer's jewelry.

Friday, Saturday and Monday, Wixon Jewelers, 9955 Lyndale Av. S., Bloomington, 952-881-8862, wixonjewelers.com.

SATURDAY

Allure Lingerie Fashion Show: The fashion show will feature looks from Allure Lingerie in St. Paul and men's briefs by Christopher Straub.

Doors open at 8 p.m. with show at 9:45 p.m., 508 Bar and Restaurant, 508 1st Av. N., Mpls., $5.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177 • sglassman@startribune.com • Twitter: @sararglassman.

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