“Princess Diana: A Tribute Exhibition” officially opened to the public on Friday, Sept. 2, marking the 25th anniversary of the Princess of Wales’s tragic passing. Located at The Shops at Crystals in Las Vegas, the 10,000-square-foot installation boasts over 700 royal artifacts. That includes eight of Diana’s authentic evening gowns, which were sourced by Pink Ribbons Crusade, a charity that purchases memorabilia to display while simultaneously raising funds to fight breast cancer.
The exhibit features 12 rooms, and one particular space, titled the “Wedding of the Century” room, invites couples to tie the knot atop a dramatic re-creation of Diana’s David and Elizabeth Emanuel wedding dress. Of all the ball gowns featured in the exhibit, eight are authentic — meaning they were actually worn by Lady Spencer, and they all come with significant backstories.
While many know of the “revenge dress,” which marked a pivotal moment in the princess’s life, they may not be as familiar with the pink “barbecue dress.” It’s our first glimpse of Diana’s authentic wardrobe at the exhibit, and it has a fascinating story behind it. The dress has a hidden connection to Lillie Langtry, whose great-grandmother was the mistress of Prince Charles’s great-great grandfather King Edward VII — just like Camilla Parker Bowles was Charles’s mistress.
Likewise, her Gianni Versace-designed LBD has its own significance. Spotlighted in the “Fashion Icon” room, it marked the beginning of a new style era for Princess Diana as a single woman following her separation from Charles.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sarah Wasilak
Exhibit curator and producer David Corelli stressed to POPSUGAR just how difficult it was to get his hands on such iconic garments. “[Diana] was one of the first royals to auction her dresses off,” he said during a media walk-through on Sept. 1. “Most are privately owned, but some are public. You have to get lucky.”
Though Corelli has seen an endless array of gowns over the course of his career, Princess Diana’s collection still took his breath away. “These are couture gowns that were made for a princess,” he explained. “That’s what I noticed the most when I finally saw them on display. Each one of them has a remarkable level of detail and luxury that you wouldn’t notice in photos.”
The dresses will stay in Las Vegas on display for a 10-year residency, and Corelli will continue to bring in other pieces as opportunities arise, in an effort to keep the collection fresh over time.
Ahead, find eight standout looks from “Princess Diana: A Tribute Exhibition” and learn the stories behind them. To see them in person, you can purchase general admission tickets, which start at $29, online or at the door.