Torino, Palace of Venaria: could it had been entertained somewhere else the first Italian exhibition dedicated to Lady D? No. This is why the Venaria Real and Kornice paid tribute to the different souls of Diana Spencer, princess of the XX century, a special architectural space, “Sale dei Paggi”, for the first time centre of an exhibition. Once upon a time there was a simple girl that fell in love with a charming prince, but he wasn’t charming at all and at the end of the fairy tale they didn’t live happily ever after.
Twenty years ago Lady Diana faded away, impossible to forget that tragical incident that happened on the 31st of August, 1997, for those who have loved her but even for those that don’t have particular interest in high society gossip but can remember that tragedy and the media wave covered with mysteries, doubts and entangles left without answers. The exhibition grateful to an evocative and emotional presentation of stories, images, newspaper references and testimonies, wants to involve the visitor in a pervasive experience.
Topos of the exposure is the myth of femininity and the energy that Lady D has created about herself and that her early death has simply amplified. The exhibition itself is a storytelling that speaks by images, symbols and short stories, that helps the spectator remember the particular historical context of the eighties. We have met Gulia Zandonadi, art historian and in charge of the Kornice project, and Fabrizio Modina, collector, creative multimedia and fashion design teacher, that have covered the scientific trusteeship of the exhibition and with whom we have deepened some themes to share with our readers.
Fabrizio, a princess that marries and then separates, can we talk about a sort of “Lady D effect” in historical and social terms?
The marriage between Diana Spencer and the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom was not a political or strategic operation, since, even though as ancient and powerful, the lineage of the mole-princess had nothing to offer to the Windsors that they already didn’t possess. Courting both of the Spencer sisters, Charles saw probably in the youngest an appropriate figure in a maternal role. As it was very clear right from the beginning of their marriage, the royal scion never declared really his love to the wife. The crown needed a renewal, but in fact it was not the marriage that effected it, more probably the separation, a unique and extremely modern event, that brought the fairy tale to the harsh truth. In other times, the consort would have supported, life during, any abuse by the husband ( as the history teaches ), while within a step away from the new millennium, Diana chose to be a modern woman, drawing from the same legal laws used by wives socially less elevated than her. The princess simply left the prince and without regrets: from that moment the fairy tales were to be re-writed.
Giulia, can we give an anticipation on the opening of the exhibition? is it meaningful the choice to place side by side Lady Diana and Marilyn Monroe: tell us more.
They are both icons of the twentieth century. It is known the deep rooted friendship that tied Principessa Diana to Elton John, and so we have chosen to begin with the song Candle in the Wind written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in 1973, in honour of Marilyn Monroe, whose true name was Norma Jean, and sung by Elton John at Diana’s funeral, changing the introduction of the text “Goodbye Norma Jean, though I never knew you at all”, in a version adapted to the princess as Goodbye England’s rose, defining her the rose of England. The text synthesises poetically the hyperbole of a life made of fame and richness interrupted too soon. Talking about “Lady D effect” you need to think about the CDs made in autumn of 1997, that became, in a few weeks, the second more sold single in history and all incomes from sales were given to The Diana, Princess Wales Memorial Fund. Elton John has not ever sung again this live version and has declared that will do it only on express demand of Diana’s sons.
Then again, Gulia, because looking at the images, her changing as a woman is evident also through her new style.
If we observe the fotos with her sons, the maternal love in her eyes is always the same but the female strength and her personal style, expressed through the photos, are entirely different. Furthermore, look at the photo made in June 1994, Diana went to the summer party of “Vanity Fair” at the Serpentine Gallery of London in a black silky dress designed by the Greek stylist Christina Stambolian. It is fundamental to know that that dress was made three years before, but the princess never felt really at ease with that type, form and length. In that occasion she appears sober, sensual and self-confident, showing the world the great internal change and the reached serenity in the post-separation. This look will remain in history as the revenge dress.
Fabrizio, Diana has been first queen and then again a person among the people, yet has never left being a princess, as though in her that formal function had found individuality a natural position, preventing her being merely a person but making her become an icon for the whole world.
Diana grew up among the population: she travelled, worked, lived with her feet rooted on the ground since she was young. A condition that no-one else in Buckingham Palace had been able to share with her. The same Elizabeth, in spite of being native in a branch of the family not destined to the crown, rarely had the opportunity to walk among the people really understanding their necessities, neither during the second world war, when she developed an active propagandist role.
Even though losing the Royal Highness title after the divorce, Diana remained however the mother of the future king of the United Kingdom, an official role that would never allow a total detachment from the palace. Yet, in those few years as a mother separated and independent, the princess used at the best the granted opportunities, developing beneficent activities that made her more beloved than the sovereign, to whom she removed, unintentionally, the first page on the chronicles. Diana had understood perfectly how to exploit profit and benefit, and at the same time also the disadvantages, that could bring something good, not only in terms of image, but above all of humanitarian effectiveness.
Diana’s natural simplicity assumes more distinction if compared to the granite absence of communication in the actual consort of Charles, destined to cohabit with a ghost with which she will never be able to compete in terms of popularity and adoration.
In theses days there are celebrities that create onlus and are occupied with social problems, but not thirty years ago; we then can say that Lady D was a visionary in this or that she was a true queen because she dealt with the people, not only of her kingdom but of all the world?
[Fabrizio] In the good and in the bad the eighties have generated a wave of liberty and creativity that till today seems unattainable. From England departed the first great humanitarian projects thought not only by wealthy tycoons but from musician artists, a social revolution that brought attention to the media for real problems filtered across the channel of pop music. Diana became the symbol of this interaction, acting like glue between the institutions and the recipients of the beneficence, guaranteeing the effectiveness of such operations. Off the carriage, Diana walked among the weak, without any velleity to become consecrated, but with one only objective to show that all of us can give a contribution, little or great.
[Gulia] Just to give continuity to this message, a section of the exhibition is dedicated to the great personalities that had surely given inspiration to Lady Diana: Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Nelson Mandela, that the princess met at different times in her life. The interest for the comfort of others, the possibility to give a hand and understanding others needs are all qualities that underlines her sensitive personality. I believe that Diana understood Mandela’s teaching when she said: “Live your life as though nobody is looking at you. Express yourself as though everybody is listening to you”. As well as from Mother Teresa she made hers the message “all are people to love” and she has committed to diffuse it. Lady Diana, through time had found her way, had followed her heart.
Looking at the exhibition, is visible your intention to underline, over her elegance and beauty, her strength and courage. Is this impression correct?
[Fabrizio] Her sons have been certainly the strength behind the strength. If she had become queen, Diana would have never stopped being first of all mother. A modern, dynamic, affectionate mother, that has known how to transmit these values to those that she reputed precious more than the diamonds set among the jewels of the crown. Not by chance William has chosen his bride in a bourgeois family, contravening to secular traditions. Without William and Harry, Diana would have been left alone and perhaps she would have never found the motivation to become emancipated and therefore be able to avoid the cage in which is feel shut in. What made her popular, and still does after twenty years from her death, is the natural simplicity that surrounded her, making her, independently from all the wealthy scenography, similar to all the other women.
“I love being a free spirit. Many don’t like it, but this is what I am.” Lady Diana Spencer
The show was inaugurated Friday the 7th July at 11.30. It will be visitabile until 28th January 2018 with the following timetable: Until the 26th August – closed on Mondays; From Tuesday to Thursday: 9.00 to 17.00; Friday and Saturday: 9.00 to 23.30; Sunday and holidays: 9.00 to 18.30. Extraordinary openings: Monday the 14th and Tuesday the 15th From August the 27th – closed on Mondays; Tuesday to Friday: 9.00 to 17.00; Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 9.00 to 18.30. Extraordinary openings: Saint Stephen, New Year’s Day, Epiphany (closed on December 25th). The box offices and the entries close an hour before the check out time.