Princess Di dresses in new Kensington Palace exhibit

LONDON Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:00am EST

Kyoto city officials help Princess Diana as she puts on a Japanese Kimono during her tour of Nijo Castle on May 9, 1986 in Kyoto, Japan.  REUTERS/Shunsuke Akatsuka

Kyoto city officials help Princess Diana as she puts on a Japanese Kimono during her tour of Nijo Castle on May 9, 1986 in Kyoto, Japan.

Credit: Reuters/Shunsuke Akatsuka

LONDON (Reuters) - A collection of Princess Diana's dresses will go on display at London's Kensington Palace to coincide with the completion of a 12 million pound ($18.8 million) renovation to her former home.

The display, entitled "Diana," will open on March 26 and run until September as part of a permanent exhibition at Kensington Palace dedicated to Queen Victoria.

The news follows an announcement that Prince William and his brother Prince Harry have decided to use their late mother's apartment for charity events and receptions. William's wife Catherine will also use the apartment for charity events.

William and Catherine also plan to move into another area of the palace next year after extensive renovations are completed.

The exhibition will showcase some of Diana's most famous dresses, including a black taffeta floor-length gown worn for her first public appearance at the Royal Opera House in 1981 and designed by the same makers of her wedding dress.

The David and Elizabeth Emanuel frock, which was sold at auction last year for 192,000 pounds, has never been displayed in public before and will sit alongside an ivory dress designed by Catherine Walker, which Diana wore for a Vanity Fair photo-shoot by Mario Testino in 1997 and a fuchsia and purple silk sari, worn to a dinner held for the King of Thailand in 1988.

"We have carefully selected this collection of exquisite dresses to illustrate to visitors Diana's evolving style and the important role fashion played in creating her public image," Kensington Palace curator Deirdre Murphy said in a statement.

"Kensington Place is an ideal setting to showcase these gowns - the atmosphere of the display will be truly magical."

($1 = 0.6384 British pounds)

(Created by Li-mei Hoang)