Diana’s dresses: the story behind the fashion icon
Posted: 17 July 2013 8:37 am Edited by: Ellen Couzens
A documentary aired this evening on Channel 4 featuring the sale of ten of Princess Diana’s most iconic and famous dresses, ‘Diana’s Dresses – The Auction’. This documentary looked at the Princess’ style throughout her life.
The one hour programme showed how Lady Diana Spencer began as a shy young lady not conscious of fashion, and became one of the most admired fashion icons in the world as the Princess of Wales. A friend of Diana’s, Virginia Clarke, recalls how they shared clothes - since fashion was not important to them - how few pieces they owned and how Diana then evolved.
People Diana consulted for style such as Anna Harvey, former deputy editor of Vogue, designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel, and Kerry Taylor who sold Diana’s dresses at auction were featured in the documentary, sharing their stories of working with Diana and her unique sense of style. According to Anna Harvey, who used to advise the Princess, she had to make mistakes to learn, such as the cut of a top or a skirt when bending or exiting a car, but never, when she made such a mistake did she mean to damage the image of the Royal Family: Diana learnt the hard way and came in for much criticism for some of her bold choices, as well as the cost of the Royal wardrobe.(Sounds familiar doesn’t it?)
Of course, the documentary would not be complete without a mention of Diana’s wedding dress. The veil, the Emanuel dress with its 25ft train and how the huge skirt creased en-route to St Paul’s Cathedral, much to the shock of its designers. This extravagant choice was apparently a taste of things to come, with Diana coming in for criticism for some of her choices, as she became more confident and comfortable with her role as a royal wife.
Diana intended to send ‘messages’ with her choice in clothes, claims the documentary, like the short black number for her first public event since her divorce, showing she should not be pitied. After this, she began to branch out in labels and designs, such as Chanel and her style became more informal and relaxed, with lower necklines, more daring choices. Diana could now wear heels, which she never did whilst married to Charles.A number of Diana’s dresses were sold by the Princess herself at Christie’s in 1997 at the suggestion of Prince William to raise money for charity, and Diana was ‘remarkably unsentimental’ about the whole thing, according to Meredith Etherington-Smith. Sold off to all corners of the globe, ten came to Kerry Taylor in London, who has sold clothes of some of the most famous people in the world. The ten dresses up for sale by Kerry Taylor included the off-the-shoulder navy number Diana wore in the USA, a red velvet dress worn to Australia and the Back to the Future premiere and a Catherine Walker pink and ivory dress; these all come with their marks and stains, which according to Miss Taylor all adds to the appeal of the item, with some buyers even having them DNA tested to confirm what, or who, made the mark.
The documentary ended on a poignant note, mentioning the imminent Royal Baby and how Diana would have been a very stylish grandmother. Baby Cambridge will not grow up without knowing their grandmother, since she was one of the most famous women in the world, and William and Harry, along with many across the globe, continue to remember her.