Twenty-four years since she breathed her last, yet a world still heaves a nostalgic sigh at the mention of Diana Spencer, the sublime “People’s Princess”, cherished humanitarian and indisputable inspiration. Diana was undeniably the first-line hearthrob of the 1980s and 90s, not exclusively for the reason of being wedded to the first heir to the British throne; the admiration she received—and continues to receive—from the billions, roots from the impact she almost unintentionally set on them, all on her own. Magazines swooned over the Princess; not for a single moment did the light from a camera-flash fail to fall on her whenever she was in the public. Some would say the reason behind this kind of fanatical admiration was her unparalleled beauty; some would argue it was her golden heart, the manner she literally reached out to the sick and oppressed; some would simply believe it was because she embodied the character of the girl in every fairytale who gets to marry the charming prince. Nonetheless, one fact remains irrefutable—Diana, Princess of Wales was, and always will be, a prestigious icon of style.
Granted, the princess bedazzled in whichever attire she chose to wear, casual or otherwise. Notwithstanding, a few noteworthy fashion statements set by Diana keep themselves highlighted in the history of fashion, as one may notice going forward.
A crowd of a couple-million spectators exclaimed as the Princess stepped out of a horse-driven carriage ahead St. Paul’s Cathedral, finally revealing her much-anticipated ivory silk taffeta and antique lace wedding gown and its 25-foot train, accompanied by a tulle veil that stretched for 153 yards. Today, the then-£9000 dress remains on display at Diana’s home, the Kensington Palace.
This gorgeous, gauzy, chiffon ballgown by high-end designer Belville Sassoon is described as “dreamy” by many, supposedly owing to the swirling lilac and pink motifs on the dainty white fabric. The princess paired this dress with a pearl choker when she attended an event at the Victoria And Albert Museum right on the day before it was announced by the palace that she expecting her first child, in 1981.
The Princess provoked the nickname “Dynasty Di” as she glistened in this full-on silver dress besides Prince Charles, participating for the James Bond: “A View To Kill” movie premiere in 1985. She was an apparently up-to-date fashion-wise, judging from the broad shoulders featured in her Bruce Oldfield dress, which were a closely followed trend at the time. The dress’s open-back, which was an unusual characteristic for a royal’s style option, indicates her early-on desires to step over the lines drawn by the Crown.
A noticeable fact would be Diana’s ceaseless choices to embrace the designs of Catherine Walker, such as this pastel-blue chiffon dress she donned for the Cannes Film Festival in 1987, which boasts of traces from Grace Kelly’s renowned dresses in the movie “To Catch A Thief.”
This Pakistani-inspired attire exists as proof that the British Princess did not disappoint when she preferred styles derived from foreign cultures, besides being a manifestation of the fact that the said cultures had her immense respect. Gifted to her by associate Jemima Khan, Diana’s pearl-studded salwar kameez led to her favoring more designs characterized with Pakistani influences.
Diana was seen stepping out of church on a Sunday in this stunning houndstooth-printed outfit. It is noteworthy how she managed to compact each piece of garment and accessory into her limited, red, black and white color palette.
The Princess of Wales, while possessing the capability to ravish in her elegant dresses, succeeded in bestowing admirers with a chic ensemble composed of a cinch-waisted dress accessorized with dark, white-rimmed glasses on her 1988 excursion to Bangkok, Thailand.
Alongside her wedding dress, this off-the-shoulder mini dress with its daring neckline, fabled “the Revenge Dress”, holds much fame. The name came into being owing to the suspicions of many that, attending an event in the Serpentine Gallery, she spruced up in this dress—an attire considered “outrageous” by those of the Royal Family—as a response to Prince Charles’s confession in his documentary that he was having an affair with Camila Parker Bowles. The dress had belonged to the Princess for three years, though her allegedly being nervous to step out in it explains why it was never previously seen, until she preferred it that particular night.
To speak of the statements of fashion set by the Princess of Wales would require a minimum of hours. Such is the prevalent impact left behind by a woman who, tragic as her life was, continues to inspire and seize the hearts of generations and generations to come.
By Rebecca Mischelle