Princess Diana and her Fashion Legacy

10 Sep

Last week marked the 15th anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana. I still to this day recall where I was when I heard the news. I guess this event was one of many of our generations “Kennedy assassination moments”. I was pregnant with my younger daughter, and we were at a family reunion in Dwight, KS over Labor Day Weekend. We stayed in my great-grandparent’s Victorian house and the bedroom we slept in was the master bedroom. It was Kansas, in the summer, there were only window units downstairs, and I’m 5 months pregnant. Sleeping was not a pleasant experience. I remember the smell of the house, the faded 50 year old wallpaper, and staring up at the countless number of flies that hung out on the 12 foot ceilings. I think there was maybe a floor fan to help move the air around, but when ceilings are 12 feet high, a 4 foot floor fan really doesn’t do much good.

Anyway, I remember hearing the news that Princess Diana had been killed and it seemed that all the events of the weekend stopped to watch the story unfold on TV. I had remembered watching the royal wedding (just to see the dress, of course) and wondered really what this beautiful 20 year old wanted to do with an ugly English Prince? I was only 8 years younger than she was, so to watch her style grow and evolve as she became more comfortable in her role as Princess was like watching an older cousin getting ready for prom and being anxious for the day when it would be my turn. Looking back, I’m a bit dismayed that she was in the prime of her fashion life in the 80s. Really, could there have been a more bizarre, extreme, loud, garish decade? But, she was able to take the best it had to offer, and give an entire generation of girls an example of class and dignity and style.

A look back at some of my favorite Princess Diana looks:

The wedding dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel required more than 43 yards of silk and 10,000 pearl and mother of pearl sequins. It has a small 18K gold and diamond horseshoe sewn in to the dress for good luck.

1985 Silver lame Bruce Oldfield gown worn to a benefit fashion show. Bruce Oldfield was one of the rumored designers for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.

1985, at a London movie premier, Diana wore this Catherine Walker strapless pleated floral dress. Walker was one of Diana’s favorite designers, designing over 1000 garments for the Princess. Diana is buried in a black dress designed by Walker. Most recently, Walker designed Kate Middleton’s dresses for her North American tour and also designed the dress her mother wore to the wedding.

Diana became ever more bold in her fashion choices. Here, in 1990, she wore a houndstooth suit in contrasting black, white and red with matching red and black spectator pumps for the christening of her niece. Notice also the lack of hosiery. In the royal family, this was surely a fashion faux pas!

Diana was always very deliberate in her fashion choices when visiting foreign countries. She made a point to look tailored and classy, but always gave some kind of nod to the culture or history of the country she was visiting. Here, in a 1992 visit to Egypt, she chose an ivory safari inspired linen suit.

In June of 1997, just months before her tragic death, she attended an auction at Christie’s of some of her dresses. She wore a simple white linen dress with Chanel accessories. Always classy, always the personification of grace and elegance. Makes you wonder what wonderful things she would have been doing today.

Images courtesy of vogue UK

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2 Responses to “Princess Diana and her Fashion Legacy”

  1. erin May 12, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    I totally agree

  2. Boomdeeadda September 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    I admired her for so much more than her fashion sense, but yes she certainly had style.

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