We take a look at Diana's most memorable and stylish outfits
Princess Diana was the original monarch who ruled the art of royal dressing, long before Kate Middleton and her cool fashion brands came along. After all, she seamlessly embraced Royal etiquette, all the while setting her own fashion rules, like not wearing gloves on official visits, starting this trainer trend and single-handedly making this Dior handbag one of the most coveted in the world.
Today, almost 20 years on since Diana’s death, her style still fascinates the world, so much so that Kensington Palace has dedicated an entire exhibition to her (Diana: Her Fashion Story), showcasing some of her most famous outfits, including the pale pink David Emanuel blouse she wore in her engagement portrait.
Princess Diana’s style in the early days
It might surprise you to hear that when Princess Diana first got engaged, she had no interest in fashion. But overnight, she went from a shy young aristocrat to a soon-to-be princess in the limelight, and had to dress accordingly. At first, her style was very twee. As Diana’s former stylist, Anna Harvey, reveals, ‘Diana started off being really safe with her style. It was all very ‘Laura Ashley’.’ Cue bows and frills, in other words, every little girl’s interpretation of a fairytale princess.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress embodied that, thanks to its cathedral length trail, puffy sleeves and miles and miles of taffeta – and FYI, did you know there was a second dress made as a back-up, and that her wedding tiara had a special meaning?
On top of that, the young Princess had to follow a strict dress code, which included dressing suitable for the occasion, and according to who she met, for examples other Royalty, children etc.
Princess Diana’s style in the 1980s
In the mid to late 80s, as Diana’s love of fashion and confidence grew, she began to make some bolder fashion choices. The exhibition curator, Eleri Lynn, commented, ‘We see her growing in confidence throughout her life, increasingly taking control of how she was represented, and intelligently communicating through her clothes. ’
There were the bold evening gowns, including the midnight blue Victor Edelstein dress she wore to dance with John Travolta on a state visit to the US to meet Ronald and Nancy Reagan. In fact, that dress was hailed as a departure from her usual ‘safe’ style. She became known for her Dynasty-esque sequin gowns, and bold coloured shoulder pads, which she pulled off elegantly. During the day, she favoured power suits and dress in equally bright designs and prints, always worn with matching accessories like pillar box hats.
Princess Diana’s style in the 1990s
It wasn’t until the mid-90s that Princess Diana really found her style, and it wasn’t a coincidence that it coincided with her divorce. Gone were the brash colours and exaggerated silhouettes of the 80s, replaced in favour of sleeker, more minimal styles in muted tones.
Perhaps one of her most famous of all was the black Christina Stambolian ‘revenge dress’ she wore to the Serpentine Gallery summer party in 1996, the same night Prince Charles admitted to having an affair with Camilla. She almost didn’t wear the dress, which she thought was too low cut, and in fact had intended on wearing a Versace dress, but was put off at the last minute after a release announcing her outfit was put out.
She nailed her working wardrobe, favouring chic Catherine Walker suits and tailored dresses, and became known for her simple evening dresses.
Twenty years on from her death, Princess Diana’s style is still an inspiration. Scroll down to see her most iconic looks.