Why Princess Diana is still our ultimate royal fashion icon

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  • And here's how I recreated her most iconic looks so you can too

    This week marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, and you don’t need me to tell you she’s as much of a fashion icon today as she ever was.

    Being French, I must admit I didn’t always understand the fascination with Royalty. But the one thing I did get was everyone’s obsession with Princess Diana (plus my mum adored her).

    If you look back at Diana’s most memorable outfits, you’ll notice she wasn’t afraid to take risks. As a teenager, just before her engagement to Prince Charles, she favoured ruffles, high-neck blouses and cardigans as she slowly took interest in the world of fashion.

    In the 80s, a bolder Diana championed Dynasty-esque sequin dresses with the biggest shoulder pads around. She was the original power dresser, favouring bonbon-coloured suits with matching hats, and head-to-toe tartan in bold colours like red and purple.

    In the 90s, after separating from Prince Charles, as she embraced a new part of her life, her outfits changed to reflect that. She became independent and more confident, and so sharp suits, slip dresses and cropped jackets infiltrated her wardrobe.

    I love the fact Diana backed emerging fashion designers too, essentially propelling them into the limelight. No one was expecting her to choose David Emanuel for her wedding dress, and she virtually put Catherine Walker, Victor Edelstein and Bruce Oldfield on the sartorial map. She chose to wear Edelstein to the White House (you know, that John Travolta dress) and Oldfield to many a Royal engagement, including an official tour to New Zealand.

    Of course, she did have close relationships with famous fashion houses too (she was Giovanni Versace’s close friend and had a Dior handbag named after her), but that didn’t stop her from being loyal to smaller British designers too.

    So as an homage to Princess Diana and her everlasting style, I decided to recreate five outfits that I feel most represented Diana, outfits which I feel you can easily integrated into today’s wardrobe (hair by the wonderful Maria Galati at Taylor Taylor London).

    Working the Victorian ruffle – so on trend!

    Shop the look: SEA Velvet-trimmed ruffled cotton-blend lace top, £135 at Net-A-Porter, Allude cashmere jumper, Z for Accessorize diamanté hoop earrings

    Lady Diana Spencer, as she was known before she became a Princess, embodied what every little girl thought a Princess should look like. Think pastel ruffles, bows and dainty dresses. But you could see a glimpse of the fashion icon she was to become, which is why I chose this ruffled Victorian blouse and sweater set. I’d like to think Diana would be secretly pleased that a trend she embraced back in the 80s would make such a fierce comeback on the catwalk for AW17.

    Setting the Sloane/Parisian fashion agenda

    Shop the look: Topshop white t-shirt £10, Mango white jeans £19.99, M&S gold button jacket £49.50, French Sole Henrietta Ballerina Pumps, £120 at House of Fraser, Mulberry Bayswater Tote £695

    Although not the most flamboyant, this outfit remains one of my favourites, and I actually own most of these items, bar the bag. It epitomises Diana’s early days Sloane Ranger style – a fashionable upper-class young woman living in London FYI – but it also ticks that Parisian cool girl box. It’s the definition of timeless, and it’s perfect for pretty much any occasion.

    I went for mum jeans here to match Diana’s 80s vibe, but this look works equally well with cigarette trousers or flares.

    Out-there and even before Prada got big

    Shop the look: PRADA Bow-embellished ruffled striped cotton shirt, £258 at Net-A-PorterFEDERICA MORETTI Tea straw hat, £168 at MATCHESFASHION.COM

    Way before Prada owned pussy bow blouses circa SS17, Princess Diana rocked the statement blouse. Some might say this look is a bit extreme, but I love it. The candy stripes, the pearls, the hat, it’s all a bit much but it works.

    I did try recreating this with a hat (which you can still buy through the above link, if you’re interested), but I felt it looked too dated, so in the end opted for just the blouse and discreet pear earrings.

    Gym-ready and gorgeous

    Shop the look: Tommy Hildiger sweatshirt £90, H&M running shorts £8.99, Adidas Ultraboost shoes £139.95, M&S leather tote bag £89, Finlay & Co sunglasses £120

    There was something about Princess Diana, that meant she would’ve been just as elegant in her PJs (I imagine) as she was in evening gowns. Even going to the gym, she was effortlessly chic in trainers and logo sweatshirt. If you think about it, she did that off-duty look way before Gigi and Bella.

    The Revenge dress

    Shop the look: Rachel Zoe dress, £179.09 from The Outnet, Cos bag £89, & Other Stories pearl choker £35, Accessorize pearl drop earrings £6

    I couldn’t do a feature on Princess Diana without including perhaps (one of) her most famous dresses ever. To me, this dress goes way beyond a timeless cocktail dress. Diana wore the Christina Stambolian dress to an event at the Serpentine gallery, the same night a documentary was aired where Prince Charles confessed to having an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Diana almost didn’t wear it, worrying it was too daring.

    But she did in the end, and the dress was the perfect way for her to say, ‘I don’t care, I’m moving on, and don’t I look fabulous?’. The look has stood the test of time so well that it was easy for me to recreate it. I gave the dress a little update by choosing it in crushed velvet, which is a key AW17 trend.

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