Meghan Markle made headlines in her Givenchy wedding dress, and Kate Middleton’s lace Alexander McQueen gown spawned thousands of copies, however you can’t deny that Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding dress is considered the most famous royal wedding dress ever.
As such, it was a closely guarded secret, so much so that its designers, David and Elizabeth Emanuel, had to rip up sketches as soon as they showed them to Diana, just in case anyone caught a glimpse of it.
And did you know that they were so paranoid the design would be leaked that they had an emergency wedding dress made? Yep, David told People, ‘At the time we wanted to make absolutely sure that the dress was a surprise.’
He added that the Princess didn’t even see the dress, ‘We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even discussed it. We wanted to make sure that we had something there; it was for our own peace of mind, really.’
The back-up gown was made in the same ivory silk taffeta with ruffles around the neck as the original, however came without the signature antique lace and was never completely finished. It sounds much less lavish than the original version, which was hand-embroidered with over 10,000 tiny mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls and featured a lavish 25-foot train.
For the fittings themselves, David revealed that Diana came alone for the first three or four visits, then asked if she could take her mother along. In a previous interview with the TheExpress.co.uk
, the designer described the Princess as ‘delinquent, delicious, wonderful, real and adorable. She was simply young and fresh. I wanted the dress to reflect that but she was going in as Lady Diana Spencer and coming out as the Princess of Wales.’
‘If you did a subtle little number it’s not going to work to an audience of seven hundred billion people! I was leaving my studio at six o’clock that evening and she rang me and said it was “fabulous”. Job done! As long as she was happy, I was happy. It was a pleasure to do.’
Dian’s dress was inherited by her sons Prince William and Harry when they turned 30 and has toured for many years with the exhibition ‘Diana: A Celebration’, though generally it stays for only part of the exhibit.