Princess Diana’s “rebellious” fashion sense continues to inspire high-end fashion designers to this day, claims a model and activist.
In Channel 4’s Diana: Queen of Style, which airs tonight at 10pm, British model Leomie Anderson says the late royal, who died in 1997, exuded a “chic” sense of rebellion in her outfits that designers are still trying to capture. to match.
‘I think Diana inspires a lot of high fashion designers, because she was seen as the royal rebel,’ says Leomie. ‘And I feel like that’s an energy that many designers try to capture in their own collection.’
“I feel like when people refer to Diana, they’re trying to capture that chic, couture element, but with a rebellious touch.”
Meanwhile, sesigner Jacque Azagury, who dressed Diana on several occasions, notes how the late royal wore short, revealing dresses — like the one she famously wore on a visit to the Serpentine Gallery in June 1994 or the blue ensemble she wore at the Royal Albert. Hall in June 1997 – to show that she was a ‘free woman’.
Channel 4’s Diana: Queen of Style, airing tonight at 10pm, explores how Princess Diana’s wardrobe still influences fashion today. Pictured: The royal in the Christina Stambolian black dress now called the ‘vengeance dress’, in June 1994 at the Serpentine Gallery, London
The documentary examines how the late Princess of Wales’s wardrobe and sense of style have stood the test of time and are still popular with the public 24 years after her death.
Elsewhere, fashion writer Justine Picardie claims Princess Diana’s clothes helped her connect with the public – adding that the personal way she used her wardrobe to communicate will appeal to future generations.
“Every generation will return to Diana because every generation understands the fabric of life, the fabric of love and loss,” she explains.
And it is that we recognize in Diana’s wardrobe, what we recognize is something that reflects in ourselves: in our own joy, our own sorrow, our own sorrow, our own happiness, our own losses, that is there, in the dust of her clothes.’
But according to Elizbeth Emanuel, who designed Diana’s famous wedding dress, the royal family was not always aware of the power clothing could have.
Pictured: Princess Diana in a light blue dress designed by Jacques Azagury, which she wore to attend a performance of ‘Swan Lake’ by the English National Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1997
The royal was not always aware of the power of clothing, but was stylish even as a shy newcomer. Pictured in her famous 1980’s sheepskin sweater
“In the beginning, when we first met Diana, I don’t think she thought much about fashion,” she explains. “I think she liked to wear clothes, but never thought about the kind of stuff that would be right for her to wear. And of course we were very young and it was all new to us too.’
She says this changed when the princess – who was just 19 at the time and had just become engaged to the heir apparent Prince Charles – wore a black taffeta dress with a revealing neckline for an evening at the Royal Opera House in 1981.
“We happened to have this black dress hanging from the rail and that was a sample, but she loved it, she tried on it and we all thought ‘wow, she looks great,’ Elizabeth recalls. “But we didn’t know then that black wasn’t a good color to wear, because it’s usually reserved for funerals.
“But it was also pretty low-cut, and when she wore that dress, everyone went crazy. It was a controversial outfit. It caught the eyes of all fashion journalists at the time.’
The dress is today seen as the moment when Diana went from a shy newcomer to a fashion powerhouse.
“I think from then on she realized the power of the clothing vocabulary, and over the years she started to use it. She knew it could really create an effect,” Elizabeth notes.
Justine also explains how the late royal often used her clothes to get a message across.
“In the early 1980s we still lived in a sexist society and women like Diana were seen but not heard,” she says. “Clothes were her way of communicating with the world.”
She adds that Princess Diana’s wardrobe made her recognizable before the details of her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles came to light.
“I think Diana is the People’s Princess, the woman that people think they know her as if she’s their girlfriend, their sister, their mother, really got some structure in that tour of Australia,” Justine says. ‘It must be partly because of her clothes. Because at that time no one knew that her marriage was in trouble.’
British model Leomie Anderson, pictured in 2020, says Diana’s rebellious flair inspires fashion designers to this day
“So it wasn’t like you could see Diana as a broken heart.”
Author Banseka Kayembe agrees: ‘I think her clothing is essentially a way of having a voice in a media landscape that doesn’t like to give women a voice and doesn’t give women any kind of autonomy over their own story and their story.’
After her divorce from Prince Charles in 1992, Princess Diana came out with an emboldened wardrobe.
There is still talk of her visit to the Serpentine Gallery in June 1994 on the night the affair of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles – now the Duchess of Cornwall – came to light.
For the occasion, she donned a revealing Christina Stambolian dress, which still spills ink today.
The design, a black fitted off-the-shoulder dress with a short hemline, was dubbed the ‘Revenge Dress’ and even has its own Wikipedia page.
Designer Jacques Azagurdy, who designed dresses for Diana in the 1990s, testified to the princess’ desire to wear revealing clothes more often.
Pictured: Diana, then 19, caused a stir in a black taffeta dress designed by the Emanuels for an evening at the Royal Opera House in 1981, making her realize the effect fashion can have on people
He discusses a blue diamond dress he made for her, which she wore to a Swan Lake performance at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1997.
“This is probably one of the famous dresses the princess wore,” he says. “You’ll notice how short it is and the princess was six feet tall with flat feet, so there wasn’t much dress and there was a lot of the princess,” he jokes.
Pointing to the plunging neckline and hemline of the dress, he adds, “It was very low here and very high there. She actually wanted it a little shorter than this.’
“At the time, she really wanted to get the message across that yes, she was finally a free woman and very confident and above all very happy in herself.”
Diana: Queen of Style, airs tonight at 10 p.m. on channel 4.