Dy­nasty Di


Princess Di­ana rev­o­lu­tion­ized the royal dress code with the help of some of the world’s great­est de­sign­ers dur­ing a glam­orous life that came to a tragic end 20 years ago.

“Di­ana has be­come a fash­ion icon in the same way as Jackie Kennedy or Au­drey Hep­burn: time­less, el­e­gant, and still so rel­e­vant,” said Eleri Lynn, cu­ra­tor of Di­ana: Her Fash­ion

Story, an ex­hi­bi­tion at her Kens­ing­ton Palace home in Lon­don.

Nick­named “Shy Di” ahead of her 1981 mar­riage to Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, Di­ana came out of her shell and re­al­ized how her clothes could be used as a pow­er­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool.

“The princess learned to make her wardrobe say what she could not, and worked closely with de­sign­ers like Cather­ine Walker to cu­rate her per­son­al­ity through clothes,” So­phie Good­win, fash­ion di­rec­tor of Tatler mag­a­zine, told The New

York Times news­pa­per in Fe­bru­ary. Di­ana mas­tered the art of wear­ing the right dress for the right oc­ca­sion. She wore bright clothes when vis­it­ing hospices, in or­der to ap­pear warm and ac­ces­si­ble. On for­eign vis­its, she would choose clothes in­spired by the na­tional col­ors, such as the white dress with red spots she wore on the trip to Japan in 1986.

“She chose not to wear gloves be­cause she liked to make con­tact with the peo­ple she was meet­ing,” said Lynn.

Pic­tures of the princess shak­ing hands with AIDS pa­tients in 1987 helped break down myths sur­round­ing the dis­ease, in­clud­ing the un­founded fear of be­ing able to catch it through touch­ing suf­fer­ers.

The most pho­tographed woman of the age, Di­ana un­der­stood the rules of royal dress­ing but was not afraid to twist them.

She breached royal pro­to­col by wear­ing a black ball gown, a color worn for­mally by royal women only dur­ing mourn­ing.

Her out­fits in­cluded an­drog­y­nous gear, such as a tuxedo and a bow tie. “That’s quite the bold, fun look that you don’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect of a princess,” said Lynn.

She said Di­ana was the first woman in the royal fam­ily to wear trousers to an evening event.

Dar­ing out­fits She also helped mod­ern­ize the royal wardrobe, with out­fits that made a last­ing im­pres­sion.

The mid­night blue Vic­tor Edel­stein vel­vet evening gown she wore for a din­ner at the White House in 1985 is one of her most fa­mous.

It was in this dress that the princess danced with ac­tor John Tra­volta, to the hit You Should Be Danc­ing from the film Sat­ur­day Night Fever in which he starred.

Nick­named the Tra­volta dress, it even has its own Wikipedia page and sold for £240,000 ($318,000 or €268,000) at an auc­tion in 2013.

Af­ter her divorce from Charles in 1996, Di­ana switched up her style once again, aban­don­ing the Bri­tish de­sign­ers she had re­lied upon in fa­vor of in­ter­na­tional fash­ion houses such as Dior, Lacroix, or Chanel.

Di­ana ditched the frills, taffeta, and gi­ant ball gowns and adopted more dar­ing out­fits, like the fig­ure-hug­ging sky blue Jac­ques Aza­gury dress that went as far above the knee, as high as the de­signer felt he could go at the time with a princess.

“For so many years, the princess of Wales was the world’s one and only fash­ion ob­ses­sion, and the fore­run­ner of mod­ern glamor as we know it. She had to make it all up for her­self,” wrote Sarah Mower in the Daily Mail news­pa­per.

Di­ana’s look was widely copied and still in­spires cat­walks and de­sign­ers to this day.

The on­line cloth­ing site ASOS launched a Di­ana-in­spired col­lec­tion in Oc­to­ber 2016, play­ing on her off-duty look. Her style even has a pres­ence in the so­cial me­dia age. An In­sta­gram ac­count called Princess Di­ana For­ever, which has over 170,000 fol­low­ers, posts a daily pic­ture of her in var­i­ous out­fits, bring­ing her to a new gen­er­a­tion. •

Princess Di­ana of Wales vis­its the Great Pyra­mid of Giza, 15 kms from Cairo, May 12, 1992. The princess was on a six-day tour.

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