Hairdo that was Di­ana’s crown­ing glory

Daily Mail - - Front Page - by Sarah Vine

PER­HaPS more than any other part of her ap­pear­ance, Di­ana’s hair de­fined her. in early pho­to­graphs, she al­ways kept her head down, as though that silky, straw­berry blonde cur­tain might act as a vi­sor against the sud­den me­dia glare.

it gave her an air of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and un­cer­tainty that earned her the moniker ‘Shy Di’. Sweet and girl­ish, it set her apart from all the con­fi­dent, worldly-wise women Prince Charles had pre­vi­ously dated, such as Sab­rina Guin­ness and Lady Jane Welles­ley (who, when asked if an en­gage­ment was on the cards, fa­mously snapped: ‘Do you hon­estly be­lieve i want to be Queen?’).

Di­ana’s hair pro­jected the ex­act im­age the Royal Fam­ily were af­ter: that of a young brideto-be who was not only un­tar­nished, but also charm­ingly un­self­con­scious.

at the same time, how­ever, the cut was rather mod­ern and, cru­cially, short — which, for a fu­ture Princess, was un­con­ven­tional.

With hind­sight, per­haps that ought to have been a warn­ing that be­neath her gen­tle ex­te­rior beat the heart of a rebel, some­one who knew her own mind — even if she did not yet have the con­fi­dence to show it.

it also made her easy to re­late to. it was the kind of hair­cut thou­sands of young girls had, from my­self — about to start start­ing for my O-lev­els — to The nolans, Sheena Eas­ton, Kiki Dee and the many fans who bopped around to them on Top Of The Pops.

One of the first hair­dressers re­spon­si­ble for her early look was stylist Richard Dal­ton, who en­coun­tered Di­ana at Fen­wick of Bond Street’s in-store salon. it was here that well-bred young ladies had their hair cut, in­clud­ing Di­ana’s older sis­ters Sarah and Jane.

‘i met her when she was 17,’ he tells me from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where he now lives. ‘i used to cut her sis­ters’ hair, so when Di­ana came in too i asked Kevin [Shan­ley] to do it.’

So it was ac­tu­ally Shan­ley who gave her that first iconic flicked and feathered cut, and who later styled her hair for the wed­ding.

The ‘Di­ana’ was pop­u­lar at the time and scores of women copied it. Mag­a­zines even printed di­a­grams and en­cour­aged read­ers to ‘clip our sketch to show your hairdresser’.

Shan­ley and Dal­ton later fell out — sup­pos­edly over how she should wear her hair for the State Open­ing of Par­lia­ment — af­ter which Dal­ton says he be­came Di­ana’s prin­ci­pal stylist. ‘i was

with her every day for 12 years.’ He adds: ‘I don’t do gos­sip, but I do know she was re­ally in love with Charles. I al­ways felt she had to be pro­tected, not ex­posed.

‘Let me tell you, the in­ner cir­cle of power, it’s not at­trac­tive. Di­ana wasn’t pre­pared to put up with that. She al­ways used to say to me: “I’ll show this fam­ily.”

‘She wanted and de­served a proper fam­ily life. I used to buy her white choco­late and Opal Fruits to cheer her up. She loved them. “I’m not shar­ing!” she would say.’

Un­til 1991, when he moved to Amer­ica per­ma­nently, Dal­ton used to cut the boys’ hair too.

‘William would get ter­ri­bly ex­cited be­cause they’d put a chair on top of the cof­fee ta­ble at Kens­ing­ton Palace so I could cut his hair and they would get to watch ex­tra telly.

‘Harry was just like his mother — al­ways the one for fun,’ he says, re­call­ing how he used to climb all over the lug­gage racks on the train to San­dring­ham, in Nor­folk.

‘ “Get him down!” the nanny used to shout at me, and I’d say: “I can’t!” ’

In those days, Di­ana was re­luc­tantly learning to live with the in­tense public scru­tiny of her every move. When she wanted a shorter, lighter hair­cut for a trip to Africa, Dal­ton made the change in in­cre­ments, a quar­ter of an inch at a time over sev­eral weeks, so no one would no­tice.


AF­ter Dal­ton came Sam McKnight, an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent sort of snip­per for an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent Di­ana.

He first met the Princess and styled her hair in 1990, at a stu­dio in east Lon­don.

At the time, McKnight was work­ing in New York, but had flown to Lon­don to join Vogue’s top team, stylist Anna Har­vey, make-up artist Mary Green­well and pho­tog­ra­pher Pa­trick De­marche­lier, on a shoot of var­i­ous It-girls, in­clud­ing Vic­to­ria Lock­wood, first wife of Di­ana’s brother Charles, and Lady Sarah Arm­strong- Jones, Princess Mar­garet’s daugh­ter.

‘We were told we had one more to do,’ he says, but they had no idea who it was. ‘then Di­ana just came bound­ing up the stairs.

‘My first im­pres­sion of her was as this burst of en­ergy, these long limbs — and the most beau­ti­ful smile.

‘Her hair was quite long at the time and af­ter we had chat­ted for a while she asked: “What would you do if I gave you free rein?” I im­me­di­ately said: “Cut it off.” ’ And so they did, there and then. He put a plas­tic bag

over her shoul­ders and chopped it all off. The re­sult was a bold, fresh look for a woman who was, as McKnight says, ‘ob­vi­ously ready for a change’.

In more ways than one. This was al­most ten years af­ter her mar­riage. Two years later, An­drew Mor­ton’s book was to ex­pose her un­happy mar­riage to Prince Charles and, by De­cem­ber 1992, they had sep­a­rated. Di­ana was be­gin­ning the long process of de­tach­ing her­self from her life as a royal.

‘Hair is an im­por­tant part of a woman’s psy­cho­log­i­cal make-up,’ says McKnight and, like all women fac­ing great change, Di­ana’s hair was a big part of creating a new im­age to match her new iden­tity. McKnight soon be­came an in­te­gral part of this process, be­com­ing her main stylist un­til her death.

Through­out this pe­riod, he ex­per­i­mented with the cut while Daniel Galvin looked af­ter her colour.

It’s a mea­sure of her new-found con­fi­dence that at this point, as­ton­ish­ingly, she dis­pensed with a full-time hairdresser and styled her own hair, send­ing for the pro­fes­sion­als only when she had an en­gage­ment that re­quired her to look su­per-groomed.

It was the min­i­mal­ist Nineties, and Di­ana’s suc­ces­sion of short, sharp crops and slicked­back styles suited the aes­thetic of the times. ‘I was work­ing with su­per­mod­els Linda [Evan­ge­lista] and Eva [Herzigova],’ says McKnight. ‘And Di­ana was built in that mould, too — Ama­zo­nian, beau­ti­ful, but also pow­er­ful, with a fit, lithe body.

‘I used to say to her: “You look great com­ing out of the gym; nat­u­ral, glow­ing” but she’d say: “Sam, peo­ple don’t want to see me in train­ers, they want to see Princess Di­ana.”

‘She had an acute sense of what was ex­pected of her in that re­spect.’

McKnight last saw her a few weeks be­fore her death.

‘She had lovely, thick, lux­u­ri­ant hair, and she was very good at look­ing af­ter it her­self,’ he says. ‘ She had just come back from the land­mines trip, where she’d had no hair stylist or make-up at all, and I thought she looked great; so con­fi­dent, quite ra­di­ant.’

And that is the tragedy of Di­ana. Not only the fact that she died so young, but that she was in her ab­so­lute prime, a woman who had turned all the nega­tiv­ity of her un­happy mar­riage into some­thing pos­i­tive.

In the fi­nal pic­tures taken of her, as she ex­its the Ritz ho­tel in Paris, we see a con­fi­dent, smil­ing woman in a chic linen suit, her sleek blonde hair, light­ened by the Saint Tropez sun, held back with sun­glasses. Fab­u­lous un­til the very last.

JULY 1981: AGE 20







Pic­ture re­search: Claire Cisotti

JUNE 1997: AGE 35










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