Remembering Princess Diana: The Diana Dresses
On the anniversary of Princess Diana’s 60th birthday, I’m taking a look back at a rare exhibit of her dresses which was shown at the Fashion Museum in Bath, England called The Diana Dresses. These are some of the formal gowns worn by the Princess of Wales. She was as her brother, the Earl of Spencer said “the most hunted woman of the modern age.” Like many women, I loved Diana’s style. She transitioned from innocent to sophisticate through her wardrobe, I was fascinated by her in her brief lifetime, and I continue to be fascinated by her over 20 years later. Sadly, her beauty and style, were key factors in the Paparazzi’ s continual hunt of her. They stalked her to take her picture to sell to tabloid as well as top magazines for high prices.
I enjoyed the exhibit of the Diana Dresses through the magic of the Internet and video from the BBC. The exhibit is amazing as it brings together dresses from private collections into one place at this amazing little museum in the charming town of Bath. These are the dresses that Diana auctioned for charity shortly before her death. During the 16 years that Diana was in the public eye she took quite an amazing fashion journey. From a shy school teacher wearing a dress off the rack bought at Harrod’s to Haute Couture style. Some of her earlier dresses even recall the empire styles of Bath’s most famous author, Jane Austen. I can definitely imagine Jane or Elizabeth Bennett from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice wearing some of Diana’s early, ruffled, frilly gowns.
But Diana did not stay the demure, young innocent and the dresses tell the fascinating story of her transformation. The exhibit included evening dresses by the amazing British designer Catherine Walker and little black cocktail dresses by designers such as Versace from the mid 1990s.
One of the most fascinating things about viewing the dresses is how ordinary some of them look without her wearing them. It’s an important reminder about how fashion is about personality and expression. For a woman who was often not allowed to raise her voice as Princess of Wales, she did a lot of talking through her dresses and personal style. Who can forget the off the rack “revenge dress” by Christina Stambolian that she wore the day after Charles declared his adultery of British TV? Such a subtle dig without saying a word.
The low cut, off the shoulder black dress Diana wore was copied and replicated all over the world. The replica which was priced at $495 US sold out immediately online.
The Diana Dresses provide insight into the evolution of Princess Diana from a innocent, girlish style to a sleek, sophisticated look fit for a Queen.