This month marks 20 years since the death of Princess Diana. Yet her legacy lives on far beyond her years and Diana’s style is still equally as iconic as it was during her lifetime.
Much has been made of her difficult divorce from Prince Charles and the life she led following the breakdown of their relationship. Our TV screens are currently awash with documentaries shedding new light on one of the most well-documented women in history, with Channel 4 going as far as to air Diana: In Her Own Words, based on controversial leaked videotapes from her voice coach, Peter Settelenin.
Whatever her motivation, the resulting make over – or as we are calling it ‘break-over’ – of Princess Diana is one of the greatest image transformations known to man, perhaps only surpassed by Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries (I really will sneak in a Princess Diaries reference wherever possible). Here, we document Diana’s metamorphosis from '80s prom princess to a modern and, at times, flirtatious female.
Holiday Dressing Headed To A New Destination
Princess Diana certainly took her wardrobe on a seaside safari, going from fashioning florals - that were more frumpy than flirty - as she departed for her honeymoon in 1981 - to sunning herself on Necker Island in 1990. Holidaying on Richard Branson’s island with her two sons, the Princess certainly awoke the beast in her matching leopard print swimsuit and sarong. Prince Harry infamously returned to the private holiday destination for Sam Branson’s 27th birthday in 2012 and was pictured passed out on the beach.
The L(ittle) B(reakover) D(ress)
The power of a black dress can never be underestimated, especially if you want to show a Prince what he's missing. Just after Princes Charles admitted in a TV interview that he was unfaithful to Diana, the Princess of Wales appeared at a party at The Serpentine and the revenge dress was born. Showing off her figure in a Christina Stambolian dress, what else should a girl do when her fairytale crashes than get one’s best assets out and slip into the highest heels possible? Her appearance at the Met Gala wearing a rather racy John Galliano slip dress, shortly afterwards, certainly got the palace talking, too. Side note: never underestimate the power of the choker… clearly!
Diana’s Directional Denim
The '80s were largely not kind to many people’s wardrobes and that even includes a Princess. The corduroy and recycled Christmas knit combo Diana wore to a pre-wedding photo call in Scotland is testament to that fact. Post-divorce denim was her casual wear of choice. In a brave new single world the Princess even teamed her true blue favourites with red cowboy boots and slipped into a denim jumpsuit for skiing.
A Princess in pink is the ultimate combination yet, in the hands of Versace, the cut of the colour can truly transform your look. After strict stipulations that she must wear British designers to boost the economy, post-divorce Diana could shop internationally. Shredding the pussy bow, but refashioning the double-breasted jacket, Diana brought the sexy back into the boss lady two-piece. With a pillbox hat topping off the look, the question Diana asked was, Jackie (wh)O?
Post-divorce the frills and spills of her 1980s eveningwear was swept aside in favour of a more streamlined silhouette. Gone were the gowns with more flamboyance than a toilet doily and, instead, Diana slipped into block colour gowns where the interest was simply just in the silhouette. Well, you always need a new party frock if you're secretly hitting gay bars with George Michael after hours…
The Devil Is In The Detail
When you no longer have access to the crown jewels what does one do for a jolly good accessory? Look to the designer version of the crown jewels, of course: the Lady Dior bag. In place of a consort, the bag became Diana’s go-to companion on her royal duties with accessories becoming her political armour. The Princess caused a political storm by touching AIDs victims without gloves, during a time when the disease was barely understood. Small gestures such as this changed public opinion on one of the most contentious issues of the time. Such is the power of Princess Diana, then and now.