Why the fashion world always watches Princess Diana

Princess Diana Archives

Princess Diana wore many different coats – her style changed shape as she went from bride to mother to empowered divorcee – and we see them all this year. In the wake of the biopic Spencer, with Chanel-clad Kristen Stewart, and the Broadway version of Diana: the musical, at the end of 2022, we will see Elizabeth Debicki play Diana in the fifth season of The crown. Each project represents a new chance to interpret his style, including iconic looks that have been echoed on recent catwalks. Almost a quarter of a century after her death, why do we still try to dress like the queen of hearts?

Of course, those who were there remember and relate to Diana’s endearing personality and private struggles, but her style also has a hold on a younger generation who may not have direct memories of her. It may have a lot to do with Duchesses Kate and Meghan: as royal watchers today follow the pair’s evening gowns and everyday looks with fascination, it’s only natural that their interest spreads. to their common fashion predecessor. (Both paid homage to Diana through their wardrobes: Kate’s engagement ring once belonged to her stepmother, and she wore collared dresses and polka dot pieces that pay a direct homage to Diana. Meghan was pictured in a Cartier watch once owned by Diana, and on a visit to New York, she wore the Dior Lady D-Lite, a bag so associated with Lady Di that it was renamed in her honor.)

Princess Diana in a houndstooth costume and dior bag
Diana with a Dior bag.

Tim graham

Eloise Moran, who was just a child when Diana died in 1997, has been documenting Di’s post-divorce looks since 2018 via her Instagram account @ladydirevengelooks, and is also the author of the upcoming Lady Di’s Look Book: what Diana was trying to tell us through her clothes. Her posts feature vintage photos of Diana at a later, freer stage in her life, when she opted for bike shorts with oversized sweatshirts, varsity jackets and point-shoulder blazers. These looks feel intensely contemporary.

Moran started Lady Di Revenge Looks after watching a Netflix documentary about Diana. In her mid-twenties and brooding after a recent divorce, she was shocked at how much she bonded to a woman she had never thought much of. “I was surprised at how connected I felt to her and her story. All of the things she’s been through and her marriage so young,” she says. “I started doing research. and stumbling across pictures I had never seen before. Back then on Instagram, no one posted as much about Princess Diana. She wasn’t having her moment as she has been in the past few years I stumbled across this series of outfits from the ’90s and I was like, “My God, these are amazing.”

“She was doing streetwear before streetwear was a thing. She mixed up and down.

The fact that the image of Diana would inspire television, film, theater, and fashion today is no surprise to Moran. “She was the most commercial person there was, and I think that remains true to this day,” she says. “Whether it’s Netflix or Gucci” – which recently re-released a “Gucci Diana” capsule of princess-adored bamboo handbags – “I think all of these brands really relied on that. Brands, media networks, and podcast networks, everyone wants a piece of Diana.

Kristen Stewart stars as Princess Diana in Spencer
Kristen Stewart in Spencer.

Courtesy of Néon

Pablo Larraín’s film Spencer follows Diana on a three-day Christmas vacation in the early ’90s, as she neared her split from Prince Charles. By reviewing thousands of images in preparation for her work on the film, costume designer Jacqueline Durran was able to understand the trajectory of her style. “There were a lot more exciting things going on in ’80s fashion than the things she was wearing,” she says. “When she started in the early 80s, she really had no idea of ​​her potential in fashion because everything was so new and she was so young. She discovered it as she got older. Coming through the images helped Durran figure out a model for Diana’s wardrobe choices. “There is one thing they say about the Royal Family: It’s part of their job or their public persona for them to be bright so people can see them clearly in a crowd,” she said. “There is a performative element in what they wear.”

For Stewart’s first scene, Durran outfitted her with a plaid jacket, modeled after one of Diana’s many outfits at the time, which would look like she was at home in a stylish pic. urban today. “Using it at the start of the movie lets the audience know what you’re going to do. We haven’t reproduced one in particular, but we have done something in the mood for his style, ”she says. “Kristen’s Diana is Diana’s version of Kristen. Nothing is exactly recreated, and this is not a documentary. It’s about setting the mood, which is really what fashion recreations do too. They just capture the aura.

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in the Crown
Elizabeth Debicki as Diana in The crown.

Courtesy of Netflix

Labels like Off-White and Tory Burch have released their own Diana-inspired collections. And last fall, cult brand Rowing Blazers took a more literal approach and reissued two of Diana’s best-known sweaters in collaboration with the designers who originally produced them decades ago. One was her favorite “black sheep” design, created by the Warm & Wonderful brand. Lanvin, See By Chloe and others have released their own take on the style.

The release of the Warm & Wonderful x Rowing Blazers collaboration coincided with the appearance of the sweater in the fourth season of The crown, and the response was immediate. Rowing Blazers founder and CEO Jack Carlson had long kept an image of the original Warm & Wonderful sweater on his moodboard; he remembers his mother wearing the style when he was a child. “It has been copied by so many different brands. I didn’t want to do that, and I was aware that the real thing hadn’t really been done since the early ’90s, ”he says. “It’s such a fun design. It’s whimsical, irreverent, a bit cottagecore … It hints at another era, but somehow seems very relevant to today. People have gone mad about it.

Diana’s rebirth has had a tangible benefit for businesses that have partnered with Rowing Blazers. Warm & Wonderful and Gyles & George, the brand behind a Diana sweater with the phrase ‘I’m a Luxury’, which was reissued last year with Rowing Blazers, are resuscitating their businesses as a direct result of new interest in collaborations . Warm & Wonderful creators Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, who started their business from a Covent Garden stall, are now selling their products through a new e-commerce site and holiday pop-up shop in London, their first store since the 90s.

Princess Diana with Prince William at a polo event
Diana at the Guards Polo Club with Prince William in 1988.

Princess Diana Archives

While many distinguish the distinctly ’80s and’ 90s elements of her wardrobe, Carlson considers Diana’s style to be way ahead of its time. “As an inspiration or as a muse, I think it transcends genres and certainly over time,” he says. “She was doing streetwear before streetwear was a thing. She mixed up and down. She even blurred the lines between men’s and women’s clothing. She would wear sports clothes with things that weren’t. You think of her wearing the British Lung Foundation sweatshirt, blazer and jeans, and she has the cap embroidered on the flat brim with the badge of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It looks like what a really cool guy or girl would wear in 2021. “

The current cultural moment, steeped in nostalgia for the ’80s and’ 90s, could be particularly ripe for Diana’s influence. But Moran believes the multitude of roles she’s played in her life gives her a lasting and near-universal appeal. “There is a different Diana for everyone,” she said. “If you think of Diana’s life in terms of exposure to the public eye, it was 17, which isn’t a lot of time at all. But think about all the metamorphoses she went through. Every two years, she changed direction. He tells this story over and over.

This article appeared in the December / January 2021 issue of ELLE.

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