Though we all love a man in uniform (God bless Prince Harry), Princess Diana’s iconic style revolutionised the 80s and 90s, setting new standards of dress for the royal family. From the glamour of sequin gowns to the romance of velvet and lace detailing, Princess Di’s bold style choices cemented her status as the ultimate royal fashion icon. Paving the way for newcomers Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, the Princess of Wales’s legacy lives on in the nation’s lasting obsession with royal fashion.
With her love of aviators and chokers still prominent in today’s current trends, Diana’s intimate relationships with designers Catherine Wilson, Victor Edelstein, and Gianni Versace was what introduced the monarchy to Haute Couture. Moving from girl-next-door to confident icon, Diana’s transformation placed fashion as an outlet for personal expression.
Beginning her legacy as the fairytale princess, Diana’s wardrobe began as a cocktail of frills, puffy sleeves and frankly too much taffeta! But after her wedding to Prince Charles we were introduced to the new Diana – unafraid to explore statement patterns, daring necklines and bold colours.
The 90s were undeniably Di’s most standout decade of fashion, and the media followed her outfit choices more closely than ever as the world caught onto the strain between Diana and Charles. Dubbed the ‘Revenge Dress’ in 1994 after the announcement of the Prince’s affair, Diana’s Christina Stambolian gown, accessorised with pearl choker and demure clutch bag grabbed the public’s attention. A simple black plunge dress complete with an off-the-shoulder neckline, Diana was the woman who could reinvent herself with style and grace in the face of adversity.
With such a scandalised personal life, the Duchess’ fashion evolution inspired the nation, sending the media into a frenzy. Even major fashion brands have taken note of our growing obsession with royal fashion over the years, gracing the public with high-street and designer replicas of our favourite outfits.
Having passed her tiara onto successors Kate and Meghan, it is clear that Diana’s daughters-in-law are each equipped with their own individual styles. When Kate and Wills announced their engagement back in 2010, Issa, the brand responsible for Kate’s infamous blue wrap dress saw the company overwhelmed with orders. Available today on the House of Fraser website, it seems that the ‘Kate Tie Wrap Dress’ isn’t going anywhere, still in demand nine years after its original unveiling. And let’s be honest, we are still getting over Meghan’s Givenchy wedding gown and Stella McCartney reception dress. Who could forget the off-the-shoulder neckline and silk organza of the bride’s train as she walked down the aisle?
To say that the dress shook the bridal industry would be a massive understatement – bridal stores everywhere were mobbed with significant demands as women around the world fell in love with the newcomer’s classic silhouette. Even online retailers Boohoo and River Island jumped at the chance to launch Meghan-inspired designs after the royal wedding. Influenced by the high-neck and dramatically low back of Stella McCartney’s reception dress, both retailers adapted the design for multiple occasions – worn as an elegant evening dress or shortened for the perfect summer must-have.
There seems to be a give and take relationship between the royal family and major fashion brands. The royals keep the nation obsessed with their designer ensembles and in turn, the fashion houses mass produce replica designs, preserving the iconic style of royals Diana, Kate and Meghan. Princess Diana graced us with some of the most inventive and well put together ensembles of the 20th century, beginning the fashion revolution which would spark our obsession with royal style.
Featured Image courtesy of @hrh_dianadegales on Instagram.