The story of the royal dress

This is a dress with a story, and Elizabeth Emmanuel wants to tell it.

The plunging ruffled neckline and form-fitting shocking pink gown was Emanuel for Lady Diana Spencer to wear to her Buckingham Palace party just days before she married Prince Charles in 1981. Designed by Until then, she was widely known for her conservative sweaters and pearls look.

“This was definitely not a wallflower dress. This was a dress to be seen and celebrated.”

It was soon forgotten. In an era before smartphones put cameras in everyone’s pockets and social media made private events public, the dresses were mostly seen by party guests including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Grace and Nancy Reagan. No one else has seen it. Emmanuel doesn’t even know where it is or if it still exists.

So she recreated it using cuts and stitches of lustrous satin taffeta to match the dramatic sketches she made over 40 years ago.

Acting on an idea that took shape during the UK’s long coronavirus lockdown, she did it for her own archives. It was also because I wanted to show a different side of Diana, who is a character. This is a popular Netflix series that brought the story of a princess and her ill-fated marriage to a new generation.

Emmanuel, a fan of the first three seasons of the series, said he found it difficult to watch the last two seasons because of the way Diana was portrayed.

Creating a bespoke dress is a long process, requiring multiple fittings that give the client and dressmaker a lot of time to talk. Seen as a young woman, devastated by events beyond her control.

“She wasn’t,” Emmanuel said. “She was always so good. I want to feel that even if she had a big problem, we were close enough that we might have been aware at that point, because the fitting was pretty Because it’s intimate.”

One of the things this series does right is go from the cardigan and bows Diana wore when she first hit the public eye, to the frilly and ruffled foam ball gowns, and finally Versace, Dior. is to follow Diana’s style journey to becoming a global fashion icon. and Chanel.

Diana grew up in the countryside and looked to her sisters for fashion cues. This was the world of hunting, shooting and fishing, where Barbour her coat and Wellington her boots were routinely worn. No matter how much you care about your appearance, it was a culture where you had to show that you weren’t trying too hard.

Diana brought that sense of style with her when she moved to London after leaving school and quickly became the archetype of the Sloane Ranger. It is the media name for a wealthy young man who lived near Sloane Square in London and developed the appearance of a bohemian aristocrat.

She said, as former BBC Royal reporter Michael Cole put it, “This Sloane Ranger had a pie crust collar and a Fair Isle sweater like hers and a pretty voluminous skirt. It was a product of the countryside of

However, after her engagement to the future King Charles III, she began to grow into a princess attraction.

“It was really a bit of an effort for her to adapt to the role,” Cole said. Good taste helped a lot and I think she had good mentors.”

In other words, she evolved and learned how to use her clothes to project messages.

And perhaps the journey started with a hot pink party gown.

After shedding weight, Diana shows off her new supermodel figure to Emmanuel, ex-husband David, and their team, changing her image for celebrities and world leaders invited to the palace. I requested that the dress be made.

“She wanted to wear something really spectacular and eye-catching because the whole world would be there for that party,” Emmanuel said in her London studio.

“Really, I think this dress sent a message. She used to be known as Shy Di, but she definitely wasn’t Shy Di in this dress.”

But for Emmanuel, the project is more than just setting the record straight. It’s about one friend remembering another and the princess helping her with her career.

There’s something poignant about how she looks at this copy and adjusts it to fit a mannequin that’s about the same height as Diana. I distinctly remember a famous client of hers.

She recreated the dress that belonged to the Diana she knew, breaking the mold, being brave and ready to hit the stage. I was inside.

“I’m imagining her face as I look at it,” Emmanuel said. “The last time I saw her in her dress was actually at that party, it was so radiant and fantastic. And after so many years, recreating it again was It’s kind of weird.”

But that doesn’t stop her from continuing to explore her memories. She embraced the process of making a dress, holding memories in her hands.

Emmanuel is now planning to recreate another wedding dress made for Diana. This is a spare dress made in case the tabloid somehow manages to photograph her primary dress before the big day. However, the dress never leaked and Spare disappeared from public view.

“I want to see if I can do it right and dig into all those memories.” They won’t be floating around digitally, they will be the real things I remember.”

The story of the royal dress

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