When Lady Diana Spencer stepped out of Clarence House on July 29, 1981, reporters tore open sealed envelopes everywhere revealing the “best kept secret in fashion history.” Details of the design of the future Princess of Wales wedding dress remained under wraps for hours before the ceremony, and the dramatic reveal did not disappoint.
The ivory taffeta gown later sparked imitators around the world, cementing the exaggerated, all-round no-frills aesthetic of the ’80s for which the bride was best known. With intricate embroidery, 10,000 pearls, and a 25-foot train, Diana’s custom wedding dress, which she wore during her wedding to Prince Charles, has become without a doubt the most iconic in modern history. Here is everything you need to know about the dress, from the intricacies of the design to the secrets that have emerged over time.
It was designed by David & Elizabeth Emanuel
Diana tapped British designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel to create her wedding dress. According to Tatler, Diana called the Emanuels like any other prospect and simply asked if they would do her the honor of making her wedding dress. In contrast to today’s royal wedding design process, where countless design houses vie for the ability to design for a king via submitted sketches, review procedures, and Her Majesty the Queen’s guidance, this selection process seemed infinitely simpler and far more standardized.
The relationship with the designers began before Diana’s engagement to Charles. She had turned to the Emanuels for three to four evening dresses to find important occasions that, according to the designer, had turned her head and established her as a style icon. “The first time the public saw her in one of my dresses, they were quite shocked. As a kindergarten teacher, people were used to seeing her in pretty blouses and pleated skirts. Then she got out of the limo in a taffeta Emanuel dress and That’s it When everyone said, ‘Oh my gosh, she looks like a movie star.’ “This level of trust led Diana to entrust the label with the design of her wedding dress, which David Emanuel has called” the greatest job of his career “in interviews since.
Diana’s dress was stained
On the day of her wedding, Diana is said to have poured a Quelques Fleurs perfume on her dress, which she left with a small stain. Her makeup artist Barbara Daly reported on the incident in her book Diana: The Portrait. As a solution, Diana tucked the front of her dress in and hid the stain.
Diana stays true to the bridal traditions
Loud hello! In the magazine, Diana’s bridal furniture was private except for her and the design team. In deciding on the sketch and silhouette, she asked to bring a single guest – her mother – contrary to the great followers normally expected by aristocrats and kings.
And when it came to classic bridal traditions, Diana stuck to them all. It had something old, a square of Carrickmacross lace that once belonged to Queen Mary. According to Town & Country, the fabric square was either found in a bag of scrap or was a donation from the Royal School of Needlework. The rest of the lace appliqués on the dress have been cut from antique lace specially spun on a British silk farm. Another old (and somewhat borrowed) thing was the Spencer family’s tiara, an 18th-century heirloom that was borrowed from their own family. This was both a traditional and a daring decision, as Diana most likely could have borrowed a tiara from the Crown Jewels instead.
While Brits tend to put a “sixpence in their shoe” for reasons of happiness, Diana has taken the inclusion of a lucky piece of jewelry to the next level. The Emanuels attached a horseshoe-shaped piece of jewelry made of 18-carat gold, which was set with white diamonds, as a sign of luck on the label of the dress.
While much of Diana’s bridal look, including her shoes, was new, a dainty blue bow was sewn into the inside of the waistband as “something blue”.
A replacement dress was made
In 2005, an auction house said they had a copy of Diana’s original dress, according to CBS News. After speculation, the Emanuels insisted they never create a second version of the dress, but revealed that they had designed an alternative dress for Diana, one with a more pronounced V-neckline and no lace.
The media was dying to get a glimpse of the design of the dress, and the Emanuels went out of their way to keep the sketch, silhouette, and details of the design a secret until the wedding day. According to MetDaan, they even installed a safe in their studio to store the designs and fabric samples. “It sounds a bit over the top, but it really seemed like people were going out of their way to find out what the dress looked like,” explained Elizabeth.
Since the original clothing design was supposed to get into the press and become unusable, the second dress should only be worn in case the press got wind of the first. However, the second dress mysteriously disappeared from the studio; Many suspected that the dress up for auction was in fact the stolen alternative dress, and not a copy of the dress Diana had worn down the aisle.
Her dress and veil were among the longest in history
While Diana’s 25-foot train was a detail that many couldn’t stop talking about after walking down the aisle, it’s important to note that the veil that was attached to the Spencer tiara was even longer was and arrived at 153 meters.
Diana’s bridal accessories were bespoke
In addition to a bespoke dress and veil, the Emanuels created bespoke shoes and a parasol for Diana’s wedding dress. The shoes, which took six months to make, were covered in 542 sequins and 132 pearls, according to the Daily Mail. The heels were quite low to the ground for comfort and to avoid Diana towering over Charles. The newlyweds also contained a sentimental, personalized element – the arch of each shoe contained the initials C and D for Charles and Diana.
The Emanuels thought of everything and also designed a bespoke lace umbrella for the rainy look, designed with lace and pearls to match their dress. “It was made of such lightweight material that it certainly wasn’t waterproof,” Elizabeth Emanuel later told the Daily Mail. “It wouldn’t have done her much good!”
The bride was sewn into her dress
Though usually associated with being sewn into the wedding dress as a solution to a wardrobe malfunction, it was a purely apt problem for Diana – as she arrived even smaller on her wedding day than her final outfit. And while most brides tend to lose weight before their wedding days, Diana lost a considerable amount more, including inches. Elizabeth Emanuel later told people that Diana had a 23-inch waist, from a 26 to 27-inch waist when they started the design process. As a result, the future princess had to be sewn into her dress on the morning of her wedding day to ensure the perfect fit.
The dress by numbers …
In addition to a 25-foot train and 153-yard veil, Diana’s wedding dress contained 10,000 sequins and mother-of-pearl pearls, excluding the 542 sequins and 132 pearls on her custom slippers. Unparalleled in its level of detail and size, the dress would retail for around £ 90,000 at the time of its manufacture in 1981, which is around £ 347,260.69 today. In US dollars, this equates to approximately $ 448,572.26.
Diana left her wedding dress to her sons
Since his first walk down, Diana’s wedding dress has performed around the world and has taken tours of museums and exhibitions around the world. According to People, the dress was passed on to their sons, Princes William and Harry, after Harry’s 30th birthday in 2014. Diana reportedly described possession of her wedding dress in her will.
Although neither of their wives, the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, had dressed in Diana’s wedding dress or a piece of it for their own special days, both brides made odes to their late mother-in-law when they dressed for their weddings. Kate’s Alexander McQueen wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton, is arguably as famous as Diana’s, and William suggested Kate with a ring to his mother. Meghan also paid homage to Diana on her wedding day, wearing one of her aquamarine cocktail rings to the couple’s reception at Frogmore House.
It hardly fits in the car
According to reports on the design process, Diana consistently requested that her train grow longer and longer throughout the design process. What certainly made for an outstanding appearance led to a problem: the dress barely fit in the royal carriage that brought her to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The train had to be crammed into the wagon, which required the fabric to be folded over and over again after being squeezed for the occasion. Given the delicate nature of the silk taffeta, this was the reason Diana’s train wrinkled as she made her grand entrance up the church stairs and down the hall, designer Elizabeth Emanuel told the Daily Mail.
This content is created and maintained by a third party and is imported onto this page so that users can provide their email addresses. You may find more information on this and similar content at piano.io