Sunday, 18 June 2017

Diana's Dresses: the Debut Dress

The life of Diana. Princess of Wales is being celebrated this year in a special exhibition at Kensington Palace (Diana, Her Fashion Story) and among the most high profile gowns in the press coverage of the event has been one worn before she even became royal. I'll admit I hadn't really registered the pale blue evening gown making such a mark in this exhibition but it's an interesting piece that has become very famous for good reason. This is the start of Diana's style story - and shows all the hallmarks of the fashion icon who would dominate headlines for years.

In many ways, this gown was just a run of the mill pick for the then Lady Diana Spencer when she selected it for a ball at her family home, Althorp House, in 1979. It was made by Regamus, a popular option for aristocratic women at the time, and it has all the elements you'd expect for a ballgown of the time. There's a long flouncy skirt, a neat little waistband and acres of pastel fabric, light as you like and ready to flutter in a summer's breeze. And yet this is very Diana. 

Diana did daring and that off the shoulder top with its flouncing trim is actually rather out there. While lace and frills were de rigueur at the time, this has that air of New Romantic about it that we came to associate with the princess in the early years of her royal career. And it catches the eye. Diana was expert at those little touches that drew attention without overwhelming an outfit and the deep blue trims scattered across this gown do just that. It has an added layer of romance as it's been billed as the only evening gown she owned when she became engaged to the Prince of Wales. Diana's starter frock has a place of its own in royal history - no wonder it's making so many waves in the exhibition celebrating her style.

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