Monday, 12 June 2017

Diana's Dresses: the flamenco dress

Diana, princess and icon. As the twentieth anniversary of her death approaches, she remains one of the most famous royals of all and the tributes and commemorations ahead of the anniversary show just how much affection she is still held in, all these years on. One of the most high profile celebrations of Diana is taking place at her London home, Kensington Palace, where an exhibition marking her life in fashion opened in February. Diana was a style icon, her every outfit a headline grabber, and the princess herself was well aware of the power of her clothes (you can read all about her idea of the 'Princess Expectation here). The pieces in the exhibition are instantly recognisable and over the next two weeks. there will be a look back at ten of the iconic dresses featured there. And it starts with one of my own favourites, the flamenco dress.

This dress perhaps became most famous because of the accessories Diana chose to wear with it. The one red glove and one black glove are among the most well known things she ever wore. It was cheeky, stylish and a bit of a turning point in her fashion evolution. When this dress debuted mid Eighties, Diana was emerging from the early years of her royal career which had been all about weddings, romance and babies. Now a fully fledged royal and a queen in waiting, she was ready to make her own mark and more than confident enough in her style to let her clothes do the talking.

The dress itself was designed by Murray Arbeid and features a strapless black velvet bodice with drop waist and flamenco style skirt which flows to full length at the back rising to knee height at the front. It's got flounce, it's got flair, it's even got petticoats. This was a daring royal evening gown and still would be today. It was worn on several occasions in the 80s including a all to mark the America's Cup at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, and at the London premiere of 'The Mission' in 1986.  It was also worn in Spain in 1987.  I was just about to turn teenager when this gown first hit the papers and I loved it for its individuality, its spark and its fun. OK, at almost thirteen I might not have been able to put that into words but something about it made it stand out. This was when Diana when from princess to royal fashion star and it remains a stellar look.


The dress was among those sold by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 at an auction to raise money for charity where it went for in excess of $25,000. It's now briefly back at Kensington where it will star at the exhibition which runs until early 2018.  And another gown from that exhibition will be profiled on the blog tomorrow....but which is your favourite Diana look?

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