Princess Diana’s revenge costume – thriller surrounded iconic bodycon outfit

Princess Diana’s revenge costume – thriller surrounded iconic bodycon outfit

Princess Diana’s revenge costume – thriller surrounded iconic bodycon outfit

Fiona Ward

The yr was 1994. That exact same yr additionally noticed Elizabeth Hurley make headlines in her Versace security pin robe and the introduction of ‘the Rachel’ haircut because of the primary collection of Associates – however there can be no it-look fairly just like the it-look of 29 June 1994, when Princess Diana made a last-minute outfit change for a Vainness Honest occasion on the Serpentine Gallery.

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Her low-cut, figure-hugging mini costume, made by lesser-known Greek designer Christina Stambolian, would go on to turn into one in every of her most memorable – dubbed the ‘revenge’ costume – since her bombshell outing was completely timed with the discharge of Prince Charles‘ candid ITV interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, during which he confessed to being untrue throughout their marriage.

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At present, 25 years on from her dying, post-breakup ‘revenge dressing’ may be very a lot nonetheless a factor. And as for Princess Diana‘s personal eff-you second, it was every part a royal girl would not have worn to a public occasion, on the time.

With a ruched, curve-hugging silhouette, an off-the-shoulder plunging neckline and above-knee size, Diana had stored the costume in her wardrobe for years after shopping for it in 1991, and was mentioned to have thought it too ‘risqué’ in hindsight.

Diana’s unforgettable second in 1994

The occasions that led as much as Diana’s ‘revenge’ second.

Although we’ll by no means actually know the reality behind Diana’s style decisions that night time, a reasonably clear image emerges from people who have been closest to her. Her late style stylist and pal, Anna Harvey, advised 2013 documentary Princess Diana’s Attire: The Public sale that having discovered about Charles’ confession from previews of the interview, she needed to carry her head excessive in no matter she wore that night time.

“She needed to look 1,000,000 {dollars}. And he or she did,” she mentioned. Certainly, we all know that Diana favored to make an announcement along with her style decisions, and there was normally which means behind every choice. Anna additionally wrote in a 1997 piece for Vogue: “She quickly discovered the best way to make an affect… it thrilled her.”


Through the years, Diana had additionally grown tiresome of designers that used her identify for press promotion, based on Anna. And so when Valentino despatched out a presumptuous press launch confirming she was carrying one in every of its clothes forward of the Vainness Honest occasion, she made a U-turn on her authentic outfit alternative.

The slinky Christina Stambolian costume, which had been sat in her sizeable walk-in wardrobe for years, was chosen as an alternative. Paul Burrell, her former butler, has claimed that he was the one who selected it for her. Throughout Channel 5 documentary Secrets and techniques of the Royal Dressmakers, he mentioned: “She mentioned, ‘I can not go, I can not face the world understanding what Charles has simply mentioned. And anyway I have never received something to put on.’ I went to her wardrobe room and pulled out the Christina Stambolian costume, and confirmed it to her.”

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Princess Diana was the belle of the ball

He added that Diana had thought she would not match within the costume anymore, having purchased it again in 1991. “I mentioned, ‘Attempt it on.’ She slipped into it, I zipped her up and he or she seemed 1,000,000 {dollars}.”

One other shut pal, Dr James Colthurst, has beforehand mentioned that it was additionally damaging suggestions a couple of speech she had made that pushed her to make an announcement. “That day she was mightily fed up as a result of she’d had criticism from what she known as the ‘Gray Males’, I feel to do with one in every of her profitable speeches,” he advised the Every day Mail.

“The day earlier than the Vainness Honest occasion she was saying, ‘Oh for goodness sake, right here we go once more!’ So I advised her, ‘You’ve received to indicate defiance; put one thing on that actually swings the heads.’ In the long run she selected that costume.”

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Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, former director of the Serpentine Gallery, remembers that she was knowledgeable Princess Diana can be carrying an sudden costume for the event – and that she had despatched an RSVP per week earlier than the occasion. Previews of Prince Charles’ damning interview in Charles: The Non-public Man, The Public Position, had been proven to the press days earlier than its launch, and rumours have been swirling that it was set to trigger a stir.

The silk and chiffon Stambolian costume drew gasps

“I used to be stunned when our Patron’s lady-in-waiting advised me that she’d be carrying a brief costume, not the lengthy one usually worn at such occasions. Little did I do know!” Julia wrote for The Telegraph.

She added: “As she received out of the automobile, it was inconceivable to not gasp. Diana was some of the well-known and exquisite ladies on this planet… it was as if she’d come all the way down to earth from one other planet. She seemed sensational in her off-the-shoulder, low-cut garment, and all of us felt drab and old school as compared.”

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Occasion photographer Dafydd Jones, who was the one photographer contained in the occasion, completely tells HELLO! that Princess Diana appeared blissful and relaxed whereas mingling with friends, and even helped him get a shot with the journal’s editor. “Diana seemed fabulous, after all,” he mentioned. “I solely had a restricted time earlier than everybody sat down for dinner and realised on the final second that I had not managed to get an image of Diana with Vainness Honest‘s editor Graydon Carter who was sponsoring the night. She gave me a sympathetic smile and mentioned one thing about my being in bother for lacking the shot… and fortunately posed with Graydon within the backyard.”

The next day, Diana dominated the entrance pages of each newspaper along with her daring outfit alternative.

The forgotten particulars of the ‘revenge’ costume

Product of black silk damask with a chiffon skirt, the Christina Stambolian quantity may need clung fantastically to Diana’s determine, but it surely moved and flowed, too. With an uneven hemline and a sash that hung from her hip, it toed the road between horny and mushy.

Diana accessorised with a sapphire from the Queen Mom

In selecting Greek designer Stambolian, who bought night and cocktail clothes from her London boutique on the time, Diana additionally gave a nod to an impartial female-owned enterprise.

It was one-of-a-kind on the time, however Christina Stambolian did later make one other precise duplicate of the costume, which was auctioned off by Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2011. Made to Diana’s sizing (a 34-inch bust and 28-inch waist), the costume is now on show on the Museum of Type Icons in County Kildare, Eire.

The museum’s curator, Pauline Doyle, tells HELLO! that the costume may be very detailed in individual – lined in tiny pleats throughout the bodice. “It is gorgeous,” she says.

And although the costume gave Diana an unimaginable form, there isn’t a construction or boning within the bodice. “It is truly very mushy,” she provides. “It is figure-hugging, and has some stretch to it.”

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As for equipment, the Princess selected her favorite Manolo Blahnik heels for the event – a pointed stiletto pair. Her clutch bag was from one in every of her go-to designers, Salvadore Ferragamo – a contemporary model of the ‘Vara’ bow clutch, which she carried that night time, continues to be that can be purchased immediately. It’s a lot lesser recognized than the ‘Girl D’ bag, or the ‘Diana’ clutch, a design she had in additional than 20 totally different finishes from the Italian designer. In contrast to different members of the royal household, Princess Diana was keen on fiery pink nail polish, too, and set off her black cocktail costume simply so. Well-known for her hosiery, she added a pair of black tights that have been simply sheer sufficient.

Diana met Christina Stambolian at Christies

As for jewelry, Diana’s engagement ring was nonetheless firmly on her wedding ceremony finger. Her assertion pearl and sapphire choker, which was as soon as a brooch given to her as a marriage reward from the Queen Mom, was the pure alternative for the costume. It was clearly her favorite to put on with strapless and off-shoulder robes – she additionally memorably wore it the night time she danced with John Travolta on the White Home in 1985.

Her earrings aren’t usually talked about, although Diana selected failsafe items that she had owned earlier than she turned Princess of Wales – the Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings – which immediately are vital favourites of the Duchess of Cambridge, worn for plenty of vital portraits and appearances. The pearl drop earrings have been initially a present from Collingwood, household jeweller of the Spencer household, following her engagement to Prince Charles. She additionally added a diamond and sapphire bracelet, thought to have been a present from the Emir of Qatar.

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The thriller of Princess Diana’s ‘revenge’ costume immediately

In June 1997, simply months earlier than her tragic passing, Princess Diana held a charity public sale to promote 79 of her most well-known clothes with a view to elevate funds for the Royal Marsden Hospital Most cancers Fund and the AIDS Disaster Belief.

The Princess Diana costume public sale catalogue July 1997

Sweetly, it was a 15-year-old Prince William who had the thought. Within the Christies public sale catalogue, a handwritten be aware from Diana reads: “The inspiration for this excellent sale comes from only one individual… our son William.”

Amongst the heaps, which included numerous memorable Catherine Walker designs and the velvet ‘Travolta’ costume by Victor Edelstein, was the ‘revenge’ costume. And inside the catalogue, which was presumably authorised by the Princess, was the outline: “The Princess purchased this costume off-the-peg for a dinner she attended given by Vainness Honest at The Serpentine Gallery, London, in 1993. The costume triggered quite a lot of remark on the time and subsequently, not just for its daring asymmetrical ruching, but in addition as a result of it was thought to not be the work of a British designer.”

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Whereas lots of Diana’s most well-known clothes have gone on to be featured in museums and galleries world wide, the ‘revenge’ costume has not often been seen for the reason that 1997 public sale. The Christina Stambolian costume was bought for £39,098 by a Scottish couple, Graeme and Briege Mackenzie, who on the time revealed that they might use it to boost additional cash for charities, as Diana wished.

“We have been fortunate sufficient to fulfill the Princess on the public sale preview in Christie’s in London and advised her our intentions of utilizing the costume to boost cash for charity,” Graeme mentioned, based on Mail On-line. “On the time charities have been complaining that the Nationwide Lottery was impacting on their donations. I assumed the costume can be a manner of attracting individuals to occasions and that its fame may solely assist that purpose.”

Christina Stambolian at a personal viewing of the costume

It is thought that the costume was used on a number of events at luncheons and features for the charity Kids 1st, although when HELLO! reached out to the organisation, a consultant could not affirm that was the case. The Mackenzies reportedly put the costume right into a financial institution vault following Diana’s dying. “The one noble factor to do was to not use it,” Graeme mentioned. “It will have been inappropriate.”

Little extra was mentioned in regards to the costume, apart from that new proprietor Briege would not be carrying the costume herself. She advised The Impartial in 1997 that the costume is a measurement 10. “I’m not some wealthy b***h pretending she’s a princess by shopping for one in every of her clothes to prance round cocktail events in,” she candidly mentioned.

“I can not match into it, however that is probably not the thought on this occasion. We purchased it to boost funds for the charity Kids 1st.”

At present, the costume hasn’t been seen for years – it is unknown whether or not the Mackenzies nonetheless personal it.

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Princess Diana undoubtedly knew that her style decisions advised a narrative, although whether or not she knew fairly how enduring her last-minute outfit change on 29 June 1994 can be, we’ll by no means know. The ‘revenge’ costume will at all times be a defiant piece of style historical past – although whether or not the world will see it once more stays to be seen.

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