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BY JOSEPHINE LEONE
Although her title was the Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer is best known as the princess of fresh, street style, inspiring women everywhere to dress like Di and sport a vintage crewneck and biker shorts. At the time of her reign, Princess Diana was the most photographed person in the world, and rightfully so. She deviated from the royal family’s traditional practices, making her the focus of fashion trends and tabloids to this day. A muse to many, Princess Diana stood as a fashion icon and well-loved personality until her tragic death in 1997.
An influencer in her own right, Diana paved the way for modern-day Pinterest boards and Instagram look-books. In 2022, internet searches regarding Princess Diana had been at their highest in 18 years (GoogleTrends). In the same year, one of Artzia’s best-selling pieces, The Effortless pant, aimed to recreate the trousers famously worn by the princess. The pants largely contributed to the company’s 60.1% annual growth in 2022, demonstrating the influence of Diana’s style (Aritzia). But for some, the modern remakes are not enough. Vintage sweaters and letterman jackets that align with the Princess’s style are listed on resale websites, such as Depop, for up to $600. Along with the expected profits of vintage and resale markets to double by 2026, Diana’s 80s and 90s style establishes itself as the blueprint once again (ThreadUp).
Born into a family of lords and ladies, Princess Diana had always been acquainted with royal treatment. Growing up, the soon-to-be princess was exposed to the greatest luxuries in Europe. From playdates in Buckingham palace to birthday parties at Queen Elizabeth II's summer estate, Diana had already won over Prince Charles’s heart by the time he could walk. The young couple tied the knot when she was only twenty years old. Wearing a gown designed by the Emanuel family, Diana made a grand entrance into the public eye during her show-stopping wedding. Fit for a princess, it was estimated that the wedding gown cost $115,000 due to its intricate embroidery, frilled lace, and 10,000 pearls. The dress made headlines across London, referred to as "the most closely guarded secret in fashion history" due to its anticipation. The dress's reveal on the wedding day was a moment marked in the fashion history books. No one had seen anything like it, and it still maintains legendary status today.
While the wedding was dubbed to be the party of the decade, Diana’s appearance at a Vanity Fair gala would soon top the event. Following Prince Charle’s confession to infidelity, all eyes were on her as the public awaited a response. However, Diana let her outfit do the talking. Emerging from the drama in a Christina Strambolian gown, the black cocktail dress’s fabric draped over her shoulders and perfectly hugged Diana’s figure. Unprecedented due to the strict dress codes of the royal family, the dress signified Diana’s independence from her previous relationship and defiance of the monarchy. Named the “revenge dress,” the public went wild for the fashion statement. Noted by former royal stylist Anna Harvey, “Diana wanted to look like a million dollars”. And that she did; the dress later sold at auction as part of a collection of Princess Diana’s clothing for $3.25 million. Marked as the definition of “unfazed” in a fashion lover’s dictionary, Diana’s revenge dress fashionably transitioned her into a legend.
Princess Diana’s dresses, either black or white, were only two of the many ways she shook the fashion world. Her innovative looks contrasted heavily with what a “proper royal” was expected to look like. The princess’s story will always be a tragic one - but more than that, she leaves behind a legacy of someone who was not afraid to push the envelope and look fabulous in doing so.