90s fashion: Diana, the glamorous preppy style of the Princess of Wales in iconic outfits

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The monarchy is, needless to say, a corrupt and archaic institution, an embarrassing, wasteful and costly relic of a bygone era defined by British oppression, imperialism and colonialism. We do not defend, and I cannot stress this enough, the British monarchical system. What we do, however, is Princess Diana’s iconic 90s fashion.

Hounded by the tabloids and obsessed with the British public, Diana is remembered as a tragically misunderstood figure. Unable to speak properly about her unhappy marriage – save for Panorama’s infamous interview with Martin Bashir after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 – and ultimately so abused by the paparazzi that she died in a tragic accident car ride in August 1997, she expressed herself through acts of charity considered at best unbefitting of a princess, and at worst social suicide in high society. Today, more than 20 years after her death, Diana is remembered through images of her holding the hand of a man dying of AIDS in the early 90s, walking through landmines in Angola and embracing sick people. leprosy during a charity mission in India.

His image lives on in more unlikely places, too — on social media, especially Instagram. On fashion accounts often run by Gen Z teenagers, who weren’t born until after her death, Diana is touted as the epitome of 90s British fashion. As she should be. Here we look back at some of the most enduring and iconic looks of Princess Diana, who was, until Meghan Markle graced us with her disruptive anti-monarchy presence, the only female dog in this house (palace) we respected. .

Photo by Steve Back/Getty Images.

At work in kindergarten, 1980

When news first broke that Prince Charles was dating Diana Spencer, photographers rushed to the nursery school where she worked at the time, eager to catch a glimpse of the future princess. While it’s hard to believe, the resulting photos of Diana at work – taken by a longtime royal photographer – were actually considered quite outrageous at the time, due to the fact that her modest bias-cut chiffon skirt was translucent, meaning you could see the outline of her legs. Speaking years later of the embarrassing British fury at the sight of a woman’s legs, photographer Arthur Edwards claimed of the backlit shot: “I didn’t do it on purpose, I promise. I didn’t do it to embarrass her, but it was such a beautiful photo that we couldn’t not publish it. Not everyone believes it, but it’s the gospel truth – halfway through, the sun came out and revealed those beautiful legs. In many ways, I’m glad the sun came out because it made it an iconic image. Presented without comment.

At his wedding, 1981

These days, a celebrity wedding (or royal wedding) is a certifiable media event. But the modern wedding obsession as we know it today really started with Princess Diana, or, more specifically, Diana’s wedding dress. Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the mammoth 1981 wedding dress was one of fashion’s best-kept secrets (which made sense, because within hours of television footage of the wedding, dupes were being created worldwide). The ivory silk taffeta and antique lace dress was valued at £151,000 (around half a thousand today) and became instantly famous for its 25ft train and 153m tulle veil. Despite the practicalities of such an OTT, quintessentially ’80s garment — the train couldn’t fit in the wedding car, and Diana herself struggled to support the weight of the dress — she still resisted the test of time. In 2018, Time Magazine named it one of the most influential royal wedding dresses of all time.

a portrait of princess diana napping sitting in a lilac ball gown

Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1981

Who among us hasn’t struggled to stay awake in the face of an increasingly boring after-party? Or a particularly boring museum? Before the days of internet virality, this photo of the young princess appearing to fall asleep in the middle of the evening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – just three months after her marriage to Prince Charles – was plastered all over the tabloids . The peaceful sleepiness was hailed as a modern Sleeping Beauty moment, and the effect was punctuated by the floral dress Diana wore at the time, a creation by one of her favorite designers, David Sassoon. .

the princess and her son walk across a green, the former wearing brown cowboy boots, blue jeans and a British lung foundation sweatshirt under a black blazer

Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

During a polo match, 1988

What sets Diana apart from other members of the royal family, and is remembered years later, is her close relationship with her sons William and Harry. While most royals were seen as cold and aloof, Diana was openly affectionate with young princes and looked more like a real human parent than was considered appropriate by the monarchy’s traditional standards. That’s why images like this – of Diana in a polo match with a young Prince William – were groundbreaking, just because they were so mundane. There’s nothing particularly interesting about a mum wearing jeans and a charity jumper (this one for the British Lung Foundation) on an outing with her children, other than the fact that they were from the royalty. Certainly, the cowboy boots and the blazer give a fashionable twist to the usually harassed school look.

a direct from diana in sneakers, bike shorts and a blank atlantic sweater

Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage.

At the gymnasium, circa 1990

Before Diana came onto the scene, the British Royal Family was seen as even further removed from reality than it is today. This partly explains why the images of her dressed in a gym look – usually an endless parade of sweatshirts, dad sneakers, chunky socks and cycling shorts that were so similar that she tried to use them to trick the paparazzi into selling fewer photos – were so iconic. They were worlds apart from the super-polite and controlled public image that the Royal Family usually projected. But the other explanation is that casual outfits are simply iconic on their own. As every piece of her gym look has returned in style, they were even ridiculed in a recent VogueParis shoot with Hailey Bieber, who took a decidedly 2020 take on Diana’s activewear in her own off-duty looks.

a direct from diana in her infamous

Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

At the Serpentine Gallery, 1994

You can pretty much trace Diana’s life course in the public eye through her fashion. When she first appeared as the prince’s shy young bride, she was mostly seen in floral dresses, in princess-appropriate taffeta and fussy outfits in which she looked out of place and uncomfortable. The silk short dress designed by Christina Stambolian, in black (traditionally worn only when the royal family is in mourning), was so iconic. She wore it to the Serpentine Gallery the day Charles confessed to his longtime affair with Camilla. come.

On Dodi Fayed’s yacht, 1997

If there’s one image that epitomizes true carefree and iconic holiday fashion, it’s Diana on Dodi Fayed’s £171,000 yacht. Although hounded by the paparazzi throughout her romantic break on the lavish yacht – images of her sitting on the diving board in a backless swimsuit in Saint-Tropez were taken just months before her death – Diana emerged serene and confident. It remains the ultimate goal of the holiday mood more than 20 years later, with this meme of Beyonce unemotionally propelling herself into the sea from her own yacht coming up close.

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