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Princess Diana was and always will be an icon.
She embodied the elegance and strength of the ultimate woman.
But what really made her so great is how she never missed a chance to show her more rebellious side, something that was quite unusual for a member of the British Royal Family.
This part of her character is evident from her famous 1994 ‘revenge dress’, which is still very much relevant and inspiring to this day.
On the evening of June 29, 1994, writes The Telegraph, just as her husband Prince Charles was publicly confessing his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles on live television, she pitched up for an event in a sexy black number:
She had chosen to wear this ‘LBD’ (little black dress) by Greek designer Christina Stambolian, which she’d owned since 1991, instead of the usual, for the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party.
Everyone took notice of the “look what you’re missing” outfit, making it the “perfect statement of the freedom, confidence, and sexiness that she wanted to project”.
Although much of that is in hindsight, evident from the reporting at the time:
…the reception was mixed. For The Sun, Diana’s off-shoulder, above-the-knee look made for a perfect front page image, along with the headline: “The thrilla he left to woo Camilla.”
The Telegraph’s analysis was laced with more than a hint of scepticism: “The Princess of Wales did not have to dine out before the television cameras at the Serpentine Gallery last night in order to avoid seeing her husband sharing his soul with the nation on the box. She could have watched a video, played bridge or simply washed her hair and curled up in bed… It’s amazing what some people will do to avoid press speculation.”
Lady Di’s wise dress choice helped her reclaim the narrative, which is something that women all over the world still resonate with 27 years later.
The idea has been adopted by many other celebs, like Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Irina Shayk, Bella Hadid after their various break-ups.
But the real reason that this look has come up as a conversation again is that it has been recreated for the next season of The Crown:
Last week, the most famous revenge dress of all time was recreated on the set of The Crown season five. Elizabeth Debicki, who has taken over the role of Diana from Emma Corrin, was pictured emerging from a car wearing an off-shoulder LBD with sheer black tights and a triple-strand pearl choker, a black clutch bag raised to shield her decolletage – a method which the late Princess famously deployed to remain demure in front of photographers when she was wearing particularly low-cut outfits.
It is uncanny:
Season five is still being filmed but according to a separate article by The Telegraph, it is “shaping up to be the most controversial so far”.
Notably so because Jemima Khan, a close friend of Princess Diana, chose to stop co-writing for season five:
Khan was initially keen on the project, she said, because “it was really important to me that the final years of my friend’s life be portrayed accurately and with compassion, as has not always happened in the past.”
That turned out not to be the case. “When [my] co-writing agreement was not honoured, and when I realised that particular storyline would not necessarily be told as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped, I requested that all my contributions be removed from the series and I declined a credit,” Khan said over the weekend.
It looks like season five will continue to prove controversial as it covers events closer to the present day:
Those events include the divorce of Charles and Diana and the death of Diana in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. The problem is that the more recent the events covered, the more people there are who are still alive and who can potentially object to the kind of factual errors and “poetic licence” that have littered all previous series of The Crown.
Before the season is released, let’s just appreciate Lady Di for showing her boldness and bravery in her little black dress.
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