Diana’s never been so on trend! Even in her heyday, she was rarely at the cutting edge of fashion. Yet today, her style’s winning millions of new young fans, says ALEXANDRA SHULMAN
In 1937, fashion historian James Laver calculated it took about 30 years for clothes to become fashionable again after their first appearance. And Laver’s Law, as it became known, has again been proved correct.
For 30 years after the pinstripe tailoring, polka dot frocks, big shoulders and dad trainers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, their most famous adopter, Princess Diana, has emerged as a style inspiration for a generation of young women who were rocking little more than nappies while she was still alive.
My generation – in Diana’s 1980s heyday, I was the same age as these young women are now – did not consider her a particularly original or interesting dresser.
Princess Diana goes Polka dot at the Polo at Windsor 1987. Camila Morrone during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival at on May 19, 2019
Perhaps we could never quite get out of our heads those first images of her in the regulation Sloane kit of pie-crust collar blouses, frumpy floating midi skirts and that ballooning meringue of a wedding dress, all of which we considered, frankly, style-negative.
So even when she emerged as the shimmering blonde greyhound of later days in the Versace sheaths, tuxedos and glamorous Catherine Walker evening gowns she was introduced to by her style mentor, Anna Harvey, there was always something of a follower rather than leader of fashion about her.
But now… all change. And across the world, young women are obsessed with how the most famous Royal of the period dressed.
Diana, Princess of Wales, wears pinstripes as she leaves after a speech at the annual meeting of the youth charity Centrepoint. Emily Ratajkowski out and about at New York Fashion Week, USA
Instagram pages such as the popular @90sanxiety ramp up thousands of likes with the images they post of Diana, dotted among early snaps of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Winona Ryder and Julia Roberts. The @princessdianaforever page doesn’t even need any Hollywood cool to garner 303,000 followers and nor does @ladydiana with 143,000 loyal fans.
Diana, Princess Of Wales At Guards Polo Club. The Princess Is Casually Dressed In A Sweatshirt With The British Lung Foundation Logo On The Front. Gigi Hadid attends fittings for the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York City
The Princess Diana fan club is on the rampage. Stepping out in jeans, a mannish blazer and logo T-shirt, model Gigi Hadid is clearly inspired by Diana at Guards Polo Club in 1988; Kendall Jenner unabashedly references Diana’s ‘high-waist slim-fit style’ of jeans in her latest publicity campaign for a new denim brand; and actress Priyanka Chopra posted a picture of the late Princess in a strapless gown at the 1988 premiere of Octopussy alongside one of herself in a strikingly similar white jumpsuit at this year’s Cannes festival.
And the desire to channel the full-on Diana look has not gone unnoticed by fashion brands themselves eager to get in on the action.
Princess Diana At The Cannes Film Festival, France, 1987. Priyanka Chopra at the Majestic Hotel during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival at on May 16, 2019
In its current collection, Rixo includes a high neck ruffle-front dress in ‘Diana Floral’. On its website, it adds: ‘Feel as though you are the people’s princess when you wear this gorgeous dress.’
Undoubtedly, Diana’s charm, vulnerability and ultimately tragic life, combined with the way she so masterfully learnt to use her appearance as a powerful tool, is all part of the allure for today’s young women.
It’s such a pity she isn’t here to experience this new-found style worship. I’m sure she would have been delighted.
Princess Diana Auction of Princess Diana’s dresses at the Carlyle Hotel, New York, America, in June 1997. Alexa Chung in the front row of Erdem show, Fall Winter 2019, London Fashion Week, Feb 2019