Exploring a memory: Designer recreates a dress for Diana

These are clothes with stories, and Elizabeth Emanuel wants to tell them.

A stunning rose-hued and body-hugging gown, this gown was designed by Emanuel for Lady Diana Spencer just days before her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981. Buckingham Palace wore it to a party. event for the future princess, until then widely known for her conservative sweater and pearl look.

“It was definitely not a wallflower dress,” said Emmanuel, who also designed Diana’s wedding dress. “It was a dress to be seen and celebrated in.” This too was soon forgotten. In an era before smartphones put a camera in everyone’s pocket and social media made private events public, the dress was often seen by guests, including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Grace and Nancy Reagan, but no one else. Emmanuel doesn’t know where it is, or even if it still exists.

So she recreated it from bolts of shiny, satin taffeta to match the dramatic sketches she made 40 years ago.

Acting on an idea that took shape during the UK’s long coronavirus lockdowns, she did it for herself for her archive. But also because she wanted to show another side of Diana, which Emanuel believes has been misinterpreted by “The Crown,” the popular Netflix series that brings the story of the princess and her ill-fated marriage to a new generation.

A fan of the first three seasons of the series, Emmanuelle said she had a hard time watching the last two because of Diana’s portrayal.

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Creating a bespoke garment is a long process, requiring many fittings that give the customer and the dressmaker a lot of time to communicate. And during the hours they spent together, Diana emerged as a likable, vibrant young woman, not a diminutive girl “crown” tormented by events beyond her control, Emanuel said.

“She wasn’t like that,” Emanuel said. “She was always very happy. And, you know, I love that we’re so close that if she had major issues we would have been notified at the time, because these fittings are so close.” One of the things the series does right is retracing Diana’s style journey, from the cardigans and bows she first wore into the public eye, to ball gowns with frills and flounces and finally Changing international fashion icon at Versailles, Dior. and the channel.

Diana grew up in the country, looking to her older sisters for fashion cues. It was a world of hunting, shooting and fishing, where Barbour coats and Wellington boots were worn every day. It was a culture where no matter how much you cared about your appearance, you had to look like you weren’t trying too hard.

Diana brought this sense of style with her when she moved to London after leaving school and soon became the archetype of the Sloane Ranger, a media name for wealthy young people who lived near London’s Sloane Square and looked up to the bohemian elite. was planting

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She was, as former BBC royal correspondent Michael Cole said, “this Sloane Ranger with her kind of pie crust collars and Fair Isle sweaters and lovely skirts. She was a product of the English countryside.” But after her engagement to the future King Charles III, she began to grow in glamor as a princess.

“It was definitely a bit of an effort for her to adapt to the role,” Cole said. “She appreciated and understood the power of clothes, the power of image. It helped a lot that she had good taste, and I think she had some good mentors.” In other words, she grew and learned how to use clothes to convey a message.

And maybe the journey started with a hot pink party gown.

After losing weight, Diana asked Emmanuelle, her ex-husband David and their team to create an outfit that would show off her new supermodel figure and change her image to celebrities and world leaders. Invited to the palace.

“She wanted to wear something really interesting and noticeable because the whole world is going to be at this party,” Emmanuel said in a studio in London.

“I think a message was sent with that outfit, really. That she used to be known as Shy, but in this outfit she’s definitely more Shy.” But for Emanuel, the project is about more than simply setting the record straight. It is about a friend in memory of Bill and the helping hand that Princess gave to her career.

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There is something charming about the way he looks at this copy and arranges it on a mannequin as tall as Diana, clearly remembering her famous client.

She recreated a dress that belonged to the Diana she knew, who broke the mold, who was brave, who was ready to leave the stage. And as she worked, Diana was on top of her the whole time.

“As I look at it, I imagine her face,” Emanuel said. “The last time we saw her in the dress was actually at that party and she looked so bright and gorgeous. And then all these years later, you know, to do it again, it’s kind of weird.” But it won’t. Refusing to continue exploring her memories, she took over the process of making the dress.

Emmanuelle now plans to recreate the alternate wedding dress she made for Diana — an extra one made in case the tabloids somehow get a photo of the original dress before the big day. But the clothes never fit, and the spare disappeared from public view.

“I want to see if I can do it right and enjoy all the memories,” she said. “I’ll have them. They’ll be there. They won’t just be fantasy or digital floating around. They’ll be real things that I can remember.”

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)

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