Remembering Princess Diana’s Last Style Moments 25 Years After Her Death
I was only five years old when Princess Diana died. My recollection of his death – and his life – is very limited. But I remember watching his funeral on an old television box at my neighbor’s house in London. I still remember the tears of my mother and our elderly neighbor, and the sea of bouquets spread out in front of the gates of Buckingham Palace. I thought maybe my mother and the thousands of people who lined the streets with the funeral procession all knew this woman personally. Of course, they didn’t; yet they all mourned her. Some even mourned her like family.
It wasn’t until 2018, while living in New York, that I was reintroduced to Princess Diana in a way I hadn’t anticipated. I was 26 and my marriage, something I had entered into far too casually when I was only 21, was ending. At the time, my knowledge of Diana’s life was vague, but that changed when I watched a documentary about her and felt inexplicably connected to the princess. Like me, Diana married young, albeit under circumstances I could hardly imagine. She too contracted her marriage with great hope. She thought she was in love, and with a prince! I started the @ladydirevengelooks Instagram account, which was intended to be an archive of Diana’s best post-divorce looks paired with playful, slightly irreverent captions (low-key directed at my own ex, of course).
At 19, Diana barely had time to get to know herself. She was passed from one aristocratic family to another – the “sacrificial lamb”, as she herself said. As the future queen consort, Diana had to do two things: look the part and stand both figuratively and physically behind her husband, Prince Charles. Of course, what the Palace hadn’t expected was for this sweet, insecure woman to grow up. Amid mental health issues, depressions, and private battles with bulimia, she was slowly beginning to understand herself, what she had to offer, and most importantly, who she wanted to be.
The media “clotheshorse” also realized that even if people weren’t listening, they were watching, and if everyone looked so closely and dissected every detail, then maybe she would find a way to communicate and build independence through his style. Diana’s uncontrollable mind became more present throughout the eighties; through the dazzling sequins of his Dynasty Di era, the rebellious black leather and punk blue eyeliner worn at rock concerts, and the tongue-in-cheek slogan knitwear that spoke so loudly against his shy demeanor. Then there were the sideways glances and rolling eyes behind Prince Charles’ back that said it all. Deprived of her voice prematurely, it soon became clear – she was not the kind of woman who felt comfortable blending into the background.
Diana’s many style makeovers have since been commemorated by a younger generation, who, like me, were too young to remember Diana firsthand. Brands like Ganni are revisiting Diana’s ’80s Peter Pan and Chelsea collars, while Rowing Blazers have successfully resurrected the Princess’ favorite knitwear brands by re-issuing their famous black sheepskin jumper from Warm & Wonderful, and the ” I’m a Luxury” from the witty knitwear brand Gyles and Georges.
On Instagram and Tiktok, style tributes to Diana are endless, and her athleisure looks have become synonymous with our generation. But it’s the lesser-known looks, the outfits she wore around town, that are meaningful in their own way and inspired me to create my Instagram account to begin with. These are the looks that emphasize where she was headed, her authentic sense of style and the brave path she was determined to pursue.
In every era of transformative style—from the ruffles and florals of an 80s fairytale princess to the clean lines and Dior suits of a 90s career ambassador—maybe Diana and her wardrobe are most stripped in August 1997, the last month of his life. She had auctioned off 79 of her dresses at Christie’s New York just a month before, and for humanitarian assignments in Angola and Bosnia and Herzegovina she welcomed crisp Ralph Lauren shirts and straight-leg jeans, styled with embellishments. elegant oval sunglasses and Tod’s driving loafers. Perfect for the woman who wanted her work, rather than her outfits, to take center stage.
Subsequently, she joined her new boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, on her father’s superyacht in Saint-Tropez. It was his second vacation with the Egyptian film producer that summer. As she sunbathes on deck and openly embraces her summer adventure, her rainbow of swimwear from brands Jantzen and Gottex adds a splash of color to the shimmering azure of the Mediterranean Sea. But of course, it’s the woman wearing those statement suits and her beaming smile that stands out the most. Finally, she looked at peace. The world watched as she perched alone on a diving board in an aquamarine swimsuit, in a now-famous image that captures an apparent moment of solitary reflection for the princess, far from the frenzy and fury of the paparazzi watching her. would be waiting again on his last trip to Paris.
The latest haunting images we have of Diana come mostly from grainy footage captured by the Ritz’s CCTV. Insinuating that the holidays were over, Diana started her last day on August 30 in a gray suit and ended it, after dinner in a private suite at the Ritz, in a utilitarian look: a simple black blazer and white jeans. It was a typical outfit for the princess who was surely ready to go home with her boys and eager to reprise her role. She had so much work to do.
Then, the accident. The burial, followed by the fury. A feeling that still lingers that we as a society could have done so much better for this woman if we had listened to her, if we had heard her claiming her privacy, if we had asked for her protection from the press. What if we hadn’t just assumed a fairy tale ending for her? In his eulogy, Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, noted: “Of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this: a girl who was named after the ancient goddess of hunting, was ultimately the most hunted person of the modern era. age.” She was shaken, tested, and ultimately thrown to the wolves. How can we help but wonder: if her life had had real value instead of entertainment value, perhaps it could have Would this very human woman who cared so deeply for others still be alive today if she hadn’t been so dehumanized?
Diana’s story is a tragedy, but especially for women. Once admired simply for her clothes, she alone made the world hungry for her words and deeds, and in her final month, stepping back from dresses, glamor and excess, she was louder than ever. ; she was herself. Twenty-five years later, we can still draw inspiration from Diana’s story; it is, after all, immense growth and strength.
We must also ask ourselves if the patriarchal formula which sold millions of newspapers at its expense still exists today. Perhaps the reason a whole new generation looks at Diana with such fondness (other than the obvious admiration for her clothes) is that her story still holds true. Prominent women are still harassed by photographers, misogyny still sells tabloids, and female bodies are still dissected to humiliating lengths. Have many things really changed? The anniversary of Diana’s death is a stark reminder that we still have so much work to do.
Eloise Moran is a London-born, Los Angeles-based fashion editor and creator of the @ladydirevengelooks Instagram account, which has been featured in the new yorker, SHE, The LA Timesand The Telegraph. She currently lives in East Los Angeles with an impressive collection of ’90s clothing, including her most prized possession: an original Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt that was seen on Lady Diana herself. Lady Di’s lookbook is Eloise’s first book.