The Secrets Behind Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress

When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, the world was waiting with bated breath for the wedding dress that would become one of the most famous of all time.

By the age of 19, Lady Di had turned into a fashion icon overnight after the couple’s engagement was announced – and the fever surrounding the wedding and what the princess-to-be would wear swept Britain (and worldwide).

Though their marriage wouldn’t last, the image of Diana’s extravagant puff-sleeved wedding dress has stuck with royal fans for decades.

Here we take a look back at the late Princess of Wales’ wedding dress – and some little-known facts about the iconic look.

Her clothing designers initially thought the application was a joke.

David and Elizabeth Emmanuel
British fashion designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel became the lucky ones to create Lady Diana Spencer’s dress.
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While many expected Diana to choose a more established British fashion house for her big day, the young husband-and-wife team of David and Elizabeth Emanuel were eventually selected to design her dress — and the couple at first thought they were kidding. were maintained.

Although the couple had created several outfits for the bride-to-be in the lead up to the wedding, they never expected to design for one of the biggest royal events in history.

“We got a call to say, ‘Would you do the honor of making the wedding dress?'” David told Hello! in 2020. “But when we weren’t in the running in the press, I thought, gosh, maybe it was a hoax call? But later she called back, it must have been a month or so later.’

Unlike Kate Middleton’s or Meghan Markle’s wedding dress designers, who were in hot pursuit until the morning of that wedding, information about Diana’s was released to the press.

“When it was finally announced, my tiny studio was besieged with cameras within minutes,” David said, saying he “ran to a shop on Oxford Street to quickly order blinds and the blinds went down and stayed until day.”

Diana’s dress wasn’t exactly white – and for good reason.

Princess Diana wedding dress
A sketch of the wedding dress by the Emanuels.
PA images via Getty Images

With huge puff sleeves, bows, lace and 10,000 seed pearls, the silk taffeta dress inspired 1980s bridal trends — and rolled out endless ones so eager brides could get the look.

The ivory hue of the dress “was so flattering to her English pink complexion,” Elizabeth Emanuel told the Daily Mail. “I think white lace often looks cheap. Ivory enhanced Diana’s pale, natural beauty.”

As for the style’s over-the-top, faded silhouette, she told the publication that “inspiration came from everywhere.”

“I tracked down every book I could find on royal weddings in history: Queen Victoria; her daughter, Princess Beatrice; Queen Mary,” she said. “And I watched all my favorite old movies: ‘The Leopard’, ‘Gone With The Wind’, ‘Barry Lyndon’.”

The train was the longest in royal history.

Princess Diana wedding dress
Diana’s dress stunned royal fans with its breathtaking train.
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The Emanuels wanted to make a splash when it came to Diana’s dress, and they certainly delivered — the 25-foot train is the longest of all royal wedding dresses in history.

“St. Paul’s is huge, huge – you couldn’t do a low-key little dress,” David Emanuel told The Guardian.

While researching royal wedding dresses, the couple “discovered that the largest royal train was twenty feet long,” David told Today — so they wanted to make one even longer.

“I remember giggling to Diana and saying, ‘Oh god, we have to beat that!’ And she said, “Oh, okay, shall we make it 23 feet? Shall we make it 25?” We arrived at 25 feet!”

In fact, the train was so long that the safe the Emanuels kept it in every night didn’t fit through the door of their studio, so the couple ended up having to “rent a crane.”

“They had to take the window out and sail into the building,” David told Today.

The designers were “appalled” at the dress’s wrinkles.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles
Princess Diana’s dress was incredibly wrinkled after her carriage ride to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
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One of the aspects of Diana’s dress that is often criticized is how wrinkled it looked on her wedding day.

During a 2018 ITV special called ‘Invitation to the Royal Wedding’, Elizabeth (via The Mirror) said the couple thought ‘it would crease a bit’ but not to the extent that it did as Diana traveled to church .

“When I saw her arrive at St. Paul’s and we saw the folds, I felt really faint,” the designer recalls.

“I was really shocked because it was quite a bit of wrinkling. It was a lot more than we thought.”

There was a spare dress that nobody knew about.

The princess dress was put on display at Kensington Palace in 2021, but there is actually a secret second version that was never used.
Samir Hussein/WireImage

When it came to Diana’s dress, the Emanuels didn’t take any chances – so they created a second, different dress just in case.

As Elizabeth told the Daily Mail, the backup style was similar to Princess Di’s original, but slightly simpler; it lacked all lace trim, and had a shorter sleeve and different bodice.

“It was only three-quarters finished – we just didn’t have time to make it in its entirety, so nothing was embroidered or finished,” she explained to the publication.

“At the time, we wanted to be absolutely sure the dress was a surprise,” added David in a People interview.

“We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even talked about it. We wanted to make sure we had something there; it was actually for our own peace of mind.”

So, where is this mysterious dress now? Nobody actually knows.

“It hung in the studio for a long time and then disappeared,” Elizabeth told the Daily Mail. “I don’t know if we sold it or stocked it. It was such a busy time. I’m sure it will pop up in a bag one day!”

Diana stained her dress with perfume just before the wedding.

Diana grabbed the front of her wedding dress to hide a perfume stain.
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According to People, Lady Di Quelques chose Fleurs ($285), a romantic fragrance by Parisian perfumer Houbigant, for her big day.

However, the perfume — which takes “more than 15,000 flowers” according to the brand to make an ounce bottle — ended up all over Diana’s dress just minutes before walking down the aisle.

“I just put on my perfume and I spilled some on the front of my dress,” Princess Diana told makeup artist Barbara Daly in an excerpt from “Diana: The Portrait’ shared by the Daily Express.

Panicing that “they will kill me!” the bride turned to Daly, who tried to remove the stain without success.

Although Elizabeth Emanuel told the Daily Mail they had made an extra skirt that could have been attached over the dress “in case she spilled something herself on the day”, there wasn’t enough time for that.

“Do you think if I just tuck the front in they’ll never notice?” Diana asked her makeup artist, according to the book; Daly agreed that the royal bride should hold the front of the dress to hide the stain, pretending to try not to trip over the long hem.

Thankfully it worked, and no one was the wiser about the royal spill.

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