‘Vogue’ gave Princess Diana a foothold in the fashion world as the marriage crumbled

From her first exposure to the world’s press in 1980 to her tragic death in 1997 and beyond, the public has been captivated by Princess Diana, so much so that she was still the fourth most popular royal in Britain in a November 2022 poll.

Part of Diana’s international appeal was her beauty and undeniable style. The royal family has become so closely associated with some defining fashion moments that after her death, the dresses she once wore are now considered almost relics.

Key to shaping Diana’s image as a fashion icon was her long association with British style bible Fashion, which would provide her with a lifeline as her marriage crumbled in the 1990s. This association has been mapped out by authors Robin Muir and Josephine Ross in their recently published book, The crown in fashion.

Princess Diana for British "Fashion"
Lady Diana Spencer (L) photographed by Lord Snowdon for British “Vogue” in February 1981, and (R) as the Princess of Wales, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, in 1994. Part of Diana’s international appeal was her beauty and undeniable style .
Lord Snowdon/Patrick Demarchelier

From a pre-engagement inside scoop to the breakup of her marriage and posthumous assessment of her estate, the princess’s public life was heavily featured in the magazine’s pages.

Diana, Princess of Wales was featured on three covers during her lifetime and one posthumously, as well as one for the US FashionMuir said News Week of her collaborations with the title.

The three British Fashion covers published in her lifetime (August 1981, December 1991 and July 1994) “coincided with key moments in her life. The final moments, as she stands alone,” Muir continued.

She also came at a time when pop stars, celebrities and social figures weren’t necessarily dressed different, but are noticed, and Diana, instinctively understanding the power of fashion, was determined to make a figure no one could ignore.”

“In 1989, the cracks in the royal marriage began to appear, so it was almost necessary for the princess to develop a new story, one that showed her as a woman with independent ideas and a bold, fresh approach to life. work. And through those different covers and cover stories, Fashion played an important role in reflecting this carefully crafted image.”

However, Diana’s association with the magazine began long before her marriage broke up, with her two older sisters both sometimes working for the title.

Princess Diana by Lord Snowdon 1985
Princess Diana photographed by Lord Snowdon for British “Vogue” in 1985. She had a close relationship with the magazine.
Lord Snowdon

Through her sisters, she met fashion editor Anna Harvey, who was sent out to help style Prince Charles’s then-girlfriend after a fashion mistake occurred in which the press photographed her in a revealing pose after the sun made her light cotton skirt appear see-through. in images.

Harvey helped Lady Diana Spencer, as she was then, and arranged for her to be privately photographed by Lord Snowdon, Princess Margaret’s ex-husband.

The portraits of the 19-year-old first appeared on the pages of Fashion in February 1981, perfectly timed to coincide with the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles, and beating competitors in the fight for an exclusive photo.

“As Lady Diana Spencer, photographed by Snowdon just before the engagement – a real coup for Fashion who knew inside that an announcement was going to be made and acted on it — she looks remarkably young, but confident and completely photogenic,” Muir said.

“I think the Snowdon fashion photographer’s eye sees the glamor in her early on (especially in the rarely seen portrait of her in blue ruffles by the Emanuels) and of course with poise and elegance long before it became the greatest weapon in her. . armory.”

As the 1980s progressed and the public fully embraced the princess, she began experimenting with her style, moving away from the outrageous designs typical of the decade that earned her the nickname “Dynasty Di” and moving more towards the classic streamlined aesthetic of the 1990s.

As her marriage to Charles deteriorated, first separating in 1992 and then divorcing in 1996, Diana’s image increasingly centered around the ideas of strength and independence, while also expanding her charitable work.

Princess Diana by Patrick Demarchelier, 1994
A portrait of Princess Diana in 1994 by Patrick Demarchelier, on display before being auctioned in London on March 15, 2019. He became a friend and trusted visual expert.
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

One of the photographers who captured her image during this period was Patrick Demarchelier, who became a friend and trusted visual expert.

“Patrick was one of those great European fashion photographers who rose to prominence in the mid-1970s and by the time he gets to work with Diana he’s very skilled in the art of artifice,” said Muir.

“Rails of clothes would be called up, hair stylists and makeup artists would be hired, fashion editors and assistants would go around. The results were as polished as any other Fashion fashion shoot – which they essentially were – and the princess exuded this cool stylized glamour.

Many of Demarchelier’s portraits would be used as tributes to the life of the princess after her death in a high-speed car accident in Paris at just 36 years old. The photographer died in 2022 at the age of 78.

Writing from her style protégé in the October 1997 UK issue Fashion, Anna Harvey reflected on the princess’s relationships with photographers, designers, stylists and make-up artists and came to the conclusion that at the end of her life she had developed into her own person without the help of others.

“It is said that she was more beautiful in the flesh,” she wrote. “Once, while visiting Fashionthe art department, who had been quite cynical about her, was furious.

She had shine. It was just magnetic and ultimately transcends her clothes.”

The Crown in Vogue, $29.99, published by Thunder Bay Press, is now available in the US.

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