Season five of The Crown covered the ’90s-era, the decline of the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, as well as the late Princess’ fashion moments, including the enduring sleek, black, off-the-shoulder dress she wore in 1994, nicknamed the ‘Revenge Dress.’
Although most of us are pretty familiar with the story behind this dress, it was the series that brought back the events that made headlines close to 30 years ago, and with that, the ‘little black dress.’
The famous dress, which serves as a unique piece of clothing with historical background, was designed by Christina Stambolian before Diana and Charles tied the knot.
Allegedly, when she ordered it, Diana said it was for a significant event.
According to Christina, the Princess didn’t care if it would be long or short, she just wanted it to be special. The designer, given the freedom, went with a risky, revealing design in black, which a reluctant Diana eventually agreed to.
The flirty dress, which had hand stitched parts and took two people and over sixty hours to make, was worn by the Princess at a party hosted by Vanity Fair. That same night, Prince Charles’ tell-all documentary premiered on national television. The goal of the documentary was to regain the public’s sympathy for the future King, but it eventually backfired.
When asked if he had been faithful to Diana during their marriage, Charles said yes. But he then added, “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.” This subtle confession that he in fact had someone else in his life while married to the People’s Princess threw him back into hot water. he termed his affair with Camilla as a “deeply regrettable thing to happen.”
According to Kerry Taylor, “We call it the “revenge dress” [because] she wore it the same evening Prince Charles confessed to his adultery with Camilla.”
Why Diana made the decision to wear it on that particular night will probably never be known. But until that point, she believed that the dress was “too daring,” and never wore it before although she had it in her wardrobe for three years.
According to Princes Diana’s personal stylist, Anna Harvey, Diana had initially planned on wearing a different dress to this event but changed her mind in the last minute because she wanted to look like a million dollars for the occasion.
Elizabeth Holmes, a royal fashion commentator, stated that Diana was well aware of the impact a show-stopping dress could have in terms capturing attention because her outfit wasn’t usual for a member of the typically buttoned-up royal family.
The dress wasn’t just a piece of clothing but a symbol of Diana’s regained independence.
As she moved on and left her failed marriage behind, Diana ditched the classic tropes of royal dressing and turned to a more modern style. She became self-confident and had a wardrobe to match the new her.
The designer of the dress believed it was never Diana’s intention to prove a point to Charles when she made the decision to wear the dress. Instead, she wanted to declare to another man, whom Christina believed was James Hewitt, “I am a very beautiful woman. I am sexy. Look at what you are missing.” Diana and James’ five-year romance fell apart.
What is interesting about Diana’s “revenge dress” was that it was paid with Charles’ money. It cost 900 pounds to make, money withdrawn from then-prince Charles’ account.
As of Charles’ confession of being unfaithful, it certainly had an effect on Diana.
“On a human level for Diana, you can only imagine how upsetting that would have been, not only to hear that but to know that now the world has heard it. Effectively, Charles has aired some serious dirty laundry,” People Editorial Director Michelle Tauber pointed out.
The love affair between Charles and Camilla started in 1986, according to Prince Charles’ authorized biography, as quoted by Town & Country. At the time, Charles was still married to Princess Diana and she eventually became aware that her husband was cheating on her.
Diana even confronted Camilla once, but nothing changed.
Speaking of the troubles in her marriage and the reasons for its failure, Diana told Martin Bashir during a televised interview, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Mere months after the separation was formalized, the press leaked a transcript of a conversation between Charles and Camilla. It revealed intimate and sexual exchange between the two.
Before it was published in details, the paper put a headline which read, “Charles’s Secret Bedtime Phone Call.”
The intimate conversation was dubbed “Tampongate” because it included a tampon reference.
The People’s Princess died in a car crash August 31, 1997.
She lost her life after she and her partner Dodi Fayed, the son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, her driver Henri Paul, and her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones crashed the Mercedes in the Pont de I’Alma tunnel in Paris while trying to escape the paparazzi.
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