More than an icon: Designer Elizabeth Emanuel remembers Diana

Elizabeth Emanuel reveals a personal time capsule of her relationship with Princess Diana before placing the large scrapbook across her chest on the table and opening the Prussian blue cover.

Emmanuel got to know Diana during the months she and her then-husband David spent designing the future princess’s wedding dress. Four decades later, the gown has a sense of intimacy through Diana’s sketches, fabric swatches and photos, displayed alongside the designer’s mother’s embroidery stitch images. It’s like watching a family album.

That sense of connection helps Emmanuel understand why Diana’s death in a Paris car crash 25 years ago next Wednesday – August 31, 1997 – resonated with so many people around the world.

“I think people just felt that he was like family, that he cared,” Emanuel told The Associated Press. “They felt close to him because you knew every detail of his life. It was all the press, all the time. And there was all this stuff going on. And you felt, you know, a part of his life in a way. And so when his life was taken away. was taken, then it was this huge void. … It was like a light going out.”

Buy now Our best membership plan now has a special price

But for Emanuel, Diana was not just an icon who appeared every day on TV screens and on the front pages of newspapers. He was a genuine person who played a central role in his life and career.

The scrapbook documents that story — the story of a designer and a princess.

The story begins with a pale pink blouse sent by Emanuels for a photoshoot for British Vogue’s rising beauties. Although they didn’t know it, the blouse was destined to be worn by Lady Diana Spencer, who would soon be engaged to Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

Diana liked the blouse so much that she asked who the designers were – then she called them. Emmanuel answered the phone and made an appointment, but did not get her name.

So he was shocked when Diana showed up at his door. By then, the engagement was announced and Diana was famous.

But he didn’t act like that. Emmanuel remembers her wearing a short sweater and skirt and possibly a string of pearls.

“She was very young and very sweet and shy and it was really fun,” said Emmanuel, who was only a few years older than Diana. “Suddenly seeing all the clothes in the showroom was a big adventure for her. And she put a lot of trust in us, really, to come up with her perfect outfit. And for us, I mean, wow, it was great to meet him.”

When it came time to make the wedding dress, Emmanuel’s 12-member team worked in secret to keep the details of the dress under wraps. Security guards guarded the frock in a safe locked every night.

Newspapers offered thousands of pounds (dollars) for the hideout, but staff members turned them away out of respect for Diana, Emanuel said. In an era before smart phones and Facebook, wedding dress design was a surprise until the big day.

Emanuel compared Diana’s royal wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981 to a chrysalis turning into a butterfly – or in this case a nursery school teacher in a cardigan and cute skirt turning into a fairytale princess.

It was the 1980s. Big was inside, and Diana walked down the aisle lined with lace yards, carrying a 25-foot train behind her.

“We went completely over the top,” Emanuel said. “I mean, we were young, fresh out of college. (We said,) ‘Let’s do it. Let’s be crazy. St. Paul’s (have) this huge, big aisle. Let’s put the lace, all the frills on everything and make it the ultimate fairy princess dress.’ And we did. And I don’t think you’re going to see another one like this.”

The wedding, which was televised around the world, was just the beginning of the public’s fascination with Diana. She was rarely out of the headlines for the rest of her life, earning a reputation as “The People’s Princess” as she hugged AIDS patients, befriended orphans and championed causes as inconsequential as land mine removal.

When her marriage finally ended, the fallout played out for all to see. daily Details. That too has struck a chord with the masses.

“I think when someone dies young, it really has an impact,” Emanuel said. “And Diana was the most famous woman on the planet. And she still really is.”

Emmanuel has had a long, successful career, designing for celebrities such as Madonna and Rita Ora. But he is not bothered by the fact that the search for “clothes” remains a constant.

“It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of all of this, as well as to be a part of history,” he said. “I’ll never get tired of it because it was an extraordinary time in my life and – it was great!

📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram Twitter Facebook and don’t miss the latest updates!

Leave a Comment