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Princess Diana was – and is – an eclectic source of inspiration. Her legacy naturally reaches far beyond fashion, but Lady Di is without doubt one of the greatest style icons of the 20th century. More than 20 years after her death, the former royal’s style is proving to be more relevant than ever. Partly thanks to the fourth season of the Netflix hit series The Crown recently hitting our screens, Diana’s characteristic style is enjoying a revival, and we are being reminded of her most iconic looks.
Princess Diana’s iconic style
Even before she became the Princess of Wales, Diana’s style had an obvious impact. What really made her stand out from the crowd was her knack for authentic communication using her clothes. She only selected clothes that reflected how she felt at the time, instead of rolling with the dominant fashion – quite a feat in the trend-conscious 80s and 90s. From exuberant blouses with oversized collars and glamourous dresses for state banquets, to down-to-earth jeans and knitted sweaters for days off with her sons.
Diana’s outfits also contained meaningful messages. During her time in the British royal family, she never wore gloves (a convention to which the British monarchy were long faithful), because she wanted to touch and hold people’s hands. Diana was also the first British royal to be photographed wearing trousers during an evening reception.
After divorcing Prince Charles, Diana’s style changed again. It was now time for feminine dresses for the evening and sporty cycling shorts and sweaters combined with a hyper-exclusive Birkin bag when heading to the gym. In the final years of her life, Diana focused on her humanitarian work. She auctioned her dresses and literally rolled up her shirt sleeves. With her strategic yet seemingly authentic use of fashion, Diana can be seen as a major influencer avant la lettre.
Diana as fashion influencer in 2020
The topical relevance of Diana’s 90s style comes down to the fact that her fashion choices ‘back then’ helped to set the current course of fashion houses (Celine and Off-White, for example), fashion magazines (Vogue Paris recreated her looks with model Hailey Bieber) and influencers. Diana’s looks are almost identical to some of the hottest current trends – from oversized blazers and puffer jackets to spencers and cowboy boots; staple pieces in Diana’s wardrobe that’ll probably also be found in yours. Lady Di’s influence has such weight that when one of her most iconic looks from her early years (her famous ‘black sheep’ woollen jumper) was rereleased by fashion label Rowing Blazers, it sold out in no time.
In 2020, Diana’s influence is about more than just trends. It’s her strength and self-assurance that make not only Diana’s style, but also her as a person, so patently iconic. Above all, the revival of Diana’s personal fashion choices offers us the ultimate proof that authentic and meaningful style will never go out of fashion.
Written by Lara Oliveri