Diana Spencer and the meaning of the 1994 revenge dress

On the revenge dress by Diana Spencer, worn by the Princess of Wales in 1994 during a party at the Serpentine Gallery in London, rivers of ink have been spent. Fashion, costume and even psychology experts have analyzed the stylistic choice of Diana, a sad princess at the mercy of a painful divorce, served as news of the day from all the newspapers of the world for years, to understand the reasons behind such a risky and at the same time very successful choice. Before being simply one of the most apt and audacious looks of lady D, in fact, the dress, designed by the stylist Christina Stambolian, is a true intergenerational cult object, which has struck and continues to strike the collective imagination. 28 years after its first (and only) appearance, the black dress with bare shoulders and flowing scarf on the front is still an object of desire, a healthy bearer of a message of freedom and self-assertion that is difficult to replicate in words, but perfectly remarkable with a dress.

diana spencer revenge dress

Diana’s dress in all its beauty

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The dress, which the designer Stambolian had designed in 1991 not thinking it would become one of the most loved models in the history of contemporary fashion, is still so popular that several content creators on TikTok have elected it a must have to be recreated with similar and maybe low cost. The trend resumes precise audio, coming from the fifth season of The Crown on Netflix, the one in which Carlo and Diana discuss their failed marriage.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

The story of the dress is striking, almost three decades later, for the context in which it was worn and for the reasons that prompted Diana to choose a black, low-cut, short, sinuous and sexy model instead of an angelic white dress like it was the original intention. The evening when the Princess of Wales, still with the splendid engagement ring on her finger, arrived at the Serpentine Gallery shaking hands and spreading smiles, Carlo, her (almost) ex-husband Carlo admitted on TV that he had for years one affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles (now Queen Camilla). In Diana’s intentions, that evening for her was supposed to be a cry of freedom, in which she affirmed to the whole world that she was not a victim (thanks to the sexy cut of the dress), that she was very angry (in fact black triumphs), that she felt still part of the royal family (with the display of important and symbolic jewels received as a gift from the ex).

london, united kingdom june 02 christina stambolian, designer of one of the most famous dresses in the auction, in front of her design at a private viewing and reception at christies in aid of the aids crisis trust and the royal marsden hospital cancer fund the dress , made in black silk crepe, is lot number 2 in the auction photo by tim graham photo library via getty images

Christina Stambolian with the famous Diana dress in 1997

Tim GrahamGetty Images

The fascination that the Stambolian dress has, still today, on the younger generations, can all be attributed to this narration, expertly constructed a priori by Diana herself, as we know today thanks to various testimonies of people who were her confidants in those years.

The creators, on TikTok, analyze the reasons that led her to expose herself in such a particular and brilliant way; try to find, in the clothes worn by celebs (see Taylor Swiftor the same Meghan Markle), the same messages and the same intentions that had moved lady D in 1994; they try to recreate the dress in every detail, finding similar models in the collections of fast-fashion brands, in second-hand shops or even in market stalls, real gold mines.

The Diana’s revenge dress, in almost 30 years of history, has never lost its edge. And from a simple successful look it has become a way of being, a representation of a principle of individuality and affirmation that is both intimate and universal.

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