Thursday, March 18, 2010

Royal Review: Diana Style by Colin McDowell

I must have at least a dozen books about Diana's fashions. One dating from as early as 1985 to this one. A dearth of these books came out after the princess died in 1997 when people tried to make sense of her legacy or cash in on the timing.

In the decade or so since her death, Diana Style by Colin McDowell is one of many books commemorating her life. This one looks at Diana from a fashion perspective.Ultimately these types of book reveal nothing new, but they're still enjoyable to look at.

One thing that it most remarked about Diana was her personal appearance. Although she tried to downplay this when it came to promoting serious causes, it was an undeniable fact. She used the clothes she wore to communicate. Whether it was velvet for a visit to a school for the blind, red to convey confidence, length to respect cultural differences, or a dress with embroidered falcons to compliment the ruling house of Saudi Arabia. Her fashion choices were deliberate and flawlessly executed.

This book discusses the evolution of her style from the infamous black dress she wore to her first evening engagement prior to her marriage. To the equally infamous black revenge dress, she wore on the night that Prince Charles admitted he had committed adultery. These dresses, worn respectively in 1981 and 1994 act as bookends to her royal life. But the story does not end there, as it evolves even further to cover her fashions up to her death.

At the time of her death I believe that Diana was just coming into her own, fashion wise. Gone were the pie crust collars, veiled hats, head-to-toe outfit colors, and lacquered hair. In its place, figure flattering Versace dresses, simpler make-up and more natural looking hair. While I loved the simplicity of her later dresses, towards the end of her life, I found her face looked hard and high maintenance. Gone was the romantic, youthful freshness of her early married life. Even if some of her outfits have not stood the test of time, I still prefer the early Diana.

This book is a manual of a royal woman discovering herself and her style. It freeze frames Diana's fashions throughout her career, the good and the bad, from head to toe. While we'll never know just how Diana's fashions would have evolved, this is a good reminder of a royal style icon in the making

© Marilyn Braun 2010

No comments: