The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles was a tumultuous one that was highly analyzed by the press. Diana was essentially the world’s sweetheart and her young marriage to British royal, Prince Charles, was well-known as an unhappy one.
Body language experts loved breaking down the tension between the couple, observing that they seemed to have respect for one another, but that there seemed to be no love between them. Everyone speculated that the only reason they stayed together as long as they did was for the sake of their two young sons (we know them as Prince William and Prince Harry) and their public image.
Eventually, however, there was a breaking point for the unhappy pair.
In 1994, the royal couple had been separated for two years and the general opinion was that Prince Charles had been cheating on Princess Diana. Finally, in the summer of ’94, the royal came out and publically confessed to his long-running affair with Camilla Parker Bowles in a televised documentary about his life and work.
Needless to say, the world exploded with criticism for Charles and sympathy for Diana – but Diana wasn’t looking for anyone’s sympathy. Being the confident spitfire that she was, she let the world know she was fine without her ex-husband in a truly iconic way: the “revenge dress.”
Princess Diana’s “revenge dress” is now legendary, not just for Di’s personal fashion, but in the lexicon of fashion history.
When the princess stepped out of her town car on that day, a day when all the papers were splashed with the headline that her husband had been cheating on her, she decided to give them something different to talk about: that she was single and ready to mingle.
What’s interesting is that Princess Diana was initially going to wear a different dress for that day (she was heading to Serpentine Gallery’s annual Summer soiree in London’s Kensington Gardens) made by Valentino. But when the fashion house published an early release about the princess wearing one of their dresses, she called the move “crude opportunism” and changed her mind on what she’d be wearing.
She opted for the now-infamous dress; a form-fitting black off-the-shoulder number by Greek designer Christina Stambolian. The dress, which had a ruched, asymmetrical bodice with cap sleeves and a sash at the side, hugged Diana’s curves perfectly and drew plenty of attention.
Diana had actually owned the LBD for three years, but according to Stambolian, the princess “thought it was too daring.”
So why the change of heart? Because Diana knew that on the same night, Prince Charles would officially confess to his adulterous relationship with Camilla.
“She wanted to look a million dollars,” said her former stylist, Anna Harvey. “And she did.”
That’s one way to take away from a negative, hurtful story about your ex: wearing something incredible that cements your status as a style icon.