Princess Diana's wedding dress is arguably one of the most iconic bridal gowns of all time, and while there are plenty of pictures of the late royal's nuptials with then-Prince Charles, her pre-wedding outfit had been kept under wraps – until now.
Prince William and Prince Harry's mother, then 20, enjoyed a wedding ball at Buckingham Palace in the lead-up to her big day on 29 July 1981. Instead of opting for a traditional bridal white gown, Diana turned to the masterminds behind her wedding dress, Elizabeth Emanuel and David Emanuel, for something with the "shock" factor.
Ahead of what would have been Diana's wedding anniversary, Elizabeth opened up her photo archives and gave HELLO! an exclusive look inside her "very sexy" pre-wedding dress.
"Diana asked me to design a very sexy dress to shock everyone," Elizabeth explained. One unearthed photo revealed a mermaid-style gown with a figure-hugging silhouette, three-quarter-length sleeves and a low V-neck with a dramatic ruffle trim that ran down the bodice and into the skirt of the fuschia frock.
"The fabric was a rich silk taffeta in shocking pink – a sexy little number and one that was certain to attract attention! It had a low plunge neckline and was slashed to the knee," Elizabeth continued, adding: "She looked stunning!"
The dress was positioned on a mannequin at Elizabeth and her ex David's studio in Brook St, Mayfair and draped with tissue paper as the final tweaks were made.
Elizabeth previously admitted that she doesn't know where the original hot pink dress is today, but she created a replica in 2022 following the Netflix series The Crown's depiction of her wedding.
Princess Diana shot to fame after now-King Charles announced his engagement in February 1981. The couple had met years earlier in 1977 when Charles was visiting her sister Sarah at their family home, Althorp.
Fast forward several years and Diana was pictured walking down the aisle at St Paul's Cathedral in her iconic puff-sleeve wedding dress that she had asked Elizabeth and David to create months earlier under strict instructions to keep the design "very, very secret."
Described as "theatrical" by Elizabeth, the gown boasted a record-breaking 25-foot train and was hand-embellished with 10,000 mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls. The special details that remained largely hidden from the public were the small blue bow sewn into the waistband, which acted as her "something blue," and the horseshoe the designers stitched into the gown for good luck.
"It was controversial and very new," Elizabeth told HELLO!. "There had never been a gown like that before. Mainly because we weren't given any constraints and we were out of college and we just loved designing and flamboyance and were all into lace and frills and ruffles, and it was the age of new romance. So we just thought this is fabulous."
Diana looked radiant in her billowing gown, which she teamed with flat shoes personalised with her and Charles' initials, and the diamond Spencer family tiara. Her brother Charles Spencer later admitted that the heavy weight of the tiara actually left the Princess with a headache!
From behind-the-scenes photos of the intricate work that went into Diana's bridal gown to her "spare" wedding dress that never saw the light of day, Elizabeth has a plethora of unearthed photos of her memorable time working with Diana. Stay tuned for more exclusive pictures…