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Why it isn't surprising Queen Consort Camilla chose Princess Diana's dress designer for the coronation

Queen Consort Camilla looked to her close acquaintance Bruce Oldfield for her coronation look

Oldfield was a friend of Princess Diana © Tim Graham
Tania Leslau
Lifestyle Writer
April 14, 2023
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After months of speculation, it was revealed that Queen Consort Camilla has chosen British couturier Bruce Oldfield to design her coronation gown. Considering the pair's lengthy professional relationship, Oldfield seemed like the natural choice for the occasion, which will take place on May 6. The designer's name has become synonymous with British heritage and the crème de la crème of couture, meaning royal fans can expect a truly magnificent creation to be debuted at the coronation.

Not only has Oldfield maintained a close acquaintance with Queen Camilla, but he also designed garments for the late Princess Diana while she was married to then-Prince Charles. The duo first met in 1981, when Vogue were curating a wardrobe for the young royal-to-be. The magazine selected some of Oldfield's designs for Diana's inventory, a handful of which she subsequently ordered – marking the beginning of her friendship with the couturier.

WATCH: New photograph of the King and Queen Consort ahead of coronation

Diana and Oldfield were also connected through the work of the charity Barnardo's, an organisation of which the People's Princess was president from 1984 to 1996.  Oldfield had an especially close tie to the foundation; at birth, he was taken to the children's charity and placed in foster care until the age of 13, subsequently moving to another children’s home until he turned 18. He later enrolled at St Martins School of Art, now known as Central Saint Martins, to study fashion design.

Princess Diana And Bruce Oldfield At A Gala Dinner In Aid Of The Charity Barnado's. She Is Wearing A Crushed Velvet Purple Dress Designed By Him.  © Getty Images
Princess Diana and Bruce Oldfield at a gala dinner in aid for the charity Barnado's

Speaking to Fashion Unfiltered, Oldfield reflected upon his relationship with Diana: "She was young. She was 11 years younger than me, only 24 at the time. We didn't have much in common, but we had a good relationship. We had lunches and went to some parties together. But then it ran out in the end in the eighties when she stepped down from being royal."

It's evident that Oldfield's relationship with King Charles' first wife didn't deter Queen Camilla from selecting him as her chosen designer. So how did this pairing come to fruition?

Bruce Oldfield is greeted by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during  the Bruce Oldfield Fashion Show at Lancaster House in support of the NationLONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15: al Osteoporosis Society on November 15, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by J© Getty Images
Queen Consort Camilla has chosen British designer Bruce Oldfield to create her coronation gown

Upon Princess Diana's withdrawal from royal life, Queen Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall, took over as patron of Barnardo's. Naturally, the two mingled through the Barnardo's connection, and formed a friendship that would last over a decade. The VIP designer has been open about his affection for the royal and the two are known to get on exceedingly well.

Oldfield has curated outfits for Camilla on several occasions, spanning glamorous fashion shows and Hollywood film premieres. Oldfield's latest creation for Camilla materialised in the form of a sky blue gown boasting refined beaded embellishments and sheer long sleeves, worn by the royal to attend the premiere of No Time To Die in September 2021.

Queen Consort Camilla wearing a sky blue dress designed by Oldfield in 2021© Getty Images
Queen Consort Camilla wearing a sky blue dress designed by Oldfield in 2021

Not only does Oldfield have members of the royal family listed on his clientele, but also a plethora of celebrities. Helen Mirren, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Charlotte Rampling are just a handful of past customers, proving that the designer's creations are of unparalleled quality and elegance.

While sporting a dress crafted by a designer so closely associated with your husband's ex-wife may seem like a bold move, many consider Camilla's decision to also be something of an olive branch or a subtle nod to the late princess.

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Gown

© PA Images

In 1953, a 25-year-old Queen Elizabeth II slipped into an extravagant white duchesse satin gown embroidered with strings of pearls, sequins and crystals. The Norman Hartnell-designed dress moreover featured embroidered national and Commonwealth floral emblems in gold, silver and pastel-coloured silks.

On top of her sumptuous gown, the late monarch wore a six-and-a-half-metre Robe of Estate - made by royal robe-makers Ede & Ravenscroft. It took a team of 12 seamstresses, using 18 types of gold thread, a whopping 3,500 hours to complete the Queen’s velvet robe.

However, Oldfield's appointment may simply be a result of the duo's long-lasting friendship, meaning the Queen Consort knows what to expect from her dressmaker for the big day. After all, a coronation is not the time for a fashion faux pas to occur.

READ: Queen Consort Camilla's coronation dress will have a subtle link to Princess Diana

What we do know for sure is that the sketches of the garment will be kept very much under wraps until the day of the coronation. Royal fans can be sure to expect impeccable craftsmanship from the 72-year-old couturier, who will have no trouble creating a dress to remember.

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