She was known as the People's Princess for her powerful presence and tireless charity work, but 20 years since her death Diana, Princess of Wales is still turning heads as a timeless fashion icon.
Ever propelled onto the world stage, Diana developed an elegant, easy and never overstated style that saw her through the pomp and formality of state occasions, to the high fashion red carpet and casual day events at which she always shone. And a number of her classic outfits carried the label of her favourite fashion house, Catherine Walker, with which she shared a relationship of mutual trust for 16 years.
Now celebrating their 40th year, Catherine Walker has exclusively invited HELLO! behind the scenes of their discreet atelier in London's Chelsea to see some of Diana’s favourite dresses, and to speak to designer Said Cyrus, who founded the company with his wife Catherine Walker (who died in 2010).
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"We saw our job as giving [Diana] the tools of her trade," Said tells HELLO! in an exclusive interview in this week’s issue. "As the relationship developed, we took the combination of her job and our support very seriously. Diana was always very polite, very courteous and very appreciative. She was never late for an appointment, which for a busy person shows respect, and whenever she wore a dress that was admired she’d thank us."
In HELLO!'s exclusive behind the scenes video, Said shows us two of his favourites from the princess' repertoire, including a pearl, sequin and crystal embroidered lace halter-neck gown that she wore for a 1996 Washington charity gala hosted by Ralph Lauren and Anna Wintour.
Princess Diana's favourite fashion staple was often by Catherine Walker
Another big hit was the red belted day dress that Diana wore for her last daytime public appearance at Northwick Park Hospital, just one month before her death in August 1997. Said Cyrus also showed us a roll from a piece of fabric he designed for a dress Diana wore to an auction of her dresses – many of them Catherine Walker – at Christie’s, New York, in 1996.
"We were all very optimistic about how much the dresses would raise for the Princess’ charities," he says of the company and late wife Catherine, who was close friends with the princess. "I think she will always be remembered for her humanitarian work. In the end, she used her dresses to save lives."
Princess Diana with Catherine at the boutique in London
Discover more about how Catherine Walker created Princess Diana’s amazing looks in HELLO! Magazine, on sale until 15 January.