Princess Diana’s wedding dress is one of the most iconic wedding dresses of all time—that’s a fact—and now we’re getting the story behind it thanks to one-half of the design team, David Emanuel.
The late royal married Prince Charles back in July of 1981 and wowed the world when she stepped out of that glass coach and made her way into St. Paul’s Cathedral in ivory silk taffeta gown with antique lace, 10,000 pearls and sequins, and 25-foot train.
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Turns out this magnificent garb wasn’t the first time David—who now hosts Britain’s version of Say Yes to the Dress—and now ex-wife Elizabeth Emanuel had designed for the People’s Princess.
“Quite some time earlier, an unknown girl rang my studio looking for some outfits,” David told the UK’s Express. “She turned up, tried on some dresses and we made four or five things for her. But it was a strapless black silk taffeta dress that changed everything.”
David recalls how he and Elizabeth were “ranked outsiders” when speculation was rampant trying to figure out who would design Princess Di’s wedding dress—but she called them herself to ask if they’d do it and they said yes immediately.
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“We felt excitement more than pressure,” he added. “Then we heard nothing for two weeks. I wondered if that was part of a test to see if we would tell the media, but we kept shtoom. We didn’t say a word and then we wondered if perhaps it was a hoax call and a bad joke.”
But it was just a busy schedule that had kept the soon-to-be royal from checking in with them and they got to work on the design—later tearing up the sketch after showing it to Diana to keep the concept a secret from the press at the time.
David said he didn’t comprehend at the time just how much designing this look would have on his career and admits he hasn’t seen the garment in four or five years.