No longer Shy Di: The dress that unveiled the true Diana to the world

Princess Diana's lost dress recreated
Princess Diana's lost dress recreated   -   Copyright  Kin Cheung/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Isabella Jewell  & AP

It’s hard to imagine that such a vibrant dress could go missing, but that’s the case with Princess Diana’s 1981 Shocking Pink dress, known as The Coming Out dress.

However, 40 years on from when it was first made, designer Elizabeth Emanuel has recreated the taffeta and satin dress, ruffles and all, to pay tribute to the “fun-loving” Princess.

Emanuel wants to set the record straight on her friend and client, given her recent depiction in season four and five of Netflix’s The Crown as mentally unstable, shy and unhappy.

I just want to show that Diana was fun-loving and upbeat and a wonderful, wonderful person and everybody loved her. All my team loved her, you know, everybody did, so I just think it's very important to show that there was that side as well, you know?
Elizabeth Emanuel
Diana's fashion designer

The designer believes the pink dress Diana wore to a party two days before her wedding represented her transformation from the pearl-clad ‘Shy Di’ portrayed in the tabloid newspapers to a fashion icon.

"She wanted something really spectacular and eye catching to wear for that because the whole world was going to be there at that party," says Emanuel.

Fashion is “people packaging” for the designer, and thus “what people wear is really important because it shows the inner workings of their mind”.

But without smartphones and social media, this dress was largely forgotten after the event, attended only by the world’s elite, including Queen Elizabeth II and Nancy Reagan.

Going forward, Emanuel wants to add to her “archive” of clothes she designed for Lady Diana, exploring her memories of the “brave” Princess she knew and loved.

Next on her list is a recreation of the ‘alternative wedding dress’ she made for Diana, as a backup in case the omnipotent tabloid press managed to leak photos of the primary dress before the big day.