One of Princess Diana’s most prolific early designers has been Bellville Sassoon. The late Princess of Wales wore several dresses by this high-end firm in her early years as a member of the Royal Family.
Among Diana’s most iconic outfits by Bellville Sassoon, there has been the blue ensemble she wore for her engagement announcement and pictures.
However, this partnership between the firm and the royal almost did not happen, as revealed at a special preview of a newly-launched exhibit at Kensington Palace which features Diana’s bridal gown.
Curator Matthew Storey said Princess Diana first visited the Bellville Sassoon fashion salon when she was 19.
On that occasion, she was with her mother Frances Shand Kydd and was looking for an outfit to wear on her engagement announcement.
The visit was paid near closing time and the then-future Princess of Wales was not finding anything she liked.
Mr Storey recalled the sales associate at the shop, based at the time on Pavillion Road in the London borough of Knightsbridge, did not recognise Diana and told her Harrod’s department store was “just around the corner”.
He continued: “You can imagine how Belinda [Bellville] and David [Sassoon] felt when they realized the future Princess of Wales had been turned away.”
Princess Diana, however, was not discouraged by the sales assistant and returned to Bellville Sassoon on another occasion with her mother.
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During her more successful visit, she picked out the outfit she wore upon announcing her engagement with Prince Charles.
Bellville Sassoon also created another outfit made iconic by Diana – her peach dress donned as she was embarking on the Royal Yacht Britannia to leave for her honeymoon with Prince Charles.
The Princess of Wales clearly loved this outfit, as she went on wearing it again on several other occasions, including during the Waleses’ tour of Australia in 1983.
Princess Diana’s peach honeymoon ensemble is among the outfits exposed at the Royal Style in the Making exhibition at Kensington Palace.
The star of the showing, however, is Princess Diana’s wedding dress, put on display for the first time in more than two decades.
The bridal ensemble of Princess Diana was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel ahead of the Waleses’ nuptials in July 1981.
It features an ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown, a 25-foot train and a 153-yard tulle veil.
“It was such a huge responsibility.”
“And, to be honest, quite stressful because we were so young at the time.
“But we wanted to make it the ultimate fairytale princess dress.”
Princess Diana’s wedding ensemble was last displayed at an exhibition in 1998 at Diana’s ancestral home.