Princess Diana’s iconic style has inspired fashion lovers for decades, and members of her own family are no exception. The week, Diana’s niece, Lady Amelia Spencer, stepped out at the Cannes Film Festival wearing a ruffled black gown that evoked one of Diana’s most famous early looks.
The daughter of Diana’s younger brother, Charles, Amelia—accompanied by her twin sister Lady Eliza Spencer—wore a frothing, black, one-shoulder ballgown with pleating details. While it wasn’t a one-to-one match, it did serve as a reminder of the profound fashion influence of the late Princess of Wales by nodding to one of her earliest scene-stealing looks—the black satin Emanuel gown she wore on her very first public appearance with Prince Charles in 1981.
Lady Amelia Spencer at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
Pascal Le SegretainGetty Images
Princess Diana in Emanuel at Goldsmith’s Hall in 1981.
Diana came across the dress in designer Elizabeth Emanuel’s showroom while getting a fitting for her famed wedding dress. “She fell in love with it, and didn’t care that someone else had already worn it to a charity ’do,” Emanuel told Vogue UK of the dress. “We didn’t even consider whether the dress was right for the occasion, we just thought she looked fabulous.”
Though it may have been chosen on a whim, the dress caused quite a stir, both for its bare-shouldered silhouette, which became more revealing than was traditionally considered appropriate for a royal when Diana leaned to get out of her car, as well as its color, which was considered a shade for mourning and not a properly festive choice. While the dress divided opinions, it also sparked the rumor mill that the husband-and-wife team behind Emanuel had received the commission to make Diana’s wedding gown—one which was ultimately revealed to be true.
Fortunately for Amelia, her aunt’s fashion risk helped pave the way for such a glamorous red carpet moment.
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