The exact moment Lady Diana Spencer stepped out of royal residence Clarence House on July 29, 1981, reporters everywhere ripped open sealed envelopes revealing the "most closely guarded secret in fashion history." The design and details of the future princess's wedding dress managed to remain a complete mystery until hours before the ceremony, and the dramatic unveiling did not disappoint.
Created by husband-and-wife design team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the intricate ivory taffeta gown later sparked copycats around the world, but with elaborate embroidery, 10,000
Today, on the 20th anniversary of her passing, we remember one of Princess Diana's most iconic moments and the dress at the heart of it.
1. Her gown barely fit in the carriage.
According to David Emanuel, Diana kept asking for a larger and larger train. While the team practiced folding the excess fabric, the bulk of taffeta eventually got crushed in the glass coach she took to St. Paul's Cathedral. The cramped ride caused the visible wrinkles upon her arrival, Elizabeth Emanuel told the Daily Mail.
2. She wore something old, new, borrowed and blue.
With fabric specially spun at a British silk farm, flounces of antique lace and a small blue bow sewn into the waistband, the gown checked off three of the traditional requirements. The Spencer family tiara,
3. The lace actually dated back to Queen Mary.
4. A tiny horseshoe charm hid on the inside.
Even though no one could see it, the Emanuels attached an 18-carat gold trinket studded with white diamonds to the label of the dress. Another token hitched a ride as well — Elizabeth accidentally left a safety pin in and didn't remember until the next day.
5. There was a small stain on it.
Princess Diana actually spilled some perfume — Quelques Fleurs — down the dress while getting ready, but just tucked the front and hoped that no one noticed, her makeup artist Barbara Daly revealed in Diana: The Portrait.
6. The veil actually
For David Emanuel, it was a given that the veil extends past the hem of the dress. The whole thing — anchored by her tiara — used 153 yards of tulle.
7. Diana was sewn into her dress.
In the seven months leading up the wedding, Princess Diana's waistline shrunk over five inches as she lost more and more weight. (She would later open up about her struggles with eating disorders.) The designers made five different bodices to fit, and ultimately stitched her into the final version that day.
8. Her shoes took six months to make.
Barely visible beneath the hem of her gown, Diana's silk slippers included 542 sequins and 132 pearls in a heart-shaped design. Hand-painted soles included the initials C and D on the arch, but the heels themselves remained very low. At 5-foot-10, Diana stood at the same height as her fiancé!
9. She had a matching umbrella in case of rain.
Elizabeth Emanuel purchased two antique silk parasols and covered them with both white and ivory fabric so no one would know which one matched her dress. Hand-embroidered with pearls and sequins and trimmed with the same lace, the umbrella coordinated with the gown, but luckily didn't see much use on a dry day. "It was made of such light material that it certainly wasn't waterproof," she told Daily Mail. "It wouldn't have done her much good!"
10. A "back-up" dress mysteriously disappeared.
A 2005 auction made headlines when it claimed to offer a spare version of the original gown (pictured). While Elizabeth Emanuel insists she never made a copy, the designers did reveal that they created a different dress in case their planned design leaked to the press. The alternate included a much more pronounced V and skipped the
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.