Who are David and Elizabeth Emanuel, Princess Diana’s wedding dress designers?

THE wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles in 1981 is estimated to have been watched by one billion people worldwide.

The then 19-year-old Diana walked down the aisle in a sumptuous gown which has become one of the most famous dresses in the world. Here’s the lowdown on designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel…

Elizabeth Emanuel is a British fashion designer
Getty – Contributor

Who are David and Elizabeth Emanuel?

British designer Elizabeth Emanuel, 67, has her own label.

At the beginning of her career, she did a year’s foundation course at the Harrow School of Art before moving on to complete a three-year diploma in fashion design.

She met her husband-to-be, David Emanuel, in 1976 and they became the first couple to be accepted into the Royal College Art, where they studied for two years to gain a master’s degree in fashion.

The pair went on to launch their own fashion house, Emanuel Salon, in Mayfair.

She designed Princess Diana’s iconic wedding dress
Getty – Contributor

In 1979 they closed down the ready-to-wear arm of the brand to focus on couture, bespoke pieces.

They became favourites of Princess Diana prior to her marriage, and she later selected the couple to design her now iconic wedding dress.

Following the success of the dress the Emanuel’s designed a large portion of the Princess’ wardrobe on her Gulf Tour.

Both The Duchess of Kent and The Duchess of York were patrons of the salon.

In 1987 they opened up another shop, in Knightsbridge, and their designs were stocked in Browns, Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London, and some stores in the US.

In 1990 the couple divorced, and Elizabeth continued to work under the label Elizabeth Emanuel, keeping the Mayfair studio.

That same year she was commissioned by The Walt Disney Company to create a dress for the 60th anniversary of Snow White.

Elizabeth redesigned Virgin Atlantic’s uniform
Getty – Contributor

And the following year, in 1991, she redesigned the entire Virgin Atlantic uniforms, and created wedding outfits for Sir Richard Branson, Joan and their children.

With the success of one airline brand, Britannia Airways commissioned Elizabeth to redesign their uniform, with the relaunch taking place in 1997.

Elizabeth was embroiled in legal disputes after some of her business dealings went sour, and she lost a landmark hearing she launched in a bid to regain control of her brand.

Public interest in the case was so intense the BBC made two 45-minute documentaries of her work, called Frocky Horror Show and Blood on the Carpet, filmed over two years.

The wedding dress for Diana cost £9,000
Rex Features

Despite the setback, she went on to design dresses for Estee Lauder campaigns, outfits for The Luxury Brand Group, performers at The Brit Awards and for the London Contemporary Dance Theatres.

In 2005 she opened a new studio and label, Art of Being.

In 2008 Elizabeth designed a range of wedding dresses for British Home Stores (BHS), and she is also behind pieces seen on the X Factor and Britain’s Next Top Model.

In 2010 Art of Being had its official launch, but she again ran into problems again after engaging in dealing with Edward Davenport, also known as Fast Eddie, who was later jailed for fraud.

But that same year Elizabeth’s designs were seen at London Fashion Week where she showcased her Little Black Dress collection.

What was Princess Diana’s dress?

Diana’s dress featured a 25ft train
News Group Newspapers Ltd

The dress worn by the late Princess Diana was made of ivory silk taffeta and antique Carrickmacross lace, an heirloom dating from the reign of Queen Mary, wife of King George V.

The silk was made by Stephen Walters of Suffolk, and the gown was decorated with sequins, 10,000 pearls and also embroidered.

It had huge puffy sleeves and would set the style of wedding dresses of years to come.

It featured a whopping 25ft train, which sadly got slightly crushed in the glass coach she travelled in on the way to the venue.

The size of the carriage and the size of her voluminous dress had been taken into consideration – but not when it also held Princess Diana’s father, John Spencer, the 8th Earl Spencer.

The Daily Mail reported Elizabeth saying: “When she came out of that carriage, it was the most wonderful vision I’d ever seen.

“She looked like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, unfurling her wings and about to fly.

“It was so romantic. Oddly, the imperfections seemed to make her even more beautiful.”

The original dress toured with the exhibition ‘Diana: A Celebration’ for a short time, with Althorp House, Diana’s childhood home, being where the dress is displayed most of the time.

At the time it was valued at £9,000, and a copy of the dress was sold at auction in 2005 for £100,000.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button