Fashion

Princess Diana's Fashion: A Revival by Palmer//Harding

Esteemed British design duo Palmer//Harding have reimagined one of Diana's most beloved gowns.

June 11, 2024

Princess Diana was not only known for her compassion and humanitarian efforts but also for her iconic fashion choices. Her wardrobe, a captivating blend of royal elegance and daring personal expression, has continued to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts alike.

Diana’s dresses are consistently among the most coveted garments in the world due to their ultra-rarity and exclusivity against the backdrop of an everchanging fashion landscape.

Julien’s recently held an exhibition for Princess Diana’s Elegance & A Royal Collection at the famed Carlyle Hotel in New York City – and held in the very suite Diana often retired to during her Stateside visits. The worldwide exhibition has also made stops in Hong Kong and Ireland – welcoming thousands to witness the lasting aura of the “People’s Princess” – the energy of Lady Di’s essence permeating in every item.

a drawing of a woman in a black and white dress

Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN

While much has been said and written about Lady Di’s dresses, including her Jacques Azagury 1985 ballerina-length gown, which Julien’s sold in January 2024 for $1.14 million – setting a new record for the most expensive dress worn by Princess Diana – other event-worn dresses have been lying in wait for their own shining moment.

One such homage is the recent creation by the acclaimed British design duo, Palmer//Harding, who have reimagined one of Diana's most beloved gowns.

A custom-made Princess Diana revival gown by Palmer//Harding based on Diana's 1985 black velvet and lace trim Catherine Walker gown. The contemporary design draws reference from Catherine Walker's Victorian-inspired pattern owned by Diana. This gown is a continuation of Diana's style narrative with a contemporary design by award-winning British Designers Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding (2017 BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund Winners) who founded their label in 2011, whose clientele include Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, and Queen Rania.

The black and white crepe satin (FSC viscose) gown features a v-cut neckline with layered flounces, the flounces extend onto the sleeves and cascade down the arms to the wrist. It is designed with a tailored black bodice that shapes the natural waistline and then goes into an open floor-length circle skirt. The gown is fully lined with poly satin and has an invisible side zip. The piece combines elements of Diana's royal wardrobe as well as her daring attitude in dressing, referencing her "revenge style dress" and its plunging neckline.

Diana in her lifetime used her fashions to promote British labels (both established and up-and-coming designers) to assist in growing their business and worldwide visibility. In honor of her collection of garments, Julien's Auctions collaborated with Palmer//Harding who created a contemporary design of one of Diana's gowns to illustrate her style and her continued influence in fashion. This gown has a Palmer//Harding label and is a UK size 8, US size 6.

A Contemporary Take on a Royal Classic

The custom-made gown, inspired by a Catherine Walker original from 1985, is a testament to Diana's enduring style legacy. Walker, a favored designer of the Princess, was known for her Victorian-inspired designs, often incorporating intricate lace and velvet details. Palmer//Harding's revival captures the essence of this aesthetic, while infusing it with their signature modern flair.

The gown, crafted from black and white crepe satin, features a plunging v-neckline adorned with cascading flounces that extend onto the sleeves. A tailored black bodice accentuates the waist, leading to an open, floor-length circle skirt. It's a design that seamlessly marries elements of Diana's regal wardrobe with the bold "revenge dress" era that followed her separation from Prince Charles.

a black and white dress with ruffles on the sleeves
a black and white dress with ruffles on the shoulder
a black and white dress with white ruffles on the sleeves
a black and white dress with ruffles on the sleeves
a black and white dress with ruffles on the sleeves
a black and white dress with white ruffled sleeves on a white background .

1. Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN, 2. Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN, 3. Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN, 4. Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN, 5. Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN, 6. Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN,

Diana's Fashion Diplomacy

Throughout her life, Princess Diana used fashion as a platform to champion British designers, both established and emerging. Her sartorial choices not only reflected her personal taste but also served as a powerful tool for promoting the UK's fashion industry on a global stage. The Palmer//Harding revival is a continuation of this legacy, showcasing the enduring influence of Diana's style and her commitment to supporting British talent.

The Emotional Resonance of Design

Levi Palmer, one half of the design duo, explains that the inspiration for the gown goes beyond simply replicating a historical garment. It's a reflection of their own "emotional journaling and verb listing," a creative process that imbues their designs with deeper meaning. The flounced neck and arms, with their fragmented circles, symbolize the ongoing pursuit of personal completeness. It's a reminder, as Palmer puts it, to "enjoy the journey with all its twists, turns, starts, and stops."

a close up of a palmer / harding label on a black and white shirt .

Lot #21 PRINCESS DIANA | PALMER//HARDING REVIVAL GOWN

A Curtsy to a Fearless Woman

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Palmer//Harding gown pays homage to Princess Diana's fearless spirit and her unwavering compassion. "Diana was a rule-breaker and a trailblazer," says Palmer, highlighting her daring fashion choices and her groundbreaking philanthropic work. She was a woman who defied convention, both in her wardrobe and in her life, leaving an indelible mark on the world of fashion and beyond.

The revival of Diana's iconic gown by Palmer//Harding serves as a powerful reminder of her enduring legacy. It's a curtsy to a woman whose style, compassion, and courage continue to inspire and captivate, proving that true icons never fade from memory.

Register and bid in this era-defining auction, for Princess Diana's fashion revival won't bow for long.

a woman in a blue dress and red gloves smiles

PRINCESS DIANA'S ELEGANCE &

A ROYAL COLLECTION

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