Diana: Queen of Style, review: a trivialised look at why Diana is loved by the Instagram generation
One of my favourite possessions in 1981 was a Lady Diana paper doll book. Remember them? You cut out the clothes and then hung them on via tiny tabs. It featured all her famous outfits of the time – the royal blue engagement suit, the red Fair Isle jumper with cords and wellies that she wore to Balmoral.
It was a popular product with little girls that year because the nation was gripped by royal wedding fever. But it appears from Diana: Queen of Style (Channel 4) that there are still people who feel the same level of interest 40 years on, and who see her influence everywhere. A celebrity fashion stylist walked down a shopping street with her dog pointing at windows and claiming that everything from skirt suits to polka dots were her legacy.
Was Diana, Princess of Wales, the greatest fashion icon who ever lived? According to this programme, definitely. But other women wore Sloaney skirts and tent-like maternity dresses and figure-hugging Versace frocks. They just didn’t look as fabulous as she did.
The idea that the Princess was semaphoring her feelings through her clothes is an old one, but given a new lease of life thanks to The Crown. It has also introduced her to an Instagram generation that admires her rebellious ways and is intent on bringing back Lycra cycling shorts.
Diana’s popularity with people not old enough to remember her being alive is interesting. It was telling when one Instagrammer who makes a living by captioning pictures of the Princess’s “revenge looks” explained what it was really about: “In a way, I was speaking to my ex through Princess Diana. I could think what I wanted to say and maybe project that onto her.”
There was a change of pace when the programme introduced people who were actually involved in the Princess’s style transformation. Jacques Azagury made her a daringly short dress for a Swan Lake gala. “There was not much dress and a lot of princess,” he said, adding that she had wanted him to go shorter.
But at one point, the voice-over referred to “the influential chinos and loafers” Diana wore to campaign on landmines. Never mind the landmine victims – weren’t they a great pair of trousers?