Amanda Wakeley, the designer behind Diana’s mighty costumes, on what it was like to dress the princess
Another sleek, mulberry-colored suit with velvet trims on the collar and cuffs – similar to the bottle green two-piece she wore when she retired from public life – was indicative of Diana’s appreciation for quality fashion. “I still think how the clothes make you feel is incredibly important,” says Wakeley, who lines her clothes in silk for a luxurious feel that is both comforting and indulgent. “I think if you’re heading for a tough time, slipping into something that feels wonderful is very reassuring.” The speech Diana gave in her black blazer was at the height of press scrutiny around her bulimia and, Wakeley recalls, the princess greeted her audience by saying something like, “I guess you were thinking. that I wouldn’t be here, because I would have my head in the toilet. “She used clothes for [send a] very powerful message, ”says Wakeley. “Just look at the robe of revenge.”
Most of the casual pieces Amanda made for Diana – namely cashmere sweaters and exquisite leather pants – were never photographed, but the designer remembers a peculiar red knit body with a cutout back. fabulous, which she absolutely adored. “It’s the kind of thing you might have a hard time wearing,” Di said at the time, with Amanda attesting, “She had a real sense of meanness.” In the showroom, the duo discussed city-country life and the inspirations behind Amanda’s work. “She liked the details,” muses the owner of the company, who laments not having kept a check that Prince Charles once sent her, which would have been a beautiful relic before iPhones.
If Diana had been there to see the Instagram era, Amanda says she would have been blessed with a generous number of photos of the royal wearing her look. The couple attended the same Chelsea Harbor gym, with Wakeley witnessing the paparazzi frenzy over the princess’ club car looks. “I will never forget seeing her for the first time in her cycling shorts,” she shares. “She had an off-white Wakeley cashmere sweater with satin cuffs thrown over it and I just thought it embodied all of her. She just looked so chic. He felt he was way ahead of his time.
These famous athleisure photos represent the sartorial confidence that Diana later learned. “She had been through her Sloaney collar phase, pie crust,” Wakeley continues. “Her hair was shorter, she got smoother… It was amazing how young she was when she was thrown around the whole circus.” Her styling over the past few years is a testament to what Wakeley’s fashion meant to her. “Diana used clothes to empower her,” she muses. “At first, she sort of wore a costume. Her style has become effortless over the years.