If there is one celebrity bride who will never go out of style it is Princess Diana. From the moment she arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981 wearing a grandiose Emanuel ball gown, we (and brides everywhere) have wanted nothing more than to recreate the epic moment. Well, the time has finally come for us to relive the historic day and it's all going down on Netflix's "The Crown!"
After three seasons of "The Crown," the hit show is finally tackling one of the most pivotal royal events in modern history: Prince Charles and Princess Diana's 1981 wedding. But before we binge season four, which premieres Sunday, Nov. 15, we had to get the inside scoop on all things royal wedding, particularly, the fashion. As it turns out, channeling the pomp and circumstance of the grand event was the easy part—designing the bridal gown, on the other hand, was no small feat.
"We had to recreate Diana’s wedding dress that everyone knows about, so how do you start that," poses director Ben Caron. For the costume department, however, you simply start at the source.
Before designing Diana's bridal gown, costume designer Amy Roberts and assistant costume designer Sidonie Roberts consulted with designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel—the creative forces behind the real wedding dress. "With the unprecious generosity of David Emmanuel we went about recreating," explains Sidonie.
From the silk taffeta material to the voluminous sleeves, the ruffled collar to the 25-foot train, the show's take on the gown is practically a spitting image of Princess Diana's real bridal look. As actress Emma Corrin, who plays the late Princess Diana on-screen, recalls, "There were so many fittings for hours" and it took 10 people to actually put her in the dress.
It was like a chill going through the room and everyone just went silent. I guess that image itself is so powerful that to see it just gave everyone pause.
So what happened when Corrin wore the gown on set for the first time? Everyone in the room fell speechless. "We had about an hour left to shoot a very simple scene and that was Diana standing in the wedding dress and then walking away from the camera," remembers Caron of the moment. "The crew were all really busy setting up and there was a ripple that you could feel coming from the corridor that then very quickly came into the room as Emma walked in the wedding dress. It was like a chill going through the room and everyone just went silent. I guess that image itself is so powerful that to see it just gave everyone pause. It was probably the only time I’ve experienced something like that, and very unlikely I’ll experience it again."
Executive producer Suzanne Mackie agrees, saying, "I remember watching the wedding and thinking ‘Oh, that’s a very big dress’. But there was something then seeing it on Emma. There is something brilliant about seeing the back of her and the back of that dress that is more powerful weirdly than seeing the front. It is as if she is walking away from us, you know, it’s quite haunting."
Diana's royal wedding ensemble wasn't the only well-known look the costume department sought to recreate, either. The princess's memorable blue engagement announcement outfit (which the royal purchased "off-the-rack" from Harrods!) also comes to life this season.
And, more surprisingly, the royal wedding gown wasn't the most difficult look to recreate! "I'd say actually the most challenging thing was sourcing the correct type of fabrics specifically for Diana on her and Charles' Australian tour," reveals Sidonie. "The reason being the dresses Diana wore here were so specific to the eighties in terms of the particular weight of the fabrics, which were mainly silks, and therefore how they drape on the body."
Corrin adds, "Her fashion marked such a change in the Royal Family it kind of modernized them quite a lot and she took it to another level. Diana's wardrobe is like a character in itself—to do the fittings, the wedding dressmaking, it was so fun."