So alike yet so different


What could be more appropriate? The Duchess of Cambridge causes a stir on Monday night by appearing in a daring, strapless black dress at an awards ceremony with Prince William. In the same week, it’s revealed another black dress worn by another beautiful royal bride, which caused an even greater sensation, will go on display at Kensington Palace for the first time next year.
I’m talking about the strapless floor-length black gown which the late Princess of Wales wore on her first-ever public engagement in March 1981 with her new fiancé, Prince Charles. It was daring. It was sexy. It showcased her slender figure and, in the flash of a hundred camera bulbs, it catapulted the timid 19-year-old nursery school teacher into the limelight.
Within months, she was the most photographed woman in the world. Before then, she had only ever been seen in clothes that were either girly or a little boring – definitely nothing sexy. I designed that dress with my then husband, David. And looking at photos of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, this week, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by memories of the young woman I knew all those years ago – the woman who would have been Kate’s mother-in-law.
Did Kate – who happily wears Diana’s engagement ring – pick that particular dress to draw comparisons? I’m certain not. But many of us who recall that earlier dress can’t help but make them. Two royal women, two unwitting fashion leaders, two daring black dresses. The parallels are uncanny. Yet, the two women have led two very different lives.


  1. Both very beautiful people but Kate was more mature to wear her black dress and she looked stunning.

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