How ‘Spencer’s’ fashion tells the story of Princess Diana


Photo credit: Frédéric Batier

How do you style one of the world’s most beloved fashion figures?

That was the challenge of Jacqueline Durran (an Oscar-winning costume designer, best known for her work on the 2005s Pride and Prejudice, but also Atonement, Little Women) with the highly anticipated film Spencer, a drama directed by Pablo Larraín that follows Princess Diana through three defining days in Sandringham, as she considers ending her marriage to Prince Charles.

Durran wanted to pay homage to the “essence” of Diana’s fashion, rather than accurately recreating the late Princess of Wales’ most recognizable ensembles (although a version of her iconic David and Elizabeth Emanuel wedding dress would do. his appearance, although in a scenario only on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral). This meant adopting vivid tartan prints and brightly colored two-piece suits, chunky pearl necklaces and eye-catching outerwear.

“[Diana’s style was] actually quite a bold style, ”Durran said. “I still see her as pretty conservative in a way, probably because she’s regal and because of the kind of people she came from and the style she started out with. But it evolved into something really. bold. and it was a surprise when we really started to watch it. ”

Below, we talk more with Durran about how Spencer’s costumes came to be and why fashion enthusiasts just can’t let go of their obsession with Diana’s timeless style.

Kristen stewart spencer

Neon / Subject

Princess Diana’s style is so iconic and obviously constantly replicated. When you were given the task of recreating her fashion for this film, where did you start?

It was intimidating actually. A producer called me and said, “Would you like to make a movie about Princess Diana with Kristen Stewart and Pablo Larraín as the director?” So it was just like “Yes”. I didn’t even think about it. Then once I think about it, it was actually intimidating, because there is so lots of pictures of her. There are so many references, and there are so many options. What I had to do was just limit myself. I had to give myself a date, which was from 1988 to 1992, because Pablo had said he didn’t want it to be a specific time, so it was roughly our time. I tried figuring out what things, what styles she wore multiple times, so that I could then focus on those things and sort of work on them, as it was actually overwhelming the amount of photographs of her and the number of references and how many options there were.

I started by looking and trying to isolate different styles. She wore geometric patterns at that time. She would block the color, she would wear the plaid, she would have an asymmetrical lapel. So I just tried to isolate them. But it was difficult, it was a difficult start.

Kristen stewart spencer

Neon / Subject

How did the collaboration with Chanel go to recreate versions of some of her most famous looks?

It’s a fantastic company to work with because they really care about us. They have the sewing rooms, and they have so much on hand that they can use to help you do whatever you need. So it’s first, and second, they’re just very interested in supporting the arts — they’re really interested in helping you. Make the film. They are not so much interested in giving you just any product. They want to find the law product. I spoke specifically to archivist Chanel, because I wanted to see things from our time. So I spoke of them sending things that Princess Diana had actually worn – not her own clothes, but similar styles.

In the movie, Pablo wanted some extra evening dresses for the edit scene, so they sent a lot of 80s evening dresses. And that’s how we came across the dress we ended up using, which was the beautiful cream dress with golden embroidery. I’m not sure the date, maybe 1988, but it’s a Karl Lagerfeld design from the 80s, and they sent it in and everyone fell in love with it. Then we had the nightmarish situation that we all wanted to use the dress because it was so beautiful, but in fact it was too precious to use. So we had this awful moment where we said to ourselves that we found a dress that we really wanted to be the kind of central party dress and that we took it away. But Chanel surprisingly said they would recreate it for us in the old tailoring shop. They therefore copied their own original dress in their study room especially for the film in question. They don’t want to dominate the movie; they just want to help us create the vision we want. So it was a very nice collaboration.

Kristen stewart spencer

Neon / Subject

What are the key details needed to really pull off the Diana look?

Once I started looking at everything and seeing how she created her styles, I was really overwhelmed by her chic and the evolution of her style in the 80s. You have the very naive beginning of the early 80s. when she was royal for the first time, and she was slightly overwhelmed. I think the clothes she was wearing then, in a way, didn’t really work for her. Then she really got into a stride and that evolved over time. Later in her life, she again had a different style, which was so much more relaxed and so much more of herself, rather than the kind of royal presentation costumes we’re used to.

So much about her wardrobe seems to give a glimpse of what she was going through emotionally in her life, especially in the movie. What story did you want to tell about Diana during these three days at Sandringham with the looks you have concocted?

There are so many different layers of costumes in the movie. There is the formal structure of the clothes that are laid out that mark the passage of time and mark every event of each day – which is kind of the thing that oppresses her. Then there are her own clothes that she wears when she doesn’t have to wear formal clothes. Then there’s the flashback clothes, or the clothes Pablo wants to put in the cut, which is just another time – and it’s not necessarily a flashback, but it’s just an alternate take on her. .

I really wanted to make sure the formal structure really looked like Diana. Even though we didn’t want to replicate anything in particular, I really wanted to make sure that I could create the aura of her so that everything felt like it really was the clothes she could have worn. It was my biggest ambition in the film. It’s like trying to find the things that would resonate the most strongly for everyone and create the clearest picture of her.

Kristen stewart spencer

Neon / Subject

Why do you think Diana’s style has stood the test of time? There is probably more interest in her style now than when she was alive.

I agree with you. And I think it’s quite strange, because I think she’s become more and more fashionable [over time]. Having lived the 80s, I was not interested in his style at the time. It was sort of a separate royal style that wasn’t in the mainstream of fashion. It may have been copied and it may have influenced people, but it wasn’t really trendy in the truest sense. But now it’s become more and more [on trend]. Now I feel like it’s really haute couture, and it’s a really interesting thing. I’m not sure why this happened other than the fact that she’s so chic and her life ended tragically. But I think it’s interesting that she has become a real fashion icon. And, of course, a princess. I mean, that’s what it is in a way. It’s a fable, isn’t it? It’s a fairy tale.

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