Princess Diana's Wedding Dress Designer Shares What It Was Like to Create Her Gown
David Emanuel, the famed couturier who designed Princess Diana's wedding dress, is finally speaking out about the once-in-a-life-time experience. The gown-maker, who is now the host of Say Yes to the Dress UK, spoke with E! News about the daunting (but rewarding!) task. The design process, which involved "copious amounts of tea" and "copious amounts of coffee," had just three months to unfold. But that was far from the craziest part of the story. Everything about Emanuel's life changed when he signed-on to create the memorable, mesmerizing dress, and you'll gawk with pleasure at the frock's coming-about tale.
Emanuel explained that he had a history with the princess before she inquired about her bridal gown. She wore his works for her engagement photos, and her first post-engagement public outing with Prince Charles. Nevertheless, Emanuel was shocked when he got the request for her wedding. E! News explains that practically all of Britain wanted their name on the dress, so Emanuel didn't even bother sending his portfolio. When Princess Diana called, he wondered if it was a joke, but lucky for all, it wasn't.
Committing to making the gown meant that Emanuel was sworn to secrecy, and the event turned his entire world upside-down. It took three appointments before Emanuel could even announce that he was designed the dress. Once that happened, his life changed forever, with the paparazzi constantly peeping in. "After the announcement, my tiny little studio and the roofs and every other conceivable building in the neighborhood were surrounded by paparazzi, long lenses, everything, every agency in the entire world," he shared. "We had every TV station you can imagine, and of course, working with couture clients I had learned, you don't give any details at all-and particularly not for a royal wedding."
The supreme importance of keeping the design under wraps is why the artist destroyed the gown's sketch. "The British press were rooting through our rubbish," Emanuel explained. To keep the details concealed, he even lied to news outlets, falsely verifying another sketch as his own.
While the process itself was grand, the dress was even grander, with unbelievably incredible detail and quality. "Everything has to be British, British, British," Emanuel remembered thinking. Special English silkworms were responsible for the fabric, and vintage antique lace was bought from an auction-lace which he later realized originated in Queen Mary's time. Additionally, the gown featured a 25-foot-long train, which was Emanuel's decision after learning the longest before it had been 20 feet.
Overall, though stressful (between the paps, the secrecy, and the time limitations), Emanuel remembers the experience as "a magical time." "She was young, she was beautiful, so how to start to design for someone like that?" he recalled of the task. "The pomp and ceremony and the whole thing, I remember giggling with her."
Read the full interview and prepare to be in awe. Now that we know all of this, we can only imagine the stories Emanuel's keeping concealed.
- A Luxe, Romantic Vision Drove This Couple's Elegant Outdoor Celebration in Napa Valley, California
- You Aren't Imagining Things—Everyone Really Does Get Engaged During the Holiday Season
- How to Compromise with Family About Having a Destination Wedding
- Guests Enjoyed a 10-Course Traditional Vietnamese Dinner at This Lush Outdoor Wedding in California