While designers worked long hours crafting Princess Diana’s wedding gown, photographers and paparazzi swarmed outside the dress shop with hopes of capturing a photograph of the dress though one of the windows. The color of the dress was such a well-guarded secret that even the makers of the taffeta did not know what color it was, as the fabric was ordered in white and cream. On July 29, 1981, Princess Diana stepped out of a horse-drawn carriage, revealing the highly anticipated gown.
Princess Diana’s gown features a delicate bodice embellished with a ruffled collar with a little bow in the center. The large puffed sleeves had delicate ribbons that gathered them to ruffles that enveloped her arms. The layers of crinoline tulle underneath the skirt created a very large, full skirt. Many people remember the dress for it's 25-foot detachable train that was trimmed in lace.
Princess Diana’s wedding gown might be considered one of the most famous celebrity wedding dresses of all times. When Princess Diana wore the gown during her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, she set a trend for 1980s wedding attire. The style of the dress came to be known as meringue. It was just one step in the path that made her one of the leading fashion icons of her day.
Most of the materials used for Princess Diana’s dress were made in Britain. The designers constructed the dress from three different types of fabric, including high-quality taffeta made from silk woven on Britain’s Lullingstone silk farm, more than 100 yards of tulle, and lace that once belonged to Queen Mary, which the designer and her mother hand-embroidered with more than 10,000 pearls and sequins.
The train of the dress was so long that it had to be folded multiple times to fit into the carriage for the ride to St. Paul’s Cathedral. When Princess Diana emerged from the carriage, the dress was terribly wrinkled. The designers were criticized for their method of constructing the dress along with the choice of fabric. As the bride advanced down the aisle, however, the wrinkles seemed to disappear from the dress.
The two designers of the gown wrote a book, "A Dress for Diana," describing the process of designing and making the gown. They needed to designed a dress to complement the fact that she was a young, pretty woman who desired something feminine, but they also needed something dramatic enough for someone about to become the princess of Wales. When describing the dress, designer Elizabeth Emmanuel says, "I always think of a beautiful butterfly emerging from a chrysalis."