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The Crown: Elizabeth Debicki Recreates Princess Diana’s ‘Revenge Dress’ Moment; Why This Dress Is Iconic


With a number of movies and documentaries dedicated to her, Princess Diana continues to intrigue the viewers. While a number of on-screen portrayals of Lady Diana had shown Diana as the people's princess, who meets with an unfortunate accident, none has been able to document the journey and life of Diana, quite like the hit Netflix series, The Crown. In the season 4 of the series, Emma Corrin poignantly showed us the vulnerabilities of Princess Diana and her popularity too. The series showed us the shy teenager Diana, who gets married to Prince Charles but what season 4 did was that it didn't quite show the rosy picture of Diana or the princess as the sidelined character - in fact, even if the series is about Queen Elizabeth II ultimately, the season 4 portrayed Lady Diana as the significant character. The season 4 highlighted Diana's struggle with bulimia, her awareness about her husband's affair with Camilla Parker even before the wedding, her conversation with Camilla Parker, motherhood, her growing popularity among people and of course, her fractured relationship with Prince Charles owing to jealousy and infidelity. The last season was a vivid account of Lady Diana as it neither showed Diana in a deliberate positive or negative light, and which is why, we are waiting for the season 5, where the Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki would be playing the role of Princess Diana.

Elizabeth Debicki, who has acted in films including Tenet and The Great Gatsby among others, was the perfect choice for the Lady Diana in her 30s. The actress bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Diana and her pictures from the sets, has left the internet speechless. A couple of pictures of Elizabeth Debicki from the sets of The Crown, showed her not only looking like the late Princess but also wearing similar outfits that were once originally sported by Princess Diana. However, the latest attire that Elizabeth Debicki wore for her portrayal of Princess Diana, exactly looked like what Diana flaunted on 29 June 1994 fundraising dinner hosted by Vanity Fair magazine for the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. Yes, you guessed it right, it was the famous black dress that Diana wore and Elizabeth Debicki for her depiction of the people's princess, was photographed in the replica of that dress. This particular black silk dress that we are talking about came to be known as the 'Revenge Dress' and why this dress was called the revenge dress, well there's an explanation behind it. So, let's learn more about this iconic outfit of Princess Diana.

About The Famous Revenge Dress

This dress was designed by Christina Stambolian and it was an off-shouldered black dress that featured a gathered and ruched bodice and asymmetrical hem with a sash attached to the side of the dress. Made from silk fabric, this dress was originally priced at GB £ 900. Princess Diana actually owned this dress three years before she wore it to the fundraising event and she hadn't worn this dress for it was risqué and bold, and Lady Diana must have been sceptic about breaking the royal protocol.

Why Diana Wore Revenge Dress And Black Swan Connection?

Coming back to the fundraising event, this black silk dress that we talked about wasn't Princess Diana's first choice for the evening occasion. In fact, in the book 'Nevertheless, She Wore It: 50 Iconic Fashion Moments' by Ann Shen, the author mentioned that 'Interestingly, Diana had another dress in mind for the function, but after reading a press statement from Valentino that she called "crude opportunism," she switched to this now-iconic little black dress that had been custom made for her three years prior.' However, press statement by Valentino wasn't the sole reason why Diana might have opted for this dress and the statement definitely didn't earn her dress the title of the 'Revenge Dress'. It was not the press statement but after being separated for two years, a television programme about her husband Prince Charles went live, where he admitted to being unfaithful to Princess Diana and he said the marriage had "irretrievably broken down." The programme went on air, the same night that Diana had to attend the fundraising event.

The book 'Nevertheless, She Wore It: 50 Iconic Fashion Moments', mentions, 'and catching wind of Prince Charles's admission going live that night, she told her stylist Anna Harvey that "she wanted to look like a million dollars." And she did.' This dress, as mentioned earlier, was certainly a bold choice especially for someone who had to follow the conservative dress protocols of the royals, and this black silk dress had the Black Swan connection too.

In the book 'The Diana Chronicles' by Tina Brown, it is mentioned that designer of this dress Christina Stambolian told the fashion commentator, Georgina Howell that the Princess, 'chose not to play the scene like Odette, innocent in white. She was clearly angry. She played it like Odile, in black. She wore bright red enamel, which we had never seen her do before. She was saying, "Let's be wicked tonight!"'

So, this dress somewhere represented Diana's choosing to express courage, shedding the image of the shy Princess. Instead of avoiding public eye, Princess Diana stepping out of her car confidently, in her iconic black dress, showed us all how she gave back to the royal rules and her husband and while at the same time, as Diana's biographer Sarah Bradford rightly put that Diana "feigned indifference" to the programme, with this look of hers. Post this event, this black silk dress of Diana came to be known as the 'Revenge Dress'. With this attire, Diana even created the trend of revenge dressing and yes, clothes can express so much without saying much.

Georgina Howell, in her book Diana, Her Life in Fashion, wrote the dress was 'possibly the most strategic dress ever worn by a woman in modern times.' Yes, with this iconic revenge outfit, Diana made the headlines about her with The Sun writing, "The Thrilla He Left To Woo Camilla".

The Crown seemed to have reinvented the dress, with Elizabeth Debicki also sporting pearl studs and layered pendant neckpiece, as once Princess Diana had. So, we are excited as the series would be showing this part in the season 5, which will release in November 2022 - a long wait here, though. Since, the series is based on Queen Elizabeth II, Imelda Staunton, who has earlier been a part of the movies and shows such as Harry Potter, Downtown Abbey, Maleficent, Freedom Writers, and more, would be playing the role of the Queen.

Pictures Source: Instagram

Story first published: Monday, November 8, 2021, 19:04 [IST]
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