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Princess Diana Wedding Dress Designer Making New Gown Inspired by Royal – PEOPLE

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Princess Diana‘s wedding dress designer is going to “climb back into the time machine” and make a modern version of the iconic bridal gown the late Princess of Wales wore to marry the future King Charles in 1981.

“I’m going to try and capture the spirit of the original — but through my eyes now,” Elizabeth Emanuel tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “I want to preserve all the sparkles and pearls but with a completely different vision.”

The designer adds of the “sequel” to the original gown, “It’s a really exciting thing because I often get asked, ‘Would you do the same dress again?’ Well, I wouldn’t change a thing on the dress in 1981, but if I was looking at it through my eyes now, there’s so many possibilities.”

Elizabeth and her former husband David famously made the ivory wedding dress that Lady Diana Spencer wore for her royal wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981, which instantly defined a decade of style. All eyes were on the royal bride, whose gown featured a ruffled collar, puffed sleeves, a voluminous skirt and a show-stopping 25-foot train.

Elizabeth Emanuel (right) helps straighten out Princess Diana’s wedding dress on July 29, 1981.

Ted Blackbrow/Daily Mail/Shutterstock 


Unbeknownst to the 20-year-old bride and the millions watching on television, the Emanuels crafted a second dress as a precautionary measure.

“I was a bit neurotic, and I thought, ‘What happens if somebody breaks in and steals the dress or something spills or there’s a fire or it gets stolen?’ ” Elizabeth says. “So I thought, ‘I’m gonna make a backup dress.’ ”

Inspired by a pink gown that she and David made for Diana to wear at a private ball a few days before her royal wedding, Elizabeth got to work. The extra dress differed from Diana’s iconic bridal gown, notably lacking a long train. The silk was white, “not the deep ivory that the royal wedding dress was made of” and while the actual wedding dress had puffed sleeves, Elizabeth says the backup had “slim ones, more fitted to her arms” with frilly cuffs.

Elizabeth Emanuel at her London studio with the recreated spare Princess Diana wedding dress on March 7, 2024.

Lauren Fleishman


As for the fabric, Elizabeth hand-embroidered the intricate designs on the dress Diana wore, while the material for the backup was used ready-made.

The spare dress was never finished, and the designer isn’t sure what became of it. Today, the 70-year-old London-based creative has reproduced it for a special reason: to exhibit at the virtual Princess Diana Museum.

“We never got to see that dress on Diana and thought it would be lovely to envision it,” says Renae Plant, the museum’s director and curator. “You cannot put a price tag on history,” she adds of the acquisition for an undisclosed sum.

Elizabeth Emanuel and Princess Diana at Kensington Palace in August 1986.

Tim Graham/Getty Images


As nerves mounted in the run-up to her wedding day, Diana found the design studio to be an “oasis of peace,” Elizabeth says.

“She would go upstairs and chat with all the seamstresses. She loved browsing through the rails because this was a new world for her,” the designer says.

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Princess Diana and Prince Charles after their wedding on July 29, 1981.

Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty


Princess Diana’s relationship with Elizabeth and David began shortly after they provided a blouse for a photo shoot marking the royal’s engagement to Prince Charles in February 1981. A month later, Diana was a vision in a black strapless gown created by the couple, prompting her to set the husband and wife design team on the path to stardom.

“She said, ‘Would you do me the honor of making my wedding dress?’ ” recalls Elizabeth, who was in a fitting with another bride when Diana rang. “It was hard to control myself.”

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