01 July 2011

Flashback Friday: The Elvis Gown

Today would have been Diana, Princess of Wales' 50th birthday. (Doesn't seem possible, does it?) I thought one of the best ways to pay tribute to this true style icon would be to remember her finest moments. So today, I'm talking about my favorite Diana look of all time: the Elvis gown.
The nickname, used by the Princess herself, is the stuff of pure cheese - a nod to Elvis and his sequin jumpsuits, long past his prime - but the look is pure regal elegance.
The strapless white silk gown is entirely covered with oyster pearls and sequins, as is the matching bolero jacket with popped collar and cropped sleeves. Catherine Walker was commissioned to make this ensemble for the Wales' 1989 trip to Hong Kong, but it ended up making its debut at the British Fashion Awards before departure. The original destination, though, served as the inspiration for the design: Walker later said that pearls had seemed appropriate for a visit to Asia. The gown's embroidery was completed by S. Lock Ltd.
As one of the gowns Diana chose to auction off for charity in 1997, the Elvis dress raised £81,203 (about $130,000 today). It was the second most expensive gown at the auction, bested only by the midnight blue Victor Edelstein gown that Diana wore while twirling with John Travolta at the White House.
The gown was originally purchased by the owners of souvenir company The Franklin Mint, who then proceeded to sell a Diana doll wearing a replica of the gown. The doll spurned an intense legal battle with the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund over use of Diana's image. After the lawsuit was settled, the gown was donated to London's Victoria & Albert Museum, which still holds it today.

See the elegance in action in Hong Kong:
This has always epitomized princess style to me. It's fashionable, it makes an impression, but it does so while being demure and understated. Perfection!

Tell me: what is your all-time favorite Diana look?