“She wanted to look a million dollars, and she did.” The story behind Princess Diana's revenge dress.

On June 29, 1994, Princess Diana attended Vanity Fair’s annual fundraising event, wearing what would become one of her most famous dresses: the revenge dress.

27 years later, this iconic moment in time is being recreated courtesy of the hit television series The Crown. 

Let’s take a look back at the story behind the fashion statement, and how the people’s princess broke free from the rules and restrictions that bound the British royal family. 

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Video via BBC News.

The revenge dress itself.

Diana’s black, skin-tight, off-the-shoulder custom-made gown was a design by Greek designer Christina Stambolian, and it certainly made a statement in 1994.

Not only for the time, but considering Princess Diana’s relationship with the royal family, it was a major step away from tradition. 

And ever since those images of Princess Diana in the black frock were captured, it has been known as her ‘revenge dress’.

“It was the first time people had been introduced to ‘the new Diana,’ the one who didn’t need the royal family, especially Prince Charles. In that minidress, she oozed confidence, an air of happiness and independence,” fashion journalist Alex Longmore said to Huffington Post.

Image: Getty.


It has been reported since, that Princess Diana’s revenge dress moment almost didn’t happen.

She was originally supposed to wear a Valentino dress, but changed her mind at the last minute when the fashion house prematurely released an unauthorised statement announcing the details of the dress to the press.

So in lieu, she sifted through her wardrobe and made a last-minute switch to the black dress by Christina Stambolian. According to the designer of the frock, Princess Diana had bought the gown three years earlier during a shopping trip with her brother. 

Kerry Taylor, whose company later auctioned off some of Diana’s most recognisable dresses explained why the dress became such a symbol.

“We called that ‘the revenge dress.’ Diana had a public engagement and while some would have been like ‘I can’t face it this evening,’ Diana went out in that dress looking drop dead gorgeous. She made a big statement right there,” Taylor said to Marie Claire.

Image: Getty.


The story behind the fashion statement.

On the same night that Princess Diana wore the black frock, Prince Charles publicly admitted that he had an affair with his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles, during his marriage to Diana. 

“On a human level for Diana, you can only imagine how upsetting that [interview] would have been... Effectively, Charles has aired some serious dirty laundry,” said PEOPLE Senior Editor Michelle Tauber for PEOPLE’s 2020 documentary miniseries Diana Diaries.

Though Charles and Diana had formally separated almost two years before the Vanity Affair event, the pair were still undergoing lengthy divorce proceedings, which didn’t actually finalise until 1996. 

Image: Getty.

Charles' admittance of the affair aired within an ITV production named Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role.

It was an over two-hour television documentary on Prince Charles, reportedly filmed in a bid to win him over with the public. But it was a bit of a missed opportunity once Charles revealed on prime-time TV that he had in fact been unfaithful to Princess Diana. 

“Did you try to be faithful and honourable to your wife when you took on the vow of marriage?” the journalist asked. 

“Yes, absolutely,” Charles responded.

“And you were?” the journalist pressed. 

“Yes,” Charles answered. “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.” 


Now it wasn’t exactly a black and white answer from Prince Charles, but it was most definitely an admission from the public’s perspective. 

Image: Getty.

Why Princess Diana’s fashion moment was considered so scandalous.

“Some may have decided this was altogether too much and tried to avoid the cameras, stay out of the limelight: just let the storm pass,” said Tauber in Diana Diaries. “That is not what Diana chose to do that night.”

Anna Harvey, Diana's former stylist revealed the dress cost £900 and was decidedly un-royal. 

It featured an off-the-shoulder neckline, an asymmetrical above-the-knee hemline, and a sheer scarf flowing from the waist: so not exactly the demure royal look the public was used to seeing. 

“She wanted to look a million dollars,” Anna Harvey said. “And she did.”

But not only did Princess Diana look great: she showed the world that things were going to be on her terms now, a woman in charge of her own image. 

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The Crown’s recreation of the revenge dress.

By the looks of images released so far, The Crown’s interpretation of Princess Diana’s dress is sure to please royal fans and TV audiences. 

Aussie actress Elizabeth Debicki will be starring in the final two seasons of the hit show, taking over from Emma Corrin’s role as Princess Diana.


Photos emerged over the weekend show Debicki bringing the revenge dress moment to life, wearing a recreation of the slinky black frock.

It’s the role of a lifetime, Debicki said to the Mirror. 

“It’s a dream role. She is such a remarkable human being, and she really does still live in the hearts of so many people.

“I’m overwhelmed, I’m terrified and I’m excited. I can’t wait to start.”

Debicki also spoke about the role to Gotham Magazine, and the challenge of trying to emulate the icon that is Princess Diana.

Image: Getty.


“I’m coming to understand more intimately how she existed and still exists very profoundly in collective consciousness,” she said. 

“I think it’s amazing that from age seven, I would remember somebody who had no actual impact on my life as a child in Australia: and yet I was very aware of her presence in the world. She represented something extremely human and extremely symbolic.”

We were first given a glimpse of Debicki portraying Princess Diana in August this year, with Netflix releasing some exciting official cast pictures. 

Image: Netflix. 

British actor Dominic West, who was embroiled in a cheating scandal himself last year, will be playing Di’s estranged husband Prince Charles in the 1990s era. 

Production of The Crown’s fifth season has been taking place for months now, with filming having begun in July this year.

Netflix is still yet to release an official release date, but fans are expected to have to wait until November 2022.

And we cannot wait to see the revenge dress and Diana’s post-separation break from tradition be celebrated on our screens. 

Feature Image: Getty + AAP.