As the Royal wedding date approaches, speculation is mounting about which designer is secretly putting the finishing touches to Kate Middleton’s dress. It was exactly the same when designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel were creating Lady Diana Spencer’s famous wedding dress.
The design of her dress was to be so top secret that they created a second ‘stunt’ dress for her to wear in case the design was leaked. Metro met with Elizabeth Emanuel to learn more about what it was like trying to keep 1981’s biggest secret.
What lengths did the press go to in order to try to get their scoop?
The press staked out the studio, they rummaged through the rubbish bins and continually called using lines like, ‘Their jobs were on the line and if they didn’t get the information, they’d have to pull their kids out of school and they’d be forced to move!’
How did you keep the dress safe?
There was no Royal protocol, no contracts, no secrecy rules but we made a completely different spare dress, and we had a safe delivered to keep the dress in, which was interesting. We hoped no one would notice but there were about 400 people watching and we couldn’t get it through the door, so we it had to hoik it up through the first floor window. It was a complete fiasco.
How was it when Princess Diana visited the studio?
Mostly she came alone but sometimes she came with her sister, bridesmaids or mum and we all sat on the floor and looked at sketches — it was all quite informal. We did a lot of research on royal wedding dresses and she went through our rail and there was one style that looked really nice on her that looked frighteningly close to what we actually did.
How did you decide on a 25 foot train (7.62 metres)?
Well, we did some research and it said somewhere the longest Royal train to date was 23 feet (7.01 metres), so we decided to go the extra two feet.
What accessories did you produce?
We made an overskirt in case Diana spilt anything as well as a parasol and the shoes. We carried smelling salts. We also did small things like put a heart on the hanger and a little blue bow inside the dress — you know the saying, ‘something borrowed, something blue…’
How much did you charge for the gown?
We charged a thousand guineas ($1,600 CDN) for the dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses. But in reality it was a lot of work and it didn’t really cover it. I would have done it for nothing but my Dad said, ‘It’s not right you saying have it for nothing’.
How did designing the dress change your life?
We were propelled into a different sphere. We made a perfume, bed linens and a copy of the dress for Madame Tussauds, on Diana’s request. The dress set new bridal trends because it broke away from traditional styles.