Lady Diana’s Enduring Style

Step aside Princess Grace ‘Kelly’ and Ms Jane ‘Birkin’ – style icon Lady Diana has no less than three bags named after her, with their sales still going strong.

The Princess of Wales with her Dior handbag / Alamy

Following on from my articles on the late Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III and their contribution to the fashion world, I felt that I should start the year with a tribute to the biggest royal style icon of them all. Even in her ‘Shy-Di’ days, Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, showed a flair for fashion. Looking at some of those early images, we may now cringe at the bright colours and loud floral designs, however as those of us who were around at the time know, this was the fashion of the day. We saw her blossom as she adapted her look to the protocols of the palace and then created a chic style of her own. As part of the departure from the conservative co-ordinated look of the other royals, Diana chose to wear European fashion brands, and the foreign houses loved her for it.

An early favourite in the accessories department was Salvatore Ferragamo. Diana couldn’t get enough of their handbags. Her choice was a classic calf-skin with a gold-tone Gancini clasp and chain shoulder strap which she sported in an endless array of colours. The bag became so sought after that it was retrospectively named the ‘Lady D’. With designers clambering to dress the Princess, her bag wardrobe included Dior, Versace, Chanel, and Gucci to name a few. Diana even called upon Anya Hindmarch to create a series of clutch bags for her, nicknamed the ‘cleavage clutch’, which she held on her chest to avoid any tasteless paparazzi images. Dior hit the mark with their ‘Chouchou’ bag, which can be roughly translated as ‘teacher’s pet’, a common phrase in France. Diana received the bag in 1995 from Bernadette Chirac, the wife of the then president. Styled in cannage leather with twin top handles and signature Dior charms, it was quickly rebranded as the ‘Lady Dior’ and is still one of the most popular bags in the Dior range.

In 1997, Diana asked her friend Lana Marks to design a top handle bag for her. Called the ‘Princess Diana’ handbag, it ended up being one of her favourite accessories and is now one of the brand’s most coveted bags, produced in a variety of applications and colours.

Diana has left a legacy of style, and her influence on luxury and design lives on to this day. 

John D’AGATA / Head of Luxury

Banner image: Dior, Lady Dior top handle bag | Sold for $3,250

February 2023