Revenge Dress

Diana

The Revenge dress is an off the shoulder black silk evening gown worn by Princess Diana to a 1994 dinner not long after the televised admission of adultery by her husband, Charles, Prince of Wales.

The event to which the dress was worn was a June 29, 1994 fundraising dinner hosted by ‘Vanity Fair’ magazine for the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. Diana had originally declined the invitation to the dinner. However, two days prior to the dinner, following several days’ publicity of Charles’ infidelity revelations, she accepted the invitation.

The dinner was held on the night that a television program about her husband Charles, Prince of Wales was broadcast, in which he admitted to having been unfaithful to her after their marriage had ‘irretrievably broken down.’ Charles and Diana had separated two years prior to the broadcast of the program. Diana’s biographer Sarah Bradford wrote that Diana ‘feigned indifference’ in regards to the program.

Following the dinner, the dress was described as the ‘I’ll Show You dress,’ the ‘Serpentine Cocktail,’ and the ‘Vengeance dress,’ as well as the ‘Revenge dress.’ In her 2007 book ‘The Diana Chronicles,’ Tina Brown wrote that Diana’s dress was known by fashion editors as ‘her fuck-you dress.’

Elle Pithers, writing for ‘Vogue’ magazine, described the dress as the ‘progenitor of ‘revenge dressing.” Writing in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ in 2020, Bethan Holt wrote that the dress encompassed ‘the act of reclaiming the narrative,’ and that ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But also: fashion hath no greater thrill than when being deployed for the purpose of expressing rage, froideur or an insouciant dose of ‘look what you’re missing.”

The dress was analysed by Caroline McCauley in ‘Fashion, Agency, and Empowerment: Performing Agency, Following Script,’ and it was interpreted as part of Diana’s couture of ‘revenge’ following the breakdown of her marriage to Charles after years of having ‘snippets of a seductive glamour hidden by a proper royal purity.’ McCauley wrote that instead of ‘cowering in shame’ following Charles’s admission, ‘Diana arrived in a figure-hugging black silk dress with a pearl choker necklace, black pumps, and scarlet lipstick and nail polish.’ ‘The Thrilla He Left to Woo Camilla’ was the headline of ‘The Sun’ the following day.

The dress was designed by Christina Stambolian. Stambolian compared Diana’s choice of black to the black swan Odile in ‘Swan Lake,’ stating that Diana ‘chose not to play the scene like Odette, innocent in white. She played it like Odile. She was clearly angry.’ Diana had owned the dress for three years before she wore it, fearing it was too “‘daring.’ The dress originally cost £900. Diana had originally planned to wear a dress by Valentino before choosing Stambolian’s design. Anna Harvey, Diana’s former stylist, said that Diana ‘wanted to look a million dollars … and she did.’

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One Comment to “Revenge Dress”

  1. i remember this amazing dress, and the perfect revenge dress

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