The title of this article is probably shocking, a little thrilling, and curiosity-sparking. And that’s exactly what Princess Diana’s intentions were when she wore the masterpiece on June 29, 1994 to a fundraising event hosted by Vanity Fair in Hyde Park, London.
After marrying Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Diana held the crown for the world’s sweetheart. She was naturally beautiful, had a stunning smile, and radiated kindness and intelligence. Her quality I respect the most, however, was her capacity to break the “rules” of royalty. She set standards that outlined her fiery, independent spirit, which is why she is so iconic to this day.
Not only did she choose her own engagement ring (from a catalog accessible to the public), but she also wrote her own vows out of distaste in using the word “obey” in reference to Prince Charles and their marriage. She raised her kids with adventure in the “real world,” sending them to school and prioritizing family over royal duties. Diana wore bold nail polish, tight dresses, suits, and blue eyeliner. She not only was a trendsetter, but remained uniquely herself, even with royal restrictions.
One of her most iconic statements was made on June 29, 1994, the same day that a documentary about Prince Charles aired on national television. For years, the public knew of the underlying dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the marriage between Diana and Charles, and there were rumors circling Charles’s loyalty to Diana. There was talk that he had an ongoing affair with a woman named Camilla, but before the documentary, it was just speculation. The couple separated in 1991, and the documentary was supposed to build Charles’s character in a more positive light, allowing the public to view him through a more sympathetic perspective. It backfired, however, when, in the documentary, Charles admits to having been unfaithful to Diana.
The same night that the documentary aired across the nation, Diana made her unforgettable appearance at Vanity Fair’s event, wearing the classic little black dress now marked as the
Revenge Dress. It was a low-cut, tight-fitting black dress, with off-the shoulder sleeves and a small black train attached at the waist. The dress hit above her knees, and underneath she wore black tights and black heels. Her collarbone and figure were accentuated by the stunning dress… but she wore the dress. Diana is what brought the dress to life.
Guests at the Vanity Fair party gushed about how radiant and beautiful Diana looked.
“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,’ British fashion journalist and stylist Alex Longmore told HuffPost. “In that minidress, she oozed confidence, an air of happiness and independence… it was a classic case of a woman wearing the dress and not the other way around.”
As iconic as her statement was, Diana almost didn’t wear the stunning black dress to the party, out of fear that it would be too bold for a woman in her position in royalty. She had decided to wear a dress made by Valentino until that same dress was discovered by the press and released prior to the Vanity Fair event. Forced to change her outfit of choice, she opted for the daring, stunning, sexy black dress, designed by Christina Stambolian, which would become the iconic outfit that it is today.
“She wanted to look like a million dollars,” her former stylist Anna Harvey recalled in 2013. “And she did.”
The underlying reason why Diana appeared at the Vanity Fair event wearing the daring “Revenge Dress” is still up for speculation… but it’s empowering to believe she wore it for revenge against Prince Charles and his infidelity.