Princess Diana's revenge dress, the black silk off-the-shoulder dress designed by Christina Stambolian, 29 June 1994
The "Revenge dress" is a dress once worn by Diana, Princess of Wales. It was worn for the first time at a 1994 dinner at the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The dress has been interpreted as having been worn "in revenge" for the televised admission of adultery by her husband, Charles, Prince of Wales.
On 29 June 1994, Princess Diana wore a black silk dress to the 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 programme 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 programme.
Diana was seen wearing the dress after she exited her car and was greeted by Lord Palumbo, the chair of the trustees of the Serpentine Gallery, before entering the gallery. She accessorized the dress with a pearl choker, a black clutch and a pair of black pumps that matched her dress. The photographer who captured Diana arriving at the event, Tim Graham, said that her arrival lasted only 30 seconds in total, and that Diana would have known a large number of photographers would be present following her husband's revelations.
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".
The dress, an off the shoulder black silk dress, was designed by Christina Stambolian. Stambolian compared Diana's choice of black to the black swan Odile in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet 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". 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".
Elle Pithers, writing for Vogue magazine, described the dress as the "progenitor of 'revenge dressing
The dress originally cost GB£900 (equivalent to £1,946 in 2019), was sold at auction in July 1997 for £39,098. The dress was bought by a Scottish couple who planned to use it to raise money for children's charities. The dress was exhibited in the Museum of Style in Newbridge, County Kildare in their 2017 exhibition Diana: A Fashion Legacy, where it was described as "the most important exhibit". Penny Goldstone wrote in Marie Claire in 2020 that the dress remains one of Diana's "most iconic styles of all time".
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