Ivory silk taffeta and antique lace, with a trailing veil, Princess Diana’s wedding dress made its place in history as one of the world’s most influential and striking designs.
Nearly four decades on, it is still changing the course of fashion. Leeds-based designer Wendie Towler, then a teenage seamstress, had watched entranced as the young Royal walked down the aisle in July 1981.
Today, as her own couture collection features in the pages of Vogue magazine, she says the grace and grandeur of a Royal wedding has never held more allure.
“I fell in love with bridal fashion when I saw Princess Diana’s dress,” she said. “It was such a fairytale wedding. I just thought, ‘I want to do that’.
“This is all a bit surreal. It’s not just a bit of recognition – it’s Vogue. That is a dream come true for anyone who loves fashion.”
Much has changed since the days of Princess Diana’s dramatic dress, which despite dividing opinion with its puff sleeves and lengthy trail did set a course for new fashion demands through the 1980s. Hand-embroidered, featuring thousands of pearls, it was priced at an estimate of over £150,000.
As she climbed the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral that day, watched by a television audience of tens of millions, she was to set the wheels in motion with designers around the world.
Among them was a teenage Mrs Towler, now 54, who has spent a lifetime designing dresses after becoming bewitched with the world of bridal fashion.
Her own designs are strikingly different. Making use of unusual fabrics, Mrs Towler’s bespoke gowns feature shades of colour from blush pinks to latte and rose, with silver and lilac, chiffon and lace.
She was approached by Vogue for a series of pieces looking at independent designers, to be published over three editions from today.
“We’ve worked so hard over the last month to get everything ready,” said Mrs Towler. “It’s so exciting, it’s incredible really. It’s a massive recognition, for a business such as ours which has three staff.”
In anticipation of the Vogue appearance, this week has seen the launch of a new couture collection, a first for Perfect Fit Dressmaking.
That dream of a fairytale wedding, inspired by Diana and amplified over recent years amid celebrations for the younger Royals, has re-ignited for many the romance of the perfect dress.
“The Royal weddings we’ve seen in the past couple of years definitely have a bearing on what brides look for,” said Mrs Towler. “When girls come to us, it’s because they’re not able to find the dress they want. We try to make something that you can’t buy in the shops.
“I absolutely love what I do, I get so much joy from seeing the look on a bride’s face when they step through the door,” she adds. “I was drawn to sewing when I was 13, in my first class at school. I’ve been a dressmaker since the age of 17.
“I pestered my parents for a sewing machine, so I could get started. I would never have imagined I would have my name in Vogue.”