Princess Diana had been considered a fashion icon for years by the time she stepped out to attend a Vanity Fair party at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 1994, wearing what became the statement dress to end all statement dresses. For the soiree, she donned a form-fitting Christina Stambolian off-the-shoulder piece with a plunging neckline and flowing trail, pairing the stunning little black dress with Manolo Blahnik pumps, sheer tights, and a choker. Although the ensemble would have turned heads at any point, it was especially notable that she chose to wear something so daring that particular evening. It was the same day that her ex-husband, Prince Charles, admitted he’d been unfaithful to her during a televised tell-all interview. Afterward, Diana’s look was dubbed “the revenge dress,” and it became the talk of the town.
For the upcoming fifth and sixth seasons of Peter Morgan’s Emmy Award-winning drama The Crown, Elizabeth Debicki (Tenet, Widows) steps into the role of the “people’s princess,” portraying Diana from 1990 until her death in 1997, when her style was at its boldest and most glamorous. The latest season features some of her most memorable looks from this era, including the revenge dress, which marked a distinct shift for her — the princess had actually owned the dress since 1991, but had never worn it for fear it was too risqué. As she set out to create a new life for herself, Diana was determined to chart a new course, one in which she might move through the world independently, with grace, confidence, and, of course, incredible style. “She became the person she wanted to be and needed to be and that’s so reflected in the clothing,” says Debicki.