Twenty-nine years ago, there was a fairy tale wedding, featuring Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. It turned out horribly as the whole world knows but the first snag in that extravaganza was the dress: a crumpled, fussy jungle of lace, taffeta, ribbons and bows as seen below:

Diana looked like a meringue.

Even in black-and-white, it looks all frumpy. Being a 1981 creation, this may have heralded the decade of excess. And the designers behind it:

David and Elizabeth Emmanuel. They failed to consider that Diana’s dress has to fit in a roomy glass coach and so the work was ruined. It may have attempted a romantic look but it sunk – just like the high hopes for this union to work out. The scenario I imagine is this:

Nineteen-year-old Diana Spencer is shown sketches of the dress and of course, it looks beautifully frothy and all princess-y on paper. Then the Emmanuels go to work, finish the dress (oh-so-top-secret and now we know why) and when it is sent to Clarence House, even Diana does not like it. Being very young and naive, she says nothing (if she did say anything about the Camilla specter hovering even back then, she would have saved herself a lifetime of heartbreak.) Instead, she settled for an overdone dress and went on to become a sitting-duck-turned madwoman.

I hope Kate Middleton follows the footsteps of Autumn Kelly and does the Brits proud that one of their own has good taste in one of the most important dresses of a lifetime.

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