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How Dior became a go-to for fashionable blue-blooded types like Harry and Meghan

How Dior became a go-to for fashionable blue-blooded types like Harry and Meghan

While Dior may have denied a rumoured brand deal with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, they are far from the first royals to have had a close connection with the French designer.

In fact, the brand has become quite the darling of the Windsor set. 

Princess Margaret is to thank for the strong bond uniting the fashion house and the royals, as she was one of Christian Dior’s original muses. 

Other blue-blooded beauties, including the late Princess Diana and her niece Kitty Spencer, followed in Margaret footsteps. 

Montecito-based Meghan and Harry have also entrusted the designer with dressing them for significant occasions. 

The Duke of Sussex wore bespoke Dior to his father’s Coronation on May 6, while his wife wore the designer as she attended the late Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on September 19. 

French fashion house Christian Dior, centre, counts many royals amongst its fans. Clockwise from the top left: Princess Diana, Caroline of Hanover ; Meghan Markle; Charlene of Monaco, Lady Amelia Windsor ; Prince Harry ; Lady Kitty Spencer; Queen Camilla, Princess Margaret
Since Princess Margaret, pictured in 1951, first visited the Dior atelier in Paris in 1949 and became one of his muses, other members of the British family have fallen in love with the French designer

PRINCESS MARGARET

Princess Margaret was Christian Dior’s first and most important royal muse throughout the designer’s career.

Whilst the French fashion house has dressed everyone from models to actresses, socialites and other blue-blooded beauties, the late Queen’s sister was the only one of Dior’s clients whom he identified by name in his memoir.

The fashion writer Justine Picardie wrote for the Mail in 2021 that her patronage ‘represented the highest acclaim.’

The Princess first visited the designer’s Paris couture salon during her fist European holiday, aged 18, in 1949. 

Her visit to the Frenchman’s atelier caused a commotion, with the royal attracting swarms of photographers and journalists wherever she went, Picardie wrote.

During this visit, Margaret, who had already impressed high society and the press with her sartorial flair, picked a romantic evening gown for herself.

Years later, Picardie reported, Margaret recalled: ‘My favourite dress of all was never photographed. 

‘It was my first Dior dress, white strapless tulle and a vast satin bow at the back.

‘Underneath the huge skirt there was a kind of beehive, fixed like a farthingale [a hooped petticoat]. It meant I could move any way, even walk backwards, without tripping up.’ 

Recounting their encounter later, Dior opened up about the Princess, gushing: ‘She crystallised the whole popular frantic interest in royalty… She was a real fairy princess, delicate, graceful, exquisite.’

Princess Margaret chatting to Christian Dior in the early 1950s. The royal attended the designer’s British Debut in 1950

In his memoir, he noted that she ‘was keenly interested in fashion, and also, unlike many women, knew exactly the sort of fashions which suited her fragile height and Titania-like figure.’ 

A most fashionable friendship spanning decades was born. 

Margaret attended Dior’s British debut at the Savoy in 1950, and the designer hosted a private show for members of the royal family a few days later at the French Embassy.

The show was attended by Margaret, the Queen Mother, as well as the Duchess of Kent and her sister, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark.

While it would have been perceived as unpatriotic for the late Queen Elizabeth II to favour a French brand, Margaret, ever the royal rebel, could get away with it and sported the designer’s gowns for several occasions. 

In November 1954, Margaret appeared as the guest of honour at a Dior show at Blenheim Palace organised by the Duchess of Marlborough in aid of the British Red Cross.

One of her most romantic looks was an organza dress she was allowed to choose for her 21st birthday’s portrait by Cecil Beaton in 1951.

The gown took pride of place in an exhibition on Dior’s legacy at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2019. 

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The breath-taking soft pink garment was shown alongside dresses worn by actress Jennifer Lawrence, author Nancy Mitford and ballerina Margot Fonteyn – just a few of the dazzling women dressed by the French fashion house over its 71-year history.

The show, called Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams was be the largest ever exhibition of Dior’s work staged in the UK, featuring more than 200 dresses.

GRACE KELLY 

Grace of Monaco was also an early fan of the brand, and even was the first royal to patron Baby Dior (pictured with Prince Rainier III in 1956
Caroline sporting a floral floor-length gown from the French designer at the Red Cross Ball of 1973 with her parents

Following in Margaret’s footsteps, Grace of Monaco became one of the first European royals to embrace the French couturier and to make his clothing a wardrobe staple. 

The 2022 exhibition Grace of Monaco, Princess in Dior, which was hosted in collaboration with the French fashion house, recounted how she became taken with the designer’s work after marrying Prince Rainer III in 1956. 

Stylish Grace, with her Hollywood appeal, wore Dior on several official occasions throughout the 1950s, including her engagement ball in New York in 1956. 

The Fashion House recounted how the Monaco royal saw Dior as one of the most fashionable brands. 

In 1967, she agreed to become the patron of Baby Dior, two years before the birth of her third and last child, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, and attended the opening of the designer’s first children’s clothes in Paris. 

Grace was such a fan, the brand also claimed she decorated her bathroom with bottles from their perfume line, and befriended Serge Heltler-Louiche, one of Christian Dior’s childhood friends who became president of Christian Dior Parfums. 

Monaco’s love affair with Dior has transcended generations with both Princess Caroline and her very stylish daughter Charlotte Casiraghi repping the brand on several occasions. 

Charlene, the glamourous wife of Prince Albert II, has also kept the tradition going, sporting Dior on occasion, including a form-fitting sparkly gown she wore at the Yorkshire Variety Club’s Golden Jubilee Ball in Leeds in 2011. 

PRINCESS DIANA

Fashion writers have noted that Princess Diana’s love story with Dior began in the early days of her freedom following her divorce from the King, then Prince Charles, in 1996. Pictured with the Lady Dior bag, named after her
The late royal famously wore a lacy lingerie-inspired navy blue gown to New York’s Met Gala in 1995
Diana with her Lady bag during a visit at The National Hospital For Neurology And Neurosurgery in London in 1996

The late mother of Prince William and Prince Harry was a woman of many labels, yet Dior held a special place in this royal’s heart. 

Over the years, Dior has become the brand of choice for British royal rebels, and few have been more rebellious than King Charles’ first wife, who defied the establishment time and time again, until her tragic death in 1997. 

Fashion writers have noted that Diana’s love story with Dior began in the early days of her freedom following her divorce from the King, then Prince Charles, in 1996. 

She famously sported the brand as she attended New York’s Met Gala in 1996, donning a lingerie-inspired lacy navy blue gown from the designer with a fetching diamond and sapphire necklace she also wore with her impactful Revenge Dress in 1994. 

Diana is particularly associated with one of the brand’s most iconic accessories, the Lady handbag. 

The piece made of quilted black leather and decorated with metal letters spelling out Dior became an instant Diana staple after she received it as a gift from the first lady of France, Bernadette Chirac in 1995, at the opening of the Paul Cézanne retrospective at Paris’s Grand Palais. 

At the time, the bag was called The Chouchou – meaning the favourite ni French – and was not yet on sale, only available to a select few. 

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It was love at first wear, and Diana commissioned another version of the bad in navy blue – to match her eyes, which she wore just as much as the first black edition. 

The bag was thereafter renamed the Lady Dior in 1996, with Diana herself conceding it ‘suited her well.’ 

It may be a testament of Diana’s lasting fashion influence that the Lady is still a Dior best-seller to this day. 

Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, spoke of the Diana connection to British Vogue in November: ‘I loved Diana’s sense of freedom in fashion, using clothing as a kind of empowerment; as a way to feel confident and ready to face any situation.

‘This is also true for Dior, a brand that today offers every woman the possibility of wearing clothes to consciously decide who she wants to be.’

It is with Diana that Dior became synonymous with royal freedom, and the trend has been kept alive beyond her 1997 death by none other than her son, Prince Harry. 

PRINCE HARRY

Harry in a three-piece suit from Dior at King Charles’ Coronation on May 6. The choice to wear a French brand for the quintessential British event raised eyebrows
The Duke of Sussex also wore £800 Dior bee shirts as he appeared at London’s High Court earlier this year

The Duke of Sussex followed in the footsteps of his fashionable mother when, on the day of King Charles’ Coronation in early May in London, he turned to Dior to dress him. 

The French fashion house revealed on their social media channels shortly after the ceremony at the time that they had the ‘honour’ to dress the royal for the event, adding he was wearing a custom design by Kim Jones, Dior Men’s Artistic Director. 

Harry, who left swiftly after his father’s coronation for Heathrow, where he caught a flight home to California, still wore his honours pinned to the suit.

The decision to wear a French designer for a quintessentially British event raised eyebrows at the time. 

Royal fashion expert and celebrity stylist Miranda Holder said Harry’s choice of a French brand showed he ‘did not get the fashion memo or was in a petulant mood’ as most other guests wore British labels, adding that his decision ‘spoke volumes’. 

Ms Holder told MailOnline at the time: ‘Harry’s brief appearance at the Coronation was always going to be controversial, every second that he was under the watchful eye of the many cameras, every move he made would be ruthlessly scrutinised, and due to him not wearing any sort of ceremonial uniform, his style choices would be at the top of the list.’

She said most guests appeared to have ‘got the memo to support the best of British brands at such a uniquely patriotic occasion’.

Ms Holder spoke of the ‘sea of exquisite British couture’ from the Alexander McQueen that ‘graced’ Kate Middleton and Charlotte, to the poppy red Emilia Wickstead coat worn by actress Emma Thompson which she decorated with her MBE.

But she continued: ‘It seemed however that Harry did not get the fashion memo – either that, or he was in a petulant mood.

‘The Prince turned up looking smart if somewhat apprehensive in an immaculate Dior suit, a potentially rebellious move on his behalf. Harry would have been well-versed in the protocol of supporting domestic businesses, and the message doing so would convey.

‘In true royal family style, Harry, like his late grandmother, is a true expert in visual representation, and his decision to wear a French designer to this historic occasion spoke volumes.

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‘The message was clearly, ‘I’m here, but I’m doing this my own way’, a firm assertion that his newfound independence was not going to change, that he would run alongside the royal pack rather than within it.’

Harry also wore £800 Dior ‘Bee’ shirts during recent appearances at the High Court in London – and also wore Dior to the UN last year, further securing his alliance with the fashion house. 

MEGHAN MARKLE

The Duchess of Sussex wearing a Dior cape dress for the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II last September
Meghan Markle wearing Dior as she and Prince Harry leaving after a service of thanksgiving for the reign of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul’s Cathedral in London last June
The Duchess of Sussex also wore Dior as she attended the centenary of the Royal Air Force on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in 2018

Just like her husband, Meghan Markle has joined the ranks of royal Dior devotees. 

The Duchess of Sussex’s association with the brand actually sparked rumours they could even be linked into a partnership with the brand – which was eventually denied earlier this week. 

It had been speculated any deal could be worth as much as £15million to the couple. 

While a deal is off the table, Meghan, 41, has favoured the brand plenty of times in the past.

She has worn the fashion label on a number of significant occasions, including the National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, to celebrate the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee last June.

Dressed in all white, she wore a trench coat, skirt, and shirt from the Dior Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2022 collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri, a white hat from Dior by Stephen Jones, Dior gloves, and Dior D-Moi shoes.

Meghan also wore Dior to the Queen’s funeral, as well as her son Archie’s baptism and other major events and royal tours before Megxit.

She also incorporated pieces from Dior into her pregnancy wardrobe while on a tour of Morocco with Harry.  

Two years ago, she emulated her mother-in-law when she carried a monogrammed version of the iconic Lady Dior bag, made popular by Diana, to a Global Citizen concert in New York. 

QUEEN CAMILLA 

King Charles’ wife is a longtime fan of Dior, and has worn it to several official events since marrying into the royal family in 2005

The fabric of blue-blooded ties 

Meanwhile a number of other royals have made Dior their go-to designer over the years.

Lady Amelia Windsor, the Duke of Kent’s granddaughter, 27, has been a regular at Dior Fashion Week events for many years.

The model and socialite has had her pride of place front row on several occasions. 

Meanwhile, Lady Kitty Spencer, the daughter of Earl Spencer and niece of the late Princess Diana, has also been known to sport outfits from the French designer. 

In Europe, it has also been favoured by the likes of Princess Olympia of Greece and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. 

Lady Amelia Windsor, 27, attending Christian Dior’s Paris Fashion Week womenswear show in September 2018
The royal donning florals at Dior’s Paris’ Haute Couture Fashion Week in July of the same year
Lady Kitty Spencer donning all-white from Dior at the brand’s Paris Haute-Couture Fashion Week Spring-Summer show in 2016

King Charles’ wife is a longtime fan of Dior, and has worn it to several official events since marrying into the royal family in 2005. 

The Queen visited the brand’s atelier on Paris’ Avenue Montaigne in 2013, when Raf Simons was its Artistic Director. 

Dior is one of the brands Camilla has been faithful to since making her royal debut. 

Earlier this week, the royal opted for a soft cream coat and dress from the fashion house as she attended Royal Ascot’s Opening Day. 

She accessorised with a matching hat, and diamond jewellery and a white clutch bag.   

  • June 25, 2023