The Real Story Behind Princess Diana’s ‘Revenge Dress’ And Why She Almost Didn’t Wear It

The People's Princess had impeccable timing when she decided to debut her daring dress.

Princess Diana made headlines in 1994 for her 'revenge dress'
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The People's Princess had impeccable timing when she decided to debut her daring dress.

Princess Diana didn’t always follow princess protocol. In the summer of 1994, the beloved People’s Princess made headlines for what would later be known as the “revenge dress.” Nearly 25 years later, Diana’s iconic LBD remains one of her most memorable fashion moments.

In June 1994, three years into her highly publicized separation from Prince Charles, Princess Diana, then 32-years-old, debuted the off-the-shoulder, cleavage-baring black mini-dress by Greek designer Christina Stambolian at a Vanity Fair party at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

That same night, the tell-all documentary, titled Charles: ThePrivate Man, the Public Role, premiered on national television. The TV doc was produced with the hopes of showing Prince Charles in a more favorable light after his split from Diana.

But all bets were off when the British journalist Jonathan Dimbleby asked Charles if he had been “faithful and honorable” to Diana during their marriage. According to Reader’s Digest, while Prince Charles answered “Yes, absolutely,” he added the damning disclaimer, “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

As Prince Charles publicly admitted to his infidelity—presumably with now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles—for the very first time, Diana stepped out in her chic black, curve-hugging dress, and the “revenge dress” was born.

While the revenge dress became a worldwide phenomenon, it almost didn’t happen. According to British Vogue, in the later television documentary, Princess Diana’s Dresses: The Auction, it was revealed that Diana’s decision to wear the now-iconic cocktail dress was a last-minute one.

“She thought it was too daring,” designer Christina Stambolian revealed. Stambolian dished that she had actually designed the dress for Diana three years earlier but that the Princess of Wales had been too nervous to wear it.

Even more surprising, on the night of Prince Charles’ admission of adultery, Princess Diana had been planning to wear a Valentino dress, but she changed her mind when the famous fashion house sent out a premature press release announcing it. Diana decided on the Stambolian dress instead, paired it with dazzling jewels and the highest heels possible, and 25 years later people are still talking about it.

In addition to her “revenge dress,” Princess Diana made headlines for the Victor Edelstein evening gown she wore to a White House reception, later dubbed “The Travolta dress.” Diana was also known for wearing the “Elvis dress,” a Catherine Walker pearl-encrusted gown and jacket that she wore for an official visit to Hong Kong.

Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash 1997.