The late Princess Diana was adored for her elegant, timeless style. Throughout her life she stepped out in countless beautiful designs and became nothing less than a true fashion icon. The Princess established long-lasting relationships with several highly-lauded design houses, the most notable of which was Catherine Walker & Co.
Diana stepped out in a powder-blue Catherine Walker & Co. to the Cannes Film Festival in May 1987
Co-designing each creation with her husband, Said Cyrus, from their bijou studio on Sydney Street in Chelsea, French-born Catherine - who died from breast cancer in 2010 - created made-to-measure gowns for Diana until her untimely death in 1997. Said Cyrus continues to create show-stopping designs for the couture house, and the label’s 40th anniversary approaches, he speaks exclusively to HELLO!...
Diana’s approach to fashion changed significantly over the years. The public watched as she happened upon the silhouettes that suited her best and we saw her develop a failsafe uniform that lent a polished yet effortless feel to her look.
Couturier Said Cyrus in his design studio on Chelsea's Sydney Street
“During the sixteen years that we had the privilege to dress the Princess, her style naturally evolved from that of a shy teenager to that of a mature and confident woman,” Said tells HELLO!. “During her early years she was not afraid to experiment, but as she evolved she found what worked and it was a privilege to travel on that journey with her.”
The Princess was no stranger to enchanting occasionwear, and many of the instantly recognisable masterpieces she slipped into – from the powder-blue strapless design she chose for the 1987 Cannes Film Festival to the crystal-encrusted gown she wore to a Washington charity gala in 1996 - were designed by Said himself.
The late Princess Diana with Catherine Walker and the talented team of dressmakers
“Perhaps one dress stands out in my memory is a design she wore in New York - I felt its muted colours were appropriate in a less-is-more kind of way,” he says. “Perhaps it is also the most memorable for me because it was the last Catherine Walker piece she wore, a few weeks before her death.”
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the British design house carefully considers each element of every creation to ensure that the whole collection is as exquisite as can be. “Throughout our history we have been drawn to the use of handwork such as embroidery and intricate detail that reflects and celebrates what is quintessentially British. We are inspired by the pastels of heather moors, misty rain and the English country garden,” he says.
The intricate hand embroidery on a Catherine Walker & Co. design
And for Catherine Walker & Co. dresses are just the beginning. “Since 1982 I have been using Savile Row tailors to make up our designs for women. I feel sharp tailoring is exquisitely elegant when combined with the softer female silhouette,” Said tells us. “Something that continues to inspire me is the loyalty and passion of my team. Unlike pure art, a design can only be as good as the team making it.”
The Catherine Walker & Co. SS17 collection can be viewed at catherinewalker.com