LIZ JONES: Yes, The Crown is full of howlers but you can’t...

LIZ JONES: Yes, The Crown is full of howlers but you can’t fault the fashion!

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Having consumed all ten episodes of Season Four of The Crown, I’m left with a feeling not unlike flu from an overdose of frou-frou.

Not to mention a sincere wish to hide behind the sofa, as I’m reminded of all those 1980s horrors that I, like Diana, once proudly wore.

The tank tops, the Patricia Roberts patchwork sweaters, the Laura Ashley pie-crust blouses and polka dots. Not to mention the sea of mid-calf skirts, dropped waists, puff sleeves and, horror of horrors, shoulder pads, often all piled together in a single garment.

For while the latest season of The Crown has fallen short on storylines, with critics saying its scripts tend much more towards fiction than fact, the one thing it has got right — mostly — is the costumes.

Headed by Emmy Award-winning designer Amy Roberts, the costume department spent hours poring over photos of the royals in order to replicate their outfits meticulously. And, boy, does it show. The result is a triumph, and for none more so than that most photographed royal, Diana.

Before the engagement, before any sort of fashion sense at all. A great scene in The Crown (pictured) when her banana dungarees stopped Charles dead in his Aston Martin at the polo in Windsor, 1981 (but in real life worn in 1981 post-engagement)

Before the engagement, before any sort of fashion sense at all. A great scene in The Crown when her banana dungarees stopped Charles dead in his Aston Martin at the polo in Windsor, 1981 (but in real life worn in 1981 post-engagement, pictured)

Before the engagement, before any sort of fashion sense at all. A great scene in The Crown, left, when her banana dungarees stopped Charles dead in his Aston Martin at the polo in Windsor, 1981 (but in real life worn in 1981 post-engagement, right)

So accomplished is their work it seems they may even have performed the impossible of making 1980s fashion desirable again, if the surge in searches on eBay is anything to go by.

Admittedly, Emma Corrin, playing Diana, is neither busty enough in those engagement photos, nor tall and willowy enough to match the princess’s 5 ft 10 in stature. But what is laser-accurate is the metamorphosis we see in Diana’s posture. She literally unfurls on screen, no longer stooping because of her height but stands tall and proud.

When it comes to Diana’s costumes, the only criticism seems to be that there aren’t more of them, with some iconic outfits conspicuously absent. Take the black, strapless, perilously low-cut gown Diana wore for her first official evening engagement with Charles at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City.

Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed that dress, as well as Diana’s wedding gown, called me, breathless, after she too binged all ten episodes.

‘That dress was a transformative moment, as she was seen for the first time as a superstar, a glamorous princess in the making who was to become a fashion icon. We should have seen it!’ she cried.

Here is Diana wearing a Victor Edelstein dress in France 1988

The Elizabethan corset shape is missing from Emma’s dress in the TV drama

Here is Diana wearing a Victor Edelstein dress in France 1988 (left). Boleros were big news, and the gown has an almost corsetedbodice, showing off her toned physique. The Elizabethan corset shape is missing from Emma’s dress in the TV drama (right), and the dress is less bridey, too, more of a subtle colour

Another omission is the Victor Edelstein dress Diana wore to dance with John Travolta at the White House in 1985. It was an important moment when Diana found her feet — and worldwide fame.

While I’m filled with admiration for The Crown’s costume team, I can’t help but wonder if their portrayal of Diana’s fashion was — like her famous asymmetric gowns — ever so slightly one-sided, portraying her as a hopeless ingenue, shoehorned into hideous garments as well as a ghastly marriage?

Diana was certainly no mouse, no matter how many pairs of yellow dungarees she may have worn in her early days. I’ve spoken to many designers who dressed her over the years. They found her opinionated, a little vain, someone who knew the power of her own body — and, because of the scrutiny she faced, ruthless in the pursuit of the perfect image.

But in the Netflix series, Diana’s wardrobe choices seem careless. There are no scenes of dress fittings, no agonising over pages torn from Vogue with Anna Harvey, the fashion editor assigned to give advice.

David Sassoon, one half of British label Bellville Sassoon, another of her favourites, recalled: ‘She would ask, as she twisted in front of a mirror, “What message am I giving off?” ’

Oh my God, I had those 1986 loafers (pictured), by Patrick Cox! Diana did love a cigarette pant, given her long legs

Emma’s version (pictured) is a louder check, worn with a manly V-neck. She has less hair than Di — and shorter legs

Oh my God, I had those 1986 loafers (left), by Patrick Cox! Diana did love a cigarette pant, given her long legs. Emma’s version (right) is a louder check, worn with a manly V-neck. She has less hair than Di — and shorter legs

Having seen The Crown’s take on Di’s earlier days, I can’t wait for the treats in Season Five. We can look forward to Diana — played by Elizabeth Debicki, The Night Manager’s sinewy blonde — discovering not just meaning in her life but the bodycon dress.

The teeny, spangled column by Catherine Walker she wore for the sale of her outdated wardrobe at Christie’s. The chinos she wore in Angola. The black swimsuit, worn on board Dodi’s yacht.

I hope The Crown’s wardrobe department are busy stitching that off-the-shoulder black ‘revenge dress’ (by Christina Stambolian) she wore to the Serpentine Gallery on the night Charles confessed his infidelity on national TV. Ding dong!

Beyond the designer frocks, I want happiness, however brief. I want to see Diana in that frankly awful leather jacket, in a water slide at an amusement park, her boys in her arms, laughing and laughing. 

BANANARAMA DRAMA

Before the engagement, before any sort of fashion sense at all. A great scene in The Crown when her banana dungarees stopped Charles dead in his Aston Martin at the polo in Windsor, 1981 (but in real life worn in 1981 post-engagement).

A BEADY EYE 

We wore a lot of metallics in the 1980s. Here is Diana wearing a Victor Edelstein dress in France 1988. Boleros were big news, and the gown has an almost corsetedbodice, showing off her toned physique.

The Elizabethan corset shape is missing from Emma’s dress in the TV drama, and the dress is less bridey, too, more of a subtle colour.

But the beadwork detail on the reproduction is astonishing.

Emma’s version has the shoelace tie and a little pie-crust collar beneath (you can tell those royal houses were not heated back then)

Diana, an early eco-warrior, wore it often, notably for the polo in 1983

I think Diana invented the ‘It Knit’. Good news, gals, you can still buy the Black Sheep jumper by Warm & Wonderful, as Rowing Blazers (rowingblazers.com) has reissued it for £250. Diana, an early eco-warrior, wore it often, notably for the polo in 1983 (right). Emma’s version (left) has the shoelace tie and a little pie-crust collar beneath (you can tell those royal houses were not heated back then)

Here is Diana before she found her fashion feet, and before Catherine Walker saw sense

Emma’s version is near identical, although the gold watch is wrong

Here is Diana before she found her fashion feet, and before Catherine Walker saw sense (left). A powder blue ensemble, with matching skull cap by John Boyd. Could anything more be piled on? Puff sleeves. Concertina pleats. A bow. A collar. A pearl choker. It’s loud and frumpy. Emma’s version is near identical, although the gold watch is wrong (right)

COM-PLEAT STYLE 

Here is Diana before she found her fashion feet, and before Catherine Walker saw sense. A powder blue ensemble, with matching skull cap by John Boyd. 

Could anything more be piled on? Puff sleeves. Concertina pleats. A bow. A collar.

A pearl choker. It’s loud and frumpy. Emma’s version is near identical, although the gold watch is wrong.  

SCARLET WOMAN

Bellville Sassoon, 1982.

Daringly spaghetti-strapped, and full over the bust, disguising Diana’s weight loss. Emma’s version sports an insignia. 

Emma’s version sports an insignia

Bellville Sassoon, 1982. Daringly spaghetti-strapped, and full over the bust, disguising Diana’s weight loss

Bellville Sassoon, 1982. Daringly spaghetti-strapped, and full over the bust, disguising Diana’s weight loss (right). Emma’s version sports an insignia (left)

This Bruce Oldfield dress (pictured), in Sydney in 1983, is all flamenco frills

Emma (pictured) is two inches shorter than Di, who was 5 ft 10 in, and is in big heels, which Diana never was when dancing with Charles

Emma (right) is two inches shorter than Di, who was 5 ft 10 in, and is in big heels, which Diana never was when dancing with Charles. This Bruce Oldfield dress (left), in Sydney in 1983, is all flamenco frills

FRILLS ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Emma is two inches shorter than Di, who was 5 ft 10 in, and is in big heels, which Diana never was when dancing with Charles. This Bruce Oldfield dress, in Sydney in 1983, is all flamenco frills. 

CHECK MATES

Oh my God, I had those 1986 loafers, by Patrick Cox!

Diana did love a cigarette pant, given her long legs.

Emma’s version is a louder check, worn with a manly V-neck.

She has less hair than Di — and shorter legs. 

Ah, the iconic, frumpy royal-blue outfit, bought off the peg in Harrods in 1981 for the engagement photo (right), worn with a pussycat-bow blouse. Who on earth was Diana’s fashion icon? Maggie Thatcher? You can see that Emma (left) is not just shorter than Diana but thinner

Ah, the iconic, frumpy royal-blue outfit, bought off the peg in Harrods in 1981 for the engagement photo (right), worn with a pussycat-bow blouse. Who on earth was Diana’s fashion icon? Maggie Thatcher? You can see that Emma (left) is not just shorter than Diana but thinner

Emma has a reverse spot on her recreated Van Velden dress (pictured), worn by Diana in New Zealand, 1983

Emma has a reverse spot on her recreated Van Velden dress, worn by Diana (pictured) in New Zealand, 1983

The Pierrot collar! The polka dot! The puff sleeve! I can hardly tell which is the real McCoy! Clue? Emma has a reverse spot on her recreated Van Velden dress (left), worn by Diana (right) in New Zealand, 1983

WOOLLY THINKING

I think Diana invented the ‘It Knit’. Good news, gals, you can still buy the Black Sheep jumper by Warm & Wonderful, as Rowing Blazers (rowingblazers.com) has reissued it for £250.

Diana, an early eco-warrior, wore it often, notably for the polo in 1983.

Emma’s version has the shoelace tie and a little pie-crust collar beneath (you can tell those royal houses were not heated back then).

DIANA AND HER NEW BOW  

Ah, the iconic, frumpy royal-blue outfit, bought off the peg in Harrods in 1981 for the engagement photo, worn with a pussycat-bow blouse. Who on earth was Diana’s fashion icon?

Maggie Thatcher?

You can see that Emma is not just shorter than Diana but thinner.  

Diana was very Royal Box at Ascot in 1983 in Perth, Australia. The Donald Campbell tulip day dress is almost a frumpy maxi, with a John Boyd hat

Emma’s version is in a much louder pink and a tad shorter to satisfy modern viewers, but otherwise a perfect recreation

Diana was very Royal Box at Ascot in 1983 in Perth, Australia. The Donald Campbell tulip day dress is almost a frumpy maxi, with a John Boyd hat (left). Emma’s version is in a much louder pink and a tad shorter to satisfy modern viewers, but otherwise a perfect recreation (right)

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

The Pierrot collar! The polka dot! The puff sleeve! I can hardly tell which is the real McCoy!

Clue? Emma has a reverse spot on her recreated Van Velden dress, worn by Diana in New Zealand, 1983. 

IN THE PINK

Diana was very Royal Box at Ascot in 1983 in Perth, Australia. 

The Donald Campbell tulip day dress is almost a frumpy maxi, with a John Boyd hat.

Emma’s version is in a much louder pink and a tad shorter to satisfy modern viewers, but otherwise a perfect recreation.



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