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Diana’s ‘crazy’ £900 revenge dress: 30 years ago today, the Princess of Wales wore the little black number to turn heads when her husband admitted to having an affair with Camilla

Living well is the best revenge, so the saying goes.

For Princess Diana, revenge took the form of an off-the-shoulder, figure-hugging silk dress that made history when she wore it 30 years ago.

On the night Prince Charles confessed to his affair with Camilla, Diana put on designer Christina Stambolian’s black dress to convey her own message.

While Charles revealed his sin to presenter Jonathan Dimbleby in a TV interview, Diana wore the Revenge Dress – as the dress soon came to be known – for her attendance at a lavish charity dinner at the Serpentine Gallery.

Charles’ conversation had great news value. When asked if he had been ‘faithful and honourable’, the future king said ‘yes’, before adding: ‘Until (the marriage) was irreparably broken, after we both tried.’

But it was Diana’s ‘reaction’ in the form of her choice of clothing – in a color that the royal family reserved for mourning – that made an even greater impression.

Royal writer Tina Brown even described it as her ‘f***-you dress’ in her 2007 book The Diana Chronicles, and the newspapers at the time agreed.

The Mail reported: ‘Charles bluffs while Diana shines’.

Princess Diana wore the iconic black number now known as the revenge dress, designed by Christina Stambolian, at the Serpentine Gallery on June 29, 1994

Princess Diana wore the iconic black number now known as the revenge dress, designed by Christina Stambolian, at the Serpentine Gallery on June 29, 1994

At the time, her estranged husband Charles was televised across the country and interviewed about his infidelity with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

At the time, her estranged husband Charles was broadcast on television across the country, where he was interviewed about his infidelity with Camilla Parker-Bowles

Diana only wore Stambolian’s dress that evening because rival designer Valentino had leaked that the princess would wear one of his designs.

So with a last-minute swap, a dress that had been gathering dust in her wardrobe for three years became one of the most famous in history.

She had bought the dress for £900 at Stambolian’s store after having lunch with her brother Charles Spencer at her favourite restaurant, the now closed San Lorenzo, before walking across Beauchamp Place in Knightsbridge and into Stambolian’s store.

Christina Stambolian recalled that in 1991, Princess Diana asked her store for a “special dress for a special occasion,” according to Claudia Joseph’s book, Diana: A Life in Dresses.

Stambolian previously recalled that Diana was initially unsure about the revealing design — and wanted it in cream rather than black.

She said, “We sat down and I made some sketches on a piece of paper.”

‘The dress was revealing, quite short and showed quite a bit of leg and flesh. Diana wasn’t sure. She thought it was a bit risky. She wanted everything more covered, longer and the neck higher.

‘I told her she had good legs and she should show them. “Why don’t you dare?” I said. She asked her brother [Charles] and he said, “Do whatever you think is right.” Ultimately, she said yes to the style, and we moved on to the color.

‘I had black in mind, but she wanted cream. To me, Diana was a black and white person. I didn’t like her in the light pink and blue tones with lots of beads.’

It took two seamstresses more than 60 hours to make the outfit.

Stambolian said she was “delighted to see Diana wearing it that night of all nights.”

The sketch of Princess Diana's revenge dress by Christina Stambolian, taken from the book Diana: A Life in Dresses by Claudia Joseph

Princess Diana’s revenge dress sketch by Christina Stambolian, taken from the book Diana: A Life in Dresses by Claudia Joseph

The revenge dress features an asymmetrical hem and a flattering sheer tail that dangles from the fitted waist

The revenge dress features an asymmetrical hem, with a flattering sheer tail that dangles from the cinched waist

Referring to Swan Lake – one of Princess Diana’s favorite plays – Ms Stambolian added: ‘She chose not to play the scene like Odette, innocent in white. She was clearly angry.

‘She played it as Odile in black. She was wearing bright red nail polish, which we had never seen her do before. She said, “Let’s be bad tonight.”

The dress featured an asymmetrical hem and a flattering, sheer skirt that dangled from the cinched waist.

Diana’s playful sweetheart neckline turned heads as she paired the dress with sheer tights, stilettos and her beloved pearl and sapphire choker.

The choker was originally a brooch given to her by the Queen Mother.

Diana’s little black dress was daring in many ways.

By opting for a shorter evening look in black – a colour the royal family typically reserved for mourning – the princess broke with traditional dress codes.

The outfit symbolized the death of her marriage, as she stepped away from her life as a royal and emerged as a new woman.

While the princess had been too nervous to wear it three years earlier because it was ‘too daring’, it fit perfectly that night.

The Daily Mail's coverage of Princess Diana's iconic revenge dress in 1994

The Daily Mail’s coverage of Princess Diana’s iconic revenge dress in 1994

Prince Charles confessed to being unfaithful to Diana in an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby (left) on June 29, 1994

Prince Charles, confessed to being unfaithful to Diana in an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby (left) on June 29, 1994

Mr Dimbleby asked Charles if he had been 'faithful' to Diana, to which he replied 'Yes', adding: 'Until (the marriage) broke down irretrievably, after we had both tried'

Mr Dimbleby asked Charles if he had been ‘faithful’ to Diana, to which he replied ‘Yes’, adding: ‘Until (the marriage) broke down irretrievably, after we had both tried’

It was everything no other royal woman would wear to a public event.

Photographer Mark Saunders, the author of Dicing with Di, said in the 1997 documentary Diana: In Search of Happiness: ‘Everyone remembers the night of the Dimbleby interview, when Prince Charles admitted an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, and look how Diana turned up at the Serpentine Gallery.

‘I mean my God, that was brilliant and I applaud it, I loved it. But that’s what Diana does, she manipulates and she’s very good at it.’

Diana’s former stylist Anna Harvey said in the 2013 documentary Princess Diana’s Dresses: The Auction that she wanted to hold her head high in what she wore that night.

Mrs Harvey said: ‘She wanted to look like a million bucks. And she did.” The stylist also wrote in Vogue that it made the princess “excited” to make an impact.

But the decision was not easy for Diana, according to Paul Burrell, her former butler.

Princess Diana talks to the designer who created the revenge dress, Christina Stambolian (in black jacket)

Princess Diana in conversation with the designer who designed the revenge dress, Christina Stambolian (in black jacket)

Christina Stambolian (pictured) remembers Princess Diana asking in her shop for a 'special dress for a special occasion' in 1991

Christina Stambolian (pictured) recalls Princess Diana asking her store for a ‘special dress for a special occasion’ in 1991

He told the Channel 5 documentary Secrets of the Royal Dressmakers: ‘She said, ‘I can’t go, I can’t face the world, knowing what Charles has just said.

“And I don’t have anything to wear anyway.” I walked into her dressing room, grabbed Christina Stambolian’s dress and showed it to her.”

He added that she was concerned the flowing dress would no longer fit her after purchasing it three years earlier.

He said, “I zipped her up and she looked like a million bucks.”

And for a few hours, her husband’s televised confession was forgotten as all eyes were on Diana.

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