The Importance of Princess Diana’s Sultry ‘Revenge Dress’ to ‘Diana: The Musical’

Diana: The Musical is an ode to arguably the most beloved member of the British royal family. However, the show also shows a sultry side of Princess Diana. Star Jenna de Waal, who plays the late Princess of Wales, dons a copy of the famous “revenge dress” during the production. Diana wore the plunging black cocktail dress to an event after Prince Charles confessed his longtime affair with Camilla Parker Bowles during a television interview.

Princess Diana wears black revenge dress after Prince Charles admits adultery.
Princess Diana | Jayne Fincher/Getty Images

What is ‘Diana: The Musical’ about?

The script for Diana: The Musical was inspired by interviews given by the late royal and her life story. The show centers around the personal life of Princess Diana and the infamous love triangle that included herself, her husband Prince Charles, and his mistress Camilla Parker Bowles.

Diana: The Musical was set to premiere at New York’s Longacre Theater in late March 2020. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Broadway dimmed its lights for 18 long months until the Great White Way could orchestrate a safe return for its workers and patrons.

Instead of remaining dark, the cast and crew of Diana: The Musical came together at the theater, following all restrictions set forth by the pandemic, to film the entire play, start to finish for Netflix without an audience. The filmed version will be made available to Netflix users on Oct. 1, 2021, before the musical reopens on Nov. 2.

What makes ‘the revenge dress’ so pivotal to ‘Diana: The Musical’?

Princess Diana wears black revenge dress.
Princess Diana | Jayne Fincher/Getty Images

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Diana wore the now-iconic black Christina Stambolian dress to the Serpentine Gallery summer party in 1994. This was the first time the princess had worn such a daring number, one which showed her decollete and long, toned legs. It featured an off-the-shoulder look and a plunging neckline. The dress was cut above her knees and featured a train attached to her waist, which trailed behind the princess as she walked. Paired with black high heels and a pearl choker, it was one of the best looks the late royal ever wore.

The dress is so pivotal to Princess Diana’s transformation into her own woman that the musical has an entire song written about it, titled “A Pretty Girl in a Pretty Dress.”

The show’s costumer, William Ivey Long, spoke about how important the garment is to Princess Diana’s evolution.

“Before Act 1’s 11 o’clock number, Diana learns clothing choices are weapons. She changes her style from simple girl to Act 2 goddess and wears that famous sexy black dress. It’s a statement—her [expletive] revenge dress. The word’s used to describe it. The queen doesn’t say it. She mumbles it,” Long said to Page Six.

What was the reason Princess Diana wore that particular dress?

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It was rumored that Princess Diana chose that daring look on the heels of her husband’s 1994 interview with journalist Jonathan Dimbleby where he was questioned about his marriage. Dimbleby asked Charles if he tried to be “faithful and honorable” to Diana. “Yes, absolutely,” he said at first, followed by “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

Prince Charles and Princess Diana formally separated in 1992. On Aug. 28. 1996 their divorce would be finalized. Princess Diana would live only one year more before dying from an automobile accident on Aug. 31, 1997, in Paris, France.