Fashion lore would have it that Diana came to despise her Windsor-wife ensembles, banishing many of them to Christie's, which auctioned them off to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1994. But it was in these outfits I loved her best. That tweedy bomber and skirt ensemble she wore while honeymooning at Balmoral? Heaven. Diana tripping around Venice in 1985 in a green checkered coat with mega lapels and matching midi-heels? My dear, it's just so Balenciaga resort.
As a child, I would study the finer details of Diana's wardrobe in a state of near-transcendent rapture. I grew up in a family that regarded an interest in fashion with a distrust bordering on disdain, and Diana was my gateway drug to a life-long clothes addiction. And she had so many of them. I was, in particular, transfixed by the attention paid to each ensemble — how the primrose-yellow trim of a dress would exactly match the shade of her hat and handbag. In the pitiful yore of a world without the internet, where Sunday supplements stood in for Google image searches, I pored over papers detailing, for example, the royal tour of Australia, like a devotee in possession of a holy relic. I wasn't alone among my peers either. One fellow junior was so Di-mented, she put together a storybook of felt-tip illustrations detailing her fairytale progress. It earned her a trip to the Palace and a spot on Blue Peter.
But time went by. I grew up, discovered Molly Ringwald and found a new girl to style-crush on. Diana moved on too, exchanging her Emanuel silks for logo sweatshirts, shorts and Reebok trainers in which to flaunt her newly gym-honed legs (a style that the Russian provocateur Gosha Rubchinskiy must have admired in the creation of his retro cult street label). Eventually, she graduated to the Italian houses and the elegant English designers credited with "streamlining" her 1990s fashionability. Mario Testino photographed her at her most radiantly composed.
But I missed the Diana of old. You can keep the cold war, pre-Euro cuisine, power politics and yuppie rhetoric of the decade we now seem to have returned to, but I'll take 80s Diana any day. Eighties Diana was the best: flouncy, frilly and fantastically naive. It's about the only feature of that era I feel any fondness for at all.