Princess Di’s Bra-less Revenge Dress at the 1996 Met Gala: Feeling ‘Liberated’ Post-Divorce

Just months after breaking free from the palace’s protocols, Princess Diana made a bold statement at the 1996 Met Gala by appearing in a provocative revenge dress.

The inky-colored, lingerie-inspired dress, which the late princess wore without a bra, “was a reflection of how she was already feeling” and symbolized the liberation she experienced since divorcing the now king.

Keep reading to learn more about Diana’s jaw-dropping look at the New York event!

Before the late Princess of Wales slid into a stretch limo that took her from New York’s Metropolitan Museum to her room at the Carlyle Hotel, she sipped champagne, dined with the world’s top designers, and completely shocked event-goers with her unroyal attire.

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After 15 years of marriage, Diana was living free, untethered from the strict rules of the royal family. Her divorce from the now King Charles III was finalized in August of that same year.

 Lingerie-Inspired Dress

At her first ever Met Gala appearance, Diana wore a lingerie-inspired silk navy-blue slip dress with black lace, paired with a matching silk robe. She accessorized the outfit with sparkling sapphire earrings and a choker necklace, which she designed from a sapphire brooch gifted to her by the Queen Mother on her wedding day to Charles.

But it wasn’t the sapphire jewelry that was turning heads that evening.


In Eloise Moran’s perspective, conveyed in her book “The Lady Di Look Book: What Diana Was Trying To Tell Us Through Her Clothes,” Diana’s attire was described as a “revenge” ensemble. Moran, in an interview with Yahoo, expressed admiration for Diana’s shocking yet fabulous appearance in the dress, emphasizing her apparent happiness and confidence.

According to Moran, Diana seemed to embrace and enjoy the attention, choosing to position herself as an international megastar and icon akin to Marilyn Monroe rather than adhering strictly to royal conventions. This perspective, Moran argues, is reflected in the bold choice of attire.

Fashion editor Hilary Alexander comments on the unusual nature of a princess wearing lingerie-inspired fashion to a formal event, noting that while it’s common for celebrities to adopt such styles, it carries a different significance when done by royalty. Regarding Diana’s midnight blue dress, which carried a hefty price tag of approximately $12,500 at the time, Alexander describes it as sensual rather than overtly sexy, a departure from Diana’s typical formal wardrobe choices.

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In her column for the Daily Mail, she reflects, “It represents a new kind of royal dressing.” However, not everyone was enamored with Diana’s daring and seductive silhouette. Fashion critic Brenda Polan remarked, “It was not so much haute couture as Oh! Couture.” Polan bluntly pointed out that the dress gave the impression that Diana had accidentally stepped out in her nightwear, highlighting the absence of a bra.

Despite the mixed reactions, Diana effortlessly carried off the bold look, reminiscent of her iconic “revenge dress” moment in 1994. This event occurred when Charles publicly acknowledged his affair with Camilla, now his wife and the consort to the monarch. Despite the personal turmoil, Diana remained poised and composed, demonstrating her resilience in the face of adversity.

On June 29, 1994, amidst the revelation of her then-husband’s confession, Diana made a striking appearance at an event held at London’s Serpentine Gallery, donning what would become famously known as her “revenge dress.” Captivating onlookers at the gala, she exuded perfection in a form-fitting, black, off-the-shoulder dress with an asymmetrical hemline, accentuated by a chiffon train that elegantly fluttered in the wind.

The significance of Diana’s attire extended beyond mere fashion; it served as a powerful expression in response to Charles and the world, as noted by People magazine. Without uttering a single word, the dress became her unmistakable message.

At the Met Gala, Diana’s fashion statement carried a message of liberation. Designer John Galliano, responsible for her Christian Dior dress, revealed to the Wall Street Journal in 2018 that following her divorce, Diana embraced a sense of freedom, symbolized not only by her attire but also by her decision to go bra-less, reflecting her newfound autonomy.

Galliano remarked that the risqué gown mirrored the emotions she was already experiencing. What are your thoughts on Princess Diana’s choice to unbutton her royal attire and embrace more sensual looks? Share your opinions with us and spread this story to invite others’ perspectives!


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