A designer who dressed Princess Diana for ten years has revealed he needed to style her ‘like she went to a wedding every day’ – while insisting she was the ‘perfect client’ during their friendship
British fashion designer Bruce Oldfield, whose patrons are the Duchess of Cornwall and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, opened his relationship with the late Princess of Wales, whom he began dressing in 1980.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraphthe 70-year-old admitted it was ‘relentless’ for the royal family, who would ‘dress up as if she were going to a wedding every day’.
A designer who dressed Princess Diana for ten years says she was the ‘perfect customer’ during their friendship. Pictured, Diana wearing a Bruce Oldfield dress as she arrives with Charles at a state reception in Tasmania in 1983
British fashion designer Bruce Oldfield (pictured in 2013), whose clients include the Duchess of Cornwall and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, talked about his relationship with the late Princess of Wales
“That relationship lasted almost 10 years,” he said, “it was really important to me. She was the perfect customer.
‘Looking back, it was brutal for her. We dressed her up like she went to a wedding every day. ‘
Born in London to a half-Irish woman and a Jamaican boxer, Oldfield grew up in children’s homes around Ripon before attempting to teach in his twenties.
Later, a course at Central Saint Martins led him to a career in fashion. He started making couture clothes in 1978 before opening his first shop in 1984 with ready-to-wear and couture designs.
Through Barnardo’s, the children’s charity, Oldfield met Diana, who chaired the charity from 1984 to 1996. The royal family was regularly spotted at events with his designs. The couple is pictured in 1988
Pictured, the Princess of Wales sitting next to Oldfield in a position for Barnardo’s in the 1980s
Through Barnardo’s, the children’s charity, Oldfield met Diana, who chaired the charity from 1984 to 1996. The royal was regularly spotted at parties with his designs.
When Diana famously wore a Bruce Oldfield black velvet evening dress for an official portrait of Lord Snowdon, and at the first evening gala opening of Les Miserables at the Barbican center in 1985, it really raised his profile.
The dress would later be auctioned off for charity, bringing in around £ 50,000.
Oldfield previously explained how customers stopped buying from him when Diana stopped wearing his dresses.
Pictured, the Princess of Wales and Oldfield greeting actress Joan Collins at a fashion show in aid of Banardo’s, Grosvenor House Hotel, London
Their friendship faltered when Diana, only alone, stepped back from lavish events of the 1990s. He says she told him she had always hated Ascot and therefore no longer needed outfits.
However, Oldfield revealed that it was when Diana cut ties with Barnado’s that he was hit the hardest. Speaking to the Sunday Times in 2015, he said, ‘We were shunned … We were p ***** off, I can tell you.
‘It wasn’t right. It means that everyone looks at you as if to say, “You’re bullshit, we’re not going to buy anything from you”. ‘
By the time the recession hit in the early 1990s, Oldfield had to sell his flat to secure a future for his business.
Pictured, Diana in a suit designed by Oldfield at a charity event at Regent’s Park
In September 2020, Oldfield’s iconic Beauchamp Place showroom in Knightsbridge, London, closed its doors after 30 years during the pandemic.
However, during the lockdown, the designer started a new company, re-hired his old staff and worked from a new studio.
The Duchess of Cornwall recently donned one of his designs at Westminster Abbey to mark the burial of the unknown warrior on truce.
She was spotted in a black crepe dress and Oldfield coat last November, which she accessorized with a Royal Landers brooch and a Philip Treacy hat.