She was known for sleek and sophisticated gowns, from a one-shouldered cobalt Versace outfit, to that black Christina Stambolian “revenge” dress.
But it’s Princess Diana’s 90s sporty athleisure wardrobe – complete with Lycra bike shorts and oversized printed sweaters – that is finding a new fan base.
Influential “it” girls Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski are taking cues from the Princess of Wales – specifically her 80s and 90s off-duty workout style, that she would often be snapped wearing to and from the gym.
In the 1990s, Diana was way ahead of her time wearing a “Fly Atlantic” navy jumper and coral-coloured bike shorts, perhaps starting the preppy logo trend that has inspired everyone from Australian designer P.E. Nation to New York’s KITH and Instagram-fuelled brand, Sporty & Rich.
The key looks? Sweaters and bike shorts, high-waisted mom jeans and boxy blazers, exposed ankle socks, and “dad’ sneakers.
Bieber has been notorious for doing this, as has Hadid, and Ratajkowksi, who went on record saying she tries to dress like Princess Di “at every turn”.
“I’m trying to go ’80s and have been thinking about Princess Diana’s street and ready-to-wear moments like a blazer and a bike short and a big sneaker,” Emily Ratajkowski said in an interview with Us Weekly.
“I like to wear an oversized jacket, a pair of Levi’s, one of my Inamorata tops and a sneaker or boot and I feel good.”
When Bieber posed for a Vogue Paris cover shoot, she did so by recreating Diana’s famous sporty looks.
Mrs Bieber even paid tribute to Prince William and Prince Harry’s late mother on Instagram, sharing her Vogue Diana-inspired spread, saying she had looked to Princess Diana “for style inspiration for as long as I can remember”.
P.E. Nation co-founder and creative director Pip Edwards said Diana’s sporty style had been hugely influential to the Bondi activewear brand.
“Its always been all about Princess Di,” Edwards said, of the royal’s influence.
“She was the original champion of the bike pant and oversized sweat with trainers and this look is still very relevant, and going strong.”
Vogue Australia editor Edwina McCann said Princess Diana’s athleisure style was ground breaking for a royal in the 90s.
“For a royal to be seen in an out of gyms in gym gear was just unheard of,” McCann said.
“Nobody had seen that before and those pictures became iconic very, very quickly. It was so 1990s and also ended up defining the 90s. It kind of said to us that there was a loosening up of the rules and a bit of a freedom in it.”
McCann said Diana’s style was one of the first cases of activewear going mainstream.
“She made it fashionable to be seen outdoors in your bike shorts or your leggings,” McCann said.
“This is appealing to an audience who grew up, perhaps, looking at mum dressed like that. It is certainly appealing to younger audiences on Instagram who are seeing Hailey Bieber wearing it.”
Noting the popularity of Counrty Road’s “heritage” sweaters and Ralph Lauren’s logo jumpers, McCann said she expected the jumper-and-bike-shorts outfit staple to continue.
“We are all walking around in leggings and bike shorts all the time,” McCann said. “This (Princess Diana’s style) was the moment in history where that became fashionable.”
Celebrity stylist Elliot Garnaut said Diana’s fashion impact could be seen on modern day “it” girls, particularly during the current COVD-fuelled dominance of activewear.
“Her sartorial choices not only defined what was the only thing to be wearing in the 90s but still what is hugely popular today,” Garnaut said.
“With the crazy resurgence in popularity of 90s athleisure, she too is the true Princess of iconic sporty style.
“Everybody will recreate but nobody did it, or will do it better.”
And of course, nobody can forget Diana’s elegant eveningwear looks (but that’s a whole other story).
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Originally published as Princess Di’s wild 90’s look is back in vogue