LONDON - When Lady Diana Spencer stepped out of her royal carriage, more than 800 million people around the world caught their breath as they glimpsed for the first time the bride in "the dress" that had become the most closely guarded secret in fashion history.
"The whole experience was such a life-changing event for us," Elisabeth Emanuel said.
For Emanuel, that life-changing event had begun five months earlier with a phone call bringing news beyond a young designer's wildest dreams.
"I was in a fitting at the time, and the phone kept ringing and no one would pick it up, and I was probably a bit stressed out anyway with the fitting and everything," Emanuel said. "And I picked up the phone and it was Diana herself. And the fact that she called us up and said, 'Would you do us, do me the honor of making my wedding dress?'"
Diana chose a design from the rails in the Emanuels' studio. During the months that the wedding dress for a princess was coming together, everyone wanted to know what it would look like. So the Emanuels designed elaborate subterfuge to safeguard their work.
"All the windows had blinds down so nobody could look in," she said. "We used to leave false trails of thread outside, because there would be newspaper people going through all the rubbish bins, looking for scraps of fabric. So we used to leave different colored threads and wrong colored fabrics just to throw them off the trail."
No one could have imagined that the details of the dress would earn it a place in history.
"The fabric was specially made for us, using the silk from British silk worms. And the lace was specially handmade for us. It would be impossible to duplicate," Emanuel said.
By the time the royal wedding day arrived, Diana had rehearsed walking with the heavy 25-foot train -- the longest in royal history.
Emanuel helped dress the bride that July morning, and recalled an atmosphere filled with joy.
"The bridesmaids were there, the TV on, people outside screaming -- Diana was in a great mood, singing. The girls were drinking orange juice, cookies. It was quite fun," she said. "They were speculating on TV what she was going to look like, and of course we knew, so it was great fun."
Of all the unforgettable images captured on Diana's wedding day, one featured in Emanuels' book about the experience stood out for her.
"As she was walking up the steps to St. Pauls, the wind caught her veil, and she looked so beautiful, like a butterfly. Of the whole wedding that was my favorite shot."
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