Top designers: Elizabeth Emanuel

Let’s take a look at one half of the husband and wife team who designed Princess Diana’s iconic bridal gown in 1981, Elizabeth Emanuel.

In 1981, world interest focused on the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to HRH. The Prince of Wales. It was the Emanuel's now famous black evening dress that was to change overnight the image of a shy teenager into that of a future Princess.

It was to Emanuel that Lady Diana Spencer turned to create the wedding dress of the century. 700 million television viewers around the world watched as the Emanuel name became a symbol overnight.

About Elizabeth Emanuel

Born to an American father and British mother, Elizabeth was educated at the City of London School for Girls and then, upon leaving school, Elizabeth took a year's foundation course at The Harrow College of Art followed by a three year diploma course in fashion.

At Harrow she met and married David Emanuel, and together they became the first married couple to be accepted by the Royal College of Art for a two year Masters degree in Fashion. Reaction to Elizabeth's college showing was unprecedented, with her first collection being sold exclusively at Browns. Shortly afterwards the Emanuel Salon opened in Brook Street.

elizabeth-emanuelIn 1981, world interest focused on the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to HRH. The Prince of Wales. It was the Emanuel's now famous black evening dress that was to change overnight the image of a shy teenager into that of a future Princess. It was to Emanuel that Lady Diana Spencer turned to create the wedding dress of the century. 700 million television viewers around the world watched as the Emanuel name became a symbol overnight.

After the Royal Wedding the Emanuels further developed their special relationship with the Royal Household. They designed a major part of The Princess of Wales’ wardrobe for her Gulf Tour and appeared with her in an Independent Television documentary entitled 'In Private - in Public'. At this time both HRH The Duchess of Kent and HRH The Duchess of York also became firm patrons of the Salon.

During the next few years Elizabeth developed her unique blend of fantasy and natural flair, building an extensive client list. A lavish coffee table book tracking the Emanuel glamour through the seasons of the year was commissioned by Pavilion Books and published in 1982.

In 1987 the Emanuel Shop was opened, bringing the Emanuels’ previously exclusive clothing to the general public. The collections also sold at Browns, Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London and Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Henri Bendel, Barneys and Neiman Marcus in the USA.

In 1990, Elizabeth was commissioned by Walt Disney, to design a gown for Snow White on her 60th anniversary. Later that year Elizabeth and David separated with Elizabeth retaining the Brook Street studio and salon under her then label 'ELIZABETH EMANUEL'.

A media personality in her own right, Elizabeth was invited by Harlech Television to present one of a series of fashion programs broadcast nationwide, meeting Yuri Gregorovich of the Bolshoi Ballet and the renowned Russian Designer, Zaitsev. She has also presented a series of wedding reports for Granada TV.

In 1991, at Richard Branson's request, Elizabeth designed the highly successful complete range of Virgin Airlines uniforms, luggage and accessories. She was also asked to design wedding outfits for Richard, Joan and their children for their highly publicized wedding.

Elizabeth was commissioned by Elizabeth Taylor to design her wardrobe for the promotion of her 'White Diamond' perfume and by Joan Collins to design her wardrobe for the much publicized launch of her book 'Prime Time'.

Elizabeth’s film design work is extensive, including creating key items for the movies, such as ‘Diamond Skulls’, ‘Invitation to the Wedding’, ‘War and Remembrance’ and wardrobe for movies such as ‘Ros Beef’ and ‘The Changeling’. Theater and ballet design work continue to remain close to Elizabeth’s heart, creating wardrobes for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Song and Dance and ‘Cinderella’. Elizabeth also created costumes for the Ballet Rambert and for Robert North's 'Fabrications' by the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, and for 'Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus' first performed at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Following the phenomenal success of Richard Branson’s Virgin Airline uniform, Britannia Airways, the UK's biggest charter group, asked Elizabeth to design a brand new image and uniform for staff and cabin crew which was launched in April 1997.

From 1995 - 1998 Elizabeth created several ranges of diffusion wedding gowns for Berketex in the UK and Europe as well as wedding couture for private clients.

In May 1997, Elizabeth took her collection of wedding dresses to New York for a trunk show at Saks, Fifth Avenue. The trip to New York coincided with the Diana, Princess of Wales auction at Christies, and proved to be an unqualified success. The trip resulted in massive media interest and appearances on every major network including the Larry King Show.

In October 1997 Elizabeth was commissioned to produce the wedding dress for the Estee Lauder Beautiful campaign featuring Elizabeth Hurley and in July 1998 for their PLEASURES campaign.

In March 1999, she launched a new venture with backer Richard Thompson. The company was based in Chalk Farm and her exquisite salon at 49 Dorset St, London W1. The range consisted of bridal, couture and ready to wear, all displaying the same attention to detail and exquisite fabrics that have become her hallmark. She worked with Itochu to create a presence in the rapidly growing wedding market in Japan, and in November 2000 she was asked by Marshall Fields, the US department store, to create the spectacular wedding finale for their FASH BASH.

In July 2001, the anniversary of Royal Wedding, ABC invited Elizabeth to New York to show her collection of Royal Memorabilia on the Good Morning America program.

From 2001-2002 she worked as the designer for The Luxury Brand Group concentrating on the development of their newly acquired Norman Hartnell brand. Elizabeth also starting production a series of figurines for Compton & Woodhouse, the UK’s leading collectables company.

In May 2004, Elizabeth designed violinist Vanessa Mae’s outfit and her dancers’ costumes for the Classical Brit awards at the Albert Hall.

Recent press in April 2005 included interviews and coverage of the Charles and Camilla wedding with Sky News, Channel 5 News, Extra TV (USA), CNN (USA), BBC, Sunday Mirror exclusive, Brides Magazine Special Edition, Bunte, Hola.

August 2005 saw the acquisition of her new studio in Little Venice and launch of her new label ART OF BEING. Her website has since attracted a million visitors since its launch in September 2005 and can be viewed at

In 2006, Elizabeth was asked by Elizabeth Hurley to be one of the judges on Sky’s much publicized Project Catwalk. In 2006, A DRESS FOR DIANA co-written by David Emanuel was published by Anova/Pavilion in the UK and Harper Collins in the US. There has been extensive media coverage since the launch, including appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS, Access Hollywood, BBC, GMTV, Canadian TV and many radio interviews across the US and UK. Editorial coverage included an eleven page feature in Hello Magazine, and major features in the Daily Express, USA Today, Telegraph and Daily Mail. See more about the book below.

In 2006, Elizabeth was chosen to design the wedding dress for UK Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton for her marriage to Preston, lead singer with the Ordinary Boys.

In February 2007 Elizabeth completed a multi-feature DVD called Metamorphosis, featuring her new Autumn Winter Collection. One of Elizabeth’s wedding dresses features in the newly-released Nick Love film, ‘Outlaw’. Elizabeth’s name and the Art of Being received scripted mentions in the film.

Elizabeth dressed Paula Abdul for the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Paula’s fitting was covered by Extra TV and People Magazine online. Paula has since worn many of Elizabeth’s designs on American Idol including the well publicized red dress for her appearance on America Gives Back .

In February 2008 Elizabeth launched a range of wedding gowns for Britain’s leading high street department store chain BHS. The wedding gowns priced at under £500 attracted huge media interest. BHS will be expanding the range to include bridal accessories, bridesmaids and eventually home and lifestyle products.

Elizabeth has dressed many celebrities including : HRH The Princess of Wales, HRH the Duchess of Kent, Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Jane Seymour, Patsy Kensit, Jerry Hall, Joan Collins, Shakira Caine, Ivana Trump, Billy Connelly, Pamela Stephenson, Faye Dunaway, Twiggy, Claire Bloom, Anne Margaret, Carolina Herrerra, Lulu, Barbara Bach and Ringo Starr, Helen Mirren, Sadie Frost, Drew Barrymore, Joan and Richard Branson, Lisa B, Caprice, Enya, Lauren Booth, Jennifer Tilly, Daryl Hannah, Charlize Theron, Sigurney Weaver, Opera Babes, Sean Young, Sadie Frost, Joan Collins, Miss England 2005 Hammassa Kohistani, Vanessa Mae, Denise van Outen, Danni Minogue, Nancy Dell’Olio, Sarah Brightman, Elizabeth Hurley, Janice Dickinson, Sharon Osbourne, Paula Abdul and Helena Bonham-Carter.

a-dress-for-dianaA Dress for Diana

A Dress for Diana is a behind the scenes look into the creation of one of the world’s most famous dresses and the woman that turned into the fairy tale Princess. For the first time David and Elizabeth Emanuel have opened the trunks that have been kept closed for over 25 years to reveal the secrets behind that very famous wedding dress. The reader is given an all areas back stage pass into a world of fashion design, royal formality, security procedures and secret codes. Learn what B.P and Debra were really like from David Emanuel’s diaries kept during the process and what levels of madness occurred to keep the final design a secret.

This is a collection of breathtakingly beautiful shots of the iconic dress, veil and train plus details of the original lace, pearl and silk details, as well as images of the bridesmaid’s dresses and the bouquet. David and Elizabeth Emanuel’s diaries and letters written at the time will also be published for the very first time.

The book was launched as a Limited Edition in June 2007, with the addition of a framed swatch of fabric from the same bolt used to make Princess Diana’s wedding dress.

From Elizabeth Emanuel's website

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