DIANA’S BEAUTY LEGACY
Celebrity makeup artist Mary Greenwell and hairdresser Andrew Barton reveal why Daring Di’s demeanor is still the desired look to date. She certainly wasn’t called the ‘People’s Princess’ for nothing.
If you say that’s natural I wouldn’t agree with you, it wasn’t natural at all,” says makeup artist Mary Greenwell of the late Princess Diana’s look. “It was very glamorous,” she continues, explaining that Diana used as many beauty products as the next woman. ‘Natural’ to you and I, is not natural to a makeup artist of course.
Whilst we believe a bit of concealer flick of mascara and a dab of gloss… is going au natural, Mary adamantly disagrees. “Natural is no make up at all. Diana wasn’t caked in makeup of course, she wasn’t the Essex sort,” she explains. Nor was her hair overdone and dress unsuitable, her classic approach to style assured her place in history as one of the most iconic women to date. Princess Diana may have died sixteen years ago, but the ‘People’s Princess’ is still one of the most talked about women today. With the release of the Diana biopic set later for this year, the anticipation surrounding the film starring Naomi Watts and how she’ll capture the visionary of Diana, who stole the hearts of many men and women, is intangible.
“The thing about Diana is she was so deeply sexy, she had enormous sex appeal,” Mary explains enthusiastically. Her bright blue eyes, blonde sweeping fringe and glowing skin, are just a few reasons why we are as infatuated with her today as we were during the 90’s.
Mary began working with Princess Diana in 1991 for Vogue’s December issue, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. From that first sitting they began a close working relationship creating the Diana aura that we all knew, loved and copied. She was responsible for enhancing Diana’s natural features by using neutral palettes instead of the blue liner, which she explains, “was a hangover from the time of her wedding.”
There were no secrets to Diana’s beauty, Mary explains, no formulas or ingredients that helped her skin to glow, hair to shine and eye’s to glisten. She just did as she was told; drank plenty of water, moisturized, applied SPF when bathing and ate healthily. “She just wanted to look beautiful,” Mary announces. For somebody in the public eye, and as photographed in the extent that Diana was, it wasn’t appropriate for her to constantly experiment with beauty; nevertheless it’s the reason why her classic style has stood the test of time.
The one thing that Diana could lay claim to, was that she was extremely polished. “She could wear make up particularly well and she knew how to take it,” Mary confesses, but a makeup artist was not on call for Diana all of the time. She was taught by the very best and was able to create the glamorous look that we all remember her by. Another royal, who’s fast become a style pioneer, is Kate Middleton. She reportedly had lessons from makeup artist Arabella Preston to create the smoky eye, rosy cheeks and matching lipstick, that she showcased on her wedding day. Though many women tend to employ someone on such grand occasions, it seems down to earth Kate took a beauty note from Diana.
Mary explains how her visits to the Princess weren’t solely to give her makeup lessons, bur suggesting she sometimes just craved the company from the people who knew her. “She used to call me up. I used to go round and do private sessions in her home at Kensington Palace,” she say’s nonchalantly. “I hope I helped her,” Mary questions, “I think sometimes she just wanted a chat, you know? She had her beautiful children running around and it would be great.”
She may have come from another world, but women could relate to Diana. “As a woman you idolized her, but as a man, when you met her, you fell in love with her,” Mary believes. Whilst the 90’s saw Kate Moss’s heroine chic take the catwalks by storm with her waifish figure, making a statement against her curvy supermodel predecessors and everything Diana stood for. Much as Diana was in the public eye, she didn’t conform to this size zero stereotype that dominated the decade and is one reason she became an idol. “She had a beautiful figure, long legs and long arms,” Mary enthuses, mirroring the shape of Diana’s silhouette with her hands. “She was big, she wasn’t a wilting flower,” she continues, ‘big’ meaning ‘normal’ in comparison to the new breed of skinny women, yet another reason why so many women could relate to her.
Even year’s later the Diana effect still influences a generation of women. Although fashion has moved forward since her death, it seems the legacy she holds has not. With a career spanning over 25 years, celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton surprised me when he revealed one of the most popular hairstyle’s he’s often asked to recreate. “Princess Diana’s signature swept back heavy over one eye is still one of the most asked for looks in any salon today,“ he divulges. Sam McKnight’s legendary Diana cut is not just limited to the older generation, but is worn by the most unlikely of people. “Then, it was worn by the young and stylish, today it’s more a classic, conformist, neat and practical look worn by women of a certain age,” Barton continues. “However it can also be seen in different guises by the hip and cool of east London as well as the well healed in Chelsea.”
Barton’s revelations demonstrate the perpetual influence Diana’s beauty had over the nation. “I think she broke boundaries because she was unbelievably beautiful, unbelievably caring and she wore her heart on her sleeve more than anyone else,” Mary clarifies. “Wearing her heart on her sleeve, it was out of the mold. Look at her sons they’re always chatting away. She changed it for the world.” Though we still mourn the loss of the beloved Princess, today Kate Middleton is set to fill the royal beauty stakes that Diana started. No pressure at all.