Elizabeth Emanuel bounces back with a 'glitzy' collection after a decade in the wilderness
Twenty-nine years after she created Princess Diana's wedding dress, the designer Elizabeth Emanuel will finally show a collection at London Fashion Week.
The show is the result of a whirlwind six weeks which have seen the 57-year-old couturier find an investor for her label and recruit an entire creative team with a view to designing a collection in less than a month.
In 1981, Elizabeth Emanuel and her then-husband and business partner David shot into the public consciousness when they created the daring black taffeta gown that transformed Princess Diana from a nursery school teacher into a media star and fashion icon. The outfit sparked an obsession with Diana's style that endures in some corners of British life to this day.
The husband-and-wife designers were commissioned to create the royal wedding dress – a meringue with a 25-metre train. The romantic, puff-sleeved confection made them star designers for a decade, dressing the likes of Ivana Trump, Jerry Hall and Joan Collins, but in 1990 the Emanuels' marriage and business partnership fell apart. Further twists of fortune were in wait for Elizabeth Emanuel: in 1997 her solo career came off the rails when she was declared bankrupt and lost the right to use her own name as a fashion label. She has since slowly rebuilt and her celebrity clients include Elizabeth Hurley, Helena Bonham Carter, Charlize Theron and Sharon Osbourne, but she hasn't made much impact in the world of high fashion. But a meeting six weeks ago with an investor, Mike Cooper, could mark a change in Emanuel's profile. Cooper, who is now her business partner, suggested that she should stage an off-schedule show at London Fashion Week on 21 September. The collection will be designed by Emmanuel alone and will be shown under the label Art of Being.
Emanuel said: "This is the big opportunity I have been waiting for since I split from David and now I have just weeks to put the collection together.
"I would be very stressed indeed if I wasn't so excited and happy."
The collection of cocktail dresses will be divided into two parts: a capsule range of ready-to-wear designs and some made-to-order pieces.
Emanuel says she aims to "encapsulate what Art of Being stands for... My approach is to paint with layers of fabric, treating the body like a canvas."
Although Emanuel is deeply synonymous with the Eighties, she says her designs have moved on, although they will be "really quite glitzy". Emanuel adds that the show, "will give me the chance to show that I can do more than just wedding dresses".
Emanuel has been involved with a diverse array of projects in the last 20 years, from designing the Virgin airline uniforms, luggage and accessories to creating costumes for theatre and film. She set up the Art of Being label in 2005.
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