Jane Winkworth

Diana - Still Obsessed After Twenty Years August 07th 2017

I was spending the summer at my villa in Portugal with my children and their friends that August. The day started as usual, pretty late as we had all been out the previous night. Brunch was over by mid-day and as began our day of wandering down to the beach or settling down by the pool. That was until someone turned the television on and the holiday turned into sorrow, shock and sadness.

Princess Diana had been a customer of mine in the early days before I really started French Sole, when I was just selling my humble little ballet flats through various charity sales at Christmas, in and around my home in Chelsea.

Diana found me through her favourite designer, Catherine Walker. I would walk my dog, Pip, past Catherine's little atelier in Sydney Street and one day our paths crossed. Catherine stroked Pip and asked me about the shoes I was wearing and where could she find them and the rest is history. There and then she bought some for both herself and Diana.

This started a long relationship up until her death of Diana sending Victoria Mendham, Helen Walsh or Gwyn Doncaster over to my home in Markham Square to collect the shoes that Diana had ordered from me on the phone. She would often call early in the morning… “Just wondered if anything new has arrived? Any new colours in my size?”

Diana took a size 41 but her feet looked smaller. She loved the plain quilted black patent pumps and had several pairs, she also adored the Chanel style in cream with a black toe cap and she had many very simple pairs of traditional style ballet slippers in black, navy blue and cream. Like many other new retailers of the time - Anya Hindmarch, Amanda Wakeley and Jo Malone - we were all completely thrilled that Diana was so happy to wander around the Fulham Road, Brompton Cross and into Walton Street to shop happily as any other normal young woman of her age and with her unique style would do. 

Diana earned her position as a respected, much loved and admired senior royal by her continued hard work, her charm and beauty. Diana earned the love and respect of the world by proving that she was genuine, real, normal, flawed, compassionate, and sincere and, above all, devoted to the country she loved working tirelessly towards numerous charitable causes.

We truly admired and respected Diana for her achievements. She showed the world a human side of royalty, she proved herself to be an amazing and devoted mother and a huge contributor for British fashion.

We all adored Diana at French Sole and to this day I miss her and her crazy antics. I was a founder member of the Harbour Club in Chelsea at the time when she would have her tennis coaching with Alison. I know how pleasing it was to see her looking amazing and living a semi-normal life.

I held a charity sale of French Sole shoes at the club and that morning she was the first person in the door as we were setting up our sales tables and she immediately bought three pairs for herself and a pair for a friend.

If I could recommend one book that anyone who loved Diana should read, it is Shadows of a Princess by Patrick Jephson. It captures everything that was Diana and is absolutely the most unbiased and truthful picture of this marvelous and gifted young woman.

Diana, we all miss you and we all remember you with love and affection

Categories: Fashion

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Charities Jane supports:

The Royal ballet school English National Ballet Starlight ACCA The Royal Marsden Havens Hospice