While her Catherine Walker gowns and bespoke skirt suits were fashion fodder in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s Princess Diana’s casual, off-duty royal style from the bygone era that have cemented her style icon status among millennial women. The nonchalant manner in which she pulled off eccentric combinations like a blazer, sweat pants and cowboy boots, her unwavering affinity for mom jeans and her go-to gym look—bike shorts, oversized tops and chunky sneakers—helped fire off a series of athleisure trends copied by likes of Hailey Bieber and the Kardashian clan.
And it’s a look that echoes throughout Rowing Blazers’ first-ever women’s collection.
The irreverent, vintage-inspired New York City-based brand, best-known for its preppy men’s and unisex styles, bowed its first women’s line Thursday, offering a contemporary spin on some of the late royal’s most famous outfits.
Described as a tribute to the “early ’80s and a young Princess Diana,” the collection includes double-breasted women’s blazers in patchwork tweed, gun check, navy serge, and a guards stripe; matching trousers and wide-leg twill trousers; and must-have athleisure staples like bike shorts, French terry sweats and tees, deep-pile Sherpa fleeces in jockey patterns.
The collection also features Rowing Blazers’ signature rugby shirts, now in a cropped women’s fit, and Diana-inspired nylon hats.
The most nostalgic pieces in the collection, however, are two sweaters originally designed by Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir, the co-founders of Warm & Wonderful Knitwear. The brand shot to fame in the early ’80s when the late royal began wearing their Black Sheep sweater to her then-fiancé Prince Charles’ polo matches.
Though the pattern has been copied over the decades, with a collaborative label, Warm & Wonderful for Rowing Blazers, the original red, white and black sweater is back.
The collection also includes a remake of the pink “I’m a luxury” sweater Diana was seen wearing in a series of at-home photos. The original was produced in several colorways during the 1980s by British designer George Hostler and Gyles Brandreth.
“Both of these sweater designs have been copied or referenced by others over the years—sometimes without crediting or acknowledging the original designers. But working with the original designers is exactly what makes this so special to me,” said Rowing Blazers creative director Jack Carlson. “I can just picture them in their twenties, selling their jumpers to Sloane Rangers, pop stars and royalty.”
The sweaters retail for $295, and other pieces in the collection retail for $48-$795.
The collection lands just as the Princess Diana plotline is about to be introduced to the Netflix hit “The Crown.” But along with being great timing, the idea to launch a Princess Diana-inspired collection is near and dear to Carlson. In the early ’90s, his family lived in Hampstead in north London and his mother owned one of the original sheep sweaters.
“It looks as great now as it did then,” he said, adding that “there’s a lot of nostalgia in the air right now, and of course a great renewed interest in Diana’s style in particular.”
The overall nostalgic yearning for ’80s and ’90s pop culture shows no signs of slowing down. And in the case of royalty, it’s leading to the discovery of modern royals’ sartorial sensibilities.
Recent data by global fashion search platform Lyst confirms the influence blue bloods wield over fashion. After Kate Middleton donned a pair of earrings from costume jewelry chain Accessorize in June, searches on Lyst for ‘Accessorize earrings’ increased by 105 percent week-on-week. And just last week, her choice of a Gabriela Hearst denim midi dress caught the attention of fashion watchers for retooling repurposed denim.
Contemporary royalty has started to take pride in recycling and reworking clothes, Lyst reported, receiving accolades and approval from the public. When Princess Beatrice borrowed a dress from her grandmother Queen Elizabeth for her July wedding, searches on Lyst for vintage wedding dresses increased by 297 percent in the following 48 hours.