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The cardigans and pleated skirts of Diana of Wales, the people’s princess, are coming to Spanish screens thanks to Spencer, an unconventional biopic by Chilean director Pablo Larraín starring a splendid Kristen Stewart.

The British monarchy is in fashion. This is evidenced by the recent success of productions such as The Crown, the documentary The Windsors or even the controversial Channel 4 series Ana Boleyn. Perhaps it is because, as some analysts say, Brexit has created an optimal breeding ground for patriotic fiction in the UK. The fact is that Elizabeth II and her ancestors are proving to be a first-rate audiovisual product, embraced with fervor by audiences halfway around the world.

That partly explains the expectation that has aroused Spencer, a film by Chilean director Pablo Larrain that opens on November 20 in Spain. If the life story of his mother-in-law, the eternal queen, is already very cinematic, what about Lady Diana Spencer, the wayward daughter-in-law, the people’s princess?

Lady Di starred in July 1981, now 40 years ago, the royal wedding with the greatest media coverage in history. Sixteen years later, her death in September 1997 shocked the world. For many British and recalcitrant monarchists around the planet, the image of the Princess of Wales suffering a fatal accident as a result of the pursuit of a group of paparazzi meant the end of innocence, a fairy tale cut short. Now, Diana of Wales is dressed in Spencer cinema thanks to Kristen Stewart.

An unconventional way of telling a familiar story

Larraín has chosen to tell his story without engaging in hagiography and without showing us that pair of events, wedding and death, which are part of the popular culture of the last century. The film focuses on a supposedly decisive turning point, the Christmas vacations of 1991. The moment, according to the screenplay by British writer Stephen Knight, when Lady Di decided to divorce her husband, sever ties with the Windsor family and renounce the crown. A chronicle of an act of personal maturity and rebellion, Spencer stars a magnificent Kristen Stewart, already very close, at 31, to developing the enormous potential as a performer hinted at in Seberg, Journey to Sils Maria or Personal Shopper.

Jacqueline Durran es la estilista que se ha encargado de elegir los modelos que Stewart luce en la película.

Jacqueline Durran is the stylist in charge of choosing the models that Stewart wears in the film.

From the point of view of production design and art direction, Spencer is undeniable. Larraín already demonstrated how well he handles the universe of nostalgic glamour with Jackie, a film in which Natalie Portman played Jacqueline Kennedy and wore a collection of stunning outfits, some of them bloodstained. Stewart has been dressed this time by another woman named Jacqueline, surnamed Durran, one of the most sought-after stylists in Hollywood. Durran had the active support of Chanel, a brand for which Kristen Stewart has been an ambassador since 2013.

The importance of fashion in film production

Diana of Wales wears “Spencer” to the movies, but Durran hasn’t forgotten her signature style. In the historical archives of the Parisian fashion house, the stylist has made finds like the combination of blue cardigan and black silk pleated skirt that Diana Spencer often wore in the 90s or the mythical red tweed coat in which she appears in the photos of her official visit to Paris in 1988. Many of these pieces are part of the Chanel Patrimony collection and have been exhibited for the first time in the cinema.

Others, such as the long skirt with tulle ruffles inspired by an original design by Karl Lagerfeld, were recreated by Durran’s wardrobe team, because, as she explains, “it was not about recovering one by one the clothes that Lady Di wore in her most iconic photos, but to recreate her style as completely as possible.

The two lives of the fashionista princess.

Because if there was a constant in the life of the princess who died at age 36, is the interest in fashion. Fourth daughter of the heir to a noble British lineage, Diana Frances Spencer was born in Sandringham, in the county of Norfolk, in 1961. Educated first by governesses in the family mansion and then in exclusive boarding schools for girls, Lady Di was already associated in her teens with the so-called Sloane Rangers, an urban tribe of stubborn fashionistas, offspring of the great fortunes and the high aristocracy, which made fashionable in the late 70s a conservative, opulent and neo-romantic youth look.

En Spencer asistimos a la transición de Lady Di de un look más tradicional a otro más moderno y rupturista.

In Spencer, we witnessed Lady Di’s transition from a more traditional look to a more modern and groundbreaking one.

So was the Diana Spencer who married, at the age of 20, the heir to the crown, Charles of Wales, 13 years her senior. And so was the young mother of Versailles looks, often surrounded by a nostalgic and conventional pomp. Only after her breakup with the Windsors did Diana dare to give up her midi skirts and silk scarves to wear bold designs by Versace or Chanel.

The maturity of an actress who has no ceiling

Larraín’s film shows Diana Spencer at that moment of crucial transition in her life. The subtle changes of clothing also show that gradual betting for audacity and that renunciation of conventions. The Lady Di of the 1990s would be, to a large extent, a different woman, popular for her relationships with partners such as the Egyptian-born surgeon Hasnat Khan or the wealthy heir Dodi Al-Fayed, but also for her multiple solidarity commitments and her personal style, of a groundbreaking elegance.


The American actress resents forced analogies being drawn between her life and that of her character.

For Kristen Stewart it has been, according to her own statements, a “formidable” challenge to embody a woman who “for years lived in a golden cage and did not have the opportunity to manifest her own personality”. The Los Angeles actress especially appreciates Knight and Larraín’s commitment to capture the character “just at the moment when she is going through a period of deep introspection and personal change from which she will eventually draw the necessary courage to be herself”.

The inevitable comparison between Diana of Wales and Kristen Stewart

Stewart resents, as has been made clear in promotional interviews for the film, that parallels are drawn between her and the princess she plays on screen. However, it’s tempting to dwell on how she had to leave behind her youthful image, that of starring in a teen blockbuster like Twilight, girlfriend also of her co-star, Robert Pattinson, to become the solid, adult actress she is right now.

As in the case of Lady Di, her personal life has also often been the object of scrutiny, speculation and scorn. And like her, she has reached her thirties as a different woman, ready to assert herself as she is.

Spencer opens in cinemas throughout Spain on November 20.