Dressing while in the public eye is forever strenuous, but the ’90s were on another level. Paparazzi culture was at an all-time high. Any outdoor appearance was instantly documented with a goal of capturing embarrassment and juicy gossip. Top target, of course, was the people’s princess, Lady Diana.
Some people have security blankets, others have handbags. Princess Diana was a frequent user of the latter, specifically through the doting of her very own terminology: “cleavage bags.” In order to avoid raunchy close-ups or a potential slip, Diana would cleverly use a clutch purse to cover her chest when exiting a car. A subtle move that perhaps prevented an additional wave of negative and exploitative press.
A classic example of the trick is her limo exit for the 1997 ‘Swan Lake’ performance at the Royal Albert Hall.
Several years earlier, Diana put her “cleavage bag” to use at a Bridgewater gala dinner in 1995.
While sometimes, her clutch did not quite line up where it was supposed to be.
“Cleavage bags” were a constant staple for the princess, accompanying her looks even with slip-proof necklines.
But who was behind this clever satin clutch? From 1993 onward, Anya Hindmarch, a talented London handbag designer, was Lady Di’s personal accessorizer. The dynamic duo would collaborate on each formal look of Diana’s to create the ultimate matching mini-bag for maximum paparazzi deceit. Hindmarch defines her brand identity as “fashion with purpose.” Princess Diana definitely took her up on that.
Ultimately, Princess Diana should not have needed to strategize this way. Public obsession with her every move and the subsequent paparazzi hunting were too prevalent of a concern during her life — and even her death. Diana deserved being able to pick out a purse simply because she liked the color.
In the age of Instagram and TikTok, paparazzi relevance is on a steady decline. But its replacement, social media, is much scarier. You do not have to be a member of the royal family for the intimate details of your life to be splashed across headlines. Cancelling people for just about anything and the internet’s compulsive need to expose have de-popularized tabloids, but the stalking remains. What will be the “cleavage bags” of 21st century social media culture?END
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