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Season Five of The Crown graces screens on November 9, bringing with it more Princess Diana and more of her unfailingly iconic moves and style moments—including the “Revenge Dress.” Actress Elizabeth Debicki has already been photographed wearing a recreation of the storied number by designer Christina Stambolian—worn on the same eve that Prince Charles copped to cheating on national television—and the rebellious red manicure that went with it.
In the new book Diana: A Life in Dresses, Stambolian ponders the dress and its noteworthy polish pairing. “She was clearly angry […] She wore bright red nail enamel, which we had never seen her do before. She was saying: ‘Let’s be wicked tonight.’” The red manicure is an enduring classic, a bold symbol of elegance and power. It was also a nail shade frowned upon by the Queen, who allegedly encouraged the use of light pinks and neutrals. But with her break from the monarchy came other freedoms, as well.
“The power of expressing yourself and having control over what you choose to wear is so liberating,” says Chanel nail artist Betina Goldstein of Diana’s want of red. It’s unclear whether the Queen’s distaste for the manicure was dictated to the former princess or born because of her. Still, Diana’s use of the hue communicated a quiet reclamation—and a strong and stylish sense of self.
As we ease into the holiday season, consider the influence of the scarlet mani. Aside from making a striking statement against winter’s coming lack of color, red nails have the same effect as the red lip: they demand recognition.
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