As Prince Harry talks in a new TV documentary about the grief he still feels about his mother’s premature death, I can reveal Princess Diana’s favourite designer has also left a devastating emotional legacy.
For Catherine Walker’s royal dressmaker husband Said Cyrus has disclosed in a moving interview that he can’t let go of her memory — and still has a wardrobe full of her clothes.
Cyrus, who co-founded the fashion business Catherine Walker & Co with his wife in 1977, says keeping her clothes has been a source of comfort since her death in 2010 from cancer.
Diana with her friend, dress designer Catherine Walker at a private viewing and reception at Christies in aid of the Aids Crisis Trust and The Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund, 1997
The Princess Of Wales At Home In Kensington Palace With Fashion Designer Catherine Walker, 1997
‘I still have her clothes but I’ve never thought about doing anything other than keeping them,’ he told me at the preview of the Catherine Walker Autumn/Winter collection.
‘Perhaps because clothes were what we did together, that makes them something I want to preserve. I don’t go and look at them every day, but it’s nice to know they’re there.’
As Princess Diana’s favourite dressmaker, Catherine Walker created many of her most splendid gowns, transforming her from shy Sloane to a royal power player.
The Princess was even buried in a black Catherine Walker evening dress that she had bought just a few weeks before her death.
Now Cyrus is weaving his magic around the Duchess of Cambridge, after the 37-year-old chose a bright green Catherine Walker tunic for the second day of her royal tour of Pakistan this week.
Princess Diana with Catherine Walker and her team of dressmakers in Kensington Palace
The Duchess also dazzled in a pale blue shalwar kameez, another one of Cyrus’s creations, inspiring comparisons with Princess Diana’s wardrobe during her visit to the country in 1997. Thanks to the ‘Kate effect’, Said says he’s ‘never been busier’ and believes his clothes give women confidence.
Cyrus is the model of discretion when it comes to his clients . . . but he did let me in on one secret.
‘When you do bespoke, you realise that everybody is lopsided, there is no such thing as a perfectly symmetrical person. You’ve only got to be right-handed to have a completely different shoulder on one side to the other, which you learn when you start measuring people.’
Perhaps the picture-perfect Duchess has her flaws?
Does BBC TV boss Charlotte Moore require a stiffener before locking horns with Corporation bosses? Her latest expenses reveal that Moore claimed back £6.93 for ‘refreshment prior to meeting.’ Chin, chin.
A Very English Scandal screenwriter Russell T. Davies, who depicted the late Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe in the TV series starring Hugh Grant, has set his sights on another disgraced politician.
‘Keith Vaz was pretending to be a washing machine salesman and bringing rent boys to his hotel room. I’m going to write that — it’s a great story,’ he tells me at a party in Westminster, referring to the former chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee who was forced to resign after his pecadilloes were laid bare.
‘The world of politics keeps throwing up mad men, it keeps throwing up scandal, and I want to write it all,’ Davies adds. ‘I don’t know who would play Keith. That needs a bit more thought.’
Corbyn’s book at bedtime’s so achingly woke
Sparring with Boris Johnson hasn’t stopped Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from finding the time to relax at home.
‘I unwind by reading. I’m reading a very good book at the moment about a Hindu lesbian,’ he tells me at the PinkNews Awards at Church House, Westminster, of The Normal State Of Mind by Susmita Bhattacharya.
‘She escapes from Calcutta to Mumbai because her family discovered she was having an affair with a wealthy woman, whose husband also found out and so put a stop to all of it.’ Makes a change from Boris’s literary hero, the macho Flashman.
Corbyn adds he bought the novel locally. ‘I bought it in New Beacon Books, an Afro-Caribbean bookshop I like very much in Finsbury Park.’
No trousers required for heiress Tamara…
Tamara Ecclestone attending Apothem x Harvey Nichols launch party on October 16, 2019
STONE THE CROWS! Socialite Tamara Ecclestone (above) was promoting cannabis oil at Harvey Nichols. It’s not quite what you think as her husband Jay Rutland is an investor in lifestyle brand Apothem, which sells the legal CBD oil as a therapeutic treatment. ‘I feel very secure and very confident, and that’s a very empowering feeling to have. I don’t care what others think of my hair or make-up,’ she says.
GOING CLEAN: Former party girl Davinia Taylor, below left, is celebrating ten years of sobriety. ‘I was lucky enough to hit rock bottom before I turned 30 so I’ve done all my 30s sober,’ she told me. ‘Some people have to wait till they’re 60.’
WEDDING BELLS? Denise van Outen, 45, whose marriage to actor Lee Mead ended in 2013, is dating City broker Eddie Boxshall: ‘I would like to get married again — I’d go big with the wedding.’ No pressure, Eddie.
Former party girl Davinia Taylor, left, is celebrating ten years of sobriety. Denise van Outen, right, whose marriage to actor Lee Mead ended in 2013, is dating City broker Eddie Boxshall
Former actress Rose McGowan, whose revelations about Harvey Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement, is trying her hand at music. ‘I have an album coming out in the spring called Planet Nine,’ she tells me at the Q awards. ‘I’m delving into the music world now. Hopefully it won’t be as treacherous as Hollywood. I definitely don’t want to do acting any more because I don’t want to hide behind characters any more.’
Georgina pours herself a cup of ambition
Dolly Parton, look out! This is Georgina Castle, the 26-year-old actress daughter of former UK tennis No 1 Andrew Castle, transforming her look as she poses backstage at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, in her new costume and wig.
She plays Doralee Rhodes in the touring West End show, 9 To 5 The Musical — the role which voluptuous Parton took in the 1980 film.
‘Now I’ve always been misunderstood because of how I look, but don’t judge me by the cover, cause I’m a real good book,’ she captions this photo online — a quote from Parton’s Backwoods Barbie song.
Georgina Castle, the 26-year-old actress daughter of former UK tennis No 1-turned-broadcaster Andrew Castle
Is Naomie planning to drop Moneypenny?
James Bond star Naomie Harris, who reprises her Eve Moneypenny role in No Time To Die, has had enough of playing second fiddle.
‘I’ve always said that I never wanted to play a lead, because as the lead you’re in every scene, you have the weight of the movie on you,’ explains the 43-year-old. However, since starring as the main character in new action film Black And Blue, she’s had a change of heart.
‘I thought I’d never play a lead, but then I absolutely loved it. So I’ve said to my team, “OK, just lead roles from now on!” ’
James Bond star Naomie Harris, who reprises her Eve Moneypenny role in No Time To Die, has had enough of playing second fiddle
Archbishop Justin Welby said this week he approved of Extinction Rebellion’s aims, but not its methods. Intriguingly, I learn his office was in discussions with activists to allow them to recharge their iPhones and drink water at Lambeth Palace, during their planned fortnight of action.
But the talks came to nothing after Welby’s team learned protesters intended to block bridges and ambulances to St Thomas’s Hospital. Lambeth Palace declines to comment.