Showing posts with label Princess Diana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Princess Diana. Show all posts

Thursday, 15 March 2012

My Supertramp scoop

The interview Prince Harry gave to CBS News at the end of his super-successful Latin America tour didn’t exactly tell us anything we didn’t know already – but it did remind me of my one and only conversation with Princess Diana.

In 1984 I was a feature writer on Woman’s Own magazine, covering everything from stories we thoughtlessly called TOTs (short for Triumph over Tragedy) to pop interviews. Now and again I try and impress my teenagers with stories about the days when I rubbed shoulders with George Michael and Morrissey but they roll their eyes with boredom and change the subject.

Anyway, for some reason Princess Diana asked to visit Woman’s Own one wintery afternoon. She was expecting Prince Harry at the time and when she walked into the features department on the fourth floor she looked incredibly thin and drawn - in a grey coat-dress that drained all the colour from her face.

The editor had instructed all the feature writers to sit at our desks and look like we were working – which was difficult, of course, with a royal superstar in our midst. By the time Diana got to my desk I was so nervous that I said the first thing that popped into my head. “Which is your favourite rock group?” I asked.

She replied with charming alacrity. “All the papers say Duran Duran are my favourites but that’s not right,” she said. “I like Supertramp best.”

Supertramp weren't exactly cutting edge at the time and it was hardly the scoop of the century – but I was thrilled to hear Prince William list his mum’s favourite music in an interview with Fearne Cotton a few years back. Elton John, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Bryan Adams – and yes, SUPERTRAMP!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My treasured Catherine Walker dress

I spend most of my time in a uniform of Mint Velvet jeans, black jumper and my beloved Rocket Dog plimsolls. But right now I’m trying to work out what to wear to the first posh do I’ve been invited to in ages. I’ve got a stiff-backed invitation saying “Emma Lee-Potter and guest” and my husband and daughter are both so keen to be my “guest” they've tossed a coin to decide who it will be.

After all the agonising I’ll probably end up wearing my treasured Catherine Walker dress. It’s the most expensive outfit I’ve ever bought but considering I snapped it up in 1987 and still wear it, it’s definitely earned its keep.

Mornings were a tough call when I worked as a news reporter back in the 80s. We had to be in the office by seven, ready to get cracking on the biggest news stories of the day soon after. Those were the days when Princess Diana was constantly splashed across the tabloid front pages – dancing onstage with Wayne Sleep as a birthday surprise for Prince Charles and dressing up as a policewoman for Fergie’s hen night.

One of the princess’s favourite designers was Catherine Walker, who sadly died in 2010 after a long battle with breast cancer. The French-born couturier created some of her most exquisite outfits, including an amazing pearl and sequin-encrusted white silk evening gown and matching bolero jacket that Diana called her “Elvis dress.”

When she started her business Catherine Walker modestly called it The Chelsea Design Company.  She renamed it Catherine Walker & Co in 1994 but apparently she chose the original name because “in France you would be laughed at if you opened a shop and put your name on the door as a couturier, unless you had the obvious skill to back it up.”

Sitting on the top deck of the number 49 bus at dawn every morning as I travelled from Battersea to Fleet Street I used to gaze down at Catherine Walker’s simple, white-painted shop in Chelsea’s Sydney Street and marvel at her creations. I dreamed of buying one of her dresses - and one day I threw caution to the wind and actually did. I saved up my work expenses for weeks, keeping them in a battered brown envelope till I had enough. Then, clutching the envelope in my eager hand I went into the shop and bought a stunning navy dress, made of crepe and cut on the bias. The most embarrassing moment came when I had to pay. I opened up my battered envelope and handed the surprised shop assistant  £375 in grubby-looking notes.

Twenty years on, I don’t regret my rash purchase for a minute. The dress hasn’t dated at all and I still love it. And I take an awful lot of pleasure in the elegant Catherine Walker for The Chelsea Design Company label inside.
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