The first time I worked with Diana was during the summer of 1990. It was a shoot for British Vogue; Patrick Demarchelier was the photographer on set. I didn’t know the Princess was coming along; I thought it was as hoot with a few younger royals. But then towards the end of the day this tall, strong blonde came radiating through the door, wearing a smart business suit and a polka-dot shirt.
It sounds very cheesy to say the whole room lit up when she walked in, but it really did. We were in this studio in Hackney, London, and there she was, shaking everyone’s hand with a huge smile. She never made anyone feel intimidated or nervous.
For one of the looks on the shoot, Diana was going to wear a tiara. I had never put a tiara on anyone before, so she showed me exactly where to place it and pin it to make sure it stayed secure. I made her hair look shorter than it was, and she liked what she saw.
After the shoot, she asked me, ‘If you could do anything to my hair, what would you do?’ I said I’d cut it really short and start again. She said, ‘Go for it,’ and so I did. It was the look that we continued to maintain for the seven years I worked with her.
Women cut their hair when they want a change, and that was no different for Diana. She wanted independence, and to appear strong – the hair-cutting was part of this. I think in some way, she didn’t want to hide behind her hair or her heavy fringe any more.
Shorter hair, like the style I cut for Diana back in 1990, is cleaner and sleeker. It exudes confidence. The only time Diana and I argued was when she would get a sneaky perm done while I was away. She thought it was easier to manage.
One of her most iconic hairstyles was when I styled it completely slicked back. I used to do her hair like this on private photo shoots with Patrick. Once, I was on a shoot with Christy Turlington and she was wearing a stunning blue dress by Versace. I took back a Polaroid to Kensington Palace to show Diana, saying how fantastic it would look on her – so soon after Patrick took her picture wearing the very same dress and I styled the hair back and slicked down. She loved it.
The lasting image of Diana I have in my mind is of her laughing. She had a naughty sense of humour, like me, so we’d have a great time on shoots. She’d make you really laugh–a deep laugh, not just a chuckle. And whenever she was with her kids, that’s when she’d laugh the most.