Elizabeth reigns

By Jan Shure, September 21, 2010
Elizabeth Emanuel with Lady Diana’s LBD, which inspired her collection

Elizabeth Emanuel with Lady Diana’s LBD, which inspired her collection

According to F Scott Fitzgerald, there are no second acts. Well try telling that to Elizabeth Emanuel, who on Tuesday night was due to perform not her second act but her fourth.

After designing the black taffeta dress in which the then Lady Diana Spencer made her flashbulb debut, and then creating her wedding gown - arguably the most famous wedding dress in history - she spent the rest of the 80s and 90s creating evening wear for a glittering celebrity A-list that included Joan Collins, Elizabeth Hurley, Jane Seymour, Jerry Hall, Ivana Trump, Daryl Hannah, Charlize Theron and literally dozens more.

A business deal that went sour led to her losing the right to use her own name, but an undaunted Elizabeth overcame that little hiccup and launched a couture collection under the label Art of Being, working out of a buzzy little atelier in Little Venice.

Her plan had been "to grow the brand and bring in an investor", but when a godfather sprinkling cash failed to materialise, the north London-raised, proud-to-be-Jewish Ms Emanuel buckled down to the task of creating a bridal range for Sir Philip Green's Bhs, a project which has now ended.

For a designer with less grit and vision, the high street move might have spelled a farewell to red-carpet dressing, but on Tuesday night, slap bang in the middle of London Fashion Week, at a catwalk show sponsored by Jaguar and filmed by Channel 5, Elizabeth Emanuel was due to make her latest comeback, with a capsule collection of ravishing, ready-to-wear and special edition black dresses for spring/summer 2011.

Not to be outdone by Chanel (which had Lily Allen perform at its spring/summer 2010 catwalk show), Elizabeth's Belgravia event was due to be graced by Sonique, singing for an audience comprising of the fashion commentariat and celebs, including Beverley Knight, Emma Noble, Trudie Styler, Kiera Chaplin, Matthew Mellon, Martine McCutcheon, Jo Woods and "Miss J", the judge from America's Next Top Model.

Inspiration for an entire collection of little black dresses came from the original Lady Di LBD (which wasn't so little, being floor-length). Eclectic influences all the way from Audrey Hepburn to the 1980s provided the theme for the exquisite dress collection, many of them as appropriate for women of 30 as of 60, and all of them engineered to ensure a silhouette otherwise achievable only through Spanx, liposuction and a push-up bra.

Last updated: 3:57pm, September 21 2010