October 25, 2021

Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor

Another film featuring a slice of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, premieres on November 5th.  Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart, is called a “psychological drama that follows Diana’s decision to end her marriage to Prince Charles and leave the British royal family.” (The “decision” was a bit more complicated than that for all involved, especially Diana and Charles’ sovereign, Queen Elizabeth.) Nonetheless, using this occasion, I’ll post a short excerpt from my book in progress, The Spiritual Mission of a Princess….


Chapter 3: Social Changes (excerpt)

           “When the royal family enfolded Diana, they thought they had got a rather dim girl from the landowning Norfolk aristocracy—not exactly the stuff of revolution. They could not have known that she would be transformed into an international superstar who would make their lives hell.” This from an article, “Diana’s Britain,” by the editors at Newsweek magazine published the week after the princess’ funeral. Some feminists of the time were also fooled by “the mouse that roared.” British journalist Beatrix Campbell wondered how more conservative Britain could become when this pretty, inexperienced girl from old landed gentry married into the stale confines of royalty. Calling her wedding gown “a shroud,” she feared Diana would disappear within a dusty patriarchal construct. But Campbell and others began to see it differently.

Diana emerged into the world’s consciousness during the second year of Margaret Thatcher’s landmark run as Prime Minister and Great Britain, entrenched in a recession, was in turmoil with the country’s traditional industries in crisis and race riots destroying neighborhoods in the cities. “Into this unrelieved gloom the royal wedding injected a welcome splash of color and glamour,” the Newsweek article continued. “For that reason alone, Diana always carried a fund of good will with her. Yet at the time, few appreciated the central significance of the new princess; she was young and unformed, with enormous potential for growth.” And indeed, from that summer in 1981, Diana’s growth into a striking, outspoken woman paralleled Britain’s own growth into the modern era. Diana may have spent her childhood in the country, but as a young woman she needed the bustle and stimulation of the city and like much of the country’s youth, Diana loved “London’s glitzy rebellious values.” And for better or worse, she brought “an American style of emotionalism,” as feminist writer Naomi Wolf expressed, “to the rigid skin of British formality.”  

The Labor Party picked up this youthful call to modernize with forty-three-year-old Tony Blair’s campaign for prime minister in 1997. Since his “agenda echoed Diana’s,” according to Catherine Mayer’s Time magazine article, “How Diana Transformed Britain,” Diana met in secret with him and his election team in support of Blair’s “mandate to build a more inclusive, caring Britain.”  By the time of her death, only months after Blair’s election, she seemed to embody “how new Britons wanted their country to be.” After centuries of practiced reserve and mystery, it took the Royal Family a little longer to realize how much the country was changing even though they had clues inside their own family which had been moving, as Newsweek reported, “from archaic rule to modern dysfunctionality.” Then the shock of the princess’ death left them unprepared for the rising new era of more open public self-expression—the unbuttoning of England’s stiff-upper-lip sensibility. “The People’s Princess,” Mayer wrote, summing up Diana’s impact, “had unlocked hearts, reordered values, presided at the triumph of emotional intelligence over cold intellect, of compassion over tradition.”

September 21, 2021

25 Years Later...

Photograph by Denis Reggie

"How many dresses can we say get better and better?"

{Below is a reprint of Rachel Burchfield's anniversary article in Vanity Fair, remembering this lovely, intimate wedding 25 years later and the bride's extraordinary fashion-forward statement...all captured in Denis Reggie's remarkable photograph, above. At the time, the designers for my bridal art-to-wear shop in Atlanta--who had been designing many "princess gowns" since Diana Spencer's wedding in 1981--had begun to create simple, 1930s-inspired gowns for modern-savvy brides. So we were delighted to see Carolyn's wedding dress leading this trend with such feminine style and glamour!}

August 31, 2021

Downton Abbey: A New Era


The new Downton Abbey movie is not out until March 2022...and I hear, 'natch, there's going to be a wedding! But the traveling exhibit, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, is landing in Atlanta this fall! Opening September 25 at Perimeter Pointe for a limited run...and, best of all, displaying over 50 costumes! 

July 1, 2021

{Education of the Heart} Book Excerpt

July 1, 2021. Princes William and Harry unveiling memorial stature of their mother,
Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Kensington Palace Gardens.

Excerpt from 

Education of the Heart 

final chapter

The Spiritual Mission of a Princess

{my still-in-the-works book}

With the enlightening gift of hindsight, hazy fragments of life can fall into place: “Oh, that’s what he was trying to tell us.” “Oh, that was the real message of her life.” Millions of words have been written about Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor’s life and death. Some focused on the superficial and sentimental, the fashionably theatrical storyboard of her life; others focused on glorifying the virtuous humanitarian, even romanticizing her ‘saintly’ nature. (So it goes with a beautiful and tragic charismatic figure.) It’s a more mindful version of the latter that interested me. A flawed yet deeply empathetic princess, under the brightest spotlight on the planet, stands up to the short-sighted patriarchal powers-that-be, puts heart over head, kindness over duty, love over fear. That’s not only courageous, but in a cynical and discordant world, it’s downright subversive! And looking back, this was Diana’s spiritual mission, a mission that ties directly to this present moment as women’s voices are leading the conversation. This is the reason many of us are here during this tumultuous consciousness shift: to anchor the receptive, mystical, powerful, primal energies of the feminine and the reflective, grounded, gentle warrior energies of the masculine—to anchor old soul values, compassionate impulses, and the Earth’s promise of paradise.  

“When he turned 18,” reported royal correspondent Katie Nicholl, “Harry vowed to continue Diana’s charity work, making a public pledge ‘to carry on the things that she didn’t quite finish.’” When Prince Harry turned 36, the same age as his mother when she died, he had some of the same concerns that she had about royal life—its advantages and its limitations. “This is a man who said he wanted to continue his mother’s work,” added biographer Omid Scobie. “We’ve long mourned Diana’s place on the humanitarian landscape, and here we have Harry, who embodies her values and is willing to dedicate his life to them.” Inspired by Diana’s love and experience, and his own deep commitment and empathetic nature, Harry put his wife and son first. He chose his heart.

When we make that kind of choice, a new world opens up, our path becomes clearer, our wings lighter, and the once improbable becomes destined. We find the courage to love, then love again; to let go, then let go again; to let go of the past that no longer serves our evolution in being human. “Human evolution” is the game at hand, claims spiritual visionary Gary Zukav, and it’s also what’s at stake. In this decisive time of the transformation of human consciousness, it’s no longer viable to postpone the sometimes-painful interior work—whether it’s our rage or jealousy or grief—it’s time to face it. And Prince Harry has established a platform with a worldwide audience to courageously lead the way. It’s a hero’s journey, a heroine’s quest, an intimate rite of passage we’re all to take. It’s a journey of a lifetime and it’s the journey each of us chose.  

We may be in a time where it feels like everything precious is at risk. But it’s important to remember that in “between times” like these our perceptions change, things may not be what they seem, miracles happen. This is the era of reconciliation. As we explore this feminine heartbeat pulsing through the world—getting stronger, more powerful, more focused—we reach out to the masculine energies to join in, to make a quantum leap together in creating this new era of harmony. So it’s fitting that we revisit Diana’s life-gift that broke open this “head to heart” revolution as a reminder that love is the only way in and the only way out. ~

March 9, 2021

{Princess Mission} Book Excerpt

In this remarkable time of feminine wisdom rising, here's an excerpt from my long-in-the-works upcoming book, The Spiritual Mission of a Princess.  Like the excerpt below, each chapter begins with something from the life of Diana, Princess of Wales—a young woman of highly-developed heart energy who intrigues us stillthen intertwines that legacy, seen through a more archetypal lens, with the story of all women.


  Unwittingly, the Princess had established for herself a persona that would, in time, be a phenomenon.
-Andrew Morton, Diana: Her Own Story 

ady Diana Spencer’s glorious emergence from the horse-drawn glass carriage on her wedding morning in the summer of 1981 set in motion mythological musings: a fairy-tale bride…a heavenly vision…the return of the goddess—“like seeing a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis,” reminisced her Victorian-inspired fairy-gown designers. Standing in hand-crafted satin slippers and crowned with old family diamonds, Diana was dressed in yards and yards of England’s own custom-dyed ivory silk taffeta, lace and tulle—voluminous and fragile—“her gown unfolding perfectly like a paper flower,” observed historian Hilary Mantel. This was beyond any superficial longing of “princess dreams”—although dreams of being a princess certainly fueled our imaginations. Diana’s appeal went deeper than our fascination with feminine beauty, or brides and weddings, or royalty and pageantry, or mysterious ancient rituals. For many watching the brilliant wedding pomp that day, the experience stirred something deep within. Historically, the vision of a bride often brings a sense of hope and renewal, but for a culture in turmoil, here was a spark that relit what once thought lost. There seemed a light about this young bride. Even if we were unaware of being affected, legends were brewing. 

Or did the anti-monarchists and second-wave feminists and other skeptics—not taken in by romance or grandeur or even possible divine intervention—have it right? This was simply another wan young woman, “shrouded” beyond recognition, “tumbling from her coach like a bride in a bag,” critiqued Mantel. From feminist writer Beatrix Campbell: “Her ivory silk wedding dress was a shroud…a crinoline, a meringue…a symbol of sexuality and grandiosity….” Diana was being led to an altar “propping up the aged patriarch who had got her into all of this” to stand with a man much beyond her years and experience who represented an outdated institution where young women disappeared into desperate disappointment. “Neither her father nor her mother had taken care of her, enlightened her or warned her. They married her off to someone else’s prince,” Campbell added. Professor Colleen Denney opens her study of how artists portrayed the princess “with the consideration that feminism and femininity collided in 1981 when Diana married.” 

Clearly there were divergent worlds colliding that day—the outdated and the shift of the ages. After all, here we were under the influence of prophetic celestial changes, long mapped out by wise ancients foretelling the end of “old time” and the beginning of a new era. As the Earth was doing what it naturally, miraculously does—tilt perfectly with an elegant wobble, and spin from equinox to equinox—its slow rotation was in the complicated process of completing two decisive cycles, thousands of years in the making, shifting energies and filling hearts above and below. Some called this swirling cosmic marvel the effects of the Age of Aquarius dawning—feminine vibrations of the Age of the Goddess that would awaken our spirit; others reverently proclaimed the “Age of Holy Breath” ushering in a time of enlightenment and expanding consciousness. Whether it was such heavenly wonders at work that day on this full-of-legends Emerald Isle, or simply the dynamic effect of two royal archetypes chosen to fulfill their soul’s mission and now moving through their predestined paces…you could not escape the sense that there was something mystical afoot. 

If this was truly an era coming to an end—with things tired and harsh falling away, things fresh and heart-tempered beginning—then how perfect that it was a wedding to send up the momentous flare seen round the world, beckoning our heart’s attention. Now under the direction of a new pole star in the Aquarian constellation, we hoped that love would, indeed, “steer the stars and peace would guide the planets” as we all embarked on this auspicious yet tumultuous journey. 

Did this young woman—who became a princess on her wedding day and after a long, winding road, the ‘queen of hearts’ upon her death—ignite a pathway for a consciousness shift of the heart? Was this a signal for the return of a nurturing goddess spirit intended to nudge along the occurring paradigm shift where we see a flowering of feminine strength and influence? During a life fluctuating between tedious soap opera and compassionate healing, how could we imagine then that Diana would be showing a way to, in the words of spiritual thinker Xavier Le Pinon, “educate the heart” on how to be tender, open, and immaculately loving? In all the pomp and glamour and personal drama, it was easy to overlook her spiritual mission. 

However, for some with eyes to see, there were clues in this enchantment on that summer-lit wedding morning on the red-carpeted steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. There was an exquisite bridal moment captured in a memorable and intimate zoom-lens photograph, where Diana—veiled in what seemed to be the ancient mystery of womanhood—paused to look back before entering the cathedral. Possibly a moment’s hesitation before stepping toward her entrusted destiny? Perhaps it was simply to check the fluffing of her impossibly long train, stretching down the staircase. But then you see her eyes, piercing through the veil as if with an inner knowing, glancing toward some distant yet remembered past encouraging her forward. Was Diana standing in for all future brides at a time when they, too, pause at their nuptial doorway to embody, no longer a woman’s loss of autonomy and self-expression—as was the old custom of the patriarchy—but the female essence and empowering qualities of beauty, openness, strength, forgiveness, love, and the desire for true partnership? ~

January 20, 2021

{Fashion Diplomacy}


Fashion Diplomacy Returns at Joe Biden's and Kamala Harris' Inauguration

Katey Rich wrote for Vanity Fair: "The scaled down, heavily protected event still brought together most of Washington's leaders, many of whom dressed symbolically for the occasion." (Click above to read the article and see fashion photos and commentary!)