At first glance, @ladydirevengelooks – the popular Instagram account dedicated to "Lady Di’s sassiest post-divorce looks" – looks like another example of the Dianaissance, the recent rediscovery of our love for the late Diana, Princess of Wales. But in fact it was set up in 2018, long before Emma Corrin's portrayal of "Shy Di" in The Crown captured the hearts and imaginations of the world anew.
The brainchild of Eloise Moran, a 28-year-old Brit based in Los Angeles, the now-famous fan account started off as a bit of fun when she needed it the most. “I did it to make myself laugh,” she says over Zoom, recalling the marketing job she held at the time that she hated, and her own divorce. “I did it honestly as a joke," she says laughing, "and wrote shitty captions that were directed at my ex a little bit.”
In search of a bit of escapism, Moran poured over images of Diana (who's not been there before?) and uncovered a treasure trove of style and substance, and unwittingly founding her tribe in the process. Nearly two and half years on, and 101k followers in, she's built an audience of allies joined not only by their love of Diana, but in the empowering undercurrent her fashion choices evoke; be that cycling shorts, a scoop back swimsuit, or a statement bandana – all of which are among Moran's favourite Lady Di looks, coincidentally.
But beyond the sartorial, Moran is interested in revenge as a process. "I want to challenge the male-spun narrative, the woman-on-woman shaming, and the idea of 'the psychotic woman/ex'," she explains. "Everyone can relate to that. We've all had that 'you know what, I will show them' feeling."
Her research into revenge fuelled a follow-up account, @revengelooks, where she charts "women not giving a single fuck” and sporting powerful outfits – think Irina Shayk's boilersuit and Britney's "Dump Him" t-shirt. “My dream is for people to submit their own revenge looks,” she says.
A fashion writer at heart (Moran now works for underwear brand Parade), she also has a knack for resurrecting Diana’s style amid the current cultural and political landscape: be that the pandemic with quarantine outing looks; at the White House on the eve of Biden and Harris's inauguration; or an à propos New Year post. More than 20 years after her death, Diana remains current.
No @ladydirevengelooks post is complete without the cryptic hashtag #fuckyoucc (the double C's standing for Charles and Camilla, naturally). But Moran is keen to point out that it really isn't about them: “It's more what they represent." Overall, @ladydirevengelooks is about celebrating Diana and her experiences, not about hating on Charles and Camilla. "That's the ultimate revenge," says Moran, "when you don't even care about the other person anymore and you're good again. But you have to go through that journey.”
That isn't to say that it is as simple as throwing on a new look and hitting the gym, per Khloé Kardashian's revenge body regime. We all know the psychological toll of breakups, and the mental health challenges that they bring. Diana too struggled, which Moran points out as yet another way Diana is relatable. Through her picture research, Moran reckons she can map out Diana's mental health and eating disorders. "If you put together a photograph from every year you can see the stark transition of her, not just clothing-wise and the phases she went through, but her body as well," she explains.
"I want to challenge the male-spun narrative, the woman-on-woman shaming, and the idea of 'the psychotic woman/ex'"
Looking back to the first post in July 2018 – captioned ‘‘happy and healthy revenge look” – a sun-kissed, smiling Diana shines bright. This is the uplifting energy that Moran always intended, and maintains, for the Instagram account. Though she is constantly inspired by Di's fashion ("I will never run out of pictures to post"), it is the messages from followers that keep her going. "It's those DMs, like ‘I'm going through a really hard time at the moment and your post makes me so happy' that make all the difference."