Belinda Bellville dead at 94: The royal fashion designer dressed Princess Diana and Princess Margaret

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Royal fashion designer Belinda Bellville of fashion house Bellville Sassoon, who dressed royalty such as Princess Diana, has died at 94.

Royal fashion designer Belinda Bellville, who dressed the likes of Princess Diana, has died at 94. Belinda Belville was born on March 29, 1930, and grew up in Leicestershire, her mother Audrey Kidston’s family owned Clyde Shipping, whilst her father Anthony Seymour Bellville ’s wealth originated from Keen’s mustard.

Belinda Bellville's paternal grandmother, Gladys ‘Cuckoo’ Leith, ran a dress shop on London’s Savile Row in the 1920s and it was Gladys who inspired Belinda’s passion for fashion. During the war, Belinda along with her mother, made clothes out of things such as old curtains as clothes were rationed. 

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As well as working for a clothes shop on London’s Bond Street, Belinda Bellville  also assisted a fashion photographer and worked for a stint as a fashion journalist. Belinda was only 23 years old when she founded the fashion company Bellville et Cie alongside Sydna Scott who was the proprietor of a boutique in London’s Knightsbridge. 

Belinda Bellville’s  sister Camilla and her friends were amongst the models that took part in her first fashion show that was held at Cuckoo Leith’s London house in Manchester Square. The show was a huge success and she moved to prestigious premises in Belgravia. Her collection featured cocktail dresses, ball gowns and wedding gowns. 

After being impressed by the designer David Sassoon’s designs at a Royal College of Art degree show, he joined the company in 1958. By 1970, Bellville et Cie became known as Bellville Sassoon and Belinda decided to step back from the company in 1982, but was still a consultant for them.

Twenty years after the death of Princess Diana, David Sassoon talked to the Daily Mail about how he designed more than 70 dresses for her over nearly two decades, including her bridal trousseau. ‘She was a joy to dress. She could wear any colour and look wonderful,’ says David. ‘Some of the royal ladies could be difficult but Diana would always send little thank-you notes or twirl around saying, “They’re going to love this!” She really was a delight.’

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

David Sassoon also designed Princess Diana’s going-away outfit and recalled that ‘It was the final fitting for the going-away outfit and she was very tearful and panicking because she’d forgotten to get a bag. I told her not to worry and had a little pochette made of the same material. There was a tiny compartment for a mirror and I added a little card saying, “Lots of happiness on your great day.” She told me that when she got off the train on the way to her honeymoon her hair got blown in the wind, so she took out her mirror and the card fell out. She was very touched by it.”

Fashion house Bellville Sassoon designed many outfits for the late Princess DianaFashion house Bellville Sassoon designed many outfits for the late Princess Diana
Fashion house Bellville Sassoon designed many outfits for the late Princess Diana

David Sassoon and Belinda Bellville  also designed outfits for Princess Margaret, as well as Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Christie, Helen Mirren, Catherine Deneuve, Jackie Kennedy and Ivana Trump. Some of Princess Diana’s Bellville Sassoon dresses included the sailor suit she wore for her first official photograph with the Queen and the then Prince Charles.

One of Princess Diana’s favourite Bellville Sassoon dresses is the one she wore to a hostel for abandoned children in Brazil. She also wore one of their floral designs to Prince William’s christening, a dress she wore several times. Princess Diana wore a Bellville Sassoon dress to the Splendours of the Gonzaga exhibition in 1981, this was the night before she announced she was pregnant with Prince William.

Belinda Bellville’s husband David died in 2008 and she is survived by her three daughters.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.