Manhattan label Rowing Blazers has championed tongue-in-cheek preppy style since it was founded in 2017 by US national team rower Jack Carlson and his partner, champion oarswoman Keziah Beall. Giving oversized rugby shirts, cricket jumpers and Oxford button-downs a lively spin with rainbow brights and playful logos, the menswear brand subverts bourgeois Ivy League and Oxbridge style to create contemporary pieces – think blazers with piped edges and baseball caps with kitsch slogans – whose fans include Timothée Chalamet, Thundercat and Benny Drama.
While we've been wearing the menswear pieces slouchy and oversized for some time now, Rowing Blazers launched its inaugural womenswear collection earlier this month, hooking up with the makers of two of Princess Diana's favourite knits just in time for season four of The Crown. A match made in heaven, Diana's Sloane Ranger style made her a preppy pin-up from the moment she married Prince Charles; today, the late princess's '80s and '90s wardrobe continues to inspire everyone from Virgil Abloh to Gigi Hadid.
Carlson teamed up with designers Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir of London label Warm & Wonderful to recreate their black sheep jumper, which Princess Di often wore to polo matches, styled with a Peter Pan collar shirt and jeans. He tells Refinery29: "It was magical. Working with the original designers is what makes this so special. Joanna and Sally are great fun and their stories from the early days of Warm & Wonderful are brilliant. I can just picture them in the early '80s, at a market stall in Covent Garden, selling their jumpers to pop stars and Sloane Rangers."
Carlson also joined forces with Gyles & George, the brand that popularised playful novelty jumpers in the 1980s, to recreate its "I'm a Luxury Few Can Afford" knit. Princess Diana most famously wore this piece with a stiff-collared white shirt when photographed at home with William and Harry, sporting the most '80s bouffant imaginable. "Designer Gyles Brandreth is a legend!" Carlson tells Refinery29. "A true polymath and a novelty jumper icon." Both knits, priced from £250, are available in Selfridges from today.
Whether you're a monarchist or not, our collective fascination with Princess Diana – from her marriage and personal style to her philanthropy and tragic death – refuses to wane. "I'm American but my family and I lived in London when I was a kid in the early '90s," Carlson says. "I think everyone looked at Diana's style. My mum certainly did! She had one of the original Warm & Wonderful sheep jumpers." Why does Carlson think Diana's sartorial legacy continues today? "She was ahead of her time. She perfected the art of mixing high and low, and blurred the lines between menswear and womenswear. In a weird way, she was doing streetwear before streetwear was a thing – but at the same time, she was the archetype of the Sloane Ranger! She was all of these contradictions and that's what made her so iconic – and what makes her so relevant to what's happening in fashion now."
Beyond her kitsch knitwear, Carlson says: "Princess Diana wore a double-breasted blazer better than anyone – better even, perhaps, than her ex!" There's still inspiration to be found in Prince Charles, though: Rowing Blazers has recreated the numbered cotton polo T-shirts favoured by the prince. Still, there's no overshadowing Lady Di's eternal style. Nab a knit, quick, before The Crown airs next month and inspires everyone else to pay homage, too.
Rowing Blazers' "I'm a Luxury" and Sheep Knits, £250, are available at Rowing Blazers and Selfridges now.
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