LONDON — Family, friends, and former clients gathered at St. Luke’s Church in Chelsea on Friday morning to pay tribute to Catherine Walker, the late French-born designer who dressed Princess Diana.
Joely Richardson and Lady Gabriella Windsor were among the speakers at the service and reception held across the street from Walker’s atelier, and guests included fellow designers Bruce Oldfield, Jasper Conran, Philip Treacy, and friends Santa Sebag-Montefiore and Rosa Monckton.
Walker died in September, aged 65, after a long battle with breast cancer. Her team continues to design under the label Catherine Walker & Co.
“I first met Catherine over 20 years ago when I was starting my career as an actress, and she was the first designer who allowed me to borrow a dress,” said Richardson. “To help an unknown said a lot about Catherine.”
Richardson also paid tribute to Walker’s famous quest for perfection, saying that in these days when designers deliver dresses “wrinkled and crumpled into plastic bags,” she will always remember Walker’s designs arriving in garment bags, with tissue paper, and her signature padded satin hangers.
The actress also read out a letter from her mother Vanessa Redgrave, who is currently starring in “Driving Miss Daisy” on Broadway. “One thing you don’t know about my mother is that she has no interest in clothes, but then I introduced her to Catherine, who later dressed her for so many BAFTA and Oscar ceremonies,” she said.
In her letter, Redgrave talked about Walker’s ability to “soothe and sweeten” and her “grace and serenity.”
Windsor, who was dressed in a dark blue Catherine Walker frock coat, called Walker “an inspiration. Every design was so carefully mapped out like the musical notes in a symphony. I shall miss our magical friendship,” she told the congregation.