Jonathan Milne

Jonathan Milne is a former reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Lil' black All Black dress to honour our boys

She designed the world's most famous frock: the ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown with a 7.62m train made for Lady Diana's wedding.

And now, ahead of the Rugby World Cup final, London's Elizabeth Emanuel has made an "All Black dress" for our boys.

Don't worry: you won't see Brad Thorn or Tony Woodcock trying to squeeze into it. The little black dress is a tribute to the New Zealand team who - Emanuel slyly reveals - she would like to see win the Cup.

The designer flies into Auckland tomorrow and the dress will be paraded on the runway for the first time at Style Pasifika on Tuesday.

"I'd love to see someone doing the haka in my little black dress," Emanuel says.

The designer is fighting her way back into business after losing thousands of pounds to a conman, Lord Edward Davenport of Giffords, who was this week convicted of fraud. The British Council is supporting her visit to New Zealand.

Until tomorrow, the dress is under tight wraps - to everyone but Herald on Sunday readers.

Emanuel reveals her tribute dress will be a short black number made from a fine, stretchy New Zealand merino wool, with a black and silver, silk and ribbon trim inspired by a Maori piupiu (flax skirt).

"It has everything to give the effect of grasses and ferns - the silver fern. So it looks quite magical. And it's got little tiny crystals sparkling all around it," she says.

"I hope people will like it. It's got all the very romantic, delicate, over-the-top elements that people normally associate with my dresses. It's quite showy."

Romantic and delicate - like the All Blacks?

"Of all the rugby teams, I like the All Blacks," she says. "It sounds terrible, like I'm not supporting my team - which I did, of course. But I think the All Blacks are fabulous."

Last year, Elizabeth Emanuel and her former husband David sold their most recognisable little black dress - the one 19-year-old Lady Diana chose for her first official function after her engagement to Prince Charles was announced.

The dress caused a furore as Diana stepped from the limousine - all curves and cleavage.

That dress sold at auction last year for £192,000 ($418,000) and is now on display in a museum.

"Keep your curves and be happy with your curves," she advises New Zealand women. "Dresses look nicer on women with curves."

- Herald on Sunday

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