The Classic ’90s Manicure That Princess Diana Loved

A good nail technician should be able to advise on the best nude for your skin tone, but if you’re trying the look at home, Diogo recommends Chanel’s La Base Camélia for pale and olive skin tones, Dior’s 108 Muguet for slightly deeper or Asian skin tones, and Bio Sculpture’s Spun Out Of Dreams for darker skin.

A good manicure has the power to make or break a look, not to mention improve the way we feel. And, while the current Princess of Wales tends to steer away from wearing polish on her nails–save for a lick of nude polish every now and then–the French would no doubt look excellent on her, too.


Having fallen out of fashion after the ’90s, the style made a comeback a few years ago and is now so popular that Google searches for the style have rocketed by 2,400 percent this year alone. Nowadays we look beyond those original pink and white tones that Princess Di loved so much, experimenting instead with different colors, textures, and other nail art to make our fingertips sing.

“I think that over the years we’ve actually managed to elevate the French manicure,” says Diogo. “I’m so glad it’s back–a glossy micro-French is timeless and pairs with everything.” There are ways to ensure it looks regal and refined, rather than dated or tacky, too. “A thin tip is better than a thick tip, plus choosing the correct base shade for your skin tone is also very important,” she says. “I usually layer another coat of my chosen base shade over the white tip to tone the brightness of the white down slightly–it creates a more natural appearance.”

There’s a reason for this: Diana really did like to wear the classic French manicure–as so many women did back in the ’90s, the decade in which the combination of a neat white tip and sheer pink base became so popular. Diana’s classic mani lent optimal polish to royal fingertips, paired perfectly with every ensemble, and looked just as glamorous on glittering nights out as it did soft and subtle for visits to community projects and hospitals.

“The French manicure was–and still is–an effortless way to ensure your nails look really well put together,” agrees manicurist Julia Diogo, who counts Rosie Huntington-Whiteley among her clients. “It’s a neutral that ensures nails look clean and chic. Plus, it’s great to help elongate the appearance of fingers.”

I watched all available episodes of The Crown season 6 over the weekend, and amidst all the chat about ghost scenes and engagement rings, it was another small–but not insignificant–detail that compelled me to write about the show. How Princess Diana, played brilliantly by Elizabeth Debicki, is never seen without an immaculate French manicure, whether holidaying in the South of France with Dodi Fayed, or at home with her sons in London.