John Boyd, milliner who helped make Diana a fashion icon; at 92
WASHINGTON — Although she was born into British nobility, Lady Diana Spencer was not fond of hats, except for a woolly one she wore against the chill of a London winter or skiing in the Alps. When she began dating Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, her mother decided to smarten her up and called in her own milliner, the London-based John Boyd.
Mr. Boyd, who died Feb. 20 at 92, helped turn Lady Diana, later Diana, Princess of Wales, into a global fashion icon. He provided her with the pink tricorn hat that she wore after her wedding and on her way to her honeymoon — a chapeau that was copied by milliners across the world and credited with rebooting a stagnant industry.
Princess Diana became one of the world’s most photographed people, bringing global attention to Mr. Boyd and his hats. He preferred not to be photographed in his own favorite hat, a replica of Chairman Mao’s army-style cap.
‘‘Princess Diana frequently visited his shop but preferred to be in his messy workroom where the milliners were working on the hats,’’ said Mr. Boyd’s protegee Sarah Marshall, who took over the business two years ago. ‘‘He was always very discreet about his royal clientele, which rewarded him with their loyalty.’’
Mr. Boyd was the official milliner to Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister, and he went on to ‘‘do a Princess Di’’ for Kate Middleton, who became the Duchess of Cambridge when she married Diana’s elder son, Prince William. The duchess, or Kate as most Brits still call her, was considered a rather staid dresser until Mr. Boyd’s hats helped make her a fixture on magazine covers.
He was a milliner for 75 years, eventually based out of a basement shop in London’s tony Beauchamp Place district. Although he would visit the royals in their palaces when summoned, many of his clients arrived at 16 Beauchamp Place incognito, slipping down the basement stairs.
His own byword was discretion. Queried in 1986 about hats he was making for Thatcher and the royal scion Princess Anne, he replied dryly, ‘‘They have a brim.’’