Though Princess Diana’s famous style looked effortless from a distance, she did have some help in achieving her look from a team of beauty professionals, including hairstylist Richard Dalton, who worked with her for more than a decade. According to cosmetic chemist Sheree Ladove Funsch, Dalton took great pains to ensure Diana’s hair looked great, and that meant requesting a custom hairspray formula.
Now the CEO of her family-owned cosmetics manufacturing company, LaDove Inc, Ladove Funsch was in her early 20s when Dalton reached out with Diana’s specifications. “She didn’t want anything that would make her hair look glued down because she was so young and so beautiful,” she told Page Six. “She didn’t want … a helmet-head kind of look.”
Diana, Dalton, and Ladove Funsch wanted to design something with strong hold that would leave a light finish in her feathered hair, and it required a bit of scientific ingenuity. “We found this gum resin from a tree and that’s how we were able to create this formula,” she said. “I was literally in [the lab] formulating myself, figuring out what’s the melting point of this resin, how do we get it so that it’s not so sticky and tacky? How do we get it so that it doesn’t harden?” After some “trials and tribulations,” the trio called the finished product her “Helicopter Hairspray”—because the gust from the blades wouldn’t ruin her style.
Ladove Funsch would go on to make another version of the hairspray for the princess, this one specially formulated to avoid leaving residue on jewelry, including the tiaras she might wear for a special occasion. “When she would wear a tiara, you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars of jewels on her head,” she said. “We had to create something that wasn’t as potent as a hairspray but that would still give her a bit of hold.”
Ladove Fusnch also told Page Six about the one meeting that she and Diana had at Kensington Palace. “It was in England and it was incredible. I got a big hug from her and it was just magical. And there was no press, so it was just a beautiful moment,” she said. “The first time, you feel so intimidated. Here’s this, like, American business girl … coming into [her career] and she was just so welcoming and so calming and loving and just very kind.”
Hairstylist Dalton, one of three who worked with Diana during her time in the public eye, has also opened up about his approach to working with the princess and her famous hair in a 2018 interview with Town & Country. “Whatever I did to her hair became front page news,” he said of his decision to cut her hair very slowly. “We had to be very careful. We had to do it one-fourth of an inch at a time over several weeks.”
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.