Catherine Walker (fashion designer)

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Catherine Walker (27 June 1945 – 23 September 2010) was a French-born fashion designer based in London. Born Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux in Calais, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

Known for having supplied over a thousand garments for Diana, Princess of Wales, was notably buried in a famed black dress designed by Walker which was worn for the private Papal audience with Pope John Paul II at the Apostolic Palace on 29 April 1985.[1]

Life and career

Walker studied Aesthetics and Philosophy at the universities of Lille and Aix-en-Provence[1] and achieved a master's degree. While studying for a PhD she moved to London and lived in Earl's Court.[1] She became a permanent resident after marrying solicitor John Walker in 1970.[1] The couple had two daughters. In 1975 John Walker died while on holiday in France.[1] Her second husband was Said Cyrus from Iran, a lecturer at the Chelsea School of Art who also became her business partner.[1]

She began her life in fashion selling children’s clothes. She later moved into designing for women, specialising in high-end evening dresses, occasionwear and wedding gowns. In 1976 she set up her own company The Chelsea Design Company in Sydney Street, Chelsea.[1] In 1991, Walker was awarded Designer of the Year for Glamour and in 1990 Designer of the Year for Couture at the British Fashion Awards. Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995. She became a founding sponsor of Breast Cancer Haven.[1]


Catherine Walker opened her business in 1977 in Sydney Street, London. She was a successful couturiere for over 30 years. Walker designed two seasonal collections per year, as well as wedding gowns and created a range of skincare products. Following her death, her husband Said Cyrus took over the business as head designer. He continues to run it with the same philosophy, focusing on bespoke garments for clients and eschewing runway shows, large marketing campaigns, and the wholesale trade.[2]

Notable clients

Diana, Princess of Wales

Catherine Walker became one of the Princess of Wales' favourite designers. Her professional relationship with Diana began three months after Diana's marriage to Prince Charles in 1981, and lasted until Diana's death sixteen years later, during which time Walker provided the Princess with many of her most iconic garments.[3] Walker designed the ornamental dress and lace veil ensemble worn by Princess Diana during the private Papal audience with Pope John Paul II at the Apostolic Palace on 29 April 1985, the same dress which she was buried in after her death.

Lady Helen Taylor

The Duke of Kent's daughter, Lady Helen Taylor (née Windsor), wore a Catherine Walker design for her 1992 wedding to Tim Taylor.[4]

Middleton family

Walker's designs are also chosen by Diana's daughter-in-law, Catherine, Princess of Wales. Its been noted that Catherine Walker became one of the Princess of Wales's favourite designers and she chooses to wear the designer outfits for the most important events including royal tours abroad.[5]

Carole Middleton also has worn Catherine Walker for numerous important occasions.


Walker died on September 23, 2010 in a hospital after being found unconscious by a neighbour at her home Sussex, England.[6] She had suffered breast cancer and was a founding Sponsor of the charity called "Breast Cancer Haven".[7][8] Catherine Walker is survived by her second husband Said Ismael Cyrus and her two daughters, Naomi and Marianne, from her first marriage.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Catherine Walker". London: September 26, 2010.
  2. ^ "Kate Middleton's pretty blue suit has revived interest in a quiet fashion label favored by Princess Diana". 19 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Princess Diana's changing fashion style explored in exhibition". BBC News. 19 February 2017. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  4. ^ "'Iconic royal wedding gowns". Harpers Bazaar.
  5. ^ "Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal tour: day three as it happened". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Questions remain over the death of Princess Diana's fashion designer - Rye and Battle Observer". Archived from the original on 2018-05-23.
  7. ^ Guardian 26 Sept 2010
  8. ^ "Breast Cancer Haven | Pages | Breast Cancer Haven service locations". Archived from the original on 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  9. ^ "Catherine Walker".
  10. ^ "Obituary: Catherine Walker, couturier to Princess Diana". 2 October 2010.

External links