After the Princess of Wales Takes to Dotting the Di, Britain Breaks Out in a Fashion Rash

updated 07/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

At first, trendsetting Diana's latest passion was merely limited to her own circles. But, as Diana goes, so goes the nation. After having been spotted six times in the last eight weeks, the Princess of Wales's polka dot madness has suddenly left British stores virtually spotless.

Diana first unveiled the dotty look during visits to Japan and Canada in May. But it was an appearance last month at the Queen's Cup polo match in Windsor, in a red-and-white spotted skirt matched with red-and-white spotted ankle socks, that started the epidemic. The morning after her picture was splashed across the front pages of London newspapers, one store, the Sock Shop, sold more than 500 similar pairs within hours of opening its doors. The anklets are not alone. A clerk at Fiorucci's recalls of all things dotted, "Whoosh, they were gone."

From London's punk King's Road to tony boutiques, spots have spread to bathing suits, leather dress pumps and men's underwear. Even Princess Michael of Kent, Princess Margaret and Fergie have caught dot fever.

On opening day of the always fashionable Royal Ascot races two weeks ago, dots turned up on dozens of silk dresses. "The blobs went to their heads—and covered jackets, skirts, dresses and suits," quipped the Daily Express. "No inch appeared left un-blotted." All hopes for royal resemblance were dashed by sly Di, who arrived in a drab beige suit. By the end of Ascot week, however, Diana was back in her dot-age, wearing black ones on green silk.

The Princess picks her spots from, among others, Mondi, a German sportswear maker, and Britain's Jasper Conran. Still, some are saying the Princess' judgment may have been rash. "Diana slightly overdoes them," complains Jim Fallon of Women's Wear Daily in London. "I mean, six times in a row is overdoing it. And the dotted socks that she wears are fine—for someone who is 12 years old."

For all the panic, there are signs that the fad may be finished. At John Lewis, a large London department store, dotted tights are already marked down. "The trend has spotted itself out," says Suzanne Turower, the editor of a trade journal. "It will be stripes next summer." Unless, of course, Diana wears something else.

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