x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Diana's dresses under the hammer

The Life: Ten dresses that once belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales are expected to fetch £800,000 when they are sold at auction in the United Kingdom this month.

Auction-house employees prepare gowns worn by the late Princess Diana for sale last week in London. Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters
Auction-house employees prepare gowns worn by the late Princess Diana for sale last week in London. Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

Ten dresses that once belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales are expected to fetch £800,000 (Dh4.44 million) when they are sold at auction in the United Kingdom this month. The gowns include the Victor Edelstein creation of midnight blue silk velvet that Diana wore in 1985 when she danced with John Travolta at a White House ball thrown by the president, Ronald Reagan. That particular number, which Diana wore when she was the most famous woman in the world, is forecast to go for £300,000.

The dresses are all in 1980s style with voluminous sleeves, boxy shoulder pads and lots of crushed velvet. Kerry Taylor Auctions, the organiser, described the March 19 auction as "fabulous and historic".

Other dresses for sale include the Mughal-inspired Catherine Walker pink silk evening gown Diana wore on her 1992 state visit to India, expected to fetch £120,000; and the Catherine Walker black velvet and beaded evening gown Diana wore for a Vanity Fair photo shoot with Mario Testino at Kensington Palace in 1997, valued at £70,000.

In 1997, her marriage over, Diana cleared out her wardrobe in preparation for her new life. It was her son, Prince William, then 15, who convinced her to put her dresses up for auction and give the proceeds to charity. The New York auction held by Christie's raised £2m.

The Florida socialite Maureen Dunkel bought 14 of the gowns for £500,000. When Diana died in a car crash just months later, the dresses soared in value.

Ms Dunkel set up a charitable foundation to preserve and display Diana's dresses. However, she racked up a considerable amount of debt doing so. She loaned some dresses to Kensington Palace for a while but the dresses were expensive to insure and attendance failed to meet expectations.

When the dresses returned to the United States, they ended up in places such as Walt Disney World in Florida and the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, according to the Daily Mail.

 

lgutcher@thenational.ae