Want to Dress Like Royalty? Iconic Princess Diana Dresses to Be Auctioned Off

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Princess Diana rubbing noses — the traditional Maori greeting — with a Maori woman in New Zealand, wearing her turquoise silk suit. (Photo: Getty)
Princess Diana rubbing noses — the traditional Maori greeting — with a Maori woman in New Zealand, wearing her turquoise silk suit. (Photo: Getty)

Two decades after her fatal car crash, Princess Diana’s style legacy lives on. And with the 20th anniversary of the glamorous royal’s tragic death coming up in 2017, her footprint in the fashion world is being felt more than ever.

The latest homage to Princess Di’s sartorial side has taken shape as the Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibition in February, where three outfits once owned and worn by the princess will be up for auction at her former home, Kensington Palace, with the blessing of her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, according to The Telegraph.

One of the frocks that will be on the block is a brown tartan day dress with a white Peter Pan collar. Diana wore the below-the-knee dress, designed by Caroline Charles, to the Braemar Highland Games on September 4, 1982, “a year after Charles and Diana married and it was such a happy and relaxed moment,” said auctioneer Kerry Taylor to The Telegraph. Taylor says the dress represents “the calm before the storm,” alluding to the rocky marriage of Princess Di to Prince Charles, which ended in divorce in 1996.

The princess in her brown tartan dress with Peter Pan collar. (Photo: Getty)
The princess in her brown tartan dress with Peter Pan collar. (Photo: Getty)

The second outfit is a turquoise silk skirt-suit by the princess’s alleged favorite designer, Catherine Walker, which she chose for her tour to Australia and New Zealand in April 1983. “It formed part of a large group order the Princess had made to Catherine Walker, in whom she had enormous faith – so much so that she didn’t even ask to see provisional sketches and trusted her to select and make the dress directly,” says Taylor to The Telegraph.

Last but certainly not least is a blue-and-black checked dress Emanuel Couture dress that the princess wore in Venice with a matching hat.

Prince Charles And Princess Diana In Venice. She Is Wearing A Coat Designed By Fashion Designers The Emanuels (Photo: Getty)
Prince Charles And Princess Diana In Venice. She Is Wearing A Coat Designed By Fashion Designers The Emanuels (Photo: Getty)

The story of how the dresses came to be available at the auction is a circuitous one. Pieces of Princess Diana’s wardrobe have been floating around for decades, as the royal used to give away her clothes and sell them to raise money for charity. She’d donate choice pieces to high-end auction houses, according to The Telegraph, such as Christie’s, where sales of her clothes raised $3.25 million for charity in 1997.

But the tartan and turquoise numbers in particular were snatched up by a mother-daughter duo in a “posh second-hand shop” where they were shopping for affordable clothes for their own personal use, according to The Telegraph. “It was through “whispers” that they discovered that the dresses they were interested in had belonged to the Princess,” the article reveals.

Because the women wore the garments, their asking prices will be reduced at auction. “The turquoise dress has quite a low estimate simply because the lady who bought it, actually wore it. She had it altered and she wore it to a wedding where champagne spilled down the front,” the auctioneer told The Telegraph. The checked dress will be reduced in price because the daughter wore it — but because she didn’t have it tailored, it should still fetch a decent amount.

Diana: Her Fashion Story will exhibit 26 other outfits, including a dark blue velvet she wore to the White House Gala Dinner in 1985, where she danced with John Travolta. It will also include a “pale pink Emanuel blouse worn by the Princess for her official engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon in 1981, and several Catherine Walker suits that made up her ‘working wardrobe’ in the 1990s,” according to The Telegraph. On display for the first time will be a blue tartan Emanuel suit, which Diana wore on an official visit to Venice in the 1980s.

Victor Edelstein Midnight Blue Velvet Gown worn for a State dinner at the White House when Diana danced with John Travolta in November 1985. (Photo: Getty)
Victor Edelstein Midnight Blue Velvet Gown worn for a State dinner at the White House when Diana danced with John Travolta in November 1985. (Photo: Getty)

The exhibition will focus on the evolution of the princess’s style and her relationship with her favorite designers by including original sketches created during the design process. Some of the princess’s favorite flowers will be planted in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden, where she loved to relax, in time for the exhibition.

In October, London-based nail-art extraordinaire and Wah Nails founder Sharmadean Reid has teamed up with U.K. fashion label and retailer ASOS to develop a new 20-piece capsule wardrobe in honor of the late royal. The idea for line, dubbed Sharmadean Reid x ASOS, came after Reid became fascinated with a picture book of the royal’s “adventurous and playful” aesthetic. It features updated takes on the princess’s preppy-chic style.

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