Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Pistachio and Cream dress by Catherine Walker?

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This dress was worn for the film premiere of An Accidental Hero in 1993 and official events, such as the state banquet for President Mario Soares of Portugal. One of her first official events after the separation announcement in December 1992.  

Lot 17 is described in the Christie's auction catalogue as A Dinner Dress of Eau-De-Nil Green and Cream Silk Crepe by Catherine Walker.
The bodice and long sleeves of this dress are of broad green and cream horizontal stripes. Off-the-sholder, the dress has five jewelled paste buttons placed asymmetrically on the bodice. There are matching buttons on the sleeves. The skirt is slim, with a slit to the knee. 
Although she won rave reviews for this dress, there were also some critics who noted, because of her over developed shoulders, she should have covered them up. It is also interesting to note that the earrings she is wearing are made of the same buttons from the gown.  

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It was sold to Shari Graham for $34,500. She owns this dress as well as my favourite, the cream and salmon one. She has used both her gowns to raise money for charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels and the American Heart Association. 

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Christie's Auction Catalogue: DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana - Her Life in Fashion by Georgina Howell

Monday, June 29, 2020

Whatever happened to Diana's Red and Black Military Inspired Catherine Walker gown?

The royal family has a long association with the military. Diana herself held several honorary military appointments in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, including being Colonel-in-Chief of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). She was forced to relinquish these positions upon her divorce. Occasionally she would incorporate military elements into her outfits, with somewhat mixed results. However, that is not the case here. 

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It is described in the Christie's auction catalogue as A Red and Black Dinner Dress Inspired by the Military by Catherine Walker
The bodice is sleeveless with a high neck in Hussar-style, trimmed with black braid and rouleaux. The long skirt, of pleated scarlet silk crepe, is trimmed with scarlet silk soutache brand and rouleaux where it meets the bodice. 
In May 1995 it was worn at the Royal Albert Hall for Red Cross concert to commemorate VE Day. The red and black colours of the British Red Cross, which Diana was Vice-President until she resigned in July 1996. She continued to support the organization, notably during her humanitarian trip to Angola in January 1997.

It was Lot 12 at the Christie's dress auction in 1997, where it sold for $36,800 to the Meijiro Fashion and Art College in Tokyo. They also own the Victor Edelstein Victorian inspired ballgown  and Yuki Torimaru dresses. The College displays them on special occasions and, from time to time, lend them to Kensington Palace for fashion exhibits. 

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Christie's auction catalogue: DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales

Friday, June 26, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Regamus ball gown?

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Worn at a ball at Althorp, her family's ancestral estate in 1979, there was little to indicate the global star she would become. At the time of her engagement she had 'one long dress, one skirt and one smart pair of shoes.' When Madame Tussauds requested a dress for her wax figure, Diana gave them this one. You can view the figure here. It was not part of the Christie's auction, but it is still interesting to see how Diana's style evolved from Lady Diana Spencer to the fashion icon who continues to intrigue to this day. 

This off the shoulder, 'Deb gown' was designed by the Couture House of Regamus. It has a nylon lace overlay, with velvet ribbon detail and a matching scarf. Diana and her mother found this dress in the 'French Room' at Harrods. Regamus was a popular brand for aristocratic ladies making their start in fashionable society. 

In 2005, Madame Tussauds auctioned this dress. A bidding war ensued between Kensington Palace and an American nurse, Wendy Rogers-Morris, who is an avid collector of Diana memorabilia. Surprisingly, Kensington Palace lost out. This dress has been exhibited at the Dresses of Inspiration exhibit and at Kensington Palace. 

I cannot locate auction information for Ms. Rogers-Morris to the current owners, Museo de la Moda, in Santiago, Chile. If you visit their Instagram, you can see a short clip of them working on the dress

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Grace Kelly inspired dress?

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When I look at this dress I can't think of anyone other than Grace Kelly. It is understandable as it was inspired by her look in the Alfred Hitchcock film, To Catch A Thief. So, it is hard to separate it from Grace Kelly and see it as a 'Diana dress'. Like many of her dresses, it was designed by Catherine Walker. It was lot 6 at the Christie's auction and is described in the auction catalogue as: A Classic Evening Dress of Chiffon:
Inspired by the classical simplicity favoured by Grace Kelly, the dress is strapless, of pale blue silk chiffon, intricately draped and tucked with a crossover yoke. There is a matching chiffon stole. 
It was worn at the 40th Cannes Film festival in January 1987 and July of the same year to the premiere of Superman IV. She also wore it to the opening of Miss Saigon in 1989 and official portraits by Terence Donovan. 

It has a bit of an interesting auction history. In 1997 it was bought by AMC/WE Tv network for $70,700 along with two others. The network wanted to take their dresses on a shopping mall tour titled 'Princess Diana:  Dresses to Die For.' Understandably, after Diana's tragic death, they quickly changed the title to 'Legacy of Love.' It has been exhibited in a variety of venues, including Dresses for Inspiration, as well as Kensington Palace. 

In 2007, the network tried to sell it on eBay for charity. It went from Christie's Auction House, the premiere auction house dating back to 1766, to EBAY, purveyor of Diana dolls and other royal tchotchkes. 

Let that sink in.    
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Luckily, it did not sell. With a starting bid of $300,000, either it wasn't the right audience or people just knew something so glorious deserved better. Instead it was sold by Julien's Auction House in Beverley Hills in 2011 for $137,500. The current owners are the Museo de la Moda in Santiago, Chile.

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Monday, June 22, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Tartan and Black Evening Gown?

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There is a strong tradition of Royalty in Scottish life. For generations, the royal family has enjoyed time at their estate in Balmoral and the Queen spends much of her summers there. At Balmoral, she finally gets the chance to relax and enjoy time away from the spotlight. During that time, the royals dress in their finery and hold an annual Ghilles Ball. This dress was made in 1990 for Scottish dancing and I can well imagine Diana, in this dress, trying to keep up with the Queen Mother while doing the Eightsome reel. But in February 1991, she also wore it to the Guildhall to support the The Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Centre. 

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Lot 33 was designed by Catherine Walker and is described in the auction catalogue as A long dress for Scottish Dancing. 
The long-sleeved black velvet bodice is piped in scarlet velvet with a square neckline. The waist and cuffs are cut to a point as is the bust-line. The full skirt is of green black and red silk in a plaid design, worn over a black organza and black tulle petticoat embroidered with tulle flowers.
It was originally purchased at the Christie's auction for $46,000 by Maureen Rorech Dunkle, who bought 14 dresses at the auction. She created a Dresses For Humanity tour to raise funds for charity. In 2011 she declared bankruptcy and the dresses were auctioned at Waddington's Auction House in Toronto. However, only four of the dresses sold. The remaining 10 dresses were auctioned by Kerry Taylor Auction House in 2013. 

This dress is not included in the catalogue for the Kerry Taylor auction, which leads me to believe it was one of the dresses sold at Waddingtons. I'm not certain who purchased it in Toronto but I believe the current owner is Museo de la Moda in Santiago, Chile. 

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

My Decade With Diana by Maureen Rorech Dunkle
Christie's auction catalogue: DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana's Dresses - Dresses for Humanity Exhibition catalogue

Friday, June 19, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Black Silk-Crepe and Diamante dress?

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Diana wore some beautiful dresses during her 1992 trip to India, including a magnificent Mughal beaded gown no one got to see! Although not as colourful, this dress is just as stunning. It was worn with the Spencer tiara, to attend a banquet hosted by Vice President Dr. Shanka Dayal Sharma at the Nizam of Hyderbad, India in February 1992. She also wore it again in March 1992 to the premiere of Hear My Song.

It was lot 39 in the Christie's Auction. It is described in the auction catalogue: A Long Evening Dress of Black Silk Crepe and Diamante Paste Embroidery:

In Empire style, the bodice is embroidered in a manner inspired by Mughal embroidery.The black silk crepe skirt is gently gathered at the bodice. 
 
Catherine Walker, the designer of the dress, offers further insight,

This dress was commissioned for an official visit to India. The more research I did for this dress the more I became lost in the rich complex pattern of Indian culture and its hybridization with the British influence of the Raj. I knew the Princess was intending to wear the Spencer tiara, and my daughter Marianne found a beautiful book for me on the decorative art of India, in which I came upon a sandalwood and ivory inlaid casket whose design seemed to compliment the tiara perfectly. The technical design of the embroidery drew upon this traditional pattern of marquetry, and the flatness of the stones is also particular to Indian jewellery. 

It was originally bought at the Christie's auction by Kate McEnroe, head of American Movie Classics channel/WE Tv for $42,500. They purchased two other dresses at the sale, and acquired a fourth one privately. 

They bought the dresses based on the romance Diana inspired. The network took their dresses on a shopping malls of America tour, with the tagline "Princess Diana's tour of Dresses to Die for". When Diana died, they renamed the tour 'Legacy of Love'. In 2007, the dress was included in an Auctioned Dress Reunion exhibit held at Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida and later in a Diana, Dresses of Inspiration exhibit. 

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It was subsequently auctioned in 2011 by Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills for $144,000. The owners are the Museo De La Moda in Chile. They have a reciprocal relationship with Historic Royal Palaces and have lent this dress, and several others, to Kensington Palace exhibits. 

Sources

Christie's Auction Catalogue; DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales
Catherine Walker - Autobiography of The Personal Couturier to Diana, Princess of Wales

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's White Lace Coat dress by Catherine Walker?

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Diana never failed to impress with the clothes she wore on official visits. She wore two stunning evening gowns during her visit to France in 1988. This is one of them. 

Described in the auction catalogue as 'An Evening Coat-Dress by Catherine Walker:
The dress is full-length and double breasted. I tis of white lace, embroidered overall in flowers of blue silk and white sequins. The lace embroidery is mounted on white shantung and the dress is lined with white silk. It has self-covered and sequinned buttons. The cuffs are also trimmed with buttons. 
Princess Diana specially commissioned this dress for her trip to France, where she wore it during a dinner hosted by the Minister of Culture, at the Chateau de Chambord. She also wore it to the Royal Opera House in June 1989. 

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Catherine Walker gives more insight into the design:
I chose white lace for this commission because it was a texture common at the court of Versailles, but I tailored it into a modern shame. Given the Princess's sense of panache I really do not know anyone else who could carry off this long sheath of glittering, icy embroidery in quite the way she did.
During this event she also met HSH Princess Caroline of Monaco (Later HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover). Interestingly enough, Princess Caroline, (daughter of Princess Grace of Monaco) had been a speculated bride for Prince Charles in the late 1970s. In 1983, Diana attended her mother's funeral. It was her first solo trip as a member of the royal family.

Lot 53 at the Christie's auction was purchased by Barbara O'Neill from Georgia for $27,600. In 2011 it was sold by Kerry Taylor auctions to the Museo de la Mode in Chile. The museum boasts the largest private collection of Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe clothes. 

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Christie's auction catalogue: DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales
Catherine Walker - An Autobiography by The Private Couturier to Diana, Princess of Wales
Kerry Taylor Auction Catalogue - 17th March 2011


Monday, June 15, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's pink Zandra Rhodes dress

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 Zandra Rhodes designed 10 dresses for Diana, this pretty dress was included in the Christie's dress auction in 1997. Lot 47 is described in the auction catalogue as A Mid-Length Dinner Dress in Pink Silk Chiffon.

The fabric printed in white on pink silk, with a design of pearl necklaces and lace. The gathered neckline has a pointed collar, edged with simulated pearls, glass beads and paste with pink satin cording. The skirt, pleated to below the hip has a pointed hem, echoing the pattern on the collar, edged with pearls and glass beads and trimmed with paste in lozenges and circles.

The Princess wore this dress to a State Banquet in Kyoto during her official visit to Japan in 1986, where she is photographed eating with upside down chopsticks. She wore it about three or four times: July 1985 at a Torvill and Dean party, Charleston Manor, Seaford Britain in aid of the London City Ballet and the Purcell school in July 1987. 

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At the original Christie's auction, it was sold to Melissa Scripps for $27,600. It was displayed as part of Suzanne King's Pink Ribbons Charity Exhibits, Dresses for a Cause at the Appleton Museum of Art in 2007, and as part of Kensington Palace's exhibit, Diana, Fashions and Style in 2008. The dress apparently passed through a few hands before it was subsequently auctioned in 2011 through Kerry Taylor Auction house for $35,000. The new owners are Historic Royal Palaces where it is now part of their Ceremonial Dress Collection.

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Sequinned Pink and Cream One-sleeve Gown by Catherine Walker


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So far, this is possibly the only dress whose colour has been influenced by the World Cup Championship. 

Lot 65 in the Christie's auction is described as 'A Long Evening Dress in Ivory Silk Crepe, by Catherine Walker'
The one-sleeved dress is embroidered in pink sequins and woven with gold thread to give the effect of shadowy flowers. The neckline is trimmed with sequins. 
It was worn during an official visit to Brazil in April 1991. The colour of the sequins was a safe one. Catherine Walker noted in her autobiography, 
The Princess of Wales took great care to honour the traditions and feelings of each country that she visited. Shortly before this visit to Brazil, the national football team had lost to Argentina in the World Cup and...in view of these circumstances we should not design anything in green, yellow and blue, which were the official colours of the team and definitely not in blue and white, which were the colours of the Argentinian football team. 
Diana wore it a second time, in August 1991, to the premiere of Stepping Out. She attended the after party where she was photographed laughing and chatting with Liza Minelli. 

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Maureen Rorech Dunkle paid $35,600 for the dress, and as with all of the dresses she purchased, this was a strategic bid, 
"From a geographic standpoint, I wanted most of the continents represented in my collection, and this was the first selection the Princess had worn in South America."
This dress, formed part of her popular Dresses for Humanity tour. In 2010, all of the dresses went up for auction in Toronto. This was a controversial sale and only three of the dresses met their reserve prices. The ten remaining dresses, including this one, were once again auctioned in 2013, this time at Kerry Taylor Auction House. Historic Royal Palaces bought two of dresses, paying £78,000 for this one and a dramatic black velvet Bruce Oldfield dress. Both now form part of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. 

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© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

My Decade with Diana by Maureen Rorech Dunkle
Christies: DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales Auction catalogue
Catherine Walker - An Autobiography By The Private Couturier to Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana's Dresses - Dresses for Humanity exhibition program

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's strapless black Emanuel dress?

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That dress. It wasn't included in the Christie's auction. Surprisingly, it didn't even belong to Diana. It is as iconic as the Revenge dress, but arguably, not as well known. Nonetheless, it marked a turning point in public perception, bookending distinct fashion styles. The 'revenge dress' was seen as powerful, a jettison of the past and royal expectations. The engagement dress was seen as a misstep before she was expected to fall into line. Lady Diana Spencer was 19 year old at her first official event after the engagement announcement. Who knew this unremarkable, nursery school teacher, could be so dazzling? The royals and the press clearly did not know what would hit them. 

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The dress was created by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. It was made of black silk taffeta, with embroidered with black sequins. It was strapless, low cut with a tight corseted bodice and full gathered skirt. Diana would wear many of their outfits including the pink blouse she wore for her Vogue cover shoot and the Diaghliv dress. But no outfits were more significant than this and the wedding dress of the century.  

However, it was not made for Diana. It wasn't new and it had already been lent to actress Liza Goddard. It was a sample Diana saw, hanging on a rail, when she visited their store looking for a 'grown up' dress to wear. She tried it on and loved it and the couple made a shawl of the same material so she could cover up on the night. Little did the Emmanuel's know what a furor the dress would cause, when Diana bent over to step out of the limousine. When Prince Charles exited the car first, he said to the waiting media, 'You want to see what's coming next'. 

She wore the dress on March 9, 1981, at a music and verse recital at Goldsmiths' Hall; her first public event with Prince Charles, after the engagement announcement. At this event she met Princess Grace of Monaco, who was giving a poetry reading at the event. She commiserated with Diana over the media frenzy, joking that it would get a lot worse. Diana's first solo engagement as a member of the royal family would be Princess Grace's 1983 funeral. 

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Although the press and public loved the dress and instantly raised Diana to fashion icon status, the royals were not as impressed. For the royals, black was worn at funerals, not for glamorous events. Forget that Queen Elizabeth II  and Princess Margaret had both worn similar black, strapless gowns in their day; albeit with less cleavage showing. The next day, photos of Diana made headlines, relegating UK Budget Day to the middle of the newspaper. The Iranian edition of Time also found the dress too revealing and had her bare shoulders blacked in. 

After the event, Diana had lost so much weight in the lead up to the royal wedding, she returned the gown to have it taken in. Instead, the Emmanuel's kept the original and made Diana a new, smaller version. Which Diana wore a few years later, without the original's memorable effect. 

 It was auctioned on June 8, 2010 by Kerry Taylor auctions for $276,000. The winning bidder was Fundacion Museuo De La Moda in Chile. Their museum boasts the largest collection of Diana's auctioned dresses. The owner of the museum, Jorge Yarur announced, upon his death, this gown and all of the other Diana dresses he owns, will be donated to Kensington Palace. 

© Marilyn Braun 2020 

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Diana - The Fashion Princess by Davina Hanmer and Tim Graham
A Dress for Diana - David Emanuel and Elizabeth Emanuel

Monday, June 08, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Silk Chiffon Purple Tulip and Green Leaves dress?


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This Catherine Walker dress was worn official visit to Nigeria, at a State Banquet in Lagos on March 15, 1989.  It is a stunning dress but unfortunately, I don't think she wore it more than once. Lot 69 Described in the auction catalogue

Of white silk chiffon, printed with deep purple tulips and green leaves, the bodice of this dress is folded in a pleat-like design to the hip and crossed over at the neck with a long streamer down the back. The dress has a low back and a gathered skirt of many metres of chiffon over white silk crepe, with a white silk petticoat.
Harper's Bazaar purchased the dress for $25,300. In 1998 it was donated by Mrs. Randolph Hearst, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It joins another Catherine Walker ballgown in their collection, which they also reluctantly accepted. At the time of the Christie's auction, Richard Martin, curator of the Costume Institute stated:
"This is the last great Cinderella story of the 20th century," Mr. Martin said earlier yesterday, "but that's not what the Metropolitan Museum looks for." He added that Diana's dresses had "associational" value because they were worn by her but did not in his view have historic or artistic value.
Even after her death, they continued holding this view.
While the Costume Institute had publicly stated it would not bid to buy any of Princess Diana's dresses in the 1997 Christie's auction, we said we might receive one in due course. Due or not, we have received two Catherine Walker ballgowns, both very characteristic of the princess' style for ceremonial but youthful evening wear. 
Would we have accepted the dresses if there had been no association with Diana? Probably not. But while I would not wish the Costume Institute to serve the cult of celebrity, clothing does not entirely lose its social an emotional dimensions simply because it is being considered by a museum. Fashion remains whole and human - always intimate, always feeling - and so must the museum's judgements. 
To date, the museum still owns this dress.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Met Museum: Ballgown 1989
Our New Clothes: Acquisitions of the 1990s
Met Publications: Recent Acquisitions, A Selection 1997-1998.
Browse the Met collection: Ballgown spring/summer 1990
Diana cleans out her closet and charities just clean up

Friday, June 05, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's long romantic ball dress by Catherine Walker?

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This is a different post. It is about a dress we have never seen Diana wear. She wore it to a private dinner event, which is why we have no photographs of her in it. Because of this, we have no recorded reaction to this dress, nor can we make a judgement in relation to her. I'm sure she would have looked great in it, as she did in all of Catherine Walker's creations.

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We do have a photo of her standing near the dress. Close enough? Mirelle Levy bought the dress for $21,450. It is described in the auction catalogue:

The strapless dress with a boned bodice is of printed silk organza with sprays of deep pink blue and yellow roses. The full skirt is flat in front, gathered at the sides and worn with a white organza and silk tulle petticoat. 

The one thing I do know about this dress, is where it is now. It was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1998. They did not bid on the dresses in 1997, but I am reminded of the immortal words from Richard Martin, Curator of the Costume Institute at the time of the auction:
"This is the last great Cinderella story of the 20th century," Mr. Martin said earlier yesterday, "but that's not what the Metropolitan Museum looks for." He added that Diana's dresses had 'associational' value because they were worn by her, but not in his view, have historic or artistic value."

Despite this, the museum accepted not one, but two of Diana's dresses in 1998. However, they had not changed their viewpoint towards the dresses when they accepted them.

While the Costume Institute had publicly stated it would not bid to buy any of Princess Diana's dresses in the 1997 Christie's auction, we said we might receive one in due course. Due or not, we have received two Catherine Walker ballgowns, both very characteristic of the princess' style for ceremonial but youthful evening wear. 
Would we have accepted the dresses if there had been no association with Diana? Probably not. But while I would not wish the Costume Institute to serve the cult of celebrity, clothing does not entirely lose its social an emotional dimensions simply because it is being considered by a museum. Fashion remains whole and human - always intimate, always feeling - and so must the museum's judgements. 

As of 2020, both dresses are still in their collection.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Our New Clothes: Acquisitions of the 1990s
Met Publications: Recent Acquisitions, A Selection 1997-1998.
Browse the Met collection: Ballgown spring/summer 1990
Diana cleans out her closet and charities just clean up

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Halter-Neck Black Dress?

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Possibly the first dress I've written about that marked the beginning of Diana's post-royal fashion style. Gone were the flounces and heavy embroidery. In its place, a sleek, sexy style Diana was to maintain for the rest of her life.

This dress is a black jet velvet halter-neck dinner dress in Clerici Silk Crepe. It was worn by Diana to an event organized by UNESCO, at Palace of Versailles in December 1994. She was invited in an official working capacity as president of Barnardo's Foundation for Children.

It was designed by Catherine Walker, and the inspiration for the embroidery came from an antique picture frame finished with marquetry edged in lead shot. She used black bugle beads for the marquetry and small boule for the lead-shot edging to frame her face and neck.

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According to Catherine Walker there are two versions of this dress. After Diana wore it to Versailles, she brought the first dress, which was made of silk crepe, to the designer for an alteration. Catherine Walker suggested changing it to velvet and Diana agreed. She wore the second velvet version for her iconic Testino portraits, taken months before her death.

It is described in the auction catalogue as A Halter-neck Dinner Dress in Black Velvet By Catherine Walker
The neck and one hip trimmed with black rectangular bugle beads edged with round black beads. The dress has a wrapped skirt to the waist.
It was lot 66 at the Christie's auction and purchased by Maureen Rorech Dunkle in 1997 for $57,500; one of fourteen she bought at the auction. She was inspired to participate after seeing photographs of Diana wearing the dress in Vanity Fair magazine. This dress, and the thirteen others, formed part of her Dresses for Humanity tour. In March 2013, it was sold at Kerry Taylor auctions to Donna and Michael Glenn. They recently lent it to the Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibit at Kensington Palace.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Golden Falcon Gown?

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As I've mentioned in previous posts (and in future ones too!), Diana knew how to pay tribute to the country she visited on royal tours. This is very much evident in her trip to Saudi Arabia, where she wore a dress embroidered with falcons, a symbol of courage and force.

Lot 64 is described as a Formal Dinner Dress of Cream Silk
The dress is embroidered with a flight of gold and silver sequinned falcons on the bodice and the train. The long sleeves and high neck of this dress enabled the Princess to conform to the customs of Saudi Arabia for which this dress was made for an official visit. The falcons are a compliment to the ruling house.
According to the designer, the falcon embroidery was applied, after the dress was made so the bird silhouettes could flow uninterrupted by the seams. In choosing the style, Diana was conforming to the custom of long sleeves, high neckline and hemlines to cover the ankle for both day and evening wear. It was worn for a private dinner in Saudi Arabia in 1986, thus there are no public photos of her wearing it.

It was bought by Pat Kerr, at the original Christie's auction, for $31,000. She also bought the Murray Arbeid silk tulle dance dress, and two others. To date, she still owns all four dresses; which she has loaned for various events including Diana fashion exhibits at Kensington Palace.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Princess Diana Forever - The Gulf States
Princess Diana Boutique - Another look at the Golden Falcon Gown worn in Saudi Arabia
Top Designer Cherishes Gowns Owned by Diana
Princess Diana's iconic dresses on show for anniversary
Dresses that tell a story: Princess Diana's life in fashion
Catherine Walker: An Autobiography by The Private Couturier to Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana: Her Life in Fashion by Georgina Howell
Christie's Auction Catalogue: DRESSES from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales

Friday, May 29, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Emerald Satin Victorian Ballgown?

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This is my least favourite dress. I have never liked the way it looks It seems like it is trying to be a combination of two or three dresses. I think Victorian dresses are truly beautiful, but this modern incarnation, I just don't think it works or suited Diana in general.

It was designed by Victor Edelstein, who created some truly beautiful dresses for her, including the iconic Travolta and a glorious white satin embroidered dress she wore in France. That particular dress has gone on its own journey and I will write about it in a future article. 

It is described in the catalogue as an 1880's inspired ball dress of deep emerald green satin by Victor Edelstein

The dress with a deep collar, over small cap sleeves with self-covered buttons down the fitted front. The full skirt has a drape and bustle effect, ruched and gathered, trimmed and piping. 
It is difficult to locate photos of the dress on its own (the image above is the only embeddable one I could find), but this blog article has some fantastic images, along with this one. It was worn for official portraits by Terrance Donovan. In one, Diana appears almost unrecognizable in this official portrait.  However, she did wear it in public at an Anglo-Spanish ball on November 25,1987. This is the only press coverage I could find.

Lot 34 in the Christie's auction, Mejiro Fashion and Art College in Tokyo paid $27,600 for it. The dress and two others, including the Yuki one are still owned by the College. The dresses are kept in a climate controlled room and brought out for special occasions, such as the first day of school and on the 10-anniversary of the school. From time to time, they lend the to dresses Kensington Palace for fashion exhibits.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Damask and Diplomacy
Style Queen: Princess Diana dress exhibition unveils the iconic looks that have been added to the collection
Desired Dresses: Princess Diana dresses return to the UK from Tokyo

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Mermaid Dress?

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This shimmering dress was designed by Catherine Walker. The dress is slit to the knee, and embroidered all over with petrol-green sequins by Jacob Schlaepfer. Described in the auction catalogue as 'A Long Sequinned Dinner Dress by Catherine Walker'
Of deep green embroidered overall by Jacob Schlaepfer to give a mermaid effect, the dress is V-necked and has long sleeves. The bodice is loosely ruched at the front and the dress is slit to the knee.  
Jacob Schlaepfer is an award winning Swiss textile and design manufacturing company. They have been in business for 100 years and during the pandemic, they have turned their attention to making glamorous face masks, including ones with sequins!

Diana labelled this her "Mermaid" dress. It was worn during a State visit to Austria at a gala performance of 'Love For Love' at the Vienna Burgh Theatre on April 14, 1989. A charity ball at Osterley House for a fundraiser for the British Paraplegic Society in May 1989, a Diamond Ball at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in December 1990, and the 'Biggles' film premiere in 1993.

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When Diana decided to include it in the auction, one of her sons expressed doubt anyone would buy the style in the late 1990s. Despite this, Lot #50 sold for $24,150 to Maureen Rorech Dunkle. She purchased the most dresses at the auction, including the iconic Travolta Dress. It formed part of the Dresses for Humanity touring exhibit, raising money for humanitarian causes.

After declaring bankruptcy in 2010, the dresses were auctioned in 2011 in Toronto. There was some issues with the Toronto auction and it turned out some of the dresses had not been sold after all because only three met their reserve price. The remaining ten dresses were auctioned again in 2013; this one to unknown ownership. In 2016 Kerry Taylor Auction House sold the dress for $126,000 to an 'unnamed British Museum' which turned out to be Historic Royal Palaces.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Rare Diana dresses bought by unnamed British Museum
Last airing of Diana's gowns?
Princess Diana gowns sell for $1.2million at auction
Sold! Princess Diana dress sells for 800K
Butterfly in Remission - Princess Diana review of Kensington Palace Exhibition
Princess Diana - See how much her iconic dresses really went for at auction
Video - Examples of Jacob Schlaepfer's work
My Decade With Diana by Maureen Rorech Dunkle
Christie's Auction Catalogue - Dresses from the collection of Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana - Her Life in Fashion by Georgina Howell

Monday, May 25, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Catherine Walker Eggshell Blue Chiffon and Lace evening gown?

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Diana was known for reworking her gowns to modernize and make them fresh again. Catherine Walker's pale blue chiffon and lace evening gown started out as a sleeved gown for an official trip to Qatar in 1986, and a state banquet for King Hassan of Morocco at Claridge's Hotel in July 1987. By 1989, it had been altered into a strapless gown. She wore it on several occasions after that, to a performance of Moulin Rouge at the Savoy Hotel in March 1989 and a state banquet in Cameroon in March 1990.


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Lot #18 is described in the auction catalogue as 'An Eggshell Blue Chiffon and Lace Evening Dress.

The bodice pointed in pale blue lace, trimmed with ribbon work flowers and pearlized sequins on pale blue satin. The dress, which is draped at the hips with pale blue silk chiffon and pearlized sequins, falls to a demi train at the back, with two trailing ties. 

Like the Elvis dress, this was bought by a company that makes commemorative items. Michael and Fredericka Lam, founders of The Great American Doll company bid on this dress with the purpose of using it for a limited edition Princess Diana doll they had created. It sold for $36,800, and was picked up from Christie's in a Brinks Armoured truck.

But the dress was almost destroyed. In 2000, the owners announced a charitable appeal, hoping to raise $100 million to benefit children in Third World countries. They planned to accomplish this by cutting the dress into four million, 2mm square fragments, and selling them for $25 each. The fabric pieces would be sold with their $225 Princess Diana doll or on its own as a numbered quantity "Princess Plaque". This would come with a Certificate of Authenticity. They also offered a parallel private sale or 'save the dress' option to buy the dress intact before being dismantled. According to The Great American Doll Company website, the main purpose of this 'ingenious plan' was to:

..generate an awareness of the plight of the world's children through one of the most profound, moving and admired individuals of the late Twentieth Century. Besides what we achieve from our cutting up and sale of this single dress, we expect to generate, through publicity and word of mouth and through the internet, a much larger interest and need for active participation in the real needs of the Twenty-First Century.

Unsurprisingly, this plan generated global media coverage. But after three days of press, the offer was withdrawn for undisclosed purposes. Instead, it was sold to a private collector. The initial plan may have raised awareness, but it did not raise one penny.

I have traced the dress to Jess and Suzanne King. At the original auction, Mr. King discouraged his wife from bidding on dresses. Instead he bought dresses for her as gifts; with the caveat they be used to do good, rather than stay in a closet. She founded the national Pink Ribbons Crusade, which raises money for breast cancer charities through her Diana exhibits. An avid collector of royal memorabilia, Ms. King has created various travelling exhibits to raise money for charity, including one boasting 26 of the 79 gowns, the largest reunion of auctioned dresses. The collection most recently appeared on the Queen Mary ship in Long Beach, California. The exhibit, Diana: Legacy of a Princess, ended its run in January 2019. She has also loaned dresses to Kensington Palace for their royal fashion exhibits.

Sources:

Di Dress Makes Cut For Collector's Biz
Reuters - Princess Diana dress to be cut up for charity
The Great American Doll Company Diana Dress
The Hem of Her Garment
Pink Ribbons Crusade
New Princess Diana dresses to be displayed at Queen Mary exhibit

© Marilyn Braun 2020

 Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Whatever happened to Jacques Azagury's blue and black sparkly dance dress?


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Continuing on with the 'OMG what was I thinking when I wore this?' theme, we have a ballerina length dance dress by Jacques Azagury. When you see this dress, you know exactly what decade it came from. The Christie's auction catalogue describes Lot #22 as:
The dropped bodice gives a 'flapper' or 'twenties' effect to this dance dress. The bodice is of black rayon, simulating velvet, embroidered with shiny blue stars and flower beads on a background of sprinkled multi-coloured glass beads. The full skirt of two layers of brilliant blue organza, is trimmed with a bow at the hip and has a black simulated silk petticoat. 
This is the kind of dress you find in your closet, mentally revisit your 80s fashion choices, then put it back. People magazine thought differently and paid $26,450 for it. This isn't the first time a dress was bought by a publication. Paris Match, and You Magazine each purchased dresses to give away as contest prizes. Can you imagine winning a Diana dress? The only royal items I've ever won is a book of Prince Philip quotes and a t-shirt with the Queen on it.  

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Regardless, Diana looked stunning and she wore it on several occasions. It was worn during two royal tours. At a banquet given by the Mayor of Florence in 1985 and Canada in 1986 for a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performance. She also wore it in January 1988 for a London City ballet performance at Britannic House. It was designed by Jacques Azagury, who has a section on his website about her. He also designed costumes for the Diana biopic starring Naomi Watts.

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As far as I can tell, it is still owned by People Magazine. They have lent the dress to Historic Royal Palaces for their popular Fashion Rules exhibit. It has also appeared on the Queen Mary Diana dress exhibit. Proving that there are many people are actually willing to pay to revisit their 1980s fashion choices.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

The Londonist: Regal Fashion Rules at Kensington Palace
Iconic royal fashion exhibition includes dress on loan from People
Jacques Azagury - Diana
Everything Royal - The Diana Dresses
Princess Diana is radiant - January 13, 1988 in a Jacques Azagury gown for Britannic House Ballet
How Princess Diana's Go-To Designer Recreated Her Iconic Looks For The Biopic
Princess Diana's royal couture dresses go on display at exhibition

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Royal Review: Imagining Diana by Diane Clehane

Imagining Diana joins the ranks of the 'Diana is still alive' genre. Usually the plot revolves around Diana escaping her royal life in a cloud of secrecy, constantly looking over her shoulder. The most famous woman in the world wears a disguise and adjusts to life as a regular person, until revealing her true self to a romantic interest who accepts her, Andrew Morton biography and all.

Imagining Diana is different. On that fateful night in Paris, moments before impact, she buckled her seatbelt and survived. But Diana is not unscathed. She has a scar on the side of her famous face. Noticeable, but not prominent enough to drastically change her appearance and negatively impact her photogenic appeal.

Surviving makes her feel more empowered, capable of relating to people better and greater opportunities on the world's stage. Or so the author tells us. While Diana's growth is compelling, the author tells us what happens, rather than shows us, thus skimming the surface of an intriguing concept. After years of therapy, the protection of a wealthy suitor, and the best plastic surgeons at her disposal, Diana can afford to live a charmed existence. The negative is minimized. What would have been more interesting, is watching her cope with the financial resources she was left with, rather than depending on the kindness of others, like the royal family, the Al Fayed's or in this case, billionaire Teddy Forstmann. She may have survived the crash and become a more empathetic person, but, even in this alternate universe, she has a luxurious lifestyle to maintain.

But we never get a sense of conflict in her interactions with the people you would expect her to, like Mohammed Al Fayed, Camilla, the Queen and eventually Catherine Middleton. Diana gets along with everyone. We are led to believe she would never feel threatened by Catherine or meddle in her media coverage. Perhaps the most unrealistic, becoming her ex-husband's trusted confidant, and  encouraging him to marry Camilla, who has been conveniently sidelined. Diana is inserted into events she would have attended, like Prince William's graduation from university, his wedding and eventually meeting her grandchildren. It's easy to rewrite history when you leave a space for her.

Despite this, Imagining Diana is riveting reading and I had a hard time putting the book down. As Diana walks off into the distance, I felt things were just getting started. With no historical scenarios to place her, exploring her future would be uncharted territory. I wanted to continue following Diana's journey as she adjusted to growing older and how her position in the royal family would have evolved during Charles' reign and eventually William's. As it is, we will never know. But Imagining Diana gives us a poignant idea of what might have been.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dear Harry and Meghan, Happy anniversary to you and to what might have been

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Two years ago, I watched in awe as Prince Harry finally got his happily ever after. Looking at Meghan's ecstatic face, bouncing with joy, as she joined Harry at the altar, you would never have suspected the family controversy only days before. The only evidence was Meghan walking alone, part way, up the aisle. Creating one of the most compelling royal wedding images ever.

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Today was indeed special. Harry had spent the last 7 years playing third wheel to William and Catherine at joint engagements. Now he would finally have a happy family of his own. There were signs this ceremony would be different, it was more personal and less formal. Judging by the reaction shots of the royals during the ceremony, they seemed uncertain how to respond to Bishop Michael Curry's energetic sermon. I doubt St George's Chapel had ever hosted an American gospel choir within its 500 year history. It was an unforgettable and unique day.

At the time. William, Catherine, Harry and Meghan, were lauded as the 'Fab Four'. Two years on, the royal family looks very different. It is hard to celebrate when the two couples held such promise for the future. Each generation plays a role in reinvigorating an institution viewed by many as outdated in democratic society. Queen Victoria was 18 when she inherited the throne, a fresh start after reigns of dissolute kings. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their young family, offered stability after the abdication crisis. Their daughter, Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, heralded a new future when she made her 21st birthday speech in South Africa in 1947.

Each heir has a path, a predetermined future, providing continuity people expect. But there are consequences when you step out of your lane or ignore it altogether. Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor, was a counterpoint to his stuffy parents. He brought the worst controversy in modern royal history. Princess Margaret had a scandalous relationship with Peter Townsend. Charles, Diana, Andrew and Sarah Ferguson brought their own troubles. Diana's death struck a different blow. For all of the doom and gloom predictions, the royal family survived, as they always do. But it is somewhat ironic that Camilla, the source of so much anguish in Charles and Diana's marriage, should be the one to help steady the ship.

William and Catherine are now caretakers of the future. Harry and Meghan tried to mould a different future and paid a high price in trying. Despite good intentions, maybe they never had a chance to begin with. Regardless of what happens in the future, the royal institution will continue, as it always does.

Today is Harry and Meghan's second wedding anniversary. A day to celebrate their happiness and joy. It is also a reminder of a promising future and what might have been.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

 Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Whatever happened to Princess Diana's Catherine Walker cream and salmon pink long dinner dress?

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Of the 79 dresses, this is, hands down, my absolute favourite. It is timeless, classic and if anyone could have worn it better, I haven't seen a photo. Nope, don't even show me one.  I will die on that hill, trust me. Sure, the word salmon doesn't sound attractive, but just look at photos of Diana. If anyone can make salmon look good, it is her.

Aside from my interest in it, this dress is hard to single out. Yes, it has large shoulder pads from the 1980s, but I don't think this negatively impacts the appearance. It also doesn't have elaborate beading, or a feature that would make it stand out from the rest of the auctioned gowns. It isn't associated with a famous figure, like the Elvis or Travolta dresses. As far as I can tell, it wasn't worn during an official tour.

Instead, it worn at a Royal Charity Performance of Swan Lake at the London Coliseum in November 1989. The gala was in support of the rare Russian Bewick swans that migrate to Great Britain during the winter. A year later at a tribute to Dame Margo Fonteyn. In 1992 for an Australian ballet performance CoppĂ©lia at the London Coliseum, and in July 1993 for a London engagement. Like many of Diana's other dresses, it has also appeared on a Franklin Mint commemorative doll.

This dress was chosen from a collection and original had a plunging neckline, which Diana thought was too daring. An insert was added in front but it plunges in the back, so I guess you could say both Diana and the dress designer got their way.

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It is described in the auction catalogue as: A long dinner dress of cream and salmon pink silk.

The dress has long sleeves and the bodice is of cream silk, cut to reveal an under bodice. The skirt, of salmon pink silk is slit at the back and the cuff to the sleeves are set with large gilt cufflinks, set with Baroque pearls. 

It was Lot #71 at the Christie's auction and purchased for $25,300 by Sheri and Bill Graham from Salisbury, North Carolina.It has been displayed at the Appleton Museum in Florida, charity functions and for educational purposes, such as middle school projects. It has also been included as part of "Diana: Legacy of a Princess" exhibit on the Queen Mary ship.

As of 2017, they still owns the dress along with another Catherine Walker purchased during the auction. They have declined offers to sell them. However, if they ever do for this one, I'll be happy to consider it.

© Marilyn Braun 2020

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Princess Diana captivates the world 20 years after her death
The exclusive Diana dress exhibit opens Sunday
Catherine Walker - An autobiography by The Private Couturier to Diana, Princess of Wales.
Christies: Dresses from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales auction catalogue

Friday, May 15, 2020

What happened to Princess Diana's Pink Silk Mughal dress by Catherine Walker


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As mentioned in a previous post, Diana elevated diplomatic dressing to an art form. This dress is another excellent example. It was designed by Catherine Walker  a favoured couturier who dressed Diana from 1982 until her death in 1997.

Lot #19 in the Christie's auction, it is described in the catalogue as 'A long Evening Dress of Pink Wild Silk, with an embroidered red bolero'.

It is further described:
The strapless bodice is embroidered overall with pink and white flowers, some couched, with green sequins, star-shaped sequins, gold glass beads and gold braid, echoing Mughal embroidery motifs. The long sleeved bolero jacket, has a bodice embroidered overall en suite with the dress. The cuffs each have three, fine buttons of pink and green paste. The dress was made for the Princess' India tour in 1992.

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Inspiration for the embroidery came from the lid of an Indian inlaid marquetry box found in a London market. The thread and needlework were chosen to reflect the country she was visiting and the embroidery was completed by S. Lock Ltd.

The 1992 India visit was Charles and Diana's second to last tour together before they separated in December of the same year. It led to some memorable images: the photo of Diana alone at the Taj Mahal, and another of her turning her head as Charles tried to kiss her. She wore several fantastic outfits in India but considering the amount of beautiful and intricate detail in this dress, I can't locate a single photo of Diana wearing it during the tour. The only photo of Diana in the dress was taken for the 1997 auction catalogue by Lord Snowdon.

It was bought by Maureen Dunkle Rorech, for $61,900. She purchased 14 gowns, including the Travolta dress but this one was her personal favourite. It went around the world in the Dresses for Humanity tour. I originally saw the exhibit in 1998 when it came to Toronto, but the dresses toured various locations, including Disney World, Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, and the Flying Monkey movie house in New Hampshire. However, the tour ran into trouble with creditors and in 2010, this dress was confiscated for five months until the debt was paid.

This dress, along with 9 others originally purchased by Ms. Rorech, was auctioned in 2013 by Kerry Taylor Auctions. It was bought for £66,000 ($82,000 USD) by William Doyle, CEO of Newbridge Silverware Museum in Kildaire, Ireland. It is currently on display in their Museum of Style Icons exhibit.

Photo © Kenneth Allen (cc-by-sa/2.0)

© Marilyn Braun 2020

 Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Sources

Princess Diana in India: A look back at her iconic visit
Princess Diana's Mughal dress to go under the Hammer
Diana Auction 1997
Princess Diana’s dresses fetch £800,000 at Kerry Taylor Auctions
The Diana Dresses
Shamed Florida socialite is forced to sell Diana's iconic dresses to pay off debts: But will Prince William buy them back?