Going, going, gone... Diana's dresses raise pounds 3.5m

There was not a drag queen in sight as more than 1,000 people jammed Christie's Park Avenue salerooms at the auction of Diana, Princess of Wales's wardrobe of 79 dresses and ball gowns worn primarily on state occasions from 1981 to 1996.

Instead, ladies from deepest Georgia and Tennessee, dripping drawls and golly-gosh enthusiasms, came for a piece of Diana, their Judith Krantz heroine come to life.

The Princess, back in England at the time of the sale, successfully emerged from this divestiture of royal relics as the protagonist of a new drama: that of patron saint of the very good cause.

In all, the sale of Diana's cast offs raised $5.7m (pounds 3.5m ) to fight Aids and breast cancer, a record for a charity event says Lord "Charlie" Hindlip, Christie's international chairman and the evening's auctioneer. Almost pounds 2m came from the dresses. Another pounds 1.1m was earned by the sale of coffee-table catalogues and additional monies were raised by fund-raisers in New York and London.

As anticipated by Christie's, the sale drew a new kind of buyer, often a novice bidder enticed by the catalogue and the lack of a reserve bid. The bridal designer Pat Kerr, of Memphis, Tennessee, bought four dresses to add to her collection of 10,000 pieces of royal memorabilia dating from 1700. Wearing T-shirts and tuxes and looking unlike most audiences who come to this elite saleroom, the crowd featured a self-described "Diana fanatic" with Diana dolls strung from his shoulders, and a collector of celebrity memorabilia eager to add to his stash of shirts worn by Elvis and Donna Reed's earrings from It's a wonderful Life.

No doubt out of deference to the Princess of Wales, the newly casual and modern magazine cover girl, the editors of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar were in attendance. The takings will benefit the Aids Crisis Trust and the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund in Britain and the Aids Care Centre at New York Hospital, the Harvard Aids Institute and the Evelyn H Laudler Breast Center and Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center in the United States.

While pre-sale hype had projected earnings of $7m (pounds 4.2m), Lord Hindlip admitted: "$1.6m would have been my guess. We're thrilled. I was a mite frightened that the sale had been talked up too much."

Sale prices dropped and then rose dramatically at the sale's end with the record amount ever earned by a costume: pounds 120,301 for the "John Travolta dress", an ink-blue velvet gown by Victor Edelstein in which the Princess danced with the film star at the Reagan White House in 1985. The bidder was an anonymous American. The lowest bid was pounds 13,143 for a Walker tunic dress.

"These are the holy relics of the great Cinderella story of our time," remarked Richard Martin, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Material girl's garments - a cut above the rest and with a price to match

No 1 (pounds 120,301): Ink-blue silk velvet gown by Victor Edelstein in which Diana danced with John Travolta at the White House during a state banquet given by President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

No 2 (pounds 81,203): Catherine Walker's strapless evening dress and jacket with high collar, in white crepe silk, which Diana wore for the 1989 British Fashion Awards in London.

No 3 (pounds 48,120): Again by Edelstein, an embroidered dinner dress and bolero in oyster duchesse satin, featured on the cover of the auction catalogue.

No 4 (pounds 45,113): A white sari-style silk chiffon gown by Gina Fratini for Hartnell.

No 5 (pounds 40,902): Walker's short, draped cocktail dress in grey silk, which Diana wore to the Serpentine Gallery, London.

No 6 (pounds 39,699): By Hachi, a long, embroidered dinner dress in cream silk chiffon, which Diana wore on several occasions, including an official visit to Japan.

No 7 (pounds 39,098): Christina Stambolian's off-the-peg black cocktail dress which Diana wore at the Serpentine the night her estranged husband, interviewed on prime-time television, admitted adultery.

Joint No 8 (pounds 37,293): A halter-necked evening dress in midnight-blue silk crepe, by Edelstein, and Walker's pale-blue chiffon evening dress, worn by Diana at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, and to the London opening of Miss Saigon in 1989.

No 10 (pounds 34,887): Walker's midnight-blue and white satin cocktail dress, which Diana wore during an official visit to Japan in 1986.

r Walker had 50 dresses in the sale and Edelstein 10. Fratini, Hachi and Stambolian scored hits with their only entries in the auction.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering