The gown featured off-the-shoulder straps, a floor-sweeping velvet skirt, a decorative bow to one side and layers of tulle petticoats.
For the occasion, the royal accessorised the dress with an oval sapphire and diamond necklace that was surrounded by strands of pearls.
The item was a wedding present from the Queen Mother and was originally a brooch before Diana had it converted into a choker.
While the exquisite gown was newsworthy in its own right, the garment became one of the royal’s most iconic outfits after footage of her dancing with Grease actor John Travolta was seen worldwide.
The dress was a firm favourite of Diana’s and was worn by her on at least four other occasions, including a state visit to Austria in 1986 and a night at the Royal Opera House in 1991. She also wore it for her portrait by Lord Snowden in 1997.
In June 1997 – just two months before the royal’s death – Diana auctioned off the dress for £100,000 to raise funds for Aids charities.
Florida-based businesswoman Maureen Dunkel purchased the gown and kept it in her possession until it was sold for £240,000 in March 2013.
According to reports, a British man purchased the item as a gift to cheer up his wife.
Now, Diana’s velvet gown is up for sale once again, with London-based auction house Kerry Taylor Auctions estimating it will be sold for £350,000.
“This is considered one of the most important and iconic gowns ever worn by the Princess,” said Lucy Bishop, of Kerry Taylor Auctions.
“The photos of her being twirled around on the dance floor by a handsome John Travolta at the White House caused a sensation at the time, and remain so memorable today.”
Bishop described the dress as an “unusually glamorous choice” for the young Princess, who would normally choose more demure looks to adhere to royal protocol.
“She knew that evening would be sprinkled with stardust from the few Hollywood stars also invited, and took full advantage of the occasion,” Bishop said.
In an interview with People magazine in 1985, Travolta revealed that he was invited to the event by Nancy Reagan, who wanted him to dance with Diana.
“She asked me if I would mind dancing with the princess later in the evening,” Travolta recalled.
“I asked if that was appropriate, and Mrs Reagan smiled and said, ‘Oh yes. It’s one of her wishes. When the music from your movie comes up, if you wouldn’t mind just asking her if she’d care to dance’.”
The actor added that he was impressed with the royal’s dancing abilities, stating that she had “great rhythm”.
The sale of Diana’s dress is set to take place on 9 December 2019. You can find more information on the auction here.
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