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Princess Diana’s Jacques Azagury evening gown fetches more than $1million to set auction record

The custom Azagury sold for 11 times its listed price, setting a new record for the most expensive dress worn by Diana that has ever been auctioned

Maanya Sachdeva
Monday 18 December 2023 21:16 GMT
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Famous Princess Diana jumper goes on display ahead of Sotheby's auction

A dress worn by Diana, the Princess of Wales, and made by her favourite designer Jacques Azagury has set a new record after it was auctioned for over $1.1m.

The Morocco-born British designer’s creation, a statement ballerina-length evening dress featuring blue embroidered stars, went under the hammer for a staggering $1.14m (£904,262), making it the most expensive item of Diana’s clothing ever to be sold.

The quintessential Eighties ensemble, complete with shoulder pads, a two-tone drop waist detail, sash, and bow, was estimated to fetch around $100,000-$200,000 at the Hollywood Legends event on Saturday.

After a fierce bidding war, the custom Azagury sold for 11 times its listed price.

The dress worn by Princess Diana at a dinner in Florence in 1985

Before Saturday night, the most expensive dress worn by Diana was a 1991 velvet gown designed by Victor Edelstein, that sold for $604,800 (£476,437) at an auction in January.

The Azagury dress also set a new record for the highest price for any item of clothing worn by Diana, narrowly beating the famous “black sheep” jumper she was often seen wearing. The sweater from Warm & Wonderful sold for an eye-watering $1.1m (approximately £901,500) at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in September.

Diana first wore the Azagury dress in 1985, during a royal tour of Italy with her then-husband Charles, the former Prince of Wales. It was the first outfit Azagury ever created for Diana, three weeks after they were introduced by former Vogue editor Anna Harvey at a trade show in London.

Recalling their first meeting, Azagury told the Daily Telegraph Diana had “his amazing ability, even when people were in awe of her, to put you at ease”.

Three weeks later, he continued, “the palace called and said ‘would you mind if the princess came to your atelier?’ I was delighted, and made my first dress for her which was velvet with stars”.

Azagury, at the time, said the outfit was a “bit of a first attempt to take her away from the ‘Sloane Ranger’, ruffled look she was previously known for”.

Jacques Azagury at the World Premiere of ‘Diana’ at the Odeon Leicester Square on September 5, 2013

The collector’s item was constructed with fabric chosen by world-renowned textile merchant Jakob Schlaepher and featured metallic embroidered stars on the blouse, carefully threaded by Azagury’s design team.

The ballerina skirt was considered a nod to Diana’s patronage of the English National Ballet and her love of dance.

Diana would wear the dress one more time, picking the outfit for a visit to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in 1986.

Azagury’s friendship with Diana continued well into her “revenge dress” era, following her divorce from Charles, with the duo working in collaboration to pick and choose the right outfit for the princess’s highly publicised appearances.

One of the most famous examples, Azagury previously revealed, was the black halterneck dress Diana wore to a charity gala in November 1995 – the same night her infamous BBC Panorama interview was aired.

“She said, ‘Jacques, I’m going to be stepping out of the car just as the interview starts, so I will need a really good, sexy dress,’” Azagury explained. “I went to the palace with three options and she chose the black one, because as a royal she wasn’t able to wear black unless it was for mourning.

“I think it was her way of showing that she was free and liberated.”

Also on sale at the Hollywood Legends event was the blouse Diana wore for her engagement portrait in 1981.

The pink crepe blouse features a ruff-like collar and loose pleats to the front, and was captured on film by royal photographer Lord Snowdon.

It sold for $381,000 (£300,990), or nearly four times its original estimate of $80,000.

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