Diana dress fetches record-breaking price tag at auction

The ballerina-length dress designed by Jacques Azagury went for eleven times its estimate.

Rachel Vickers-Price
Monday 18 December 2023 13:48 GMT
Diana, Princess of Wales wore the dress in Italy in 1985 (PA)
Diana, Princess of Wales wore the dress in Italy in 1985 (PA)

A gown worn by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1985 broke a new fashion record, going under the hammer in Hollywood for 11 times its estimated price.

The black, ballerina-length velvet evening dress sold at Julien’s Auctions for a grand total of 1,148,080 US dollars (£904,262).

It came with a matching illustration and had previously been estimated by experts as likely to sell for 100,000 dollars (£78,776).

However, due to its actual sale price, the gown – which came complete with shoulder pads, a blue organza skirt, a large bow, and a sash – is now the new record holder as the most expensive dress worn by Diana sold at auction.

The previous record holder, a 1991 velvet gown by Victor Edelstein, fetched 604,800 dollars (£476,437) at an auction in January.

That means Diana’s Jacques Azagury gown has nearly doubled the gap between first and second place.

Diana initially donned the frock in Italy in 1985 whilst on a royal tour with her then-husband Charles, Prince of Wales, and again to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in 1986.

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

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

Also on sale at the Julien’s Auctions and TCM Present: Hollywood Legends event was a blouse worn by Diana for her engagement portrait in 1981.

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

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

Hollywood stars’ clothes also up for auction included a Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1963 comedy Charade, a sleeveless gown worn by Gloria Swanson in the 1950 noir film Sunset Boulevard and Barbra Streisand’s sailor dress from a 1960s special called My Name Is Barbra.

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