Princess Diana's Travolta dress to auction for $459,000?

For many, the dance that Diana shared with John Travolta at the White House in 1985 was one of the most memorable moments in her short life, and now the spectacular dress she wore for the occasion is set to appear at a UK auction on March 19.

Princess Diana Travolta dress
Fit for a Saturday night? "The princess looked so happy and it wasn't always a very happy time," says auctioneer Kerry Taylor of Diana's 'Travolta dress'


Starring with an estimate of £200,000-300,000 ($305,989-458,940), the Victor Edelstein midnight-blue velvet gown will lead a sale of 10 of Diana's most iconic garments at Kerry Taylor Auctions, entitled Fit for a Princess.

Auction house founder Kerry Taylor places the Travolta dress as perhaps the most important the princess ever wore, next to the "take the plunge dress" that she sold for £192,000 ($293,667) in 2010.

"It's a very memorable moment, the princess looked so happy and it wasn't always a very happy time she was having," she told Paul Fraser Collectibles.

"Travolta was panic-stricken, his courage failed him, but then she turned round and gave him one of those big looks of hers."

"Princess Diana was a bit of a fashion icon really, everything she wore was constantly copied or scrutinised in the press," added Taylor.

"I think the tragedy of her early death, of such a young beautiful woman, has added to that appeal."

Princess Diana India dress auction
Pretty in pink: the dress that Diana wore for the 1992 state visit to India


In another of her renowned efforts for charity, the princess herself originally sold the dresses at Christie's in 1997, apparently at the behest of the young Prince William. They were later offered again in a 2011 auction, but many failed to sell, with the Canadian auction house attributing the lack of success to the high reserve placed on them by the consignor, Maureen Dunkel.

The Daily Mail newspaper recently reported that Dunkel is also responsible for the present sale, but Taylor declined to comment. However, she did state: "The estimates put on are fair; they're not stupidly high or low. I've tried to pitch them at a sensible, accessible level."

Princess Diana Vanity Fair dress auction
The dresses that Diana was photographed in or wore for state visits are the most valuable, such as this one worn in her 1997 Vanity Fair shoot


Aside from the Travolta dress, the auction also includes Diana's Catherine Walker Mughal-inspired dress that was made for the state visit to India in 1992, which is estimated at £80,000-120,000 ($122,330-183,300). The third highest estimate of the sale goes to the black velvet evening gown that was worn for Diana's 1997 Vanity Fair shoot by renowned photographer Mario Testino.

As to whether the current popularity of Diana's memorabilia will continue, Taylor is certain that the princess will stand the test of time, stating: "She was an important person in British history, and the mother of the future king. There's also the James Dean/Marilyn Monroe factor - it all adds to the allure."

Paul Fraser Collectibles has an outstanding selection of Princess Diana memorabilia for sale, while PFC Auctions offers a signed letter as part of its latest sale, which closes in just a few days.

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