Dress for Princess Diana's first Royal appearance could bring £50,000

In 1981, the engagement of Charles and Diana had just been announced, and she had the daunting task of preparing for her first official appearance with her fiancé.

That appearance drew perhaps a little more attention than was desired. As Diana bent forward to climb out of her car she was met with a fury of press flash bulbs and the headlines next day included 'Daring Di sets fashion as she takes the plunge'.

The black taffeta gown worn by Princess Diana will be coming up for sale on June 8th 2010 at Kerry Taylor Auctions.

However, whilst the 19 year old Diana thought that black was a very elegant and grown-up colour to wear it was deemed at the time an unusual choice as the Royal family wear this colour exclusively for mourning!  But the public reaction to her appearance was rapturous.

Princess Diana's plunging black dress
Princess Diana in her plunging black dress

The dress was created by young British designers David Emanuel and Elizabeth Emanuel who aided and abetted her fashion forays in the very early days, and it is their collection of clothes and ephemera which is coming to auction.

They first came to Princess Diana's attention in Spring 1981, when she selected a simple oyster pink chiffon Emanuel blouse from rails of other suggested clothes, for a Vogue photo-shoot to celebrate her recently announced engagement to Prince Charles.

The blouse is also included in the auction and is estimated to fetch £10,000-15,000.

The black gown had been thought to be lost. As the weeks before her wedding progressed Diana lost so much weight that she returned the gown to the Emanuels to have it taken in. The alterations required were so drastic that they decided it would be easier to re-make a smaller version for her.

They kept the original and forgot about it - only re-discovering it quite recently. It was even rumoured that the Princess had destroyed the black dress.

To prove that this was not so, it will be sold together with an original copy of the invoice, fashion sketches and contemporary photographs of her wearing it, with an estimate of £30,000-50,000.

The archive, comprising 30 collectible lots of rare memorabilia, ranges from actual clothes worn by the Princess to fashion sketches, invoices, letters and related ephemera, and records the emergence and transformation of Lady Diana Spencer from a young, inexperienced fashion virgin to a style icon.

A large part of the Emanuel Archive focuses on the Royal wedding gown and includes original designs and toiles for the bridal gown and bridesmaid dresses, the layered tulle petticoat worn by Princess Diana for fittings and rehearsals at St Pauls Cathedral.

A duplicate sequined veil, invoices, letters from Lady Diana's mother, correspondence with Buckingham Palace and a photographic record of the making of the bridal gown also appear.

The collection ends with fashion designs for Princess Diana's official tours to Venice 1984 and the Middle East in 1986.

Those interested in collecting Princess Diana memorabilia will wish to take a look at this Christmas card from Charles, Diana and the young Princes, this stunning signed portrait of her or our Royal portfolio, all of which are currently available.


Image: Richard Young

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock