'Take the plunge' dress that made Princess Diana a star sells for £192,000

The Black Taffeta gown worn by Princess Diana for her first official appearance with HRH Prince Charles in 1981 was sold for £192,000 yesterday (June 8) at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London. It was estimated to fetch £30,000-50,000.

Diana wore the dress shortly after she and Charles had announced their engagement - during the public appearance which was her first step to becoming a much-loved Royal and global icon.

As Auctioneer and Expert-in-Charge, Kerry Taylor, explained: "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 rumoured that the Princess had destroyed the black dress.

"It was sold together with an original copy of the invoice, fashion sketches and contemporary photographs of her wearing it."

The dress, which was bought by Fundacion Museo De La Moda in Chile, was one of 30 lots being sold by Elizabeth Emanuel and David Emanuel. The collection ranged from actual clothes worn by the Princess to fashion sketches, invoices, letters and related ephemera.

High prices were also paid for the simple oyster pink chiffon blouse, also by the Emanuels, which Diana wore for the Vogue photo-shoot to celebrate her recently-announced engagement to Prince Charles in 1981. This realised £26,400 against an estimate of £10,000-15,000 and was bought by Newbridge Silverware Museum in Ireland.

Princess Diana at her first official appearance with Prince Charles, 1981

The third highest price was paid, also by Newbridge Silverware Museum in Ireland, for the final calico toile for the Royal Wedding gown which sold for £20,400. It was estimated at £8,000-12,000.

A delighted auctioneer Kerry Taylor, said: "This has been the most exciting auction of my entire career, it was a tense and we had to fight for the bids and the competition was intense. We had a lot of interest from overseas as well as institutional bidding from the UK.

"The high prices that we saw today reflect the enduring love affair with Princess Diana, who was not only a style icon and beautiful princess, but a humanitarian who touched the lives of so many people."

She continued: "The black gown was bought by Jorge Yarur, who has established a world-ranking fashion museum in Santiago, Chile. I know now that dress will be taken proper care of especially when you consider that it has spent the last two decades in a black bin bag in David's garage.

"I spoke to Mr Yarur after the auction and he announced that upon his death, not only this gown, but all the other important Diana dresses he owns will be donated to Kensington Palace and so I am delighted that one day this dress will come home. It's the perfect ending to a perfect sale."

Elizabeth Emanuel and David Emanuel have expressed their delight that the gown has gone to such a good home and that it attracted so much international interest. Elizabeth felt that Kerry Taylor has presented the auction in a manner that was appropriate and respectful, which created a unique event. 

Memorabilia associated with the late Lady Diana is among the most valuable and sought-after on the market. Artefacts currently for sale to collectors include rare signed photos of Prince Charles with Diana - one with a baby Prince William and one with both William and Prince Harry.

Previously, her autographs have commanded values of anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000, and sometimes more - and the sale of her dress is sure to attract worldwide attention.


Join our readers in 171 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today


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