Historic Royal Palaces, an independent British charity, has acquired two of Princess Diana´s iconic gala dresses that were held in private collections for years. The organization has stated that the gowns will remain in Great Britain.
Historic Royal Palaces is the institution that looks after historic landmarks like the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kew Palace, and Kensington Palace, which was Diana‘s official residence. Kensington Palace was the place she chose to live after her divorce, and where her sons spent most of their childhood.
1. Zandra Rhodes. $40,000.
2. Victor Edelstein. $200,000.
The sale of 12 of the princess’ gowns at auction raised 800,000 pounds (1.2 million dollars). Historic Royal Palaces bought the Bruce Oldfield black velvet dress Diana wore in 1985 to the premiere of Les Miserables; and a Catherine Walker ivory silk crepe evening gown decorated with pink sequins worn in 1991 during a state visit to Brazil.
The price paid for both was over 107,000 pounds (162,266 dollars). According to the institution, at least one of the dresses will be displayed at Kensington Palace during an exhibition of their Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection later this year.
One of the most coveted pieces of the evening was a midnight blue velvet gown with a diagonally swathed skirt that flares out into a broad flounce above layered tulle petticoats by Victor Edelstein. Diana wore it in 1985 to a dinner hosted by President Ronald Reagan in the White House, where she was photographed dancing with John Travolta. It was the first state visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to the United States. The undisclosed buyer said he wanted to surprise his wife with the purchase.
1. Catherine Walker. $42,000.
2. Catherine Walker. $55,000.
The other nine pieces were sold to international bidders, including three museums. These include the black velvet and beaded evening gown designed by Catherine Walker, which Diana wore for the Vanity Fair photo shoot by Mario Testino at Kensington Palace in 1997.
Many of Lady Di‘s dresses have gone to second and third owners because in 1997, months before her death, at the suggestion of her son William, the princess sold dozens of dresses at a charity auction. ■