Princess Diana’s aubergine-colored silk velvet outfit is still one of her most recognizable looks, even though it may not be as well-known as her eye-catching “revenge dress.” The late princess wore it for two different occasions: an official royal photograph in 1991 and a private Vanity Fair spread in 1997, the year before she passed away.
At a Sotheby’s sale in New York later this month, the dress will be auctioned off for the first time in more than 25 years and is predicted to bring in much to $120,000.
The strapless dress, created by fashion designer Victor Edelstein, has a sweetheart neckline with sculptured details and a tulip-shaped skirt. At a Christie’s charity auction in 1997 that also included 79 garments donated by Diana, it last traded hands for $24,150.
The proceeds from the $3.25 million in sales, which also benefited the Royal Marsden Hospital, where she was president for eight years, and other AIDS and cancer charities, were made available to the public.
In the Mario Testino-photographed Vanity Fair article, the magazine highlighted the auction and referred to her decision to sell the dresses as “a powerful symbol of her changing life” following her highly publicized divorce from Prince Charles, saying that she was “jettisoning a life that never was.”
The Princess of Wales, however, was more circumspect when speaking about her choice to part with the clothes, only stating that it was “a struggle to let go of these wonderful outfits.” However, she told the publication: “I am quite pleased that others can now share the delight that I had wearing them.”
According to Sotheby’s, Edelstein created special outfits for the Princess for more than a decade. However, the deep purple dress was a part of his Autumn 1989 collection. In 1991, Douglas Hardinge Anderson depicted it in a painting; in 1998, the Franklin Mint produced a doll with the same motif.
Additionally, Edelstein is responsible for Diana’s midnight blue “Travolta Dress,” the long velvet gown she famously danced in while at the White House and which, after failing to sell at auction, was donated to a charity in 2019 and sold for £264,000 ($347,000).
On January 27, Sotheby’s auction “The One” will include this Edelstein dress along with other notable items from the worlds of fashion and entertainment, such as a ticket to former President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 birthday party, where Marilyn Monroe serenaded him, and LeBron James’s Miami Heat jersey from the 2013 NBA Finals.