Throughout her life, Princess Diana constantly made heads turn with her gorgeous fashion choices. Although she was known for pioneering a more casual look for the royal family, you could always count on being stunned by the gowns she wore to fancy events. Now, you can get your hands on one of her iconic dresses — if you have a few hundred thousand dollars, that is.
A midnight blue, off-the-shoulder velvet gown designed by Victor Edelstein is being sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions on December 9, 2019. They estimate it will go for somewhere between £250,000 and £350,000 ($323,761.25 and $453,264,75 in US dollars). It makes sense that anything worn by Diana wouldn’t go cheap, especially something so gorgeous, but she also happened to be wearing it on one of the most memorable evenings.
Diana first donned the gown to the 1985 White House State Dinner where she and Charles were guests of Nancy and President Reagan. Several other big names were in attendance, including Clint Eastwood, Neil Diamond, and John Travolta. It was the First Lady who encouraged Travolta, who was known for his killer moves and riding high off his recent box office hits Grease and Saturday Night Fever, to ask the princess for a dance. Photos were quickly snapped of the pair gliding across the dance floor, hence the gown being dubbed the “Travolta Dress.”
This wasn’t the only time she slipped into the gown for a special event though, it was one of her most beloved dresses. As the auction website explains, it was one of Diana’s most repeated items from her collection, worn for at least five other appearances throughout her life. She even donned it for her final official portrait in 1997, pairing it with the same pearl and sapphire necklace she had on the night of her dance with Travolta. This habit of re-wearing items was another way Diana stood out from the rest of the royal family — and something her daughters-in-law, Catherine and Meghan, have taken on with their own repeated looks over the years, too.
Diana originally fell in love with the dress when she saw it in designer Edelstein’s studio, but it was shown in burgundy. She requested he create the dark blue version for her, which required several fittings that took place at Kensington Palace. When she finally tried on the finished dress, she was so excited that she showed it off to Charles immediately. According to the auction house, Edelstein recalled Charles telling her she looked wonderful and that it would work perfectly with jewels.
The gown was first auctioned off shortly before her passing in 1997 by Diana herself, along with 78 other dresses from her collection, with the proceeds going to AIDs charities that were near and dear to her heart. It was sold again in 2013 for £240,000 ($310,597.20) to a man who, according to the Daily Mail, simply bought it to cheer his wife up.
There are three other Diana items up for grabs at this latest auction, including two other deep blue dresses — another beautiful evening gown designed by Katherine Cusack, and a Catherine Walker day dress — plus a limited edition catalogue from Diana’s 1997 auction, which was signed by the princess. Those are going for a bit less than the six-figure price tag on her “Travolta Dress,” but will still set you back at least a few thousand dollars.
Although most of us can’t afford such a high price tags, it’s still fun to daydream about owning a piece of Diana’s closet.