Designed by society dressmaker Victor Edelstein, the ”Infanta”-style dress was immortalized in several ways on the late princess: portraiture, editorial, and even on a doll. Now, the dress will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s New York and may fetch upward of $120,000.
In 1991, Princess Diana sat on a magnificent Victorian chair whose crest rail was opulently designed with a crown and two gold lions perched on each side. Despite the ongoing turbulence in her marriage, the Princess matched the chair’s grandeur: her posture was that of a swan’s and her natural beauty was further illuminated by the aubergine silk velvet gown designed by the society dressmaker Victor Edelstein. With a quick flash from Lord Snowdon’s camera, the Princess and the dress were immortalized in a royal portrait. Thirty years later, on January 27, the dress will be sold in Sotheby’s New York’s inaugural ”The One” auction with an estimate of nearly $120,000.
”Among her many lasting influences, Princess Diana was revered for her effortless sense of style, which is perhaps best captured by this sleek and sophisticated ball gown designed by world-renowned Victor Edelstein”, Christina Prescott – Walker, Sotheby’s Global Director of Art and Objects, explained. ”Epitomizing her timeless grace and elegance, the gown was selected for Diana’s wardrobe and forever immortalized in her official portrait by Lord Snowdon in 1991”.
Aside from the portrait taken by Snowdon, the dress made several other memorable appearances. Also in 1991, British Portraitist Douglas Hardinage Anderson depicted the Princess in te same exact dress and imagined it against an outdoor backdrop. The painted portrait currently sits on the walls of the Royal Marsden Hospital Fund, an organization for which Diana served as President.
Six years later, Princess Diana would wear the same dress in an editorial spread lensed by Mario Testino, which would be the last official portrait of her before her untimely death. The dress was so memorable that a miniature one was made and featured in the Franklin Mint’s 1998 limited edition Princess Diana doll and was noted as one of her most iconic gown.
But, this isn’t the first time the dress has been seen at auction. In 1997, 80 dresses from Princess Diana’s personal collection were sold, with the proceeds benefitting both the AIDS Crisis Trust and the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer fund. The gown was, of course, a part of this batch.
”To feature this gown in our inaugural, curated auction ”The One”, which places it in dialogue with many other best-in-class objects spanning millennia of human history”, Prescott-Walker says, ”Is a testament to Diana’s irrepressible spirit”.