Princess Diana's 'most romantic and ornate' gown set to fetch up to £80k at auction

Nicola McCafferty
Yahoo Lifestyle

One of Princess Diana's most iconic dresses is going up for auction today - and it could fetch up to £80,000.

The fairytale, white and gold gown from the Emanuel 1986 'Diaghilev' collection, has been described as "arguably one of the most ornate, romantic of all Princess Diana’s gowns."

Shimmering with gold sequins, crystals and pearl beads, the dress - which features optional sleeve panels, a petticoat and bodice with a split peplum style - comes with a matching headband.

The iconic gown was said to have been inspired by Leon Bakst's designs for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, evident in the bold use of geometric patterning.

Princess Diana was said to have first caught sight of the dress at a Red Cross benefit fashion show in the summer of 1986, selecting it from 12 gold and white creations that the Emanuels had sent for the occasion.

Unusually, she acquired the show model - rather than commission another gown from the designs. And being a standard size 10 model, the dress fitted her perfectly.

Princess Diana chose to wear the dress on many occasions, but was first photographed in it on July 4, 1986 when she attended a banquet for a State visit of Richard von Weizsaker, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany at the time.

Re-wearing the dress for later engagements - sometimes with and without the petticoat or the sleeve panels - she often plumped for a diamond tiara instead of the headband.

She was photographed wearing it again on July 22, 1986 (a day or two before the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York) and wore the dress for a third time to the Royal Opera House for a performance of 'Ivan the Terrible' by the Bolshoi Ballet.

On this occasion she also wore the padded headdress, sleeve panels and petticoat – the complete ensemble.

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And her wear of the dress didn't stop there either, as she was also photographed in the gown when she attended the premiere of the James Bond film The Living Daylights almost a year later, at the Odeon, Leicester Square on June 29th, 1987 (with the wide layered petticoat).

The gown will today go up for auction at Kerry Taylor Auction House, with auctioneers estimating it could fetch between £50,000 to £80,000.

The Emanuels, who designed the dress, were described as some of the favourite designers of the Princess during the 1980s, but recalled being unsure as to what the Princess would make of the design.

Elizabeth Emanuel admitted they were pleasantly surprised to hear the Princess say she "loved it," having been hesitant as to what she would make of the lavish gold and white design.

Princess Diana went on to plump for a number of their designs too; most notably choosing for them to design for her Royal bridal gown in 1981, having already opted for two of their designs for official engagement purposes.

Kerry Taylor Auctions is famed for selling historically important Royal garments, ranging from King Charles I nightshirt, to Kate Middleton’s see-thought fashion show dress to Princess Diana’s couture velvet ‘Travolta’ gown.