Princess Diana’s dress to steal the show at Sotheby’s auction

Sotheby’s inaugural curated auction, ‘The One’, will showcase the apogee of human achievement in the finest objects spanning more than 2 millennia.

January 10, 2023: As the British royal family refuses to stay under the radar this month, Sotheby's will be offering a ball dress formerly in the collection of and worn by Princess Diana. This ball dress is the star of Sotheby’s inaugural curated auction ‘The One’ showcasing a classic selection of the products of human achievement in history, which narrate an exceptional and marvelous story of excellence in craft, artistry and endeavor – from the great civilizations of antiquity to the present fashion and entertainment world.

Princess Diana Purple Velvet Gown auction Sotheby's
Carrying an estimate of $80,000-120,000, the strapless evening dress crafted from deep aubergine silk velvet, with a tulip-shaped stiffened skirt in infanta style, was designed by society dressmaker Victor Edelstein. Although the dress was designed for Victor Edelstein’s Autumn 1989 collection, Mr. Edelstein included the outline of a tiara in his sketch, suggesting he specifically had Diana in mind for the dress. 

Princess Diana Purple Velvet Gown auction Sotheby's
In 1991, British portraitist Douglas Hardinge Anderson depicted Princess Diana wearing the ball dress in a painting now hung at the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund. The dress was featured in Vanity Fair in 1997, shot by Mario Testino during a famed portrait session and later appeared on Franklin Mint’s 1998 limited edition Princess Diana doll, as part of a collection of 1,000 dolls wearing her most iconic dresses. 

Princess Diana Purple Velvet Gown Portrait
Princess Diana's 1991 portrait by Douglas Hardinge Anderson, depicting her wearing the ball dress, which now hangs at the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund.  

The ball dress will be displayed alongside Sotheby’s Masters Week exhibitions starting January 21 and will be sold in ‘The One’ live auction on January 27 in New York. 

- By Pritha Debroy

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