It was the wedding of the century, when Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles. Now a draft of Princess Diana’s royal ivory wedding gown is among several of the late princess’ dresses going up for sale at an auction in London next month.
The dress had been missing for years until David Emanuel recently discovered it in a plastic bag at his home. Along with other garments worn by Diana and designed by the Emanuels, it is to be auctioned off June 8 in a sale that includes the silk chiffon blouse chosen for the Princess of Wales’ official engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon, and the calico prototype used to fit her famous ivory wedding gown.
Here’s details from the auction house:
Tuesday June 8th at 2pm
Kerry Taylor Auctions is proud to be involved in the sale of the historically important Emanuel Royal Archive as part of the Passion for Fashion Auction on June 8th .This collection comprises around 30 lots ranging from actual clothes worn by the Princess to fashion sketches, invoices, letters and related ephemera (lots 235-264). The collection is estimated to fetch between £70-110,000. This fascinating archive charts the young Lady Diana’s emergence onto the world stage – from shy nursery school teacher to glamorous leader of fashion. These very early garments dating from 1981 show the young woman’s love of romantic fairy-tale gowns, resplendent with acres of taffeta, bows and flounces. The gowns Princess Diana chose to wear at this point in her life reflected the New Romantic movement which was so prevalent in music and fashion at the time.
Rather than choosing to collaborate with one of the established British fashion houses, she chose to work with the young, recently graduated David Emanuel and Elizabeth Emanuel who shared a similar vision. From a chance selection of a soft chiffon Emanuel blouse which she wore for her official engagement photograph – she went on to ask them to make for her the most important dress of her life – her bridal gown.
The archive documents every stage of this gown from its original conception to the final wedding toile. We are able to see the sketches, the invoices, the myriad supplier details down to the smelling salts which Elizabeth Emanuel carried with her on the wedding day just in case the bride-to-be swooned at any point. Never has such a complete or historic Royal dress related archive come onto the open market before.
Another favourite grouping in the auction is a collection of Madame Gres clothing which belongs to a very stylish French academic – Madame Jacqueline Thibault Schaefer – lots 96-109. She regularly attended the Madame Gres fashion shows in Paris from the early 1950s to the 1980s and met the couturier many times. She describes her as a `shy turbaned figure’. Fortuitously, Madame Schaefer was the same size as the catwalk mannequins and was able to purchase thee beautifully finished couture gowns at a discounted price. This greatly appealed to the head seamstress there who held quite strong left-wing views which were somewhat appeased by a member of the proletariat being able to purchase some of these luxury gowns!
Venue: La Galleria, 30 Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 4UY
London Exhibition, La Galleria:
Sunday 6th June 12 noon – 5pm
Monday 7th June 9 am – 5pm
Tuesday 8th June 9am – 11am
Paris Exhibition of sale highlights:
Sotheby’s Paris, 17th-18th May
Address: Galerie Charpentier, 76 rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, Paris 75008
A printed catalogue is available: £12 UK, £15 Europe and £18 rest of the world, including postage or £10 at the gallery. Please contact us to obtain a copy.
Entrance to the London exhibition and the auction is by catalogue only.
Telephone: 00 44 (0) 208 676 4600
Fax: 00 44 (0) 203 137 0112
Bidding: If you have not bid with us before you will need to bring proof of I.D such as a driver’s licence or passport and proof of your address. You can attend the sale and bid in person.
* Commission bid – if you cannot personally attend you can leave your bid with us which the auctioneer will operate on your behalf. Bid slips can be downloaded from our website and faxed to us. You can also leave a commission bid by telephone if we have received proof of your I.D.
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* On-line via Invaluable – www.invaluable.com/kerrytaylorauctions – and click on View Current Catalogues on the right hand side.
This sale is conducted according to our standard conditions of business (a copy of which can be viewed on our website) – with 20% buyer’s premium added to the hammer price of every lot. Payment can be made in pounds sterling, by cheque, by credit card or wire transfer. The following charges apply for payment by credit card:
* Amex – 2.6%
* Visa – 3%
* Amex and Mastercard (Europe) – 3.1%
* Mastercard (International) – 3.5%
Goods will only be released once cleared funds have been received which may mean waiting for a cheque to clear. Payment is due immediately after purchase.
Electronic & Wire Transfers:
Wire transfers can be made to
Bank of Scotland
59 Bath Street Glasgow
Account number: 06607706
Sort code: 12-24-81
Account name: Kerry Taylor Auctions
Iban: GB19 BOFS 1224 8106607706
If paying by bank transfer the amount received after either the deduction of bank fees or for the conversion to pounds sterling, must not be less than the sterling amount payable on the invoice.
Shipping and Collection
There is free storage for the first ten working days after the sale, after that storage charges will apply. Collections can be made Monday-Friday 9.30-5pm from our warehouse.
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There are 264 lots in this sale
The important black taffeta evening gown worn by Lady Diana Spencer for her first official appearance (after the engagement announcement) in the company of HRH Prince Charles at Goldsmith’s Hall, March 9th, 1981, labelled ‘An Emanuel Special’ the boned, strapless cross-over bodice edged in flounces of sequined silk, bust 86cm, 34in, waist 66cm, 26in; together with an Emanuel black tulle petticoat; the original 1981 Elizabeth Emanuel pencil sketch of the gown with attached fabric swatch; another in ink executed recently; a copy of the original invoice dated 9 March 1981 for £517.50; a black and white photograph by Richard Young; two others copyright Rex Features of Lady Diana wearing the gown at Goldsmith’s Hall, another by Alpha Images, and a transparency by an un-named photographer, (10) When the young and inexperienced Lady Diana Spencer accompanied Prince Charles on their first official appearance she chose this elegant but somewhat revealing evening gown. She had no idea the effect the sight of her climbing out of a limousine in the dress would create with the world’s press who were eagerly awaiting her. They were completely bowled over by the innocent yet voluptuous beauty of the young woman. Clutching a single red rose – she literally burst onto the world stage in a frenzy of press flash bulbs, and in so doing, managed to unintentionally upstage her fiancé – something she was to do on a regular basis in the years that followed. In her memoirs the Princess stated `I remember my first (royal) engagement so well. So excited. Black dress from the Emanuels and I thought it was OK because girls my age wore this dress. I hadn’t appreciated that I was now seen as a royal lady, although I’d only got a ring on my finger as opposed to two rings. Black to me was the smartest colour you could possibly have at the age of 19. It was a real grown up dress. I was quite big-chested then and they all got frightfully excited. I remember meeting Princess Grace and how wonderful and serene she was….It wan an horrendous occasion. I didn’t know whether your handbag should be in your left hand not your right hand. I was terrified really – at the time everything was all over the place.’ cf `Diana – Her True Story – in Her Own Words’, p.36-37 published by Michael O Mara Books Ltd. see also Andrew Morton’s comments on the occasion p.121 of the same book. ‘They (the Emanuels) also made the evening gown for her first official engagement, a charity gala in the city of London, which created almost as big a sensation as the dress which graced St Paul’s Cathderal a few months later. The black taffeta silk ballgown was strapless and backless with a plunging, gravity-defying décolletage. Prince Charles was not impressed with the outfit. While she thought black was the smartest colour a girl of her age could wear, he had different ideas. When she appeared in her finery at the door of his study he commented unfavourably saying that only people in mourning wore black. Diana replied that she was not yet a member of his family and, what’s more, she had no other dress suitable for the occasion. That spat did little for her confidence as she faced a battery of cameras waiting outside Goldsmith’s Hall. She was unschooled in the niceties of royal behaviour and felt absolutely terrified that she would embarrass her fiancé. During the course of the evening she met Princess Grace of Monaco, a woman she had always admired from afar. She noticed Diana’s uncertainty and, ignoring the other guests who were still buzzing over Diana’s choice of dress, whisked her off to the powder room. Diana poured her heart out about the publicity, her sense of isolation and her fears about what the future held in store. ‘Don’t worry,’ Princess Grace joked. `It will get a lot worse’. David & Elizabeth Emanuel wrote in ‘A Dress for Diana’ p.33 and.94 `When we put her in that black dress, we had no idea that it was going to cause such a furore. Infact, that dress had started its life as one of our samples and it was just hanging on a rail…But Diana saw it, loved it and tried it on. The transformation was incredible! She had arrived looking like the nursery school teacher she was, but now she looked like a movie star’. As the weeks passed Diana began to lose weight rapidly and the dress which she had originally filled to perfection began to hang on her ever diminishing frame. She returned the gown to the Emanuels for them to take in. However, the weight loss was so drastic (her waist diminishing from 26in to 24in by the wedding day) that they decided it would be simpler to make a new, identical gown that would fit her new proportions. The original black dress was stored away and remained forgotten until its recent re-discovery.