Diana’s ‘Travolta’ gown fails to sell at auction

One of Diana, Princess of Wales’s most famous dresses has failed to sell at auction.

The princess wore the midnight-blue, off-the-shoulder, velvet gown by Victor Edelstein when she danced with Hollywood actor John Travolta during a state banquet at the White House given by US President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

Bids on the gown – which Diana originally spotted in burgundy but asked Edelstein to make in blue for her – did not reach the reserve price of £200,000.

View this post on Instagram

Arguably the most iconic and memorable gown Princess Diana ever wore, second only to her wedding dress:⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ The midnight-blue velvet evening gown by Victor Edelstein, worn to attend the White House State dinner on the 9th November, 1985, where she famously danced with John Travolta⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ Victor Edelstein made dresses for Princess Diana over an eleven-year period. She would often pop into his shop at 3-4 Stanhope Mews and look through the collections whilst her security guard waited outside. The Princess saw this model in his studio in burgundy and requested it be made for her in midnight blue. The fittings for the gown took place in her private apartments at Kensington Palace. At the last fitting, Princess Diana was so delighted with the final result that she rushed to show it to Prince Charles. Mr Edelstein recalls that the Prince, who appeared in full regimental dress (as he had an official engagement that day), told the Princess that she looked wonderful in the gown and that it would be perfect to wear with jewels⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ Falling alluringly off the shoulders and with a diagonally-swathed velvet skirt which hugs the figure tightly to the knee, then flaring out into a broad flounce above layered tulle petticoats, this is one of the most glamorous gowns she ever wore. And it was clearly a favorite, being worn for at least five further Royal engagements⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ Poignantly, Princess Diana chose this gown 12 years later to wear for the last official portrait ever taken of her. The photograph, by Lord Snowdon, shows a thirty-five-year-old Princess appearing self-assured, confident and, of course, dazzlingly beautiful⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ (Lot 237, estimate £250,000-350,000. Auction 9th December)⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ #princessdiana #fashionhistory #johntravolta #thewhitehouse #victoredelstein #passionforfashion #vintagecouture

A post shared by Kerry Taylor Auctions (@kerrytaylorauctions) on Nov 18, 2019 at 9:49am PST

It had been expected to fetch between £250,000 and £350,000 at the Passion for Fashion sale at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London.

The dress was the star attraction when Diana auctioned off scores of her outfits for charity in 1997, and then went for more than £120,000.

It was last sold at auction in 2013 for £240,000 and bought by an anonymous bidder who said he wanted to surprise his wife.

The auction
The auction

The princess and Travolta had twirled across the White House dance floor to a medley of Grease and Saturday Night Fever.

The actor described the experience as being “like a fairy tale”.

Two other items from late princess’s wardrobe also formed part of the sale.

Diana's dresses
Diana's dresses

A long-sleeved Katherine Cusack evening gown – also midnight-blue velvet – from 1986 went for double what was expected.

It was estimated to sell for between £20,000-£30,000, but was sold for £60,000 including buyers’ premium.

A navy wool dress with wide, white collar by Catherine Walker from 1989, estimated to go for up to £6,000, went for £35,000 including buyers’ premium.