Princess Diana Designer Evening Gown Expected To Go For $170,000 At Auction, Seller Purchased It For $350

Princess Diana smiles while wearing a red top.
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Princess Diana became a powerful style icon thanks to the rule-bending fashion choices she made while she was at the center of an intense global media spotlight. Now, one person is about to get a chance to own a piece of that royal fashion history– as long they can cough up an estimated $170,000.

Honey reports that the dress which Diana wore to a banquet with the Emir of Bahrain in 1986 is going up for auction. It’s a beaded ivory colored gown, designed by David Emanuel, with a floral shoulder embellishment and a draped bodice. It was made to be modest to respect the country’s Islamic customs, Honey notes. On that night in Bahrain, Diana accessorized the look with the glitzy Spencer tiara and a pair of pearl drop earrings.

What’s even more interesting is how the auction house obtained the dress. According to Honey, the dress’s previous owner was a store clerk who bought the frock for $350. She found it in a second-hand shop in the early ’90s, and originally wanted to wear it to a local ball. She decided not to wear it at the last minute, because she thought it was a bit too fancy for the event. She decided to pack it away — in a box in her closet — until she saw a documentary about Princess Diana, one in which Diana was seen wearing the dress.

Despite the fact that it was kept in storage, the auction house says that the dress is in “perfect condition.”

Honey also reports that the dress may have found its way to the secondhand shop via a housekeeper on the Mynde Park Estate, a home that Princess Diana reportedly visited often. It was the home of her friend, Caroline Twiston-Davies.

“Although there are millions of Princess Diana fans, there are relatively few people with the funds to afford a gown like this,” said auctioneer Kerry Taylor as reported by the Daily Mail.“However, it is a very important dress and we expect fierce bidding on the day.”

Many of Princess Diana’s dresses have been sold for hefty price tags at auction.

One of the biggest sales happened in 1985, when the blue velvet gown which Diana wore to a U.S visit during the same year went up for auction. The dress went for over $220,000 which, according to Cheatsheet, smashed the Christie’s sale record for an item of clothing. The gown became iconic when Diana was photographed dancing with John Travolta in it, one of the moments that established her as a global star in the eyes of the public.