The most famous of the 10 dresses, which were originally sold by Diana in New York a few months before her death in 1997, is the midnight blue gown that Diana wore as she twirled around the dance floor at the White House with John Travolta in 1985. Diana graced the Victor Edelstein-designed velvet dress for the state dinner given by President Ronald and Nancy Reagan in honor of the princess's then-husband, Prince Charles.
London-based auctioneer Kerry Taylor is selling the gowns, with the collection including some of the princess's favorite designers: Zandra Rhodes, Catherine Walker and Bruce Oldfield.
The sale, "Fit for a Princess: Important dresses formerly in the collection of Diana, Princess of Wales," will take place March 19. From romantic ballgowns to chiffon cocktail dresses and then, as she matured, rich velvets in darker colors, the dresses were worn for official formal events, such as visits to Austria, Australia, Brazil, India and South Korea, as well the U.S.
Others she modeled for leading portrait photographers such as Mario Testino and Lord Snowdon, says Kerry Taylor.
A pink "lavishly embroidered evening gown and bolero" by Catherine Walker made for her visit to India is expected to go for up to $180,000. A sea-green gown – also by Walker – made for a tour to Austria could get as much as $50,000.
The original sale at Christie's auction house in New York came at a time when post-divorce Diana was re-assessing her life, and, she revealed at the time, the idea to sell the dresses to aid charity had been her son Prince William's.