Lot 190: Princess Diana's Bakst-inspired Emanuel ball gown,
December 3, 2013
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Princess Diana's Bakst-inspired Emanuel ball gown, 'Diaghilev' collection, 1986, labelled 'Emanuel Special, England', the boned ivory satin strapless bodice with pointed peplum, over white organza skirt, adorned with large gilt lozenge shaped paillettes edged with gilt or pearl beads, the embroidery by S.Lock Ltd, the bodice emblazoned with magnificent gem-like rhinestones to the centre-front; together with a separate layered tulle petticoat, also labelled, matching padded headdress and a pair of separate detachable lozenge-shaped sleeve panels, bust approx 86cm, 34in, waist 71cm, 28in (5) An additional 5% VAT is payable on the hammer price, this can be refunded if proof of export outside the EU is provided within 6 months of the sale date. Provenance: ex lot 26, 'Dresses from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales', Christies New York, 25th June, 1997. The Princess first saw this dress at a Red Cross benefit fashion show in the summer of 1986. She selected it from the twelve glittering gold and white creations that the Emanuels had sent for the occasion. The dresses were inspired by Leon Bakst's designs for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with his bold use of geometric patterning. Unusually, the Princess acquired the show model, rather than specially commission another gown. It is a standard model size, which fitted her perfectly. The Princess wore this gown on many occasions - wearing with and without the petticoat, with and without the sleeve panels, often choosing to wear a diamond tiara instead of the headband. She was photographed wearing it on the 4th July,1986 to attend a banquet at the German Ambassador's residence in London for a State visit of Richard von Weizsaker (President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1984-94). On this occasion she chose to wear a glittering diamond tiara to accessorize the gown, but wore no petticoat which revealed her ankles. On the 22nd July 1986 (a day or two before the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York) she wore the dress to the Royal Opera House for a performance of 'Ivan the Terrible' by the Bolshoi Ballet. On this occasion she also wore the padded headdress, sleeve panels and petticoat. She was also photographed in the gown when she attended the premiere of the James Bond film 'The Living Daylights', almost a year later, at the Odeon, Leicester Square on June 29th, 1987 (with the petticoat). The Emanuels were the favourite designers of the Princess during the 1980s. It began with their white chiffon blouse which she wore for her official engagement photograph by Lord Snowdon. This was followed by the headline-grabbing black taffeta gown she wore for her first public engagement with Prince Charles after the announcement of their engagement at Goldsmith's Hall in 1981 (now affectionately known as the 'Take the Plunge' dress). Of course the most memorable and important Emanuel dress of them all was the Royal bridal gown for her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. The Emanuels went on to make special ensembles and evening gowns for her important overseas State tours with the Prince of Wales, as well as producing a wardrobe of maternity-wear during her confinements. The dress has a pretty, fairy-tale princess feel to it - with its opulent, shimmering gold panels, jewel-like rhinestones and pearl adornments. Importantly this is a dress that was not specially designed for the Princess but one she chose herself from an existing collection and one she chose to wear repeatedly. Elizabeth Emanuel said that because of its lavish decoration and striking gold and white colours that it was something that one either would love or hate and she remembered that the Princess had told her that she 'loved it.'
Condition Report: Dress: Very fresh appearance. Scattering of very small moth holes to left hip are of skirt. Rear bodice: opening has been let out at the zip edges. Four rhinestones are missing on left side, three missing from right. Clustering of three small gilt beads missing on rear right side. Side seams have been tacked over to make smaller- this could be easily unpicked. Rear peplum: Two rhinestones missing, large triangular sequins are slightly rubbed and one has chipped edge. Front bodice: Slight rubbing to top of bodice at underarm area. Four rhinestones have been re-stitched, one is loose. Ten rhinestones missing. Large top centre rhinestone is missing tiny beads which cover the holding thread on each side. None of the losses are particularly obvious. Front peplum: missing three rhinestones from border. Petticoat: fresh, clean, good condition. Headband: good condition. Sleeve panels: one is missing two rhinestones.