Lot 7: A Catherine Walker black velvet and beaded evening
March 19, 2013
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: A Catherine Walker black velvet and beaded evening gown, worn for the Vanity Fair photo-shoot by Mario Testino at Kensington Palace, 1997, labelled 'Catherine Walker London' and also handwritten tags 'HRH The Princess of Wales' and 'Audrey', of black silk velvet, the bodice and and halter-neck straps covered with a shimmer of black bugles and larger bauble-shaped beaded edging, with draped pleats to one hip, similarly edged, thigh-high side slit to skirt, the bodice with integral satin corset, bust approx 92cm, 36in, waist 71cm, 28in Catherine Walker made two of these dresses, the first in black silk crepe was worn for a dinner given at the palace of Versailles in December 1994. The Princess returned it to Catherine Walker for a slight alteration at which point Catherine suggested that the dress would work even better in black velvet. Princess Diana agreed and the second velvet version (this one) was worn for Princess Diana's famous Mario Testino photo-shoot at Kensington Palace for Vanity Fair in 1997. The photographs of Diana with slicked back hair, looking healthy and happy are arguably some of the finest portraits ever taken of the Princess. In her autobiography, Catherine Walker describes this dress, pp 112-113: 'It was not long before this that the only dresses we worked on for the Princess were very formal. As I moved away from politically correct to slightly more sexy, I preserved the formality by still keeping them very structured inside. This dress draped towards the hip and was held at an embroidered pocket. The inspiration for the embroidery originated from an antique picture frame which was finished with exquisite marquetry edged in 'lead shot', I used black bugle beads for the marquetry and small boule for the lead-shot edging in the same proportion. I thought it made a pretty picture frame and here in the dress it frames the face and neck'. Provenance: Dresses from the Collection of Diana Princess of Wales auction, Christies, 25th June, 1997, lot 66.