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Princess Diana’s engagement blouse could sell for £79,000 at auction

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement (Ron Bell - PA Images)

Headlining the upcoming December auction season is a piece of fashion history and a garment that encapsulates the timeless elegance of Princess Diana. Namely, her iconic blush pink chiffon Emanuels blouse, featured in the famous 1981 engagement portrait taken by Lord Snowdon.

This historic blouse, designed by the renowned duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel, is not just a beautiful piece of clothing; it's a symbol of Diana's journey into the world of fashion that ultimately led to her unforgettable wedding gown.

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The delicate pink crepe blouse boasts a ruffled collar, peasant-style sleeves with ruffled cuffs, and a satin ribbon that ties into a bow under the collar. Lord Snowdon's lens captured this moment in time, and now, the blouse is set to go under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions with an estimated value between £63,490 to £79,360 ($80,000 to $100,000).

Blush pink chiffon blouse - Emanuels
Blush pink chiffon blouse - Emanuels

The auction, titled Glamour, Grace & Greatness: Classic Hollywood Auction, marks the culmination of Julien’s 20th-anniversary celebration, showcasing an array of iconic pieces from the greatest style icons of all time. The event promises to be a spectacle, featuring creations by some of the most acclaimed designers in both fashion and Hollywood history.

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What adds intrigue to the blouse is its backstory. After Princess Diana's engagement to Prince Charles, she sought fashion advice from Anna Harvey, the fashion editor at British Vogue. Harvey played a pivotal role in shaping Diana's early style, introducing her to designers and guiding her through the world of fashion. The blush pink chiffon blouse was one of the options presented to Diana during this formative period, and it became a key element in crafting the romantic-fairytale-princess image that defined Diana's early 80s style. Anna recalls in Diana Her Life In Fashion by Georgina Howell, "'I don't think she had any idea how many lovely things were out there,' says Harvey. 'Her enthusiasm was contagious.'"

Previously displayed at Kensington Palace in London as part of the exhibition "Diana: Her Fashion Story" in 2019, this blouse has a rich history that extends beyond its association with the royal engagement portrait. The portrait, published in Vogue magazine, coincided with the official announcement of Charles and Diana's engagement in February 1981.

The Prince and Princess of Wales attend a dinner held by the Mayor of Florence during a tour of Italy, April 1985. The Princess wears a dress by Jacques Azagury.
The Prince and Princess of Wales attend a dinner held by the Mayor of Florence during a tour of Italy, April 1985. The Princess wears a dress by Jacques Azagury. (Princess Diana Archive)

In addition to the Emanuels blouse, the auction will feature another spectacular piece from Diana's wardrobe—a Jacques Azagury evening dress worn in Florence, Italy, in April 1985. This attire showcases padded shoulder pads and comprises a black velvet bodice adorned with embroidered stars in metallic thread, crafted from Jakob Schlaepher fabric. The two-tier royal blue organza skirt is elegantly complemented by a sash and bow. Notably, the ballerina skirt pays homage to Princess Diana's passion for dance and her role as a patron of The English National Ballet.  It’s expected to fetch between £79,360 to £158,720.

The Hollywood Legends auction by Julien’s and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) isn't just about Princess Diana; it encompasses a diverse array of iconic pieces from various stars. From Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy dress in the 1963 comedy "Charade" to Barbra Streisand’s sailor dress from the 1960s special "My Name Is Barbra," the event promises to be a treasure trove for fashion enthusiasts and collectors alike.