The low-cut black taffeta dress that transformed Lady Diana Spencer from a demure girl to fashion icon Princess Di has fetched 192,000 pounds at an auction. She wore it at her first public engagement with the Prince of Wales in 1981.
Estimated by Kerry Taylor Auctions to fetch 50,000 pounds, it saw heavy bidding before the hammer came down in favour of Fundacion Museo de la Moda, a Chilean museum.
The dress provoked some outrage at that time for its deep neckline. When Diana bent forward as she emerged out of her car at the Royal Opera House, the photographers went into a frenzy, making Prince Charles to remark: "Have all the fashion writers finished?"
Diana's dress has had as chequered history as its wearer's iconic and turbulent times. It was initially assumed destroyed by Diana, but later found in a bin in the garage at the home of the designers of the dress, David and Elizabeth Emanuel.
In the weeks after her engagement, Diana lost much weight and returned the dress to the designers to be altered. But the alterations were so drastic they thought it better to re-make a new version for her.
Auctioneer Kerry Taylor told The Times: "They kept the original and forgot about it - only re-discovering it quite recently. It was rumoured that the Princess had destroyed the black dress. It was sold together with an original copy of the invoice, fashion sketches and contemporary photographs of her wearing it."
Jorge Yarur of the museum in Santiago, Chile, who bought the dress, has announced that upon his death, not only this gown, but all the other important Diana dresses he owns will be donated to Kensington Palace, Taylor said.