A tartan wool dress coat by Elizabeth Emmanuel that belonged to Princess Diana is one of two garments worn by the late princess that will be up for auction on June 14.
After receiving less-than-positive reviews when Diana wore it on an official trip to Venice in 1985, the sailor-collared dress coat ended up at a high-end second hand shop – dropped off in a bundle of unwanted clothing by Sarah Ferguson‘s mother, Susan Barrantes. Purchased by a lucky customer in 1990, the one-off piece is now expected to reach up to $21,641.
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Diana loved the look so much she wore it three times. “It’s a real razzle- dazzle number and it was unlike any other piece in her wardrobe,” auctioneer Taylor tells PEOPLE, adding that the puff-sleeved creation was “really stylish and quite cutting edge at the time.”
Commissioned by Diana shortly before an official State visit to Austria with Prince Charles, the figure-hugging design debuted on a night out with her husband at the Burgtheater in Vienna on April 14, 1986. Such was the close relationship between Walker and the princess that Diana didn’t even see sketches of the dress, let alone try it on, before her trip. She later wore it to a charity ball in 1989 and again for a film premiere in 1993.
Thirty years later, the piece is being sold for a third time, after the death of the current owner, a private collector from Austria who “loved Princess Diana” and wanted the dress to return to the country in which it was first worn, says Taylor.
It originally sold for $43,800 at Christie’s in 1997 and later to the Austrian buyer for $108,206 in 2013, making the dress an impressive investment.
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“More and more people are seeing that you are better off putting your money into something like this,” says Taylor, noting, “They are unique one-off pieces and after all, there was only one Princess Diana.”
An expert in high-end vintage fashion, Taylor has sold several of Diana’s dresses over the years and says that interest is far from waning. “Diana was a style icon and whatever she wore one day, the rest of the world copied the next.”