The rare Emanuel ivory silk moss crêpe evening gown, worn for an Official Visit to Bahrain on November, 16th, 1986.
Princess Diana’s couture and rare Emanuel ivory silk moss crêpe evening gown, worn for an Official visit to Bahrain, November, 16th, 1986. labelled Emanuel Special, the draped bodice panel, leg o’ mutton sleeves and cockade to one shoulder applied with floret’s formed from crystals, sequins and glass beads, embroidered by Hand & Lock (who also embroidered her bridal veil), bust 81-86cm, 32-34in; together with a letter from Elizabeth Emanuel confirming that this dress was a one-off, commissioned by Princess Diana for the 1986 Gulf tour, a six-day tour of the Arabian Gulf States in November 1986, when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The Princess dressed modestly throughout in recognition of the culture and customs of their hosts, although she did not cover her head or neck.
Princess Diana was invited to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia’s palace, a rare honour for a woman, although she was not allowed to dine with the men. In Oman, the Sultan presented Diana with jewels and Prince Charles with an Aston Martin sports car. In Bahrain, ignoring protocols the Emir met the Royal couple from the plane himself and upon arrival at the palace, their path was strewn with jasmine flowers whilst young girls danced in their honour. In the afternoon they were taken for a trip on the Emir’s luxurious yacht. In the evening a lavish banquet was held where Princess Diana wore this sparkling ivory crepe gown, accessorised by the glittering Spencer tiara, diamond and pearl droplet earrings.
The Emir later re-counted with delight, a conversation with the Princess, who had asked him what he would think if his son were to marry a tall, blonde English woman? He replied that he would be very jealous!
For a film clip of the Princess wearing this dress see https://youtu.be/ZdU1nKqumhU
Provenance: Purchased by the vendor from the Chameleon second-hand shop in Hereford in 1994 where she worked as a part time assistant. She had intended to wear it to a hunt ball, but never did, and instead it remained unworn, packed away in a box and consequently is in excellent condition. It was only after seeing press footage in recent years that she realised the significance of the gown stored in her bedroom. She recalls that this fabulous dress was delivered to the shop along with a group of Princess Diana’s more mundane daywear and suits by the housekeeper of the nearby Mynde Park estate.
The chatelaine of Mynde Park was Caroline Twiston-Davies (née Habord-Hammon), a childhood friend of the Princess of Wales, who had married Audley Twiston-Davies of Mynde Park in February 1985 – a year before this dress was made. Princes Diana was a regular guest at the Estate, with a cottage in the grounds specially reserved for her use. In recognition of their long friendship Princess Diana became godmother to the Twiston-Davies’ daughter, Antonia.
For more information: Kerry Taylor Auctions, London, England.