Princess Diana’s Katherine Cusack evening gown, Autumn-Winter 1985-86 collection. labelled, of midnight-blue velvet with pleats to bodice and skirt, the graduated collar couched and embroidered in blue silk cord, padded shoulders, fastening by self-coloured buttons and loops from neck to hem, bust 92cm, 36in The designer Katherine Cusack confirms that this dress was a one-off made for the Princess of Wales. Harvey Nicholls had made a display of her collection of entirely black velvet dresses along the stairway of the shop in the Autumn of 1986, which the Princess saw and liked. She placed an order for this dress, stipulating it had to be in midnight blue (the only example to be made in this colour), via her friend and Vogue editor Anna Harvey, who requested it be made in a UK size 12. The Princess was photographed wearing this gown to attend a choral concert at the Royal Academy of Music, January 1986. The visit was reported in Majesty Magazine, 11th March 1986, which also stated that the sapphire choker and earrings the Princess wore to accessorise the dress were a ‘wedding gift from Saudi Arabia’.
Princess Diana’s Catherine Walker navy wool day dress, circa 1989. labelled ‘Catherine Walker, The Chelsea Design Company’, close-fitting with broad, shaped ivory gabardine collar, two large buttons to front closure and each cuff, band of pleats to hem, lined in silk, bust 92cm, 36in Provenance: this dress comes from the same collection as lot 238, all of which were fully documented Princess Diana photographed pieces. Although we have not yet discovered an image of the Princess wearing this gown, the quality of the materials and the hand-finishing of the buttonholes are commensurate with a special commission. It was probably worn for private, non-official engagements, hence the lack of supporting photographs. The Catherine Walker Archive does not hold a complete record of Princess Diana’s commissions as they recall that they were ‘simply too numerous’. However, this model does not appear in a search of their seasonal mainstream collections, from which any of their clients could place orders. It seems reasonable to deduce therefore that this was a one-off order, made just for the Princess. However, the Princess wore the well-documented Catherine Walker blue polka-dot silk version of this dress, with identical collar, buttons and hem details, during the Royal couple’s official visit to the Gulf, March 1989, and again in May 1989 when she and the Royal family gathered to greet President Ibrahim Babangida, President of Nigeria, at Victoria Station.