The gown went up for auction on June 8, 2010. The description was as follows:
Lot 263, A version of the important black taffeta evening gown worn by Lady Diana Spencer for her first official appearance with HRH Prince Charles at Goldsmith’s Hall, March 9th, 1981. The dress caused quite a sensation with its revealing décolletage and controversial color. While the 19 year old Diana thought that black was a very elegant and grown-up color to wear it was deemed at the time an unusual choice as the Royal family wear this color exclusively for mourning. Diana lost a significant amount of weight in the months leading up to her wedding, so much so that this dress had to be completely re-made. This lot represents the original version; it will be sold together with an Emanuel black tulle petticoat, a copy of the original invoice, sketches and several photos of the Princess in the gown. Minimum bid for this lot is £15,000.
Press release after gown was sold:
A racy black gown worn by Lady Diana Spencer on one of her first official engagements was snapped up by a Chilean fashion museum for nearly 200-thousand pounds (more than 275-thousand dollars ) at an auction in London on Tuesday – several times the original estimate.
The Museo de la Moda – based in Santiago – paid 192-thousand pounds (about 276,500 US dollars) for the dress, a price that included the buyer’s premium.
The strapless silk taffeta dress’ revealing cut and striking black colour caused a minor scandal when Diana wore it at a London charity event in 1981.
But while some thought the dress was too daring for the 19-year-old royal bride-to-be, it helped turn Diana into an overnight fashion icon.
“I think it’s so special because it’s the beginning of the Diana story,” said auctioneer Kerry Taylor.
“It’s the moment that she really emerged onto the public scene – when she went from a very shy nursery school teacher into the beginnings of a style icon.”