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Princess Diana gowns fetch $1.2 million at auction

A worker takes telephone bids during the auction of ten dresses worn by Britain's Princess Diana, at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London March 1
A worker takes telephone bids during the auction of ten dresses worn by Britain's Princess Diana, at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London March 1

By Clare Hutchison

LONDON (Reuters) - Ten dresses worn by the late Princess Diana, including a velvet, midnight blue gown she famously danced in with John Travolta at the White House in 1985, fetched more than $1.2 million at a London auction on Tuesday.

The Victor Edelstein creation worn at the U.S. gala dinner was the top lot of the sale, held by fashion specialists Kerry Taylor Auctions, selling for $362,470, within the pre-sale estimates.

A beaded black Catherine Walker evening gown worn by Diana in a Vanity Fair fashion shoot by photographer Mario Testino raised $163,091, as did a crushed velvet burgundy dress by the same designer donned by the then Princess of Wales during a state visit to Australia.

Diana originally sold the pieces at a charity auction in New York shortly before she was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in August 1997.

The selection of mainly evening gowns charted the former royal's style evolution from ingénue to global fashion icon, a transformation that captivated the world as much as her private life.

Dubbed the "People's Princess" following her death aged 36, Diana was adored by millions of people who considered her a breath of fresh air in a royal family seen at the time as out of step with the modern world.

That fascination has been replicated by public affection for Kate Middleton, who married Diana's elder son Prince William in 2011 and subsequently announced her pregnancy last year.

The monarchy, meanwhile, has undergone a resurgence in popularity, underlined by the huge crowds that turned out to witness celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 marking 60 years on the throne.

Kerry Taylor said the sale saw a high level of interest, with some museums coming forward to grab a slice of royal history.

"We attracted bidders from across the world including Asia, America, Austria, Australia and of course, the UK, including three important museums, so we are hopeful that now people will actually get to see some of the dresses that belonged to the 'People's Princess'," Taylor said.

No stranger to royal fashion, Taylor previously sold a knitted see-through dress worn by Middleton during a student fashion show for $117,788.

($1 = 0.6619 British pounds)

(Reporting by Clare Hutchison)

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