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Princess Diana’s Gulf tour designs to go under the hammer

Princess Diana’s Gulf tour designs to go under the hammer

DUBAI: Twenty-one years after the death of Princess Diana, an archive of fabric samples and sketched designs  from her 1986 tour of the Gulf is going up for auction on Sept. 25 in the US.

Boston-based RR Auction is set to auction off items originating from the archives of David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the designers behind the royal’s wedding dress. The Emanuels also designed more than 100 different outfits for Diana, including pieces for her travels abroad.

A full burqa, marked "H.R.H. The Princess of Wales, Visit to Saudi Arabia, Nov. 1986, Reserve Outfit."
A full burqa design marked “H.R.H. The Princess of Wales, Visit to Saudi Arabia, Nov. 1986, Reserve Outfit.” (RR Auction)

Attendees will have the chance to bid for a folder marked “The ‘Gulf’ Tour 1986, Day & Evening Wear Designs,” containing five original hand-drawn outfit designs: A full burqa, marked “H.R.H. The Princess of Wales, Visit to Saudi Arabia, Nov. 1986, Reserve Outfit,” a navy-and-white striped coat over a white faconné dress, as well as a sketch of a slim-fitting evening dress in white silk crepe embroidered with bugle beads, tiny crystals and diamanté. The folder also includes 12 photocopies of original designs, each affixed with its associated fabric sample and stapled to a descriptive cover sheet.

In November 1986, Princess Diana and Prince Charles paid a six-day visit to the Gulf states. In Saudi Arabia, she was famously invited to King Fahd’s palace and the princess was reported to have tried to conform to local customs by wearing modest clothing — she didn’t, however, end up wearing the “reserve” burqa designed by the Emanuels, despite its rather fashionable below-the-knee bow.

Also up for auction is an original color photograph showing Diana choosing from the designs and fabrics with the Emanuels. (RR Auction)

A note from Diana’s lady-in-waiting Anne Beckwith-Smith is also set to go under the hammer.

Dated June 2, 1986, the missive to Elizabeth Emanuel requests designs for the royal tour of the Gulf.

“Certain special requirements concerning dress need to be observed and I am writing to ask if it would be possible to submit to The Princess of Wales a few sketches for day and evening wear from which Her Royal Highness could select items for this tour. Their royal highnesses will be visiting Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia…In all cases modesty is the order of the day,” the note reads.

A design from the collecton. (RR Auction)

Also up for auction is an original color photograph showing Diana choosing from the designs and fabrics with the Emanuels.

The Remarkable Rarities live auction event from RR Auction will take place on Sept. 25 in Boston.

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