Princess Diana's revenge dress, the black silk off-the-shoulder dress designed by Christina Stambolian, 29 June 1994
The "Revenge dress" is a dress once worn by Diana, Princess of Wales. It was worn for the first time at a 1994 dinner at the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The dress has been interpreted as having been worn "in revenge" for the televised admission of adultery by her husband, Charles, Prince of Wales.
On 29 June 1994, Princess Diana wore a black silk dress to the fundraising dinner hosted by Vanity Fair magazine for the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. Diana had originally declined the invitation to the dinner. However, two days prior to the dinner, following several days' publicity of Charles' infidelity revelations, she accepted the invitation.
The dinner was held on the night that a television programme about her husband Charles, Prince of Wales was broadcast, in which he admitted to having been unfaithful to her after their marriage had "irretrievably broken down". Charles and Diana had separated two years prior to the broadcast of the programme.
Diana was seen wearing the dress after she exited her car and was greeted by Lord Palumbo, the chair of the trustees of the Serpentine Gallery, before entering the gallery. She accessorized the dress with a pearl choker, a black clutch and a pair of black pumps that matched her dress. The photographer who captured Diana arriving at the event, Tim Graham, said that her arrival lasted only 30 seconds in total, and that Diana would have known a large number of photographers would be present following her husband's revelations.
Following the dinner, the dress was described as the "I'll Show You dress", the "Serpentine Cocktail" and the "Vengeance dress", as well as the "Revenge dress".
The dress, an off the shoulder black silk dress, was designed by Christina Stambolian. Stambolian compared Diana's choice of black to the black swan Odile in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, stating that Diana "chose not to play the scene like Odette, innocent in white. She played it like Odile. She was clearly angry." Diana had owned the dress for three years before she wore it, fearing it was too "daring". Diana had originally planned to wear a dress by Valentino before choosing Stambolian's design. Anna Harvey, Diana's former stylist, said that Diana "wanted to look a million dollars ... and she did".
Elle Pithers, writing for Vogue magazine, described the dress as the "progenitor of 'revenge dressing
The dress originally cost GB£900 (equivalent to £1,946 in 2019), was sold at auction in July 1997 for £39,098. The dress was bought by a Scottish couple who planned to use it to raise money for children's charities. The dress was exhibited in the Museum of Style in Newbridge, County Kildare in their 2017 exhibition Diana: A Fashion Legacy, where it was described as "the most important exhibit". Penny Goldstone wrote in Marie Claire in 2020 that the dress remains one of Diana's "most iconic styles of all time".
The "Travolta dress" (also known as the "John Travolta dress") is a dress once owned by Diana, Princess of Wales. It was worn for the first time at a gala dinner at the White House on 9 November 1985. It is named after the American actor John Travolta, with whom the princess danced at the dinner.
Princess Diana visited the United States in early November 1985 with her husband Prince Charles. The couple stayed at the White House, where they attended a gala dinner on 9 November. On that occasion, the Princess of Wales wore an off-the-shoulder mid night blue velvet dress. She was photographed dancing with the actor John Travolta to the music of his 1977 film Saturday Night Fever in the Entrance Hall. The photographs and TV footage of them "gliding around the room" were widely circulated around the world, and the gown came to be known as the "Travolta dress".
The Princess of Wales wore the dress again in Germany in December 1987 and at the premiere of the film Wall Street in April 1988. She wore it for her last official portrait photograph, taken by Prince Charles's uncle, the Earl of Snowdon, in 1997.
Designed by London-born Victor Edelstein, the Travolta dress is an off-the-shoulder midnight blue velvet evening gown. It was inspired by Edwardian fashion, giving it a "slight sweep of costume drama".
Edelstein recalls the Princess saw a burgundy version of the dress in his studio and requested it be made for her in midnight blue. The fittings for the gown took place in her private apartments at Kensington Palace. After the fitting, the Princess was so delighted with the final result she rushed to show it to Prince Charles. He reputedly told her she looked wonderful in the gown and that it would be perfect to wear with jewels.
The journalist Jackie Modlinger described it as "dramatic in style" and "regal in fabric".
Shortly before her death in August 1997, Diana requested that the dress be sold in a charity auction. Florida-based businesswoman Maureen Dunkel bought it for £100,000 in New York in June 1997, along with nine other dresses formerly owned by the Princess. The Travolta dress was the most expensive one sold at the auction. When she went bankrupt in 2011, Dunkel was forced to put them up for auction, but the Travolta dress was one of six that were not sold. It was finally auctioned off by Kerry Taylor in London on 19 March 2013, fetching £240,000 ($362,424) and again being the most expensive auctioned dress. It was bought by "a British gentleman as a surprise to cheer up his wife".
In 2019, it sold for £264,000 ($325,317) to Historic Royal Palaces, a charity which looks after royal memorabilia including clothing and artifacts. The dress has joined the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and belongs to the palace. The dress was later displayed for public in Kensington Palace, after 20 years since it first left the place.