Page last updated at 19:53 GMT, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 20:53 UK

Long-lost dress of Princess Diana's sells for 192,000

Lady Diana Spencer in 1981
The gown's designers remember an 'incredible transformation'

A dress that marked the transformation of the Princess of Wales from a shy society girl to the consort of the future king has sold for £192,000.

In 1981, the then Lady Diana Spencer, who was 19, wore the black taffeta dress to her first official engagement with her fiance, the Prince of Wales.

The dress, which had been expected to sell for £50,000, was bought at auction in London by a fashion museum in Chile.

The dress had spent 20 years forgotten in a bin bag in its designers' garage.

The gown's creators - former couple Elizabeth and David Emanuel - would later design Princess Diana's wedding dress.

On the auspicious night in 1981, Princess Diana and Prince Charles were attending a black-tie event in aid of the Royal Opera House.

She arrived looking like the nursery school teacher she was, but now she looked like a movie star
Elizabeth Emanuel

Images of the bride-to-be stepping out of a limousine in the strapless black gown made newspaper headlines and immediately established Diana as the most glamorous member of the Royal Family.

As the royal wedding approached the princess returned the gown to the designers to have it altered as she had lost weight.

But it was easier to make another and the original remained forgotten - stored for two decades in a black bin bag in the garage of David Emanuel.

Elizabeth Emanuel, writing in A Dress for Diana, her book about the bridal gown, said: "The transformation was incredible. She arrived looking like the nursery school teacher she was, but now she looked like a movie star.

"We gave her the dress, made a little shawl to go with it so she could cover up on the night and away she went.

"We hadn't considered the fact that when Diana bent over - as she would have to do when getting out of the car - she would show quite a lot of cleavage. We just thought she looked fabulous."

Designer Elizabeth Emanuel with dress worn in 1981 by Lady Diana Spencer
The dress sold for much more than the expected price

The dress was bought by the Museo de la Moda after being offered as the star lot at an auction of items from the Emanuels' archive in central London.

Auctioneer Kerry Taylor said: "The high prices that we saw today reflect the enduring love affair with Princess Diana, who was not only a style icon and beautiful princess, but a humanitarian who touched the lives of so many people.

"The black gown was bought by Jorge Yarur, who has established a world-ranking fashion museum in Santiago, Chile.

"I know now that dress will be taken proper care of, especially when you consider that it has spent the last two decades in a black bin bag in David's garage.

"I spoke to Mr Yarur after the auction and he announced that upon his death, not only this gown, but all the other important Diana dresses he owns will be donated to Kensington Palace and so I am delighted that one day this dress will come home.

"It's the perfect ending to a perfect sale."


The auctioneer described the sale as a highlight of her career

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