When couturier Jacques Azagury decided to auction his collection of Princess Diana memorabilia, including ‘twin’ versions of some of her most iconic gowns, he expected the auction house to be packed with frantic bidders.
But, just 24 hours after the Daily Mail revealed that the designer was selling the dresses, along with Christmas cards and letters from the princess, patterns of the gowns and a toile, which have been kept in a vault for 26 years, he was offered a snap sale.
Collector Renae Plant, who runs a 3D interactive online museum of Diana’s outfits, is estimated to have paid £100,000 for the entire collection after reading about the auction, at Lay’s Auctioneers, in Penzance, Cornwall, which featured in Tuesday’s copy of this newspaper.
The dresses are now heading for Los Angeles, where they will be preserved by The Princess & The Platypus Foundation and displayed in the Princess Diana Museum.
Tonight she said: ‘I saw the story on dailymail.com and… I then reached out to Jacques directly because I worked with him in the past and I was thrilled when he accepted my bid.
‘I now have more than 80 pieces of clothing once connected to Princess Diana and I am currently working on an exhibition of my entire collection which will go around the world.
‘I’m delighted that the whole collection is going to one museum as a complete story. My one fear was that items would be sold separately and they would be all over the place.’
It is now almost 40 years since Azagury met the princess: he was showing his 1985 autumn/winter New Romantics Collection at London’s Hyde Park Hotel, now the Mandarin Oriental. He went on to create a ballerina-length gown, with a royal blue organza skirt and black bodice embroidered with blue stars, which she wore to a mayoral dinner at Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, in 1985.
The last five dresses that he created for the princess he dubbed the ‘Famous Five’. They were made after her separation from Prince Charles when she could be more daring. She so loved them that she kept them and they are now believed to belong to Princes William and Harry.
Azagury always created a ‘twin’ of each gown he made for the princess in the same measurements at the same time as the original and filed it away. Now, after retiring and closing his eponymous shop in Knightsbridge, he has sold his Diana memorabilia.
In total he designed 18 outfits for the princess. The Famous Five include red silk column dress that Diana wore to a Red Cross Gala dinner in Washington on June 17, 1997, an ice blue silk georgette number, hand beaded with crystal bugle beads, that she wore on June 3, 1997, for a Royal Gala Performance of Swan Lake and a black Chantilly lace column, embroidered with sequins and beads, that Diana wore to celebrate the centenary of Tate Britain, on her 36th birthday, on July 1, 1997.
Mimi Connell-Lay, of Lay’s Auctioneers said: ‘We are very happy to have been able to advise Mr Azagury in this matter and broker such a successful outcome for all parties.’