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Princess Diana's iconic engagement blouse expected to sell for $100,000 at an auction

The blouse was made for Princess Diana from a ruined dress and could sell for more than $100,000 at an auction this December.

Princess Diana's top is going on auction.Hulton Archive/DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

One of Princess Diana's most iconic garments is being auctioned off. The auction house, Julien's Auctions, estimates that it will fetch between $80,000 and $100,000 when it sells.

After she became engaged to Charles in 1981, Diana posed for an engagement portrait taken by Lord Snowden, who was married to Princess Margaret from 1960 to 1978.

She wore a pink, silk blouse with a ruffled collar from designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel in the photo,which was published in Vogue in tandem with the engagement announcement in February 1981, according to the National Portrait Gallery.

The top went on to be displayed at Kensington Palace as part of the fashion exhibition "Diana: Her Fashion Story," between 2017 and 2019.

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Now, the top will be auctioned off by Julien's Auction as part of its TCM Hollywood Legends auction.

The blouse will be available on December 17 alongside pieces from Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and other style icons, as a representative from Julien's Auctions shared with Business Insider.

As of Monday, Diana's blouse has one bid for $80,000, and Julien's Auctions anticipates it could sell for as much as $100,000. But the actual sale price could be even higher.

In September, three of Diana's custom-made gowns sold for over $1.6 million during Julien's Auctions and TCM's "Legends: Hollywood and Royalty" event, with a dress estimated at $60,000 selling for a whopping $508,000, according to a Julien's Auctions press release reviewed by Business Insider.

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Elizabeth Emanuel said in a video for "Diana: Her Fashion Story" that the blouse — which she sold in 2010, according to Julien's Auctions — only exists because of a mishap.

"A client had ordered a very pale pink dress, and as she took it off, she got mascara all over it, all over the hem," Elizabeth said.

She and David decided to make an entirely new skirt for their client's dress, leaving them with the previous, stained one. They weren't sure what to do with at first, but then they had an idea.

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"We chopped off the bit with the black mascara, and it looked pretty lonely," Elizabeth said of the damaged skirt. "So we thought we better make a blouse to go with it."

They then made the blouse from the spare material.

Diana selected the top after editors from Vogue showed her a variety of outfits to help her build her royal wardrobe. She "fell in love with" the blouse, as Elizabeth wrote in her 2006 book "A Dress for Diana."

"So actually if that client hadn't got mascara all over it, we wouldn't have made the blouse," Elizabeth added in the video, speaking about the top's origin. "Who knows, we might not have met the princess. It's all down to that bit of mascara."

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The mascara incident ended up being a life-changing moment for the Emanuels, as Diana chose them to design her iconic wedding dress, which had puffy sleeves and a 25-foot long train, after she wore the pink top.

Elizabeth told The Mirror in 2021 that she was "horrified" when she saw how wrinkled Diana's dress was after she rode in a carriage to her wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey, though David told Hello! in 2020 that Diana wasn't bothered by the wrinkles, even calling to thank him for the dress after her reception.

In addition to the Emanuel blouse, the Julien's Auctions TCM Hollywood Legends auction will also feature a Jacques Azagury dress Diana wore on multiple occasions.

The gown has a velvet, embroidered bodice and an organza, dropped-waist skirt. Diana was photographed wearing the dress during two royal tours, one in Italy in 1985 and another in Canada in 1986.

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The dress is expected to sell for between $100,000 and $200,000, and its proceeds will go to the New York Historical society, according to Julien's.

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