Princess Diana's Daring Black Dress Up for Auction

06/08/2010 at 09:30 AM ET

Anwar Hussein/WireImage

It is the dress that launched the young blushing Lady Diana Spencer onto the world as not only Prince Charles’ fiancée, but also as a budding fashion icon who dared to break the royal rules by wearing black to a formal event other than a funeral. The black taffeta gown, worn by Diana in March 1981, also put the young design team of David and Elizabeth Emanuel on the map, beginning a partnership that culminated in the princess-to-be’s much-copied wedding dress. Today, the gown–and a prototype of the fairytale bridal dress–are being auctioned off in London and estimated to fetch up to $150,000. Posing with the black dress Monday, Elizabeth Emanuel reminisced to PEOPLE of the night that the 19-year-old Diana became a front-page star as she joined Prince Charles for her first official appearance with him. “This was really a shadow of what she was to become in terms of a fashion icon,” Emanuel says. “It was the first time that people had seen her looking like a princess. Like a movie star. And grown up.” Despite there being a big political story that day, the emerging Diana “took over all of the front pages,” Emanuel recalls. Soon, it became obvious that the palace would have to confirm what the Emanuels already knew — that they were to make Diana’s wedding dress. And, the history of that creation is included in the sale going live this morning, via London’s Kerry Taylor Auctions. –Simon Perry

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty

FILED UNDER: Fashion , Royalty

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