The iconic off-the-shoulder gown Princess Diana wore when she famously danced with John Travolta at the White House in 1985 recently failed to sell at auction — but two days later it was ultimately purchased for $290,000 by a charity group.
On Wednesday, independent charity Historic Royal Palaces was announced as the proud new owner of the midnight blue, velvet Victor Edelstein dress that the Princess of Wales danced in with the “Grease” star.
Surprisingly, the frock didn’t sell when it went under the hammer with Kerry Taylor Auctions on Monday, as the gorgeous evening gown was expected to fetch as much as $460,000, The Independent reports. Interested buyers reportedly failed to meet the reserve bid of about $262,000.
The gown has found an ideal home with Historic Royal Palaces, as the legendary number will join the group’s Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. The organization operates independently of Buckingham Palace and manages some of the U.K.’s unoccupied royal palaces.
“We’re delighted to have acquired this iconic evening gown for the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection – designated collection of national and international importance – over 20 years since it first left Kensington Palace,” curator Eleri Lynn said in a news release.
According to People, Diana requested a navy version of the Edelstein gown after seeing it in burgundy at the designer’s studio. Thrilled with the final product during a fitting at Kensington Palace, the “People’s Princess” is said to have rushed to show it off to Prince Charles, who exclaimed that she looked “wonderful.”
Allegedly one of her “favorite” frocks, the princess wore the “Travolta Dress” for various engagements after the memorable state dinner, the Independent reports. Later, she auctioned it for $131,000 while fundraising for AIDS charities in June 1997, two months before her untimely passing.
“Diana has become a fashion icon in the same way as Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn — timeless, elegant, and still so relevant,” Lynn mused of the princess’ fashion legacy. “She helped popularize the romantic look in the early 80s, the fabulously glamorous ‘Dynasty’ look in the late 80s, and the sleek silhouettes of the 90s.”
“So many designers have spoken to me about Diana’s incredible charisma and presence… I think Diana’s real triumph in fashion was that she rose above it, so that by the end, all you saw was her.”