|Type||Midnight blue off-the-shoulder evening gown|
The "Travolta dress" (also known as the "John Travolta dress") is a dress once owned by Diana, Princess of Wales. It was worn for the first time at a gala dinner at the White House in November 1985. It is named after the American actor John Travolta, with whom the princess danced at the dinner.
Designed by London-born Victor Edelstein, the Travolta dress is an off-the-shoulder midnight blue velvet evening gown. It was inspired by Edwardian fashion, giving it a "slight sweep of costume drama". The journalist Jackie Modlinger described it as "dramatic in style" and "regal in fabric".
Edelstein recalls the Princess saw a burgundy version of the dress in his studio and requested it be made for her in midnight blue. The fittings for the gown took place in her private apartments at Kensington Palace. After the fitting, the Princess was so delighted with the final result she rushed to show it to Charles III. He reputedly told her she looked wonderful in the gown and that it would be perfect to wear with jewels.
Diana visited the United States in 1985 with her husband King Charles III. The couple stayed at the White House, where they attended a gala dinner on 9 November. On that occasion, the Princess of Wales wore Edelstein's dress. She was photographed dancing with the actor John Travolta to the music of his performance of the film Saturday Night Fever in the Entrance Hall in 1977. The photographs and TV footage of them "gliding around the room" were widely circulated around the world, and the gown came to be known as the "Travolta dress".
The Princess of Wales wore the dress again in Germany in 1987 and at the premiere of Oliver Stone's film Wall Street in 1988. She wore it for her last official portrait photograph, taken by Charles' maternal uncle, the Earl of Snowdon, in 1997.
Shortly before her death in a car crash in Paris in 1997, Diana requested that the dress be sold in a charity auction. Florida-based businesswoman Maureen Dunkel bought it for £100,000 in New York in June 1997, along with nine other dresses formerly owned by the Princess. The Travolta dress was the most expensive one sold at the auction. When she went bankrupt in 2011, Dunkel was forced to put them up for auction, but the Travolta dress was one of six that were not sold. It was finally auctioned off by Kerry Taylor in London on 19 March 2013, fetching £240,000 ($362,424) and again being the most expensive auctioned dress. It was bought by "a British gentleman as a surprise to cheer up his wife".
In 2019, it sold for £264,000 ($325,317) to Historic Royal Palaces, a charity which looks after royal memorabilia including clothing and artifacts. The dress has joined the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and belongs to the palace. The dress was placed on public display in Kensington Palace, 20 years since it first left.
- Modlinger, Jackie (1998). Diana: woman of style. Bramley. pp. 82. ISBN 1858339650.
- "Princess Diana's Velvet Gown from Her White House Dance with John Travolta Is for Sale". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- "Diana, Princess of Wales – Public role". royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- Jones, Bryony (19 March 2013). "Dress Princess Diana wore to dance with Travolta auctioned off". CNN. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- Sheldrick, Giles (19 March 2013). "Sold for £240,000... the dress that Princess Diana dazzled in with John Travolta". Daily Express. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- "Princess Diana's dresses set to raise over £600,000 at auction". The Daily Telegraph. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- Reporters, Telegraph (11 December 2019). "Princess Diana's Travolta dress sells for £264,000". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- Cope, Rebecca. "The dress Princess Diana wore to dance with John Travolta is going on display at Kensington Palace". Tatler. Retrieved 19 November 2020.