In 1985, Princess Diana and her husband Prince Charles were guests at a White House gala dinner While President Reagan was in office, during the princess’s first trip to the United States. During the event, Princess Diana made headlines by dancing with John Travolta. The dance they shared that night became so iconic that the dress she wore became known as the “Travolta dress.” In fact, she wore it once more for her last official portrait in 1997 and then auctioned it off two months before her passing. Maureen Dunkel, a Florida businesswoman, snatched it up for a cool $362,424.
The dress was designed by Victor Edelstein and is an off the shoulder midnight blue velvet evening gown. It was actually inspired by Edwardian fashion, which gave a “slight sweep of costume drama.” which if you look at it, you can tell why. In 2019, it sold for $325, 317 to Historic Royal Palaces, which is a charity that looks after royal memorabilia including artifacts and clothing. The dress joined the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection which belongs to the palace.
Travolta has spoken about the infamous moment in the years since, calling it “one of the highlights of my life” and “the best moment of the eighties.” “At midnight, I had to tap her on her shoulder, and I had to say, ‘Would you care to dance?’ She turned around and dipped her head in that Lady Diana way and we were off for 15 minutes dancing,” Travolta recalled in 2007. “I’ll never forget it. I’m so honored that I was able to experience it, and I know for a fact that it was a highlight of being in the United States; it was her favorite moment. So I feel I made her life better; she made my life better, and I’m very sorry that she’s not here.”
Princess Diana, who was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, and mother of Prince Williams and Prince Harry tragically died on August 31, 1997, due to a car crash. While in Paris, the driver was fleeing the paparazzi and lost control of the vehicle. Her televised funeral on September 6th was watched by a British TV audience that peaked 32.10 million, which became one of the United Kingdom’s highest viewing figures.
Editors Note: This article was originally published on August 18, 2017. It was updated on August 31, 2020.