Sotheby’s Inaugural Fashion Icons Sale: Princess Diana’s Sweater Takes Center Stage

Sotheby’s, the renowned auction house, is set to make waves in the fashion world with its inaugural Fashion Icons sale this September in New York.

The highlight of the event will be the historic black sheep sweater famously worn by Princess Diana. This iconic piece of clothing, adorned with a whimsical sheep motif, is expected to captivate collectors and fashion enthusiasts alike.

The sweater, created by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne of the knitwear label Warm & Wonderful, gained international fame when Lady Diana Spencer wore it to one of Prince Charles’s summer polo matches in June 1981. Its unique design and symbolism struck a chord with Diana, sparking conversations among the media, fashion critics, and the general public. The sweater became a viral sensation, propelling Muir and Osborne’s small business into the limelight.

First-ever Auction Appearance of Cherished Royal Design & Emblem

Now, for the first time ever, the Princess Diana sweater will be offered at auction. Sotheby’s has set the estimate for this remarkable piece of fashion history at $50,000 – $80,000 (£40,000 – £70,000). Bidders will have the opportunity to participate in the online auction from 31 August to 14 September, coinciding with New York Fashion Week. Additionally, the sweater will be on display in New York starting on 7 September, allowing enthusiasts to appreciate its beauty up close.

This sweater holds significant sentimental value as well. Shortly after wearing the original red sheep sweater, Diana reached out to Warm & Wonderful, expressing her attachment to the garment and requesting a repair or replacement. The designers promptly knitted a new sweater, earning a heartfelt thank-you letter from Diana’s private secretary, Oliver Everett CVO. In recognition of its legacy, a Warm & Wonderful black sheep sweater of the same design is now part of the permanent collection at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Despite discontinuing production of the black sheep style in 1994, Warm & Wonderful revived the design in 2020 through a collaboration with American designer Jack Carlson and his brand Rowing Blazers. This partnership ensured that the beloved emblem of fashion history would live on for a new generation. The sweater’s popularity was further amplified when it appeared in the fourth season of Netflix’s hit series “The Crown,” worn by actress Emma Corrin.

Sotheby's Inaugural Fashion Icons Sale: Princess Diana's Sweater Takes Center Stage

The Mystery Behind the Captivating Sheep Design

The unexpected discovery of Diana’s original red sheep sweater from 1981 adds an intriguing twist to the story. Tucked away in an attic, the sweater remained hidden for almost four decades until it was stumbled upon by Muir and Osborne themselves. Now, this unique and significant piece is ready to find its new home in the hands of a fortunate collector.

The enduring allure of the sheep design begs the question: What made this sweater so captivating to millions? The media speculated whether Diana felt a connection to the lone black sheep, reflecting her complex relationship with the Royal Family. Others believe that the sheep pattern pays homage to British agricultural history and celebrates the beauty of the countryside. Furthermore, sheep are often associated with innocence, gentleness, and purity, qualities that align with Diana’s compassionate nature and her role as a devoted mother and philanthropist.

Sotheby’s is no stranger to selling Princess Diana’s iconic items. The auction house currently holds the record for the most valuable Princess Diana dress ever sold, fetching an astounding $604,800 in January 2023 (estimated at $80,000 – $120,000).

In conclusion, the Princess Diana black sheep sweater represents a true fashion icon, embodying the spirit and legacy of a remarkable woman. Its upcoming auction at Sotheby’s promises to be an unforgettable event, attracting both collectors and fashion enthusiasts eager to own a piece of history. The sweater’s profound symbolism and its connection to Princess Diana’s extraordinary life continue to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide.

Images: Sotheby’s

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