The "Travolta dress" (also known as the "John Travolta dress"), one of the most famous dresses once owned by Diana, Princess of Wales, 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".
Diana, Princess of Wales, visited the United States in early November 1985 with her husband Prince Charles. The couple stayed at the White House, where they attended a gala dinner on 11 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 1977 film Saturday Night Fever in the Entrance Hall. 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 Travolta dress is one of the most famous dresses in the Princess of Wales's wardrobe. She was seen wearing it again in Germany in December 1987 and at the premiere of the film Wall Street in April 1988. Diana wore it for her last official portrait photograph, taken by her former husband's uncle, Lord Snowdon, in 1997.
Shortly before her death in August 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".
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- Modlinger, Jackie (1998). Diana: woman of style. Bramley. p. 82. ISBN 1858339650.
- "Diana, Princess of Wales – Public role". royal.gov.uk. 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.