- Washington Post
Items from ‘The Crown’ Are Up for Auction — Including the ‘revenge Dress’
16:03 JST, February 6, 2024
The black minidress was only on screen for about 13 seconds, but Amy Roberts’s team had worked on it for a month.
It was the dress viewers of “The Crown” had waited years to see depicted on screen – and it had to be just right, Roberts, the head of costume design for the hit Netflix show, told The Washington Post.
Now, with the sixth and final season of “The Crown” wrapped up, the made-for-television version of the shoulder-baring, leg-accentuating “revenge dress” Princess Diana famously wore to a 1994 gala after her husband’s adultery became public is up for grabs. The meticulously made dress is one of 473 items that appeared on the show that are now up for auction at Bonhams.
With so many props and costumes remaining on set after the series ended, creators of “The Crown” approached the auction house, leading to a weeks-long process of sifting through the show’s enormous collection of royal reproductions.
“We were just blown away,” said Charlie Thomas, director of Bonhams’s house sales and private collections. “I remember just looking at all these incredible antiques and all the beautiful art and I really felt like I was in Buckingham Palace.”
Bonhams will host a live auction on Feb. 7 in London for some items while selling others online through Feb. 8. Proceeds from the live auction will go toward a scholarship for aspiring film and television makers.
Here are some of the items fans of “The Crown” can own.
The ‘revenge dress’
The “revenge dress” look-alike, worn by actress Elizabeth Debicki in Season 5, is estimated to fetch at least $10,000, according to Bonhams.
The time designers spent capturing Princess Di’s dress reflects the attention paid to the outfits and props on “The Crown,” Roberts said. It wasn’t about making costumes for actors; they were creating clothing for royalty during famous real-life events.
When Prince Charles publicly acknowledged his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana didn’t hide at home, Roberts said.
“She gets out there, in the sexiest dress ever,” she said, adding: “It’s getting the essence of what that dress was. It was like Diana becoming an independent, strong woman, which a lot of women relate to.”
Roberts’s team pored over video footage and about a dozen photos of the dress to re-create it. They even tried to track down the original designer (to no avail), she said.
Sourcing the right fabric was not easy, Roberts said. The body is textured and highly structured, “giving your figure a fantastic shape,” she said. A touch of chiffon draped off the waist adds some lightness.
It took eight seamstresses and multiple fittings to deem the dress screen-ready.
Buckingham Palace gates
A model of the formidable gates leading into Buckingham Palace were first shown in Season 1 – and went on to get far more screen time than the “revenge dress.”
The black gates are wrought and cast iron, adorned with gold-painted fleurs-de-lis. The towering 13-foot-high gates quietly opened and closed in countless episodes of “The Crown.” At auction, the winning bidder will receive the gate’s design drawings from the show’s art department, as well as the set piece.
“The quality of the items, I think that is the thing that really struck me,” Thomas said. “I didn’t realize the details that went into everything you see. Because when you watch the show, you’re fixated on the characters, the story. You see the amazing sets and the costumes, but you’re not looking at them – they’re a passing glance.”
The queen’s stage coach
The replica gold stage coach is another behemoth for sale, seen in two episodes total. It’s modeled after the royal coach built in 1762 for King George III, which has been used at every coronation since 1831, including that of King Charles III last year, according to Bonhams.
The coach will be sold during the live auction and is anticipated to be one of the priciest items, with Bonhams estimating it will sell for as much as $63,000.
The 10-foot-tall carriage is flush with royal features, from its lush red interior to its rich golden exterior, adorned with swords, shields and other intricate carvings.
“When you see it in person, it is completely bonkers. I mean, it’s huge and amazing,” Thomas laughed.
Princess Di’s leisurewear
Diana’s ensembles are expected to be among the most popular items for sale – and not just the fancy dresses.
The fifth season of “The Crown” featured Diana’s effortlessly cool athleisure outfit, complete with the oversized Harvard University sweatshirt, black bike shorts, Reebok sneakers and a black tote. The whole set will be up for sale at the live auction.
The outfit was seen in just one episode of the show, but Harvard University re-created the famous shirt, and the show’s designers went on a weeks-long hunt for the exact sneaker, Roberts said. Diana famously wore the outfit in the 1990s – an uncommonly casual look for a royal at the time, Roberts said.
It’s estimated to go for between $630 to $890.
The experts’ picks
One of Thomas’s favorite items for sale is the Queen Mother’s set of bar props, presented on a small silver tray. Its highlight? A small silver stick, with smaller, thinner silver lines branching out of it.
“The swivel stick is just the most brilliant object ever,” Thomas said. “It’s a little propelling stub that you have about your person. It was actually invented to stir your champagne, if your champagne was too bubbly.” A problem for the royals that commoners might have trouble relating to.
Roberts’s tastes – amid the show’s grandeur, riches and champagne stirrers – were vastly simpler. Her personal favorite? A nun’s dress, made of simple cotton and linen and worn by one of the show’s lesser known characters: Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was Prince Philip’s mother. It’s going for about $140.
The estimated value on each item is just a starting point though, Thomas said.
“It’s not like a normal auction where you’ve got a painting by an artist so you can you can compare with a size and style, and come up with an estimate that way. These are items that are completely unique,” he said. “All the estimates are just that, they are just estimates, and then it will be up to the bidders on the 7th of February to decide what they’re really worth.
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