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A woolly good jumper: Princess Diana’s iconic black sheep sweater to go under the hammer

Princess Diana's black sheep jumper is on display at the auction house Sotheby's in London
Princess Diana's black sheep jumper is on display at the auction house Sotheby's in London Copyright Frank Augstein / AP
Copyright Frank Augstein / AP
By David Mouriquand
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The iconic jumper will headline Sotherby's online Fashion Icons sale in September.

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A red patterned wool jumper featuring a single black sheep amid a pattern of white ones worn by the young Princess Diana is to headline Sotheby’s online Fashion Icons sale in September.

The jumper will go under the hammer going and is expected to sell for up to $80,000 (approx. €71,100) at auction.

Just to put that figure into context, the record for a piece of Diana memorabilia is $604,800 (approx. €537,100) for a Victor Edelstein-designed ballgown sold by Sotheby’s in January.

The 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer was photographed in the garment at a polo match in June 1981, soon after her engagement to Prince Charles, who was then heir to the British throne. Some have speculated Diana liked the “black sheep” pattern because she felt like an outsider in the royal family. It certainly was a little hint of the 19 year-old’s humour and sense of style.

Frank Augstein / AP
The 'Worn on Several Occasions & Adored by the Fashion Icon' jumper will be on auction headlining Sotheby's inaugural fashion icons sale in New York this SeptemberFrank Augstein / AP

Diana was already becoming a style icon — and one of the world’s most photographed women — and the moment gave a big boost to designers Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, who made the sweater for their small knitwear label Warm & Wonderful.

A few weeks later, Muir and Osborne received an official letter from Buckingham Palace explaining that Diana had damaged the sweater and asking whether it could be repaired or replaced. A new sweater was knitted and dispatched, and Diana was photographed wearing it with white jeans and a black ribbon tie at an event in 1983.

Sotheby’s confirmed that two letters – the request for a repair and a thank you note - from Buckingham Palace to Muir and Osborne will be auctioned together with the jacquard jumper.

Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
Diana at a polo match with Sarah Ferguson in 1983Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Muir and Osborne said discovered the original lying forgotten in a box in an attic earlier this year. Call it a re-ewe-nion.

Warm & Wonderful still makes a cotton version of the design, which sells for €220.

Cynthia Houlton, Sotheby’s global head of fashion and accessories, said “this exceptional garment, meticulously preserved, carries the whispers of Princess Diana’s grace, charm, and her keen eye for fashion.”

The sweater will be on display at Sotheby’s New York showroom from 7 – 13 September. Online bidding opens 31 August and runs to 14 September.

Additional sources • AP

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