Princess Diana’s iconic ‘Black Sheep’ sweater has been auctioned off for a whopping amount of $1.1 Million (that’s over INR 9 Crore!) at Sotheby’s Fashion Icons sale.
The piece of royal memorabilia fetched an enormous amount at an online auction recently, despite being valued between $50,000 and $80,000 originally, according to the auction house.
The unassuming sweater features rows of fluffy white sheep with one being black. Princess Di, then Lady Diana Spencer, wore the sweater in June 1981 at a polo match. The future royal, and subsequently her sweater, drew unexpected attention as her engagement to the future King Charles had just been announced.
Designers Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne’s small knitwear business, Warm & Wonderful, became popular overnight and the Black Sheep sweater gained iconic status.
The sweater came into prominence once again in 1983 when the royal sent it back to the makers with a letter requesting it to be repaired as it had presumably gotten damaged after being snagged on Diana’s ring. The designers promptly created a replica of the sweater and sent it back to the palace. In March 2023, Muir discovered the original damaged sweater lying in storage, along with the official letter, and reached out to Sotheby’s to find a new home for the iconic memorabilia.
The sweater gained renewed appreciation after being featured in an episode of Netflix’s The Crown, where actress Emma Corrin (who played the role of Diana) wore a replica of the same.
During her life, Princess Diana was one of the most photographed people on the planet. Consequently, she used fashion to send subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) messages to the world. Take her legendary ‘revenge dress’ by Christina Stambolian for instance. Diana made sure her seemingly innocuous choice of outfit for her went down in history as being one of the most iconic style moments simply because of the statement it made at the time.
The off-shoulder black Christina Stambolian dress was worn by Diana to the Serpentine Gallery in 1994, the same night that Prince Charles admitted to his affair with now Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles on national television. The dress became notorious known as the ‘revenge dress’ since it’s daring design opposed the royal dressing protocol and helped her reclaim her power.
The sweater, too, has been speculated by many to be a stark symbol of Diana feeling like an outsider, or a black sheep, in the British Royal family. This is one of the major reasons it managed to smash records held by previous and more elaborate Diana memorabilia — with the most recent one being a Victor Edelstein ball gown worn by her, which was sold for $604,800.
Whether the sweater was actually a sign of Princess Diana expressing her feelings through fashion or just another quirky piece of knitwear from her wardrobe, is something we might never really know. But, it has definitely cemented itself as one of the most iconic pieces of royal memorabilia to be auctioned in recent times.