Former couple who created Princess Diana’s wedding dress at war over plan to sell the sketch

Legal battle over sketch of Princess Diana’s wedding dress: Former couple who created famous ivory silk gown are at war over plan to sell the image at auction

  • David and Elizabeth Emanuel divorced nine years after creating Diana’s dress
  • Mr Emanuel, 68, is now suing his ex-wife, 67, for putting sketches up for auction
  • The designer asked for offending copies of the sketches to be destroyed 

They were the couple who created Princess Diana’s ivory silk wedding dress, but divorced acrimoniously nine years later.

Now David and Elizabeth Emanuel are at war again – and a sketch of the creation that made them darlings of the fashion world is at the centre of the bitter legal dispute.

Miss Emanuel, 67, is being sued by her ex-husband after putting up for auction sketches of several of their designs for Diana, including the gown she wore to marry Prince Charles in 1981.

Mr Emanuel, 68, wants to stop his ex-wife selling the sketches without his consent and is asking for a court order preventing her from infringing his copyright over the drawings in future and for damages.

Pictured: Princess Diana with David and Elizabeth Emanuel, looking through outfit designs for her visit to Saudi Arabia

The designer has even asked for offending copies of the sketches to be destroyed, documents filed at the High Court reveal.

The disputed sketches also include ‘the chiffon blouse with ruff collar and satin’ Diana wore for the official engagement photograph by Lord Snowdon for Vogue; the ‘sequined black taffeta evening gown’ from her first official engagement with Charles in March 1981; a ‘green silk evening gown’ she wore in 1985; a ‘black and silver dress’ from the Out Of Africa film premiere in 1986; and a ‘white crepe dress’ the princess wore on the royal tour of the Gulf states the same year.

Pictured: Elizabeth Emanuel with her husband David in 1989

Pictured: Elizabeth Emanuel with her husband David in 1989

According to the legal claim submitted by Mr Emanuel’s lawyers last month, his ex-wife produced copies of their original sketches and put them in an auction called Passion For Fashion.

The writ claims Miss Emanuel ‘at a date or dates unknown created eight drawings which constitute a reproduction of the design drawings’ they had produced together for the Diana wardrobe.

Mr Emanuel’s legal suit is also against Kerry Taylor Auctions in London, which still has the drawings pictured on its website. 

The writ says some of the drawings were offered for sale at auctions in December 2018 and December 2020 and fetched between £500 and £2,800. The sketch of the black and silver dress did not sell.

He claims the auctions took place without his consent and breaches an agreement between him and his ex-wife in 1990 – the year their Mayfair couture partnership ended and when they divorced – that they would not use the name Emanuel on its own for their separate businesses.

The writ argues that this amounts to her ‘passing off’ her drawings as being jointly created.

Mr Emanuel also says he has complained to his ex-wife many of her unauthorised use of the mark Emanuel on her own work.

Pictured: Elizabeth Emanuel fashion sketch for the 1981 Royal Wedding dress worn by Princess Diana

Pictured: Elizabeth Emanuel fashion sketch for the 1981 Royal Wedding dress worn by Princess Diana

He claims both Miss Emanuel and the auctioneer must have known their actions were unlawful because he had sought an interim injunction banning them from selling the sketches.

But he says that they tried to defend their activities, putting him to the cost of legal action. As a result, he claims he is entitled to additional damages.

Mr Emanuel is seeking a declaration he and his ex-wife jointly own the copyright to the sketches, an injunction preventing her from infringing it, and the right to inspect documents and obtain a share of any profits.

After their split, the Emanuels communicated only through their children.

Miss Emanuel and the auction house are understood to dispute that they are in breach of copyright. They did not respond to requests for comment.