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I’m used to balking at the price of fancy dresses because I’m fairly frugal, but this one is extreme for nearly any budget. The gown dubbed the “World’s Most Expensive Dress” debuted at the Billionaire Club in Monaco before gracing the runway at Ukraine Fashion Week in September. The fact that the gown was first seen at the Billionaire’s Club is fitting, given that it costs about $5.7 million. Call me cheap, but I’d expect tens of thousands of dresses for that price.
The black, floor-length gown was created by British designer Debbie Wingham. She didn’t just design the dress; she sewed it by hand over a period of six months. I guess if I were putting something that expensive on the market, I’d be very hands-on to make sure that it was done to my specifications, too. It features a sweetheart neckline, a peplum, and a slit centered in the front that goes up to the knee. It has a small train with sheer panels and a delicate beaded design. There is also a matching shoulder shrug.
So what makes the dress so expensive? There are 50 two-carat black diamonds: 25 to line the peplum and 25 to line the shrug. Oh, let’s not forget five carats of black diamonds in the center of the bustier, as well as a detachable shoulder strap with even more diamonds. Oh, and the beading? It’s not all beads – there are some white diamonds set in white gold in the design.
As you can guess, a dress with that much bling is heavy. The gown weighs 29 pounds.
Wingham is a self-taught designer who was nearly completely unknown when one of her gowns became a favorite at the 2005 BAFTAs. Since then, her client list has grown to include Kate Winslet, Hilary Swank, Amy Smart, and Dita von Teese. She is no stranger to working with diamonds. This dress is one of seven in a collection of diamond dresses, and the designer also has a line of diamond jeans.
Though media outlets have been quick to use headlines like “World’s Most Expensive Dress,” it isn’t. Wingham’s website touts it as the “World’s Most Expensive Black Diamond Dress.” So it’s the most expensive dress to feature black diamonds, not the most expensive dress ever; I think we’re splitting hairs here.
Apparently, there’s a cocktail dress with 85 diamonds that is valued at $15 million and a prom dress that’s worth $14 million. You could say that those two are in different categories, but then there is a $30 million gown with 751 diamonds on it (including a 70-carat, pear-shaped diamond in the middle of the bodice) called “The Nightingale of Kuala Lumpur.” The dress was made in 2009 by designer Faisol Abdullah and hasn’t yet found a buyer.
I’m going to hazard a guess and assume that these pricey gowns are created more as art and advertisement than for actual selling and wearing. Like Victoria’s Secret’s annual Fantasy bras, which always cost at least a couple of million dollars, it seems to be more to generate headlines and attract attention from the curious folks like us.