A see-through dress that helped Kate Middleton catch the eye of husband-to-be Prince William is going under the hammer, auctioneers said Monday.
The transparent black number, worn during a charity fashion show at Saint Andrews University in Scotland, is expected to fetch up to £10,000 ($16,000, 12,000 Euros) when it goes on sale next month.
While speculation about her wedding dress dominates gossip columns, the most famous dress she has worn so far has spent years been squashed in a wardrobe full of junk.
Middleton, then aged 20, strode down the catwalk wearing the knitted mesh slip-dress and black underwear during the student show in 2002.
William, second in line to the throne, paid £200 for a front-row seat and soon afterwards their friendship blossomed into romance. Some reports suggest he first tried to kiss her at a party later that evening.
The strapless was designed by Charlotte Todd, who was a fashion and textile design student in 2000 at the University of the West of England when she produced the garment for a project entitled "The Art of Seduction".
It cost £30 to put together and was intended as a skirt.
"The dress took me a week to make because it kept falling apart and I would have to start again," Todd told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Two years later, she was invited to submit a garment for the annual Saint Andrews fashion show. The piece was selected for Middleton, who wore it as a dress.
"If it is true that my design helped change the prince's interest in Kate from platonic to romantic as has been reported, then I am pleased to have played a part -- however minor," the 31-year-old said.
"I never would have imagined as I sat knitting this piece that one day it would be so important.
"If it was her idea to wear it as a dress, she was very brave. I can't imagine her doing it now -- it would be frowned upon.
"But I wonder whether she was trying to get his attention with it, whether she said, 'I'll have that, so that I can bag the prince'."
Todd is now a retail manager at an aquarium in Bristol, southwest England.
"I was keeping hold of the dress. I just had a feeling that it was the right thing to do," she said.
"But as the years went on I just thought, 'Oh well, nothing's going to happen'. The dress was squashed in a wardrobe underneath loads of junk.
"Now it's quite a responsibility -- people are really interested in the dress. I didn't let anyone try it on because it's so fragile.
"It was just pure luck that Kate, out of all those girls, wore it for a few seconds.
"I don't even see it as a dress, really. To me it's just a piece of fabric."
A spokesman for Kerry Taylor Auctions said the dress, which was only ever worn by Middleton, was
expected to fetch between £8,000 and £10,000.
The auction, to be held in central London on March 17, also includes two gowns worn by William's mother, Diana, princess of Wales.
William and his fiancee will marry at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29.
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