A collection of "exquisite" unworn ballgowns gathered by a passionate fashionista from Cornwall are to be auctioned next week.

The 12 designer gowns belonged to the late Lady Katrina Holden, who was born in Redruth, and they’re set to sweep into the saleroom on July 6 at Hansons Auctioneers with estimates starting from £200.

The special occasion wear, still with their original clothes tags, are of "exquisite quality" according to Hansons’ clothing consultant Notty Hornblower, owner of Hope House Costume Museum in Derbyshire.

The unworn gowns include an ice blue chiffon ballgown entitled Gigalette by designer Ian Stuart, with matching bolero and choker. Featuring a woven silver thread design it has a guide price of £250 to £400.

Crazy Daisy, a black and red evening dress with matching choker, is another Ian Stuart design set for auction, as well as a ballgown worthy of a Hollywood goddess in black tulle and tiny beads features a fish-tail design and comes complete with matching stole, which has a guide price of £200 to £250.

Notty Hornblower with two of the Ian Stuart dresses owned by Lady Katrina Holden.  Picture: Hansons

Notty Hornblower with two of the Ian Stuart dresses owned by Lady Katrina Holden. Picture: Hansons

Notty said: “All the dresses are as new, other than being tried on, with original tags. They are size 14 but are easily customisable to fit sizes 12 to 18. They are also flexible in terms of potential use as they could be worn as evening gowns or would suite a bride who wants something different in both design and colour.”

Lady Katrina Holden, who was born in Redruth in 1966, developed a distinctive dress style in the 1980s, according to her family. Key elements included bright colours and current fashionable designs, all on a tiny budget.

She became skilled at making and adapting clothes to meet her style. She was supported by her mother’s legendary knitting abilities and professional sewing skills passed down the family from her seamstress grandmother.

She continued to maintain her passion for fashion and advised friends on how to dress well on a budget. She once arrived at an important social function dressed in an outfit identical in style and colour to the host’s wife.

She worked as a veterinary nurse and, as her career progressed, she moved to London, working for Goddard’s, one of the country’s largest veterinary practices.

Her flat was dominated by ten-metre-wide wardrobes crammed with clothes. Each outfit was housed on individual hangers spaced 20 mm apart and refreshed monthly to ensure perfect storage conditions were maintained.

Lady Katrina Holden, who was born in Redruth. Picture: Peter Cheese

Lady Katrina Holden, who was born in Redruth. Picture: Peter Cheese

In 2000 Katrina moved to East Anglia to join her future husband, management consultant Peter Cheese. As well as restyling their family home, a converted school on the border of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, she established a successful e-commerce fashion business, selling corsets.

Her 2004 wedding to Peter, held at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire, was a fairy-tale experience.

Peter said: “Like every important event in her life, it was carefully conceived and planned in the minutest detail to reflect her unique, sometimes eclectic and always iconoclastic style. Her spectacular Ian Stuart designer wedding gown set the tone of the day, complimenting the ancient Abbey buildings and surroundings.”

Sadly, Lady Katrina Holden passed away in 2018 at the age of 51 due to a life-limiting illness.

Notty said: “These evening dresses boast exceptional quality and are exquisite examples of fine design. Lady Katrina Holden was a woman with immense style and taste. For anyone who has ever dreamed of capturing some high society glamour this is a wonderful opportunity to buy dazzling designer gowns at a fraction of their retail price.”

The dresses are being offered on July 6 in Hansons Auctioneers’ Antiques, Collectors and Textiles Auction.