A Hepburn Dress Of Your Very Own : The Picture ShowToday in London, Kerry Taylor Auctions will sell off an important collection of Audrey Hepburn clothing during its Passion for Fashion sale. View some of the iconic items in this photo gallery.
Are you in need of a new ensemble for your sojourn in Rome? Or perhaps some loungewear for serenading the moon on your fire escape? Today in London, Kerry Taylor Auctions will sell off an important collection of Audrey Hepburn clothing during its Passion for Fashion sale. The collection has been widely publicized and anticipated across the globe.
Audrey Hepburn wore this striped Mark Cross top while filming War and Peace in 1956. (Clothing images courtesy of Kerry Taylor Auctions / The Kobal Collection) Estimate: $1300 - $1900
Givenchy straw hats. Givenchy met Hepburn when she was sent to decide on a wardrobe for Sabrina. He was disappointed when "Miss Hepburn" turned out to be Audrey, not Katharine. The two later formed a lifelong friendship. Estimate: $400-$800
Brown cavalry twill jacket, double-breasted with faux horn buttons lined in crepe de chine, circa 1966. (Courtesy of Kerry Taylor Auctions) Estimate: $1640- $2460
Givenchy haute couture cocktail gown, worn to promote the 1967 film Two for the Road. Hepburn was a muse for many Givenchy creations and worked frequently with the designer for film and personal wardrobes. Estimate: $13,100 - $19,700
Valentino haute couture mini dress. The dress is identical to the one worn by Jackie Kennedy in 1968 for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis. Estimate: $4,100- $5,750
Givenchy domed velvet hat, 1964. Hepburn was photographed wearing the hat for Vogue in 1964. Estimate: $1,300- $1,970
Givenchy haute couture black silk dress, circa 1962. Hepburn wore the dress to promote the 1964 film Paris When it Sizzles. Estimate: $16,400 - $24,600
Couture pistachio silk culotte suit, circa 1967. Estimate: $990- $1,480
Ivory satin bridal gown designed by the Fontana Sisters in 1952 for Hepburn's marriage to James Hanson. When Hepburn called off the wedding, she asked the sisters to give the dress away to "the most beautiful poor Italian girl you can find." Estimate: $13,150 - $19,700
Rose Bertin velvet cocktail dress edged with lace ruffles, late 1960s. Estimate: $1,640 - $2,500
Givenchy haute couture lace cocktail dress worn in the Ritz bar scene of How to Steal a Million in 1966. Estimate: $24,700 - $32,900
Givenchy haute couture ball gown worn in the film Love in the Afternoon. Tanja Star Busman said she received the dress from Hepburn after giving birth, "to remind her what it's like to have a waistline again." Estimate: $3,300 - $4,900
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For a woman who saw herself as "too skinny, too flat and too tall," Hepburn played a major part in the way women looked and behaved in the 20th century. From ballet flats to skinny black jeans, Hepburn's wardrobe staples continue to influence another generation of fashion. In 2006, Gap went so far as to have Hepburn star in a commercial by using old film footage for its line of skinny black pants, similar to the ones she wore in the film Funny Face.
During a time when the feminine ideal was "the perfect size 10," Hepburn broke the mold of what it means to be feminine. She sported a pixie-like frame among voluptuous contemporaries like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. McCall's claimed that she had "all the curves of a piece of melba toast viewed from the side." And playwright Anita Loos once quipped, "Her hat size is bigger than her waist!" Despite the jokes and criticisms, many women still saw Hepburn as a symbol of elegance and grace.
The auction collection contains 40 lots and is the product of a lifelong hand-me-down tradition. Hepburn, who hated to waste anything, would send her old clothing to her former neighbor and lifelong friend, Tanja Star-Busmann. "Over the years a cavalcade of boxes filled to the brim with haute couture gowns and divine little cocktail ensembles arrived at my door. Unpacking them was always like Christmas, a thousand times over," Star-Busmann wrote in the auction catalog.
The auction also tells the story of Hepburn's lifelong friendship and devotion to designer Hubert Givenchy. Almost half of the collection consists of Givenchy originals, many haute couture and inspired by the actress. Instead of trying to hide Hepburn's petite frame behind bustles of fabric, Givenchy embraced her slender figure and emphasized it with clean lines and form-fitting silhouettes.
Many of the high-ticket items are Givenchy haute-couture gowns, including the black lace cocktail dress Hepburn wore in How to Steal a Million and the black silk dress worn to promote Paris When it Sizzles, which looks like the cocktail-length version of the famous gown worn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. One gown, which was worn during the opera scene of Love in the Afternoon, was sent to Star-Busmann shortly after she gave birth to her daughter with a note from Hepburn saying she thought the dress might remind Star-Busmann "what it was like to have a waistline again."
"It has been the most amazing experience to work with this collection," said Kerry Taylor in an e-mail. "We had an exhibition of the pieces at Sotheby's Paris and in two days 2300 people visited the exhibition."
Star-Busmann plans to donate 50 percent of the proceeds to the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund.
Update: The Associated Press reports that the cocktail dress Hepburn wore in How to Steal a Million (slide #11), sold for nearly $100,000 — more than three times what was predicted. The auctioneer told the AP Tuesday's sale brought in a total of $437,000.