Audrey Hepburn Oscar dress could take the honours at Kerry Taylor's auction
Modified from Hepburn's Roman Holiday dress, the lace piece was worn for her only Oscar win
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Thursday 3 November 2011
As mentioned previously, Kerry Taylor Auctions is offering some of movie star Elizabeth Taylor's gowns at the end of this month. But she is not the only legend of the silver screen to be represented, as a classic dress worn by the great Audrey Hepburn will also be on offer.
The dress is that worn by Hepburn to collect her Oscar for Roman Holiday in 1954, and will be auctioned as part of the Passion for Fashion sale on November 29th in London.
During Audrey Hepburn's long film career - although nominated many times - she won the Academy Award for Best Actress just the once for Roman Holiday which was filmed on location in Rome with Gregory Peck in 1952.
In the final scene she appears in a crisp ivory lace ensemble and regally shakes the hands of the awaiting press. This ensemble was designed by Edith Head and was worn with a matching jacket and hat.
Edith Head also won the Academy Award for Best Costume for this film. However, in between the making of this film and the next one - Sabrina in 1953, Audrey met her soon to be favourite couturier - Hubert de Givenchy in Paris.
Although Edith Head was the official designer for the film, she asked him to provide her with clothes for Sabrina which he duly did. The combination of Audrey's personal style and Givenchy's designs were a sensation.
But when the Oscars were again announced, it was Edith Head who was given the credit for his clothes and the Oscar! Givenchy was understandably furious and Audrey had it written into her contract that he made her clothes for future films.
So in 1954, when faced with the dilemma of which dress to wear on her Oscar night - it seems she settled for a little of both.
She took the original Edith Head white lace dress worn in Roman Holiday but completely changed the bodice - in essence she Givenchy-fied it. Having grown up during the war she hated waste and so rather than buying a new dress for the occasion - she decided to alter the lovely white lace dress she already had.
The basic dress was an Edith Head creation - but the new bodice cut straight across at the front, plunging low at the back with pretty spaghetti straps was undoubtedly inspired by the gowns she had been wearing by Givenchy.
She cut her hair into a very short, pixie style in contrast to the classic chignon and pony tail shown in the film. As she walked to collect the Oscar from the stage, the full lace skirt gently swayed with her movement, she was the personification of elegance and style.
Numerous photographs exist showing Audrey wearing this dress on the Oscar night - but no-one knew what had happened to it. It turns out that Audrey gave it to her mother Ella van Heemstra, who in turn gave it to a friend living in America where she had gone to stay.
She told them that Audrey always referred to this gown as her "Lucky Dress". It has been with that family ever since, stored away in a box in the bottom of a wardrobe and is sold with a letter of authenticity signed by them.
It is the only dress that has been worn by an actress in both the film and for the Oscar presentation and so is doubly unique. It is expected to achieve £40-60,000 ($95,900).
Audrey Hepburn is one of the all time great style icons, and interest in the star is certainly not on the wane - indeed the value of her autograph has increased steadily since 2000 according to the PFC40 Autograph Index.
The dress worn by the star as Jo Stockton in the Oscar-nominated Funny Face sold for $56,250 at Julien's in June 2010, whilst Kerry Taylor has already sold a whole range of her dresses from the collection of Tanja Star-Busmann in 2009 for £268,000.
The latter sale was led by her Givenchy dress worn in How to Steal a Million, which sold for £60,000.
Clothing worn by stars, such as this black velvet cocktail dress owned and worn by the tragic model/actress Dorothy Stratten can be the best way for collectors to feel close to them and the highlights of their career, though signed images of great stars such as Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe are also popular.
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Images: Kerry Taylor Auctions