Letters and 48 designer outfits belonging to Audrey Hepburn went under the hammer in London yesterday raising £268,320 with half the proceeds going to charity. A whopping £60,000 alone went on her black lace cocktail dress and jacket by Givenchy for the film How to Steal a Million (1966).
The collection, sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions, was owned by lifelong friend of Audrey Hepburn, Tanja Star-Busmann. It comprised, amongst others, a Mark Cross striped knitted top worn by Hepburn during the shoot for War and Peace (1957), a domed green velvet hat with pom-pom streamers by Givenchy (1964), a blue silk cocktail dress from Autumn 1966 worn in ’67 to promote Two for The Road, again by Givenchy, a Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche empire line gown for her son Luca’s christening in 1970 and, of course, the big lot, a black full-skirted, high-neck Givenchy cocktail dress in Chantilly lace (French lace) made for How to Steal a Million.
Also available was her Fontana Sisters wedding dress made in 1952 and eventually given to ‘the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find’ on Hepburn’s orders when she called off the ceremony. A considerable portion of the lots were either Givenchy; frocks, suits and accessories, or Rose Bertin, consisting of slacks, some cute mini-dresses and day wear.
Big hitters of the night included the aforementioned How to Steal a Million black dress (reached £60,000) and ivory satin Fontana Sisters wedding gown (£13,800), not to mention some candid letters by Hepburn and her intended, British industrialist James Hanson, to Star-Busman concerning their impending nuptials (£3,800).
The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Charity and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) are to receive half the proceeds from the auction, which it is fair to say has bucked these troubled financial times and outshone even Kerry Taylor’s estimations in most lots.
Hubert de Givenchy was well known as being Audrey Hepburn’s favourite designer, indeed she was his muse, so it is hardly surprising to see so many of his chic creations in the auction. What’s more noteworthy are the Rose Bertin frocks and separates, mainly from the late 1960s-early 70’s, a black organza Valentino evening dress, and white ready-to-wear Yves Saint Laurent gown, empire line as well, chosen for Luca’s christening. Hepburn did wear other designers, even if Givenchy was the only one who made her feel truly confident, a personality trait she sadly often lacked.
Head over to Kerry Taylor Auctions for a complete run down of the lots. Note the striking use of colour and bold yet simple shapes of the Givenchy pieces – his clothes were made to be accessorised. Audrey Hepburn knew exactly how to bring them to life and she remains his fashion legacy even today.
© 2009 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.