Audrey Hepburn dress from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961 , by Givenchy
An evening gown of black Italian satin designed by Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the 1961 Paramount film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the sleeveless, floor-length gown with fitted bodice embellished at the back with distinctive cut-out décolleté, the skirt slightly gathered at the waist and slit to the thigh on one side, labelled inside on the waistband Givenchy; accompanied by a pair of black elbow-length gloves [made later]; an envelope addressed in Givenchy’s hand to Monsieur Dominique Lapierre in Paris; and a the November 2006 U.S. edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, the cover featuring Natalie Portman modelling the dress in this lot (4)
Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy from the much-loved 1961 classic film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, sold for €692.390,- at Christie’s South Kensington in the Film and Entertainment Sale on 5 December 2006.
The price establishes a new world auction record for a dress made for a film.
The sale price was estimated by the auction house to have ended somewhere between £50,000 and £70,000, but the final price was €692.390,- ($923,187). The money raised in the auction of the black dress ended in helping the poor people of Calcutta to build a school. It so happened that Givenchy, the designer of the dress, had donated the dress to Dominique Lapierre, the author of the book City of Joy, and his wife for raising funds for the charity. When they witnessed such a frenzied auction, the funds raised so astonished Lapierre that he made a very appropriate observation: “I’m absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth which belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the most destitute children in the world into schools.” Sarah Hodgson, a film specialist of Christie’s said, “This is one of the most famous black dresses in the world—an iconic piece of cinematic history—and we are glad it fetched a historic price.”
The little black dress attained such iconic fame and status that it became an integral part of a woman’s wardrobe. Givenchy not only chose the dress for the character in the film, but also added the right accessories to match the long gown in the form of a pearl choker of many strands, a foot long cigarette holder, a large black hat and opera gloves which not only “visually defined the character but indelibly linked Audrey with her”.
Given her physical assets, she, along with her designer friend Givenchy created a dress to fit her role in the film of a waif. A well-chosen black silk dress with appropriate accessories hit the bull’s eye to bring out her effervescent personality to the fore; the dark oversized sunglasses completed the ensemble of the little black dress (LBD) which was called “the definitive LBD”. The dress, which outlined her lean shoulder blades, thus became the Hepburn style.
In a survey conducted in 2010 by LOVEFiLM, Hepburn’s little black dress was chosen as the best dress ever worn by a woman in a film. In this respect, Helen Cowley, publisher of LOVEFiLM, declared: “Audrey Hepburn has truly made that little black dress a fashion staple which has stood the test of time despite competition from some of the most stylish females around.” Hepburn’s white dress and hat worn in My Fair Lady was voted sixth.
Not the Original dress….
Why not the poster-picture of Audrey Hepburn wearing perhaps the most famous ‘little black dress’ of all time at the auction?
In 1961, Givenchy designed a little black dress for the opening scene of Blake Edwards’ romantic comedy, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where Hepburn plays a leading role alongside actor George Peppard. Audrey took two copies of the dress back to Paramount, but the dresses, which revealed a considerable amount of Audrey’s leg, were not suitable for the movie and the lower half of the dress was redesigned by Edith Head. The original hand-stitched dress is currently in Givenchy’s private archive, whilst one copy Audrey took back to Paramount is on display at The Museum of Film in Madrid and the other was auctioned at Christie’s in December 2006. None of the actual dresses created by Givenchy were used in either the movie or the promotional photography. The movie poster was designed by artist Robert McGinnis and in Sam Wasson’s book, Fifth Avenue, 5am, he explains that the photos he based the poster on did not show any leg and he added the leg to make the poster more appealing. The actual dresses used in the movie, created by Edith Head, were destroyed by Head and Hepburn at Western Costume in California after shooting.
And the dress has its own Wikipedia page!
Next week more Audrey Hepburn & Hubert de Givenchy
Dimitri from Paris fantastic ‘A very stylish Girl’ with Audrey Hepburn & George Peppard phrases from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’