Ready to wear: Dresses from the dream factory

Want to get the Audrey Hepburn look? The dress she wore in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' is expected to raise £70,000 when it comes up for auction, reflecting the timeless appeal of Hollywood icons. Terry Kirby and Louise Jack investigate 'A-list' apparel
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The Independent Online

Black cocktail dress, worn by Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's


The elfin Audrey Hepburn created one of cinema's most enduring and iconic characters as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Golightly was a young woman of uncertain background, trying to make her way in the world. Created by Hubert de Givenchy, the black cocktail dress was worn by Hepburn in the opening sequence of the film when she emerged from a cab on to New York's Fifth Avenue, peered wistfully into the window of Tiffany's, the jewellers and ate her breakfast from a brown paper bag. The dress is being auctioned by its current owners, the French author Dominque Lapierre and his wife, to raise money for their charity, City of Joy Aid, which helps India's poor. It will go under the hammer at Christie's in South Kensington, west London, on 5 December and is expected to fetch up to £70,000.

Bidders could include Victoria Beckham and Coleen McLoughlin, who both cite Hepburn as their heroine. Hepburn died in 1993, aged 63.

The Vera Wang dress worn to the 2006 Oscars by Keira Knightley


Of course, not all great Hollywood frocks are those worn on screen. These days, the outfits chosen by actresses for those crucial red carpet appearances at the Oscars are now possibly the most important dresses they will wear all year. Their relative success can help - or hinder - the careers of both actor and designer. This deep claret taffeta silk gown was custom-made by the designer Vera Wang for the actress Keira Knightley to wear at the Oscars this year and was generally considered to be a great success. Knightley later offered the dress to Oxfam for an online auction to raise money towards helping drought-hit areas of east Africa. A flurry of last-minute bidding pushed the price up from £3,800 to £4,301 in the final seconds of the auction on 1 May.

The white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in 'The Seven Year Itch'


Among the many potent and poignant images that define the career of Marilyn Monroe, the shot of her white dress billowing provocatively upwards in Billy Wilder's Seven Year Itch must be among the most revered. It was also one of the most iconic images in 20th-century cinema and much imitated.

The biggest hit of 1955, the film starred Monroe as a girl living in the upstairs apartment to a publisher, played by Tom Ewell, whose wife and family are away and is reading a book called The Seven Year Itch, which claims that the majority of men have affairs after seven years of marriage.

The halter neck dress was the work of William Travilla, who designed most of Monroe's clothes on and off screen during her career. The original is now owned by the actress Debbie Reynolds, but such is the power of the image that a copy, made by Travilla from his original design, was auctioned on the internet in December 2004, fetching £37,000. The shot, in which Monroe stands above a subway vent, was filmed in a studio after a Manhattan location shoot was rendered useless by the noise of onlookers. Although publicity stills for the film showed Monroe's dress blowing above her waist, that part of the scene had to be cut from the movie at the behest of the censors.

Blue and white gingham pinafore worn by Judy Garland in 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939)

SOLD AT AUCTION IN 2005 FOR £140,000

When 17-year-old Judy Garland pulled on her blue and white gingham pinafore, she created not only an icon for gay men, but one of the most instantly recognisable looks in cinema history. It embodied small town, Mid-West America - drab, safe and homespun. The dress was custom made for Garland, whose name was stitched in to the hem. The auctioneers' estimate of £35,000 was smashed - when the hammer came down, bidding in the London saleroom had reached £140,000. The buyer was never identified. Another of Garland's Oz dresses was bought in 1999 by New York archivist Michael Benson. He paid a staggering £199,500.

White cotton bikini worn by Ursula Andress in 'Dr No' (1962)


It's the quintessential Bond moment. Any male already born and halfway conscious at the time of the 1962 movie Dr No will remember Ursula Andress, as Honey Ryder emerging, glistening, from the Caribbean Sea and aiming her bikini at the camera. The scene was so memorable it was repeated 40 years later by Halle Berry in the Bond movie Die Another Day. Andress was a little known Swedish beauty queen when the film was cast. She reportedly secured the part as the first Bond girl after her husband, John Derek, showed producers a photograph he had taken of her in a wet T-shirt. Her athletic body was something of a departure for the time, heralding a strong and independent look, perfect for the character. It stood apart from the curvaceous appearance of the more subservient female leads in the late Fifties and early Sixties. It was Andress herself, despite the fact that she often claimed to resent her past as a sex symbol, who put the bikini up for auction in 2001 at Christie's in London after discovering it in her attic. "This bikini made me into a success," she said before the sale. The white cotton bikini was designed by Andress in conjunction with the film's director Terence Young and was based on her own underwear. At $61,500 it made way over the $40,000 pre-sale estimate. It was bought by Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl and is displayed in the "Bond Room" of the London branch of the restaurant chain.

Cecil Beaton's Ascot-scene dress for Audrey Hepburn in 'My Fair Lady'

SOLD FOR £64,000 IN MARCH 2004.

In 1964, three years after Breakfast at Tiffany's, Audrey Hepburn starred as Eliza Doolittle alongside Rex Harrison in the film version ofMy Fair Lady. Beaton based his design for Hepburn's dress in the film on an original cream outfit worn to Ascot by the Duchess of Rutland, making it more extravagant and incorporating the distinctive black stripes. Even its lining, never seen on screen, was made from silk and lace. It was sold by internet auction in the US in March 2004 for £64,000.