The price of 'Breakfast At Tiffany's': Hepburn's dress is sold for £467,200

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The Independent Online

Audrey Hepburn once told an interviewer: "My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses and the little sleeveless dresses."

And, she might have added, by having the small matter of £467,200 to spend on historic couture.

That was the eye-watering sum paid by an anonymous fan at auction yesterday for the very dress responsible for establishing the "Hepburn look".

The elegant Givenchy black dress worn by the elfin British actress in Breakfast At Tiffany's set a new world record price for a garment worn in a film, during frantic bidding at Christie's in London.

Hepburn wears the floor-length silk dress in the opening scene of the 1961 film as she steps from a taxi onto an empty New York street in the early morning.

In one of fashion's defining cinematic moments, Hepburn's Givenchy-clad Holly Golightly peers through the window of the jeweller Tiffany's, while eating breakfast from a brown paper bag.

The iconic dress ended up selling at nearly seven times its £70,000 estimate after it was offered for sale from the private collection of Hubert De Givenchy, the founder of the French fashion house.

It was given as a gift to M. De Givenchy's friend, Dominic Lapierre, to sell to raise funds for his City of Joy charity, which supports impoverished children in India. Speaking after bidding had finished, M. Lapierre said: "There are tears in my eyes. I am 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."

The dress was bought by anonymous telephone bidder. Christie's remained tight-lipped about the identity of the gown's buyer, saying only that he or she was "European".

Prior to the sale there had been speculation that Victoria Beckham and Wayne Rooney's fiancée Coleen McLoughlin, who have both cited Hepburn as their heroine, could be among potential buyers.

Ms McLoughlin has a room in the Cheshire mansion she shares with the England star decorated in homage to the actress, while Mrs Beckham is thought to own one of the star's diamond necklaces.

The £467,200 frock, described by one commentator as "one of the very best" of that enduring fashion staple, the little black dress, was one of three made by M. De Givenchy for Breakfast At Tiffany's.

The film, in which Hepburn plays a naïve and ditzy call girl, is widely considered to be the actress' finest performance and won her an Oscar nomination.

During the movie, she explains that her early morning trips to Tiffany after a night of partying are her antidote to the periodic panic attacks she calls "the mean reds".

Hepburn's son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, wrote: "Every actor has a film whose chemistry is so strong that it is forever a reference point in their career. Breakfast At Tiffany's would be it for my mother."

The collaboration between Hepburn and Givenchy had begun eight years earlier when she was sent by her Hollywood studio to Paris to commission the designer of her choice to create her wardrobe for another film, Sabrina.

But it was not until he sat down to create the dress worn by Hepburn's eccentric high-class escort girl in New York that the relationship reached its zenith. M. De Givenchy said in a recent interview: "It was a perfect dress for her."

The garment, which was recently worn by the current Hollywood darling, Natalie Portman for a cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine, has a thigh-length split similar to that worn by Hepburn on the famous poster for the film, complete with a string of pearls, beehive and a cigarette holder.

The remaining two dresses that were used in the film are being kept. One is in the Givenchy company's own archives and one is in a costume museum in Madrid.

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