Colin Firth’s lake-soaked Mr Darcy shirt from Pride And Prejudice sells for £25,000

The shirt’s designer revealed Firth wore no underwear and the lengthy garment was used to create ‘a very handsome bulge’

Maira Butt
Wednesday 06 March 2024 15:53 GMT
Pride and Prejudice trailer (1995)

The shirt worn by Colin Firth when he strode across fields dripping wet after a swim in the lake during the TV series adaptation of the classic novel Pride and Prejudice has sold for £25,000 at a charity auction.

Oscar-winner Firth played Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, opposite Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet – who is surprised when she visits his estate, Pemberley, to find him wet and not properly dressed.

The moment has been re-imagined in Netflix series Bridgerton, when British actor Jonathan Bailey steps out of a lake, and was also referenced in Bridget Jones’s Diary, which stars Firth as another Mr Darcy, a nod to his portrayal by writer Helen Fielding.

The outfit, including white shirt, velvet waistcoat, moleskin breeches, and boots, was expected to fetch between £7,000 and £10,000 but more than doubled its estimated sale price.

The six-episode series was adapted by Andrew Davies and ran in 1995, becoming a cult classic among romantics.

Based on the 1813 novel by Jane Austen, the series followed the enemies-to-lovers arc of two prideful characters as they overcome their differences and fall in love.

“It’s not just the shirt, but the entire costume that Colin wore in the scene including the boots,” said the outfit’s designer, Dinah Collins, in an interview with BBC Radio 4.

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the famous 'wet shirt scene' in Pride and Prejudice (BBC)

She also shared that Firth wore no underwear as part of his outfit and that effort was made to construct a “handsome bulge” in the “unscripted” scene that sparked such sexual tension between Bennett and Darcy.

“They are very long, so that you can tuck the front and back tails between your legs,” she said. “As the man, you don’t wear pants as such and so this creates a very handsome bulge under your breeches.”

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Branded one of the most unforgettable moments in television, the “lake scene” has been recreated in Bridgerton and Bridget Jones’ Diary as well as further adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.

The full outfit will be available to purchase at the auction hosted by Kerry Taylor Auctions (PA)

The shirt was sold along with more than 60 costumes from film and TV including a £60,000 Christian Dior taffetta ballgown worn by Madonna, and Johnny Depp’s Sleepy Hollow costume which is expected to be sold for up to £30,000.

The auction also featured costumes worn by Dame Julie Andrews, Jude Law, Tom Hardy, Eddie Redmayne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley, Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Rickman, Margot Robbie, Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Aidan Turner.

Aired in the fourth episode of the 1995 series, it marks a turning point in the dynamic between Bennett and Darcy as the unguarded moment softens the unease between them.

​It's 20 years since Colin Firth emerged wet-shirted from a lake in the BBC's 'Pride and Prejudice'. Now we struggle to imagine a Darcy who isn't all sexy broodiness. (BBC)

The auction was hosted by Kerry Taylor Auctions using outfits donated by costume house Cosprop, founded in 1965 by Oscar and Bafta-winning designer John Bright. It will raise funds for arts education charity The Bright Foundation, founded by the designer who won an Oscar for his work in A Room With a View.

Bright said: “My life’s work has been committed to costume design for film, TV and theatre and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to pursue this path.

“It is my firmly held belief that the arts and creativity can shape happier and healthier children and enable young people to reach their full potential.

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