Angelina Jolie became the first fashion victim of this year's Oscars when her £3,000 body-hugging red corset dress was stolen from the back of her British designer's car.
The dress was taken with eight other outfits, jewellery and accessories worth up to £40,000, which were bound for Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
The thief struck on Tuesday afternoon outside the Knightsbridge branch of Harvey Nichols in London. Scott Henshall, the designer, left the outfits in his soft-top BMW when he and his passenger, Lady Victoria Hervey, went into the shop for ten minutes, his spokesman said yesterday.
While they were away, a thief slashed through the hood and grabbed the bags containing the dresses. Henshall searched nearby dustbins in case the thief had panicked and dumped the dresses as he fled.
"They are extremely glamorous evening dresses," said Paul Bhari, the designer's spokesman. "If someone took them, they could have been extremely overwhelmed by what they had grabbed. Those dresses have so much painstaking hand work in them, I can't tell you. He is more than gutted, he is extremely upset."
Henshall flew to Los Angeles yesterday to tell Jolie her dress had been stolen. He was taking a selection of outfits with him. Jolie, the star of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, won the Oscar for best supporting actress in 2000 for her performance in Girl, Interrupted.
"There is no way I can remake Angelina's or any other dresses in time," he told London's Evening Standard newspaper. "There were 20 outfits in the collection and now the nine most glamorous have gone."
Jolie chose her original dress, which was decorated with cherubs, after seeing coverage of Henshall's show during London fashion week. The stolen dresses, featuring heavy beading and trimmings such as ostrich feathers, were from last month's show and no copies had been made.
Paris Hilton, a hotel heiress, and Tamara Beckwith, who was due to interview celebrities at the ceremony, had also planned to wear outfits from the collection. Ms Hilton, 21, had chosen a low-cut sequinned mini-dress in a harlequin design, priced at £2,500 and Ms Beckwith earmarked a £3,000 black chiffon flapper dress for the red carpet. Scotland Yard is investigating the theft.
Henshall, originally from York, is renowned for his daring outfits, which guarantee maximum exposure at celebrity events. His fans include Madonna, Kylie Minogue and the actress Joely Richardson.
Last year he confessed that one of his dreams was to "design a themed message dress for the Oscars".