A Million Dollars Piece of Clothing? Has Fashion Design Lost Its Mind?

by Kristin Marino
Fashion School Review Columnist

December 6, 2006

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The fashion design community was on the edge of its seat on December 5, 2006 as the dress designed by fashion design icon Givenchy and worn by Audrey Hepburn's "Holly Golightly" character in the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" sold for a reported $800,000 at Christie's Auction House of London.

In addition to the $800,000 for the dress, the buyer paid another $120,000 in auction fees. Remarkably, although the dress set a new fashion design world record for the most paid for a dress worn in a film, it doesn't hold the record for the highest amount paid for a dress. That distinction belongs to the white gown worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. That dress was bought for $1.27 million in 1999.

The Givenchy-designed dress was auctioned on behalf on the City of Joy Aid charity that Hepburn passionately supported. According to Reuters, "The sale room at Christie's broke into applause at the end of a long and tense session when it was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder."

The fashionable Ms. Hepburn was known for her pin thin figure long before the current crop of skin and bones actresses began baring their clavicles. Back then, they called it "gamine" and, at least in Hepburn's case, it wasn't a result of drug use or eating disorder. She was just elegantly thin and the tiny dress reflects her gamine shape.

The symbiotic relationship between Hepburn and fashion designer Givenchy began eight years before he created the iconic dress for her. Together they created the famous Audrey Hepburn look. He created clothing design for several of her other movies including "Funny Face," and "Paris When It Sizzles."

Designer Givenchy has this to say about the Ms. Hepburn: "One thing that struck me about her, apart from her charm and elegance, was her ability to make herself loved and admired by women as well as men. Her image was unique. This is something that other great actresses have been unable to create for themselves."


About the Author
Kristin Marino is obsessed with haute couture, even though she lives in Reno, Nevada, where you can't even get Gucci or Louis Vuitton, let alone Jimmy Choo. She has a Bachelor of Art in English Composition from the University of Nevada.

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