A ‘lucky charm’ Christian Dior dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor the night she won Best Actress at the 1961 Oscars is due to go up for auction next month, after being stored in a suitcase in London for more than 50 years.
It had been assumed that the floral print dress with a crimson silk flower at the waist was already in the Christian Dior archives in Paris. In fact, the dress – along with 11 other pieces belonging to the star – had been neatly stored in a large plastic suitcase in her former personal assistant’s guest room since 1971.
Taylor, accompanied by her fourth husband Eddie Fisher, wore the dress designed by Marc Bohan for Dior at the 33rd Academy Awards. Her relationship with Fisher, whom she was accused of stealing from actor Debbie Reynolds, was considered a scandal and sparked a storm of negative publicity.
The outcry had left Taylor convinced she wouldn’t win, said Kerry Taylor, whose vintage fashion auction house is selling the dress. “She had been the bridesmaid and never the bride at the Oscars and on this occasion she really didn’t expect to win, having been ignored before and having had all the negative press on Eddie Fisher,” he said. she told AFP.
After her Oscar triumph, the star came to regard the dress as “some kind of lucky charm” and took it with her all over the world. “Elizabeth Taylor still took that dress from place to place after 10 years. She didn’t wear it on other occasions, she just loved having it with her,” Taylor said.
‘Just second-hand dresses’
The clothes in the suitcase were among a large number given to former employee Anne Sanz, whose husband Gaston worked as Taylor’s driver and bodyguard.
The couple traveled the world with the actor and her husband, Hollywood star Richard Burton, at the height of their fame in the 1960s and 1970s. But despite the sentimental value of the Dior dress, in 1971 the wardrobe of Taylor’s trip sometimes included 40 huge suitcases and she was happy to let her go.
The actress opened her wardrobe at London’s Dorchester Hotel one day in 1971, telling Sanz “take whatever you want!” Taylor had also given Sanz a white cocktail dress and matching bolero for her wedding. Other items to be sold include Karl Lagerfeld’s Tiziani haute couture and a “black widow” dress Taylor wore in the 1967 film “Boom,” also by Lagerfeld.
Taylor and Burton were godparents to Sanz’s daughter Elizabeth, but Anne and Gaston quit after the second split from their star employers, torn over who to continue working.
Over the years, Sanz has worn a few dresses and gifted others to friends and family, never considering them particularly important or valuable.
“Anne obviously wore the white quilted dress for her wedding and there was another dress she wore – a yellow and blue dress with a matching coat,” Kerry Taylor said.
“But in a way, those were just second-hand dresses that belonged to Liz Taylor. So what? That was before the celebrity mentality became the thing,” she added.
The auction at which the Dior Oscar dress is expected to fetch between 40,000 and 60,000 pounds ($48,000 to $73,000) will take place in London on December 6. (AFP)