|A model (AP picture on top) in the classic black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Credit: Ronald Grant Archive)
London, July 26: The simple black dress that actress Audrey Hepburn made famous in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s is to be auctioned in London by Christie’s on December 5, with the money going to the poor in India.
The estimated '50,000-70,000 raised from the sale will be donated by the owner of the outfit, author Dominique Lapierre, to his charity in India, the City of Joy Aid.
Hepburn wore the outfit, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, in the 1961 film, thereby making the simple black dress a must for every woman’s wardrobe throughout the western world.
Christie’s said today the auction offered “a rare opportunity to own an iconic piece of cinematic history”. The sleek black dress would be the main attraction in its sale of Film and Entertainment memorabilia.
Once Hepburn had worn the dress, it became “an example of timeless refinement and elegance”.
The dress was personally donated to the current owners, Monsieur and Madame Lapierre, by Givenchy, who designed Hepburn’s entire wardrobe for the film.
Christie’s spokeswoman recalled that the “opening sequence became one of the most powerful images from the film, as Hepburn emerged from a cab onto a deserted early morning 5th Avenue ' a glamorous, gamine figure in an elegant black dress, peering wistfully into the window of Tiffany’s and eating her breakfast from a brown paper bag”.
“It was this appearance as Holly Golightly that sealed Audrey Hepburn’s international fame and the success of the film has been timeless, watched again and again by millions. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the film,” added Christie’s.
Holly’s creator, novelist Truman Capote, is said to have wanted Marilyn Monroe to portray her on screen. But Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the theme song, Moon River, will continue to be among the things for which Hepburn is most fondly remembered.
Hepburn died in 1993, aged 63. She won an Oscar for Roman Holiday in 1953 and starred in Funny Face, The Nun’s Story and My Fair Lady.
In her later life, she became known for her humanitarian work, becoming a goodwill ambassador for Unicef in 1988.
In several polls she was voted the most beautiful woman of all time.
Her “little black dress” is considered by many women to be an essential part of a complete wardrobe. It is a well-known “rule of fashion” that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
For example, a simple black cocktail dress could be made into an evening dress with diamond accessories, stilettos and long gloves; or, when combined with a black suit jacket, demure accessories and simple pumps, the same dress could be worn to a daytime business meeting.
There is a worrying suggestion that the buyers at the auction might include Victoria Beckham, wife of the former England football captain, David Beckham, or Coleen McLoughlin, girlfriend of another footballer, Wayne Rooney. Both women are said to consider Hepburn their heroine, though the modern concept of a “footballer’s wife” is as far removed from the age of elegance, as represented by Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as anyone can imagine.
A “beauty room” in the mansion McLoughlin shares with Rooney is decorated in homage to the Hollywood star, while Victoria is said to own one of the actress’s diamond chokers.
Based in Calcutta, the City of Joy Aid was set up in 1981 by Lapierre, co-author of Freedom at Midnight, following a meeting with Mother Teresa. It is dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor through a network of clinics, schools, rehabilitation centres and hospital boats.