Glitz, glamour, gold – that was Elizabeth Taylor. In the spirit of “Old Hollywood”, she virtually grew up in the MGM studios. And now two of her golden-era outfits go up for sale in the much-publicised Kerry Taylor auction on November 29 (which also includes pieces owned or worn by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana and Amy Winehouse).
The auction presents a unique opportunity to bid for Taylor’s one-of-a-kind star style. The two sumptuous golden ensembles epitomise her allure and are the ultimate in timeless glamour.
Working on the set of Cleopatra – one of the most expensive films ever made – may have given Taylor her penchant for all that glisters. She famously dripped in diamonds and became a devoted client of haute couture. When filming had wrapped for the movie, she was seen stepping out in the golden Sari gown (first picture; lot 174, estimate £30,000-£50,000). Designed and made especially for her by couturier Cristobel Balenciaga (at this time at a creative high point in his career too), it has been immortalised in a paparazzi photograph of Taylor and Richard Burton attending a premiere in Paris in 1964. Wearing gold shoes and with a handbag to match, the actress was like an irresistible Oscar statuette (she won two in her lifetime) from the golden age of Hollywood.
The second golden outfit going under the hammer is an elegant Chanel shift with matching jacket (second picture; lot 173, estimate £10,000-£15,000) in a rich, textured gold brocatelle, made when Taylor was newly married to Burton. Both dresses were worn at a climactic point in her career, and both exemplify the fearless movie-star style she could lay claim to: truly iconic and unapologetically glamorous.
Burton and Taylor’s accountant, a friend whose wife was a similar size to Taylor, received the two outfits as a gift in the 1960s, and they have remained in the family ever since. Both come with letters of authenticity signed by the vendor.