The personal collection of Audrey Hepburn will be showcased by Christie’s at a flagship auction in London later this month. Hepburn’s beloved clothes and accessories, as well as film memorabilia and photography, will make up the 500 lots included in the sale, with single items expected to reach up to £80,000 (about $106,000).
“We are really expecting global interest because Audrey Hepburn never really goes away,” she told Harper’s Bazaar UK. “You see her everywhere and her look was always unbeatable, so generations who have might have only just discovered her will be fascinated by this auction.”
It’s Hepburn’s “unbeatable” appeal that makes her so relevant today. This will no doubt help to draw in the buyers when the auction opens to bidders online on September 19.
“After Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, people were captivated by Hepburn when she came along,” Etherington-Smith explained. “They still are because’s her look is still modern. The capri pants, ballet slippers and malo sweaters are still relevant, so when you look at her in the films, she doesn’t look dated. Audrey looked young, alive and exercised, and people still want to look like that.”
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As to be expected from one of the world’s most admired style icons, some of the most sought-after pieces come from inside Hepburn’s wardrobe. There’s a Burberry trench coat, with an estimated price tag of £6,000-8,000 ($7,966-$10,622), a 1970s red silk couture coat from Valentino, a collection of her cherished Ferragamo pumps and a blue satin cloqué satin dress dress by Hubert de Givenchy, who became a life long collaborator and a close friend of Hepburn’s.
But as Etherington-Smith notes, there are a couple of designs not to be missed by her biggest fans.
“The piece which sums up the Audrey look is a dress that Givenchy made for her in 1968. It’s a black shift trimmed with cock feathers and it’s engaging and young and fun.” Other stand out fashion items from Hepburn’s films include another black satin Givenchy two-piece which she wore in the 1963 movie Charade. It’s expected to reach £50,000-80,000 ($66,000-$106,000) and it’s said to be one of Hepburn’s favorite items of clothes. “She loved it so much, she wore it a lot after the film,” Etherington-Smith confirmed.
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While Hepburn’s annotated scripts from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina and My Fair Lady are tipped to reach the highest prices, it’s the pieces from her wardrobe that highlight just how much Hepburn appreciated fashion both on and off screen.
“If she loved an item, she kept it and all the clothes in the auction are the things she really loved. She invented the little black dress, but she was also fairly obsessive about shoes. ‘If you’ve got wonderful shoes, nothing else really matters,’ she believed.”
As well as couture, the auction includes a number of Hepburn’s treasured gems and jewels. A personalized Tiffany & Co. bangle, presented to Hepburn by Steven Spielberg after filming Always will be featured alongside a colorless tiara which Hepburn wore with a Givenchy gown to the London premiere of The Nun’s Story in 1959.
Out of all the lots being offered up for auction, there is perhaps one which sums up Hepburn perfectly. A letter from legendary fashion editor and Harper’s Bazaar columnist Diana Vreeland informing Hepburn of the success of her UK Vogue cover in April 1971 is estimated to reach £400-600 ($531-$797). In it, Vreeland writes: “The most appealing creature there ever was.” Over 40 years later, that sentiment is still true today.
The auction of Audrey Hepburn’s personal collection will take place at Christie’s King Street headquarters on 27 September, alongside an online sale which will be open for bidding from 19 September until 3 October. The collection will be on view to the public in an exhibition at Christie’s from 23 September and Christie’s Lates – a night celebrating the renowned film actress – will take place from 6pm – 9.30pm on 25 September.