It had previously been thought that this dress was already ensconced in the Christian Dior Patrimoine/ Archive, but the actual one had remained carefully packed away in a large plastic suitcase (alongside 11 more of the star’s garments) in central London since 1971. The clothes remained largely undisturbed, unworn since that time.
The Christian Dior couture Soirée à Rio ‘Oscar’ dress, spring-summer 1961, by Marc Bohan, ‘Slim Line’ collection, is now estimated at £60,000- 100,000 in Kerry Taylor’s Passion for Fashion auction in Bermondsey, south London, on December 12. It is part of a remarkable group up for sale given to an employee.
On April 18, 1961, Elizabeth Taylor famously arrived at the 33rd Academy Awards wearing this gown, accessorised with long evening gloves, diamond and pearl droplet earrings.
Having been nominated and rejected on four previous occasions for best actress and having been the subject of negative press headlines due to a controversial marriage to her latest husband Eddie Fisher in 1959, she did not expect to win.
However, that evening, Taylor won the Best Actress Academy Award for the very first time, for her role in Butterfield 8 where she plays a Manhattan call girl who has a tragic affair with a rich married man.
The collection of clothes offered here is linked with former employees and close family friends Gaston and Anne Sanz.
Gaston had worked for Taylor since the 1950s and was one of her most trusted and longest-serving employees. She had been introduced to Gaston in Paris where he was working at the time for the Rothschild family as a chauffeur. He could speak five languages, had trained as a Cordon Bleu chef but more importantly had been Judo and Karate champion of France for five consecutive years. He became Taylor’s bodyguard/chauffeur and worked for her for around 20 years.
When Gaston married British-born Anne in 1968, Taylor gave her a white matelassé cocktail dress with matching bolero to wear as her bridal gown (also offered in this auction). From then on Anne became an integral part of the Taylor-Burton household.
Take your pick
One day in 1971 Taylor beckoned Anne into her suite at the Dorchester Hotel. The star, by now seemingly tired of continuously moving her extensive wardrobe on their global travels (it consisted of around 40 massive suitcases by this point), asked Anne to take her pick of her wardrobe.
Anne filled two suitcases with assorted gowns and was also gifted a vintage crocodile dressing case with Victorian silver fittings.