The Icon And Her Haute Couture
“I went to see the collection three nights ago and was literally slack-jawed the whole way through,” Coco Rocha told Style.com at Christie’s New York last night before bidding on Elizabeth Taylor’s couture collection kicked off. “I love the fact that pieces were not hand-picked by some stylist for her—this was her personal taste, her collection.”
For that reason, the auction has garnered an unrivaled interest from bidders around the world—people want to own a part of the legendary Liz. After Tuesday night’s jewelry auction, which brought in a record-breaking $115 million, the mood in the auction room on the second floor was tense last night in anticipation of how the Versace bolero jackets and Dior gowns would sell. They did not disappoint—sales of the couture clothes soared to a total of $2.6 million last night.
Minutes after 7 p.m., Christie’s Los Angeles president Andrea Fiuczynski took her place on the stand and readied her gavel, despite the relatively empty auction room (for the most part, buyers were bidding on the phone and online). After Christie’s CEO Marc Porter made the surprise announcement that the famed Irene Sharaff yellow silk chiffon wedding dress from Taylor’s first marriage to Richard Burton is being donated to a major American museum (the specific one has not been revealed), bidding began.
One of the early big-money items was the Atelier Versace evening jacket (pictured) beaded with portraits of Dame Elizabeth in her most famous roles, including Cleopatra. Bidding began at $12,000, and though it was estimated to sell for between $15,000 and $20,000, the jacket was purchased from a phone bidder for $128,500. It wasn’t until over three hours later when sales reached that high again. (At one point, Fiuczynski tried to coax one of the buyers in the room, “Are you sure they can’t refill your glass with something a little stronger perhaps?”). Two of the dresses on display at the front of the auction room, some of the last items to be sold, fetched a whopping $362,500 (a 1968 Christian Dior evening gown worn to Guy de Rothschild’s ball in France) and $134,500 (a Chanel ball gown worn to the Royal Command Film Performance of The Taming of the Shrew in London in 1967). The last item to go was Andy Warhol’s Liz lithograph (also on display in the room), signed in felt-tip pen “to Elizabeth with much love.” Though it was predicted to go for $30,000 to $50,000, the iconic piece sold for $662,500. On her way out, Rocha was gushing over her purchase: “I was amazed that I actually won the bid on the Givenchy jumpsuit,” she said. “Everyone has been asking what I am going to do with it—I am going to wear it. Right now, I’m thinking next year’s Costume Institute Ball would be perfect.” Bidding continues tonight with more of Taylor’s clothing and accessories.