elizabeth taylor auction ~ the costumes

December 16, 2011 in costume party by editor

By now, everyone has heard about the record-shattering $116 million that The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor jewelry trove fetched at Christie’s auction house this week. But there was much more to the sale than just million dollar baubles. Five days’ worth of gavel bangin’ action was happening over at 20 Rockefeller Center, including auctions dedicated to her massive collection of designer and haute couture clothing as well as memorabilia and wardrobe from many of her films.

The costume pieces are, of course, magnificent (it’s not like Elizabeth would have held onto to anything that was less than stunning). This first set is from the the 1972 film X Y & Zee and all I get from these frocks is that I need to see the entire film just to take in the swinging wardrobe, designed by Beatrice Dawson. The caftan and chiffon dress look straight out of Ms. Taylor’s real life closet and the little beaded number that winks at Cleopatra just begs to be shimmied and hippy hippy shaken. The film takes place in London and also stars Susanna York and Michael Caine which makes X Y & Zee even more of a must-see. Not available on Netflix (curses!), I am hoping to piece together the parts via YouTube.

elizabeth taylor move costumes X Y & Zee

elizabeth taylor move costumes X Y & Zee

Next is this kimono-inspired piece worn in Boom (1968). Created by one of her preferred real-life fashion designers, Tiziani, the beading and applique-work is breathtaking.

elizabeth taylor move costumes Boom
elizabeth taylor move costumes Boom

If there is one thing I learned about Elizabeth Taylor while looking through all of her clothing, is that the lady sure did enjoy herself a caftan, on-screen and off. This one, also seen in Boom, was cut from ivory jersey and trimmed in white seashell beads around the neck and on the cuffs.

elizabeth taylor move costumes Boom

The costume on the left is a pink and violet chiffon fishtail dress featured in 72′s Hammersmith is Out while the diaphanous silk caftan was worn in Cleopatra (1963). Note the strategically-appliqued lotus flowers (oooh la la!). While critically panned upon its release, the film’s designer Irene Sharaff won an Oscar for “Best Costume Design” in 1964.

elizabeth taylor move costumes Hammersmith is Out

The following four gowns are from A Little Night Music (1977), a film based on a stage musical based on a film (Smiles of a Summer Night). The storyline involves infidelity, virginity and vanity in turn of the century Austria. And it’s all set to the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim!

elizabeth taylor move costumes A Little Night Music

elizabeth taylor move costumes A Little Night Music

No overview of film costumes would be complete around here if there weren’t a couple illustrations to throw into the mix. This pair, by Irene Sharaff, are from Doctor Faustus, the 1967 Richard Burton vehicle (he directed and starred) where Elizabeth makes a brief appearance as Helen of Troy.

elizabeth taylor move costumes Doctor Faustuselizabeth taylor move costumes Doctor Faustus

All images from the Christie’s catalog, The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: Fine and Decorative Art & Film Memorabilia, Including Costumes. Order a copy here.