Liz Taylor’s ‘lucky charm’ Oscar dress found in suitcase in London


An employee poses with a Christian Dior dress worn by actress Elizabeth Taylor, recently discovered with other dresses in a suitcase, before their sale at Kerry Taylor Auctions, in London on November 25, 2022. Credit: DANIEL LEAL / AFP

A Christian Dior dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor on the night she won best actress at the 1961 Academy Awards is to be auctioned next month, after being stored in a suitcase in London for more than 50 years.

It had been believed that the floral print dress with a crimson silk flower at the waist was already in the Christian Dior archives in Paris. In fact, the dress – along with 11 other items owned by the star – had been carefully stored in a large plastic suitcase in her former personal assistant’s spare room since 1971.

Accompanied by fourth husband Eddie Fisher, Taylor wore the dress designed by Marc Bohan for Dior to the 33rd Academy Awards. Her relationship with Fisher, whom she was accused of stealing from actress Debbie Reynolds, was considered a scandal and had sparked a storm of negative publicity.

The appeal had left Taylor convinced she would not win, said Kerry Taylor, whose specialist vintage fashion auction house is selling the dress. “She had been the bridesmaid and never the bride at the Oscars and on this occasion she really didn’t expect to win after being passed over before and having all the negative press over Eddie Fisher,” she told AFP.

After her Oscar triumph, the star came to regard the dress as “something of a lucky charm” and took it around the world with her. “Elizabeth Taylor still took this dress with her from place to place after 10 years. She didn’t wear it on other occasions, she just liked to have it with her,” Taylor said.

“Only used dresses”

The clothes in the suitcase were among a large number gifted to former employee Anne Sanz, whose husband Gaston worked as Taylor’s driver and bodyguard.
The couple traveled the world with the actress and her fellow Hollywood star husband Richard Burton at the height of their fame in the 1960s and 70s. But despite the Dior dress’s sentimental value, by 1971 Taylor’s travel wardrobe had sometimes swelled to 40 huge suitcases, and she was happy to let it go.

Opening his dressing room at London’s Dorchester Hotel one day in 1971, the actor told Sanz “take what you want!” Taylor had also given Sanz a white cocktail dress and matching bolero for her wedding. Other items to be sold include Tiziani haute couture by Karl Lagerfeld and a “black widow” cape Taylor wore in the 1967 film “Boom,” also by Lagerfeld.

Taylor and Burton were godparents to Sanz’s daughter Elizabeth, but Anne and Gaston quit after the star employers’ second separation, torn over who to continue working for.

Over the years, Sanz wore a few of the dresses and gave others away to friends and family, never considering them particularly significant or valuable.

“Anne obviously had the white matelassé dress for her wedding and there was another dress she wore – a yellow and blue dress with a matching coat,” Kerry Taylor said.
“But in a way these were just used dresses that belonged to Liz Taylor. So what? This was before celebrity mentality was the thing,” she added.

The auction in which the Dior Oscar dress is expected to fetch between 40,000-60,000 pounds ($48,000-73,000) will take place in London on December 6. (AFP)

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