Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Colour of Her Dress

The colour of thread that jumped out of the box and said, "pick me, pick me", this week was this luscious pink. Never a favourite colour, I find myself warming to pink and some some of its brighter hues and the way they sit against other colours.

This pink is named Geranium, a name that conjures up images of the Mediterranean coast, with the decks of plastered villas lined with pots of brightly coloured geraniums.   

Isn't it the most wonderful pink?

So what dress would the seamstress who owned the box of threads have sewn.  This 60's cocktail dress caught my eye, especially in the pink.

However I have noticed a definite lean in responses to my posts on: The Colour of Her Dress, towards the fabulous, rather than what a Tauranga seamstress would have had sewn.  This Blog is all about adventures and so I think, The Colour of Her Dress is going to shoot off in a slightly different direction as it appears to be where you want to go, and it is definitely where I want to go.

So let us start with this 1959 Cristo Balenciaga evening dress.
A delicious interpretation of our pink don't you think.

And another one from Cristo Balenciaga, also from 1959, but this time a dinner dress.  The draping is exquisite, such a shame to sit down to dinner on it.

As wonderful as the above dresses are, this colour's story has drawn me to Paris and New York.

 Maybe it is because the American woman who wore this dress worked in New York, on one of the most legendary films about New York and yet was to me, quintessentially Parisian. 

 And yet the dress she made famous in the film she worked on: Breakfast at Tiffany's, was not a pink dress, but this black dress.

 Both dresses were designed by the famous French designer, Givenchy, and yet the pink dress has remained hidden in the shadows.

Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, born February 21, 1927, is a French aristocrat and fashion designer who founded The House of Givenchy in 1952. He is famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn,as well as clothing for clients such as Jacqueline Kennedy.  (From Wikipedia)

Nobody remembers the pink dress, and there is nothing I love more than the underdog, so lets take a closer look.
Here in a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly has taken up with the dashing Brazilian Jose, and she is briefly seen in a beautiful hot pink gown (teamed with matching tiara!) which is a departure from her earlier slinky black dresses.

What fascinates me as a museum professional, is what happens to dresses like this, designed by iconic designers, and worn by fabulous movie stars.  The  hot pink cocktail dress actually worn by Audrey during filming of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ended up in a big Christie’s auction for yet another round of Audrey Hepburn memorabilia. It sold for nearly ten times its estimated selling price of $20,000-30,000 US dollars. The winner of the dress was a European bidder who wished to remain anonymous. 

The same thing had happened with the black dress that had sold in a previous auction.  There too the buyer had wanted to remain anonymous, but it eventually came out that the dress was bought by the House of Givenchy.

And then the pink dress reappeared as part of an exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, a museum located in The Hague, the capital city of the Southern Netherlands (also known as Holland).  The museum owns the world's largest collection of Mondrians and one of the largest fashion collections in Europe, in which all the great couture houses are well represented. The original pink Givenchy dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is just one famous item in the collection. It also includes earlier pieces that illustrate the history of couture: Worth, Poiret and Vionnet, who were forerunners of the famous couturiers who now define the look of Paris’s Avenue Montaigne.

The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag's website exhibition card reads:  Hubert de Givenchy, Cocktail ensemble: dress and jacket, Paris autumn collection 1960, silk, silk ribbon appliqu├ęs, sequins and glass beads, K 9-1988.1/2. Worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).  The K 9-1988.1/2 number would be the catalogue number for the dress, so if you wanted to visit the museum and ask to see this dress, knowing this number would assist the Registraar to locate it.

Here is a detail of the decoration of the dress, I am not sure if the colours really work, and for me the dress is not an absolute stunner, I think it is the story that fascinates me more than anything.

So my darlings, let me know what you think, and I hope you enjoyed my detective hunt, into the life of a famous dress, that was pushed into the shadows and brought out into the light of fame once again for a short while, before it will be packed away in archival tissue and hidden in the safe darkness of a museum storage facility, waiting for another moment of fame.


  1. I can relate to so much of this. I totally love the underdog. My goodness how fascinating what happens to these pieces! I wish I was rich enough to buy you one of these timeless pieces.

    I still hate pink though :P

    All of the dresses before that one are gorgeous too ^_^ I often feel similarly sitting down in my coat to how you described that dinner dress haha

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, and yes it is fascinating where these pieces end up isn't it. (I still don't really like pink either).

  3. I love the first dress (the pattern) best for this thread. I still don't see many Tauranga housewives wearing that though!

    This hue of pink (of course) reminds me of Emily's dress, though Emily's dress is a shade or two lighter:

  4. Oh my gooodness, where do you get all this information. It is just fascinating and lovely......and yes even though up till the age of about 10 hot pink was my favorite, I dont like pink either, mind you when I had Isabelle it did stir up a new love for it especially the softer pinks.