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Audrey Hepburn wardrobe to go up for auction

NEW YORK -- Audrey Hepburn once declared her look was “attainable” and an upcoming auction of some of the fashionable film star's wardrobe will make that possible.

Some 35 dresses, gowns, separates and other items will be sold at a London auction on Dec. 8 at the largest sale of clothing that belonged to the actress, who won an Oscar for her first starring role as a runaway princess in “Roman Holiday,

Hepburn, who is also known for roles as divergent as cockney Eliza in “My Fair Lady” and a terrorized blind woman in “Wait Until Dark,” had “a purity and an innocence and a vulnerability that made her especially attractive,” said Kerry Taylor, the fashion auctioneer who is offering the collection.

“She personified that svelte, chic, minimal, European look of the post-war period,” Taylor said at an exhibition of the items. “And she was a firm believer that less is more.”

Among the highlights is a haute couture cloque silk dress by Givenchy, the designer with whom Hepburn was most closely linked, which she wore to promote “Paris when it Sizzles.”

“It was a terrible film, but the clothes were marvelous,” Taylor said. The dress is estimated to sell for US$17,000 to US$25,000, but could fetch far more. Hepburn's clothes are not often available at auction. Recently offered designs sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The sale stemmed from a June phone call to Taylor by Hepburn's lifelong friend, Tanja Star-Busmann, to whom the actress gave much of her clothing over the years before her death in 1993 at age 63.

The actress always “hated waste,” Taylor noted.

She said 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale held in conjunction with Sotheby's will be donated to the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund and UNICEF, for which she worked during her final years.

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