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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

a piece of Audrey



On the 8th Dec there is the most amazing auction happening and I am breathless with excitement. A chance to bid and own something worn by Audrey Hepburn. Kerry Taylor Auctions have the most amazing selection of goodies and I can't decide which one I really really want - OK I admit I have no funds and its not realistic of me to even put in a bid but I can dream! I just love the black dress she wore in How to Steal a Million. Also there is a wedding dress she had planned to wear for a marriage that was called off - there is a lovely story attached to it which I have copied from the website.

The ivory satin bridal gown designed for Audrey Hepburn by the Fontana Sisters for her marriage to James (later Lord) Hanson in 1952 which did not take place, un-labelled, of heavy ivory satin, with wide boat neckline, pleats of fabric to the bodice front converging on a bow at the waist, three quarter length sleeves, zip fastened to the back with trained skirt, bust 92cm, 36in, waist 66cm, 26in; together with a letter of provenance from Amabile Altobella; a quantity of press cuttings relating to the gown; and a photograph of Audrey at a Fontana fitting wearing the original gown, (qty) The Fontana sisters were renowned for their highly romantic ball gowns and bridal gowns. The sisters Zoe, Micol and Giovanna founded their business in Rome in 1944. They counted among their clientele many celebrities including Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace of Monaco and Jackie Kennedy. In 1952, whilst Audrey Hepburn was filming `Roman Holiday' with Gregory Peck in Rome, she approached the Fontana sisters to ask them to make her bridal gown. Signora Micol Fontana said that the 23 year old Hepburn was 'young, fresh, on top of the world'. She used to slip away from the set to take refuge in the sewing rooms and discuss the dress. `Audrey wanted complete discretion and had lots of fittings'. Some weeks later when Audrey called off the planned wedding to James Hanson she asked the eldest of the sisters - Zoe to give the dress away. `I want my dress to be worn by another girl for her wedding, perhaps someone who couldn't ever afford a dress like mine, the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find.' Zoe's search centred on the town of Latina which had been founded by the fascists in 1932. The dress was given to a poverty stricken young Italian girl called Amabile Altobella, which coincidentally was the same Christian name as the Fontana sister's mother. Amabile visited Rome just once to have the dress adapted by the Fontana sisters for her to wear at her own wedding to farm worker Adelino Solda with whom she remained happily married, producing three daughters and five grandchildren. Amabile said `I have had a happy marriage, so the dress brought me luck'. The town council gave the young couple kitchen furniture and even organised a honeymoon for them in Paris. After the event she carefully wrapped the dress in tissue paper and stored it away without disturbing it for decades. It was not until 2002 when Micol Fontana, the last survivor of the three sisters traced the gown for a retrospective exhibition of their work, that it was re-discovered.

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