The iconic tutu worn by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City fetched $52,000 at auction earlier this month, a far cry from its initial price tag of just five dollars in the 1990s.
The skirt starred in the Unstoppable: Signature Styles of Iconic Women in Fashion sale held by Julien’s Auctions, a California-based auction house specializing in high-profile memorabilia, alongside a trove of pieces worn by fashion icons of the 20th and 21st Centuries.
Selling for more than six times its original estimate, the three-tiered tutu is one of five worn by Parker’s character in Sex and the City’s opening credits. While she was originally supposed to be styled in a 1998 Marc Jacobs dress for the opening, the show’s costume designer Patricia Field eventually decided to look for an outfit that wouldn’t date the show.
She found the oyster-colored skirt in a $5 bin in New York’s garment district. “In the box of sale garments—trends from seasons past that died on the vine—a white tulle peeked out like the frothy crest of a wave in a sea of throwaways,” recalled Field in her 2023 book, Pat in the City.
The iconic tutu wasn’t the only item to fetch staggering sums at the recent sale—a Givenchy ensemble donned by Grace Kelly in 1961 sold for $325,000, tripling its original estimate. The green tweed sleeveless dress is paired with a matching jacket and white floral hat.
The ensemble was worn by Kelly twice: first, during an official visit to Ireland and then while at the White House with her husband Prince Rainier to meet President John. F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The suit previously sold for $135,000 at auction in 2007.
Also sold for $325,000 was a black silk and velvet cocktail dress worn by Princess Diana while attending a private event in 1985. The item was created by Catherine Walker, one of Diana’s favorite designers and a frequent collaborator. The late Princess wore an estimated 1,000 designs by Walker in her lifetime, though she also favored several other designers. Julien’s Auctions last year sold her Jacques Azagury dress for $1.1 million, setting an auction record for the most expensive dress worn by Diana.
Other highlights from the Unstoppable: Signature Styles of Iconic Women in Fashion auction included a 2001 Chanel nylon ski suit, a metallic Burberry London trench coat worn by Whitney Houston and a Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ready-to-wear gown worn by Audrey Hepburn at the 1970 christening of her youngest son, Luca Dotti.
The auction results “amplify the value and collectability of these fashion looks that became some of the most iconic style moments of our time,” said Martin Nolan, co-founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions in a statement. “This show-stopping collection of exquisite garments adorned on the Royals, Princess Diana and Princess Grace of Monaco and the streetwear style tutu on Hollywood icon Sarah Jessica Parker that made fashion statements at the time of their appearances are now a part of auction history.”
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