Sunday 18 March 2018

Audrey, an Irish admirer, and the most iconic dress in cinema history

Princess Grace of Monaco wearing a Givenchy suit when she met Jackie Kennedy at the White House in May 1961
Princess Grace of Monaco wearing a Givenchy suit when she met Jackie Kennedy at the White House in May 1961
William Doyle of Newbridge Silverware and his daughter Maedbh, then aged 19, photographed in 2016 with the world famous couturier Hubert de Givenchy (centre), who died at the weekend aged 91
Audrey Hepburn wearing the yellow Givenchy coat in the 1963 movie ‘Charade’ alongside Cary Grant
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

A bidding war for one of the film world's most iconic dresses led to an unusual fashion friendship between couturier Hubert de Givenchy and Irish businessman William Doyle.

Givenchy, who died at the weekend aged 91, was so desperate in 2006 to get his hands on the famous full-length black sleeveless gown he designed for Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly character in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' that he bid €607,000 to secure it. However, no one at the time knew who the anonymous French telephone bidder was.

Later he enquired who had bought a black crêpe evening ensemble which Hepburn wore in the 1963 movie 'Charade' and the couturier established contact and subsequently kept in touch with Doyle, who had bought many of Givenchy's outfits.

Indeed the 'Charade' two piece was the starting point for the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons. Two years ago, Givenchy reached out again to Doyle and asked to borrow the yellow knee-length fitted wool coat with three-quarter length sleeves which Hepburn's character, Regina "Reggie" Lampert wore in the 1963 film.

He also borrowed a silk floral print dress which Hepburn wore in the 1957 movie 'Funny Face'.

The third request from the couturier was to borrow the emerald green dress and short jacket which he had designed for Princess Grace of Monaco and which she wore when she visited President John Kennedy and his wife Jackie in May 1961.

It was a keenly watched fashion face-off at the White House between two fascinating style icons - the American actress who became a princess and the stylish First Lady.

The world's media poured over every detail of the green suit which Princess Grace wore a month later when she visited Ireland.

Doyle's friendship with Givenchy was sealed in November 2016 when William and his then 19-year-old daughter Maedbh met the couturier in the Hague.

On a night when he declined to sign other books, he wrote a special message on Maedbh's book.

Selecting the page with the 'Funny Face' dress, he drew a bow saying he was never fully happy with that dress as he felt it needed a bow.

Doyle last night described the late couturier as "a charming person and a giant in the fashion world, he has left a remarkable fashion story behind and his designs remain utterly timeless".

Irish Independent

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