Two-time Oscar nominee Leslie Caron, most famous for “American in Paris" and “Gigi,” is following in Elton John’s footsteps and cleaning out her closet.
Paris-based Caron, 74, will auction off a portion of her couture collection at Sotheby’s in London on June 26. For more information, go to www.kerrytaylorauctions.com.
Some – like the tangerine silk Saint Laurent gown she wore to the Cannes Film Festival with Kirk Douglas and the Dior frock she wore to present Steve McQueen with a Henrietta Award (World Film Favorite Actor) at the Golden Globes – also come with photos of Caron in the gowns.
“My sale starts at 4 p.m.,” Caron, said from her Left Bank abode that she shares with her dog, Prunella. “Before me, they’re selling valuable antique textiles. And after me, there are some very special items being auctioned – a dance costume that was worn by ballerina Margot Fonteyn, a pinstriped suit and nightshirt that belonged to Sir Winston Churchill and one of Princess Diana‘s cocktail gowns! Isn’t that wonderful? I’m sure that will interest your readers,” Caron added, with unabated "Gigi" spirit.
Caron was a young dancer in Paris when Gene Kelly discovered her. She’s had a long career and though she’s been off the celeb radar, she still acts occasionally.
She almost got the role of the murdered nun in "The Da Vinci Code.” “They told me I looked too worldly.” And she recently shot an upcoming episode of “Law and Order – Special Victims Unit,” playing a woman much like Teri Hatcher, who testifies against a man who raped her when she hears he has more victims.
And she’s already met Hollywood’s hottest couple. In March, Caron dined at the Hotel de Crillon with LA painter Don Bacardi and his friends, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They had invited Bacardi, a friend of Angelina’s mother, to come to France and paint a portrait of the pregnant actress/activist.
“I like them very much,” Caron said. “They’re bright, interested in what’s going on, open to everything, ready to grab everything they can out of life. They’re not wasting a lot of time being movie stars. They’re taking advantage of it to see, listen and learn. Their love affair is obviously not for the benefit of the press; they seem extremely happy and comfortable together.”
There was only one awkward moment, when Leslie innocently asked where the baby would be born.
“They were perfectly mute,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking! They were being stalked everywhere by the paparazzi.”
More on Caron’s clothes calls…
Photo Credits: Leslie Caron in Dior by Marc Bohan at the Golden Globes, presenting a Henrietta award to Steve McQueen.
Courtesy of Leslie Caron
On her love affair with couture: “When I arrived in Hollywood in 1950, with my little hand-made suit, the studio gave me Liz Taylor’s wardrobe from “Life with Father”. So I wore Liz’ Taylor’s hand-me-downs.”
But after the success of "American in Paris" with Gene Kelly, she became a star and designers made outfits just for her.
So why sell now? “I kept most of the dresses to use. I wore them,” she explains. But recently I tried on one or two, and I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to wear those any more.’ It’s really for a younger woman. I thought the best idea was to sell them. It gives me such pleasure to think that someone else can look beautiful in them. I know the British adore vintage clothes – and they’re rather fond of me. So London seemed the best place.”
The collection to be auctioned goes back to the early years of Caron’s career. “There is one dress by Givenchy made for me in 1956 – grey lace and satin. I have pictures of me wearing it, looking like a baby.”
Some of the clothes are civilian clothes but most are from films. “It was never simply standard practice to be given one’s clothes from a film," says Caron. “I believe you could ask for them. I can’t remember how I got my Saint Laurent suits, but I must have asked. A lot of times you can buy your clothes half-price, I often did that. I bought a Chanel suit recently that I wore in "Le Divorce.”
Sadly there’s nothing for sale that she wore in "Gigi." That wardrobe was designed by Hollywood legend Cecil Beaton. “It was lavish, beautiful, sheer heaven.”
Who will buy? “I understand there will be representatives from museums, designers who might want to reproduce an idea, women who like vintage clothes. And there might be people who buy clothes to rent them.”
What will she do with the proceeds? “I will spend the money probably going to the theatre in London, taking my family to see plays. That’s how I spend my money. The theatre in London is remarkable.”
Caron will still have some leftovers. “They won’t sell anything that is after the ’80s. Nothing with padded shoulders. I had Valentino things, Saint Laurent ready-to-wear but there’s no customer for that. So maybe I will try eBay.”
Photo Credits: Leslie Caron wearing a tangerine St. Laurent gown to the Cannes Film Festival with Kirk Douglas.
Courtesy of Leslie Caron