The collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie’s

This week the Elizabeth Taylor collection will be auctioned away by Christie’s in New York, benefiting a cause that was so dear to her heart, AIDS research. Thanks to my generous friend Lani, I had the chance to admire this impressive collection of jewelry, fashion and other precious items along with Sarah and Mariah. I am ashamed to say I have never seen a film starring Elizabeth Taylor but observing her belongings is enough to make you realize that she was a legendary actress and larger-than-life character.

The exhibition started with the presentation of Elizabeth Taylor’s most precious jewelry, among which this set by Bulgari. To illustrate the love the actress had for this brand, here are a few memorable quotes:

“I would get so excited that I would jump on top of him and practically make love to him.” Elizabeth Taylor on her visiting the Bulgari store in Rome with her 5th husband Richard Burton

“I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari.” Richard Burton

“The only word Elizabeth knows in Italian is Bulgari.” Richard Burton

As you can see, Elizabeth Taylor was no ordinary jewelry lover. While actresses today burrow these accessories and wear them only for the red carpet, Taylor would collect and wear them unashamedly every day.

Cartier diamond and ruby ring, necklace and earrings

Van Cleef and Arpels: I love the color association!

After the jewelry came the fashion collection with these elegant dresses from the late 1960s by Chanel, Tiziani and Dior (from left to right). Do you know Tiziani? This Rome-based brand had a certain Karl Lagerfeld as a designer at the time.

Late 1960s Dior again with beautiful spring-colored gowns.  Elizabeth Taylor also wore the brand quite recently with this red dress designed by John Galliano.

There were a lot of yellow dresses among Elizabeth Taylor’s collection, probably because the color complemented her fair complexion and raven hair so well. Sarah noticed how incredibly short the hemlines were in the late 1960s.

Do you think Liz liked feathers?

Elizabeth Taylor had an impressively large caftan collection; what you see in the 2 pictures of this post is just a tiny part of it. The actress launched this 1970s trend with her oriental and loudly-colored frocks.

It is interesting to know that Taylor decided to gain weight so nobody would offer her roles: she wanted to focus on her marriage to Burton instead of her career. Alas, it was a failed attempt: Liz did become curvier but she was still very much in demand.

Chanel bags, jewelry and suits

A mountain of Louis Vuitton. Liz Taylor would tag her luggage with the word “Mine!”

The last room presented the items related to Elizabeth Taylor’s acting career, such as her two Academy Awards for Best Actress. As we exited Christie’s, Liz gave us one last look through her portrait by Andy Warhol. The artist rightfully said “It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a big ring on Elizabeth Taylor’s finger.

Which memory of Elizabeth Taylor would you take from this collection? And which of her movies would you recommend me?

Demain marque le premier jour de la vente aux enchères de la collection Elizabeth Taylor par Christie’s à New York. Suite au décès de l’actrice en mars dernier, ses plus belles pièces de joaillerie et de mode ont été réunies pour servir la cause qui lui était si chère : la recherche contre le SIDA. Grace à ma généreuse amie Lani  j’ai pu admirer cette impressionnante collection accompagnée de Sarah et Mariah. J’ai honte de le dire : je n’ai jamais vu de film mettant en scène Elizabeth Taylor. Pourtant, il suffit d’observer ses biens pour comprendre qu’ils appartenaient à une légende du cinéma.

L’exposition s’ouvrait sur la fameuse collection de joaillerie d’Elizabeth Taylor dont cette parure Bulgari. Pour illustrer l’amour porté par l’actrice à cette maison, voici quelques citations : 

« I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari. » Richard Burton (J’ai présenté Liz à la bière, elle m’a présenté à Bulgari.)

« I would get so excited that I would jump on top of him and practically make love to him. » Elizabeth Taylor sur ses visites à la boutique joaillerie avec Richard Burton (Je devenais tellement excitée que je lui sautais dessus et nous faisions presque l’amour.)

« The only word Elizabeth knows in Italian is Bulgari. » Richard Burton (Le seule mot qu’Elizabeth connait en italient est Bulgari.)

Comme vous pouvez le comprendre, nous avions affaire à une collectionneuse acharnée. Alors que les actrices d’aujourd’hui ne portent de la joaillerie empruntée que le temps d’un red carpet, Elizabeth Taylor portait ses pièces au quotidien et sans réserve, encouragé par son cinquième mari Richard Burton.

Venait ensuite la collection de mode, dont ces robes si élégantes de la fin des années 1960. De gauche à droite : Chanel, Tiziani et Dior. Connaissez-vous Tiziani ? Cette maison romaine avait pour couturier à l’époque un certain Karl Lagerfeld. Encore du Dior de la fin des années 1960 dans de beaux tons printaniers. Elizabeth Taylor a aussi porté les créations de cette maison bien plus tard, comme cette robe rouge créée par John Galliano.

La collection comportait beaucoup de robes jaunes, probablement parce que cette couleur seyait bien au teint pâle et à la chevelure noire de l’actrice. Moi c’est la longueur des robes qui m’a étonnée. Imaginez-vous porter ce modèle aujourd’hui ; on vous reprocherait sans doute votre indécence !

Elizabeth Taylor avait une collection impressionnante de caftans, dont vous ne voyez ici qu’une toute petite partie. L’actrice aimait porter ces vêtements d’inspiration orientale aux tons parfois criards  dans les années 1970 et contribua à les rendre populaires. Il faut aussi savoir que l’actrice avait décidé de prendre du poids pour ne plus recevoir d’offres de rôles car elle voulait se concentrer sur son mariage avec Burton et non plus sur sa carrière.

Une montagne de bagages Louis Vuitton. Elizabeth Taylor avait pour habitude d’étiqueter ses bagages avec le mot « Mine ! » (le mien).

La dernière salle était dédiée aux souvenirs de cinéma, comme ses deux Oscars de la meilleure actrice. Le couloir menant vers la sortie était orné de ce célèbre portrait d’Andy Warhol. L’artiste dit à propos de son amie « It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a big ring on Elizabeth Taylor’s finger. » (Cela serait tellement glamour d’être réincarné en tant que grosse bague sur le doigt d’Elizabeth Taylor.)

Quel souvenir emporteriez-vous d’Elizabeth Taylor? Et lequel de ses films me conseillez-vous ?

16 thoughts on “The collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie’s

  1. Oh Anne… I’m guessing that’s where you did your Christmas shopping!? Liz had such impeccable taste, exquisite jewels and such a character. So few good (public) women like that. I really like the yellow dresses.

  2. Hmmm. . . I think Elizabeth Taylor was never more beautiful than when she appeared in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Suddenly, Last Summer.” Those were two of her best roles, too. I think her finest role — but very shocking for one so glamorous as her — was the 1966 film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” It’s not a movie for the faint of heart. A truly great performance.

  3. Dear Anne,

    Lovely and well documented post! :-) If you have to choose just one movie to watch Liz Taylor, I suggest the classic, expensive, emblematic and majestic Cleopatra.

    Ah, on time: some people very-very close to me will be on vacation in Paris for several days in January. I made to them special recommendations for places directly inspired in previous posts of your blog, after all, I share your very good taste!

    À bientôt!

    1. Ah, I’m glad I helped you make recommendations for your friends in Paris! I’m going back there in a couple of weeks for the Christmas holidays; I can’t wait!
      Thanks for your own recommendation of Cleopatra :-)

    2. Lest we forget to watch another important Taylor film of a different kind, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe. Very Important film history. Enjoy. :)

  4. I really enjoyed the variety of clothes, jewelry, art and antiques at this exhibition. Those suitcases that say “mine” were my highlight, as were the charm bracelets. I would love to be a part of the bidding for the items, and I am quite sure there will be some very excited buyers this week!

  5. Anne, I am impressed, you snagged pictures of everything!! I am in awe of Liz. And hope to be like her one day. There is nothing wrong with loving diamonds. And I do. Liz and I are kindred spirits. We both love caftans as well, haha. Thank you so much for such a lovely post. I am sorry I wasn’t able to come down myself but so glad that you were all able to enjoy it.

  6. The best film to watch is Liz at her most beautiful with montgomery Clift
    costar Shelley winters, A Place in the Sun.

  7. Great post!

    Watch Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966), starring opposite then husband Richard Burton. Taylor won her second Best Actress Oscar for this film. It is MAGNIFICENT!

  8. Her in that emerald necklace. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She sizzled in it. Also Boom and The Taming of the Shrew. A tour de force of method acting.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s