Elizabeth Taylor’s first wedding dress goes under the hammer

The actress was only 18 when she wore the dress in her marriage to Nicky Hilton in 1950


Elizabeth Taylor’s first wedding dress will be auctioned in June in London with an estimate of £30,000-£50,000. Worn at her wedding to Nicky Hilton in 1950 when she was just 18, the dress was one of Taylor’s nine wedding dresses from eight marriages, including two marriages to actor Richard Burton and two weddings but one marriage to film producer Michael Todd.

Her first dress is defined by an impossibly tiny 22-inch waist and projecting conical bodice, a true hour-glass dream frock designed by Helen Rose, the Hollywood costume designer. It’s hardly a lucky dress, as the marriage only lasted two weeks. Taylor later said that Nicky was abusive and that she had married to escape her controlling mother.

The dress influenced wedding fashion forever more. Rose later designed Grace Kelly’s wedding dress, while Jackie Kennedy’s dress at her marriage to John F Kennedy had a similar shape. The romantic off-the-shoulder bodice and full skirt emphasised the 18-year-old Taylor’s wispy waist, inspiring many a bride’s and Barbie’s wedding dresses to this day.

Wearing the dress, Taylor was the iconic centrepiece, like the bride on a cake, of a wedding that was the social event of 1950. Known as “the weddings of weddings”, it was attended by “more stars than there are in heaven.” Taylor believed that when you fell in love, you had to get married. Burton described their passionate union as what happens when you smash two sticks of dynamite together. Fortunately, this bejewelled dress survives the actress’s tempestuous life and goes on sale June 23rd at Christies.

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