Joan's glamour under the hammer: Fancy an original Dynasty dress? Or Alexis Colby's giant bling ring? As Joan Collins sells off 1,000 items, she gives us a preview
- Joan Collins describes herself as a 'self-confessed hoarder'
- A one-off auction will see some of her glamorous pieces go on sale
- Some 1,000 items going under the hammer this week in Beverly Hills
Dynasty was the hit show that made Dame Joan Collins the highest-paid TV actress of the 1980s and one of the most famous women in the world.
As wicked Alexis Carrington Colby, with her shoulder pads, big hair and bitchy one-liners, she was the rival baddie to Larry Hagman’s JR in Dallas. And as the plotlines grew more and more outrageous and over-the-top, so too did her outfits.
Now there’s a chance to own one of Alexis’s lavish original sequinned dresses, wide-brimmed hats or fur stoles, because Joan Collins is having a clear-out. And as she’s been a film star for 60 years and is a self-confessed ‘hoarder and collector’, it’s turned into quite an event.
HATS OFF! Joan’s turban, designed by Nolan Miller and worn for Dynasty: The Reunion in 1991. (£265-£398)
Many of the Dynasty gowns were specially made for Joan by top American designer Nolan Miller, who became a close friend, and some of them, along with the glittering jewellery she wore on the show, are among the 1,000 items going under the auctioneer’s hammer this week in Beverly Hills.
They’re going up for sale alongside many of her couture dresses from the 1960s, outfits worn to premieres and to her investitures for her OBE and Damehood, fashions by Versace, Chanel and Valentino, hats by Philip Treacy, jewellery, memorabilia, paintings, furniture and personal items. She’s even selling a pair of love letters sent to her in 1960 by Warren Beatty when he was on National Service. He starts one of them ‘Dear bird...’
ANIMAL MAGIC: A 1980s silk Jean-Louis Scherrer Boutique wrap blouse and skirt. (£663-£1,326)
‘We later became engaged and lived together,’ Joan recalls. ‘All my friends said, “What are you doing with this unknown actor?” I introduced him to everyone in Hollywood and he made Splendour In The Grass while we lived together. I decided to say goodbye to him when I was about to go to London to do The Road To Hong Kong with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, but we remained friends. He was too young at the time.’
One thing she’s not parting with is the engagement ring he gave her, which she still keeps in a safe deposit box. ‘Whenever I see him, which is quite often in LA, he says to my husband Percy, “You know, I still love this woman.” Then I say, “Oh yeah, but you were unfaithful.” He then claims. “I was never unfaithful to you.”’
The reason she’s decided to part with so many treasured memories comes down to a question of space. Even with her four houses – in St Tropez, LA, London and New York – she’s run out of space.
‘When I had my house in Beverly Hills during Dynasty it was overly furnished. I had lots of things from movies there as well. But then I had financial problems because my business manager hadn’t paid my tax for years – the usual thing that can happen to actors. I had to sell the house and put everything in storage.’
The American auction house Julien’s, known for holding sales for stars like Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Debbie Reynolds and for Michael Jackson’s estate after he died, then asked her last year whether she had anything she’d like to get rid of.
‘I hadn’t thought about those items in storage until then. Now, the sale comes to about 1,000 pieces, and I still can’t open my cupboards for clothes!’ Joan actually designs many of her clothes herself because she’s not a standard dress size, and she’s always keen for her outfits to make the most of her best bits.
PRETTY AS A PICTURE: Joan says: ‘I adore this gorgeous petal pink satin gown [left] designed by the Emanuels, who created Diana’s wedding gown. I wore it in 1988 for my portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, and it was exhibited at the V&A Museum at their Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 exhibition in 2012.’ (£1,655-£2,980)
The decision to tidy things up comes during a very eventful year. It started in exhilarating fashion with her being made a Dame for her charity work. She was accompanied to the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in March by her husband Percy Gibson, her son, painter Sacha, and daughter Tara (both from her marriage to Tony Newley) – she also has a younger daughter, Katy, by ex-husband Ron Kass.
Her sister, the bestselling novelist Jackie Collins, also flew in from Hollywood. But then, in August, Joan received a phone call at her St Tropez summer home that left her devastated. Jackie broke the terrible news that she’d been suffering from breast cancer for six years. She realised there was little hope of her surviving, so felt the time was right to tell those close to her.
Joan then realised why Jackie had made that special journey to London. ‘She wanted to say goodbye to our brother Bill and his wife Hazel, to me, to her daughter Tiffany, and to a few of her grandchildren who were here,’ she says.
‘She was brave and brilliant, a totally remarkable woman and a wonderful writer. She wrote five books after she was diagnosed and even travelled to Russia. But she came over to England to say her goodbyes.’
ROCK STAR: A large white crystal cocktail ring Joan wore for Dynasty: The Reunion in 1991. (£2,651-£3,975)
Jackie died from breast cancer aged 77 on 19 September. Doesn’t it seem strange, though, that she wanted to keep her illness a secret for so long?
‘She didn’t want to be pitied,’ says Joan. ‘She didn’t want people to feel sorry for her. If I’d known, I would have wanted to be running over there to see how she was doing. She knew that. She didn’t want any fuss at all. We were so close. I loved her so much. She was a wonderful woman. Wherever you are, my darling sister, you deserve a red carpet and a throne.’
As well as the auction, Joan’s also selling her beautiful Los Angeles apartment in the exclusive Sierra Towers building with its outstanding views of West Hollywood. The price? £3.3 million. But she’s not turning her back on the city where she has so many friends from the film business, and she’s certainly not downsizing. ‘We’re looking for a larger space to accommodate guests,’ explains Joan’s husband, Percy.
Joan shows no signs of slowing down. She’s been married for 13 years to Percy,It’s the longest of her five marriages. ‘I left the best until last,’ she says. ‘And he’s made me very happy, particularly in the last months when I’ve been unhappy.’
Retirement is also not a word in her vocabulary. ‘I don’t feel any different to when I was 40, quite frankly. And I intend to go on until I drop. If she takes care of herself, it’s possible for a woman today to go on to 100. Well I hope so.’
She’s just filmed a cameo in the new Absolutely Fabulous movie, and in January she’ll be back in US TV show The Royals. After that she’ll reappear in the ITV comedy Benidorm. She’s also spent the past three years writing raunchy thriller The St Tropez Lonely Hearts Club, which is just out. It focuses on a series of deaths among the glamorous set in the South of France and she admits, ‘There are bits of certain people I know in there!’
At the front of her novel – her 18th book – is an understated but moving tribute to Jackie. It reads, ‘For my sister Jackie. I will never forget you.’
The auction is on Wednesday at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills at 9am PST (5pm in the UK). You can bid online at julienslive.com and by phone, but must register at juliens auctions.com. The St Tropez Lonely Hearts Club is out now.