The famous tutu once worn by Sarah Jessica Parker - aka Carrie Bradshaw - in Sex and the City has been auctioned off for a staggering amount. However, the now-iconic tulle skirt wasn’t always worth thousands of dollars.
The oyster white, three-tier skirt with satin waistband was auctioned off by Julien’s Auctions with an estimated price between $8,000 and $12,000. Bidding began on 11 January, with a starting bid of $2,000, as part of Julien’s “Unstoppable: Signature Styles of Iconic Women In Fashion” collection. But when the auction finally closed on 18 January, one lucky bidder purchased the iconic tutu for $52,000.
For fans of the beloved HBO series, which ran from 1997 to 2004, viewers will recognise the tutu from the opening credits, in which sex columnist Carrie galivants through a busy New York City street. Pairing the tiered skirt with a basic pink tank top, Carrie famously gets splattered by water from a yellow taxi.
As legend goes, Sex and the City lead costume designer Patricia Field found the skirt while sifting through a five-dollar bin in Manhattan’s garment district. Series creator Darren Starr initially wanted Parker to wear a blue sheath dress from Marc Jacobs’ spring 1998 runway collection in the opening credits, but Field wanted the actor to wear an item that wasn’t specific to any time.
Her decision to dress Parker in the white tutu was so pivotal for Field that she recounted it in her 2023 memoir, Pat in the City. “I imagined pairing the short, tiered tulle skirt with a small tee or tank for a look that was both contemporary and cool,” she wrote. “I also thought Sarah Jessica would be able to relate to this crazy skirt because of her background as a ballet dancer. Just as important, though, the tutu-style skirt was whimsical, adventurous, and unexpected.”
The iconic tutu made a second appearance in the 2008 Sex and the City film adaptation, when Carrie enlists pals Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte to help organise her closet. The writer puts on a fashion show for her friends, as they decide which items she should keep and which ones to toss. Unsurprisingly, the tutu was a “keep”.
In 2022, Parker revealed who was in possession of the beloved tutu in a video interview for Vogue’s “Life in Looks” series. According to Julien’s, there are a total of five tutu skirts used for the series opening credits. The skirt that was auctioned was one of the original five, and was accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Field.
“A lot of people claim they have the tutu. I think Pat has one. Michael Patrick [King] has one,” the And Just Like That star recalled, later revealing that she also owns one of the five. “We just used one, so my guess is that - that sequence required a splash, that there were probably four or five or six [tutus].”
According to Parker, the entire scene was filmed in “one or two takes”.
This isn’t the first time the iconic tutu has been up for auction. Back in 2021, it was auctioned off for the first time after Field donated the piece to Housing Works. It was also displayed in the Museum of the City of New York’s exhibition, “This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture,” in June 2023.
In addition to Carrie Bradshaw’s white tutu, other memorable vintage items up for sale included the champagne evening dress worn by Paris Hilton on the cover of her self-titled 2006 album, and a black and white Catherine Walker cocktail dress once worn by Princess Diana. In fact, the late Princess of Wales’ black velvet dress sold for $325,000.
The Sex and the City tutu came with copies of the Sex and the City movie and season one of the original series DVDs.