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Colin Firth’s wet Mr. Darcy shirt from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sells for $25,000

It was the shirt that stole a generation of hearts and now it has sold for a swoonsome $25,000.

The legendary white button-down shirt that cemented Colin Firth’s reputation as an heartthrob in “Pride and Prejudice” sold for about twice the original estimate.

Firth immortalized Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of the book in 1995. Viewers were especially captivated by the iconic shot of Firth in episode four of the series, which saw him go for an impromptu swim in a lake, fully clothed - only to bump into love interest Elizabeth Bennet (played by Jennifer Ehle) once back on dry land.

Darcy proved to be Firth’s major breakthrough and he followed it up with a host of movie roles, including in 2001’s “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”

The white linen shirt, obviously now dry, was estimated to fetch up to $12,700 when the auction took place on Tuesday, according to Kerry Taylor Auctions, which was staging the sale.

The 1810s-style garment, designed by Dinah Collin, features a label from costumier Cosprop which reads: “CP Darcy Wet shirt.”

The shirt on display at the "Lights Camera Auction" photocall at Kerry Taylor Auctions on February 27, 2024 in London. - Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images
The shirt on display at the "Lights Camera Auction" photocall at Kerry Taylor Auctions on February 27, 2024 in London. - Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Recalling the moment the shirt made movie history, Collin said on the auctioneer’s site: “Mr. Darcy’s ‘wet shirt moment’ was never scripted. It came about in discussions between myself and the late Christopher Prins who was then head of menswear at Cosprop. In the scene Mr. Darcy is spied emerging from a lake having taken a cooling swim on a hot summer’s day. Because on screen male nudity was not permitted (taking into account the BBC watershed and US broadcasts) – the idea of the ‘wet shirt’ was born.

“Our way round this was for Colin Firth to be filmed ¾ length wearing just the Irish linen shirt (copied from an antique original) which clung to the body. The scene caused something of a sensation at the time and transformed Colin Firth from a respected classical actor to something of a sex symbol overnight.”

The shirt was one of dozens of garments from the Cosprop store which was auctioned in aid of arts education charity The Bright Foundation, set up by Academy Award-winning costume designer John Bright.

Other famous outfits up for grabs included Drew Barrymore’s costume as Danielle in “Ever After: A Cinderella Story,” which sold for $20,000, and the heather-green hooded cloak and dress that Meryl Streep wore in “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” which fetched almost $9,000.

Other big hitters included the costume that Johnny Depp wore as Ichabod Crane in the 1999 film “Sleepy Hollow.” That sold for just over $30,000. Meanwhile, a red taffeta Christian Dior ball gown that Madonna wore in “Evita” sold for more than $50,000.

Also up for sale was Robert Downey Jr.’s costume from the 2009 film “Sherlock Holmes,” as well as that of his co-star Jude Law, who played Dr. Watson. The former was bought for $7,000 and the latter for $2,400.

The dress worn here by Drew Barrymore in "Ever After: A Cinderella Story" was among many other costumes up for auction. - Alamy Stock Photo
The dress worn here by Drew Barrymore in "Ever After: A Cinderella Story" was among many other costumes up for auction. - Alamy Stock Photo

Among the other A-listers whose costumes were being auctioned were Keira Knightley, Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Bright, who together with fellow costumier Jenny Beavan, won the Oscar for best costume design in 1986 for Merchant Ivory’s “A Room With A View.”

Quoted on the auction house site, he said: “My life’s work has been committed to costume design for film, tv and theatre and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to pursue this path. It is my firmly held belief that the arts and creativity can shape happier and healthier children and enable young people to reach their full potential.”

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