Elizabeth Taylor’s Fabled Wedding Dress Features in New Memoir and Christie’s World Tour

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Fashioned by stage costumer extraordinaire Ray Diffen, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton yellow wedding dress will be auctioned at Christie’s New York, December 2011

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In his newly published book, Ray Diffen Stage Clothes, Ray recounts his experiences of working intimately with actors and their designers to build stage clothes that enhance performances. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, John Gielgud, Katherine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand and Alec Guinness are just a few of the hundreds of actors costumed by Ray Diffen during his career of more than fifty years in the UK, US and Canada.

Ray Diffen created Ms. Taylor’s wedding dress from the sketch of Hollywood and Broadway costume designer Irene Sharaff, and traveled to Toronto for the fitting, during the time of Taylor’s and Burton’s appearance in a John Gielgud-directed production of Hamlet. One of his tasks was to match the green color of the fantastic emerald and diamond brooch Richard had given Elizabeth that she would wear on her dress, to a piece of satin hair ribbon costing fifty cents! Now part of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor Exhibition at Christie’s, the yellow wedding dress has an estimated value at auction of between $40,000 and $60,000.

Working for a cadre of talented collaborators—producers, directors, designers and actors—Ray and his team of craftsmen created stage clothing for the best known Shakespeare Festivals, spectacular musical theatre productions, innovative dance companies, and epic stagings of the world’s best opera at the Met in New York City.

Behind the scenes—in rehearsals, dressing rooms, and in that most intimate of settings, the fitting room—the actors’ lives are revealed, as they try on the skins of the characters they will portray. Despite tensions flaring in the crucible of theatrical pre-production, Ray Diffen and company stayed on task, implementing the collaborators’ shared vision to create memorable performances.

Ray Diffen belongs to the tribe of artisans who invent, fashion and produce every dress, wig, coat, handbag, shoe, helmet, hat, necklace, bra, pair of tights, corset, petticoat, hoop skirt, farthingale, medieval armor, chain mail, pumpkin breeches, ruff—mostly by hand, making one's own patterns, finding appropriate materials, inventing methods of production and making these garments and properties of mystical fabrics and in mysterious ways to beguile the theatregoer and make him wonder how it was done. His story begins in his mother’s dressmaking shop in England, progresses through years of heading workshops, supervising and designing costumes, working for the Muppets, teaching at Yale, and ends as Resident Costume Designer at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC.

Since retired to Eastbourne on the southern coast of England, Ray continues his craft for family and friends, and writes about his life in the theatre. For more information about the author, please visit his website: http://www.raydiffenstageclothes.com. For information about the book, please visit http://www.raydiffen.com.

Ray Diffen Stage Clothes * by Ray Diffen
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 226 pages; 978-1-4653-5671-0
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 226 pages; 978-1-4653-5672-7
eBook; $9.99; 978-1-4653-5673-4

Members of the media who wish to review this book may request a complimentary paperback copy by contacting the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7879. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7879.

For more information on self-publishing or marketing with Xlibris, visit http://www.Xlibris.com. To receive a free publishing guide, please call (888) 795-4274.


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