Audrey Hepburn's designer gowns hit auction blocks

PARIS -- Audrey Hepburn fans got a sneak peek Tuesday of dozens of garments and personal effects once belonging to the movie star that will hit the auction blocks next week.

A Givenchy black lace dress that Hepburn wore in ''How to Steal a Million'' and a demure ivory wedding gown that never made it down the aisle are among the items.

The fans, fashionistas and those looking to score a slice of film history were given the preview of the collection in Paris before the Dec. 8 sale in London.

''For her, what was important was not decoration and lots of embellishment. She liked very simple things -- less was always more for Audrey,'' said auctioneer Kerry Taylor, whose eponymous auction house is handling the sale.

Star lots include an Yves Saint Laurent empire waisted gown in white cotton that she wore to her son Luca's 1970 christening, estimated at $2,485 to $4,141, and an abbreviated, long-sleeve Valentino Haute Couture dress in ivory silk and lace that's identical to the one worn by Jacqueline Kennedy at her 1968 wedding to Aristotle Onassis.

Another ivory wedding gown, made for Hepburn by the Rome-based Fontana sisters, is expected to fetch $13,000 to $19,950 -- though Hepburn herself didn't wear it down the aisle. After her marriage to James Hanson, which was scheduled for 1952, was called off, Hepburn asked that the Fontana sisters give it ''to someone who could never afford a dress like mine, the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find,'' the auction catalog quotes Hepburn as saying.

And then there's the Givenchy: pared-down cocktail dresses, buttery silk tops, ladylike coats and dramatic sweeping gowns made by legendary French couturier for Hepburn, his muse.

''She said of Hubert de Givenchy that he was her greatest friend and he said of her that it was a real romance between the two, a real love affair that lasted all their lives,'' Taylor told The Associated Press at Sotheby's Paris showroom, where the two-day-long preview was held.