Irene Sharaff Hello Dolly Gold Gown

It was the most expensive dress ever created for a movie. This iconic gown was worn by Barbra Streisand in “Hello Dolly!” (1969). Designed by Irene Sharaff, this dress weighs over 40lbs, and cost $8,000 in materials plus $58,000 in craftsmanship to construct. This equals about $100,000 in today’s money. It was reportedly Barbra’s idea to have this dress be gold, to avoid comparisons to the famous red dress Carol Channing wore as Dolly Levi. Sharaff had recently designed gold costumes for “Cleopatra”, and was very familiar with how it would photograph on camera. This is why she insisted Barbra’s gown be made using real 14K gold. This gown features shoulder straps, a fitted bodice, fitted hips, a pleated peplum, and a long central panel. Almost 1lb of 14k gold thread & embellishments were used in its creation, along with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. Gemstones in various colors also accent the velvet base of this dress. Sharaff stated that the gold used was “pliable and could be threaded like beads.” It was also used to create the chocker and matching shoes. The headpiece was made from birds of paradise feathers which are now illegal to use.

You’ll notice that when Barbra makes her decent down the stairs, the gown has a train which later disappears. Sharaff had to edit the dress, because Barbra could not execute Michael Kidd’s choreography with the train. This gown was obtained by Debbie Reynolds and displayed in her costume museum before being sold at auction in 2011 for $123,000 USD.