Colin Firth's shirt from Pride And Prejudice sells for more than double auction estimate

Arguably the most famous white shirt in history - worn by Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the 1995 TV adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice - has sold at auction for £25,000.

In an iconic scene, the aristocratic Mr Darcy emerges from a lake soaking wet in the shirt after a swim, before he unexpectedly bumps into his blushing love interest, Elizabeth Bennet (played by Jennifer Ehle).

The white linen garment went under the hammer in London on Tuesday as part of the Lights, Camera, Action sale of creations by BAFTA and Academy Award-winning costumier, Cosprop.

It was listed alongside the boots, moleskin breeches and velvet waistcoat worn by Firth, now 63, in the scene, once voted as the UK's most memorable television moment.

The costume was among 69 designs worn by actors including Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, listed by Kelly Taylor Auctions.

Firth's costume was expected to fetch between £7,000 and £10,000.

However, the outfit more than doubled the estimate - racking up an impressive winning bid totalling £25,000 - on Tuesday evening.

'Wet shirt moment' was unscripted

The so-called "wet shirt moment" outside Mr Darcy's country residence, Pemberley - filmed in part at National Trust property, Lyme Park in Cheshire - was never scripted, costume designer Dinah Collin revealed.

The adaptation of the 1813 novel caused a sensation among viewers and catapulted Firth to sex symbol status overnight, she said.

Collin explained: "It came about in discussions between myself and the late Christopher Prins [former 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 three-quarter 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!"

An enduring legacy

The scene was later re-imagined in Netflix period drama, Bridgerton, in a scene featuring actor Jonathan Bailey.

Firth even made light of his own performance with further romantic wet encounters in Love Actually and Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason.

A 6ft life-sized cake designed in his image was unveiled outside "Pemberley" in 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of the period drama.

Other items at the auction this week included a 1950s Christian Dior taffeta ball gown worn by Madonna in the 1996 musical, Evita, which is expected to fetch up to £60,000.

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Proceeds from the auction will go to the Bright Foundation, an arts education charity founded by Academy Award-winning costume designer and Cosprop founder, John Bright, who donated items from his costume house.

Bright 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."