Sarah Jessica Parker's Sex and the City tutu is being sold in auction

Sarah Jessica Parker in the tutu while filming Sex and the City's opening credits
Sarah Jessica Parker's tutu is arguably one of the most famous onscreen outfits of all time. Photo credit: HBO

By Jack Guy of CNN

The tutu worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in the opening credits of Sex and the City is going up for auction.

The oyster-white, tulle, three-tier tutu skirt is expected to sell for US$8,000-$12,000 (NZ$12,800-$19,200) when it goes under the hammer at Julien's Auctions in California on January 18.

The tutu "became a pop culture symbol," according to the auction house, after Parker wore it in her role as Carrie Bradshaw in the smash-hit TV series.

It was bought by the show's costume designer, Patricia Field, "who found it while shopping for the series in New York's garment district in a five-dollar bin," according to the listing.

Field explained the choice in her book Pat in the City: My Life of Fashion, Style and Breaking All the Rules, an excerpt of which was published in Vogue in February 2023.

"In the box of sale garments – trends from seasons past that died on the vine – a white tulle peeked out like the frothy crest of a wave in a sea of throwaways," Field wrote, adding she "thought Sarah Jessica would be able to relate to this crazy skirt because of her background as a ballet dancer."

"Just as important, though, the tutu-style skirt was whimsical, adventurous and unexpected – kind of like this show, Sex and the City," Field added.

Sarah Jessica Parker in the tutu while filming Sex and the City's opening credits
Sarah Jessica Parker in the tutu while filming Sex and the City's opening credits. Photo credit: HBO

The tutu also made an appearance in the 2008 Sex and the City movie, in a scene in which Carrie is clearing out her closet and deciding whether to keep certain outfits.

"Her friends Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda judged whether the items should be kept or tossed, this look was a unanimous 'keep'," the auction listing says.

It also highlights the fact this skirt is one of five used for the series opening credits, and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Field.

The tutu is part of an "Unstoppable: Signature Styles of Iconic Women in Fashion" sale, which also features items worn by Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, among others.

Sex and the City was based on Candace Bushnell's newspaper column of the same name. Running for six seasons, from 1998 to 2004, the HBO show provided raw commentary on sex and relationships and a positive depiction of strong female friendships. (Like CNN and Newshub, HBO is part of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.)