Exciting news, fellow Cleopatra fans and costumers! The golden cape that Elizabeth Taylor wore as Cleopatra (from the same costume I've been researching) went up for auction earlier this year. It was in fabulous condition, and we get a better look at exactly what's going on with that cape. (Click on the images for larger versions.)
Here is a description of the garment, from The Daily Mail:
"The costume, designed to look like
the wings of a phoenix, is intricately designed using thin strips of
gold leather and embellished with thousands of seed beads, bugle beads
and bead-anchored sequins.
craftsmanship involved is impressive, and plays testament to the time,
effort and money that went into the design of Taylor's costumes - the
star was allocated an incredible $194,800 (£123,000) wardrobe budget for
wore the gold cape in two pivotal scenes of the Hollywood blockbuster.
Firstly, for the portrayal of Cleopatra's entrance to Rome and, second,
in the final scenes of the film where she apparently commits suicide
using the venom from a snake bite."
From the auction images, you can see that the leather strips are sewn down to a black mesh fabric. If you click on the bottom image of the outstretched cape, you can see how the beads and sequins were added to give the strips the feather look.
The cloak fetched almost $60,000 at auction, and was purchased by an anonymous collector, which means we probably won't be seeing any new photos of this costume for a while. Still, the auction photos are a HUGE help, and have managed to show some of the amazing detail of this item.