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Rachael’s Brocade Coat
Written By: Gary Willoughby
Edited By: Richard Gunn

Fan Tao recently acquired the "Rachael Brocade Coat" worn by Sean Young in Blade Runner. He won the coat at the New York Christies auction of July 2001. He and I spoke briefly at the Ridley Scott Retrospective at the Egyptian theatre. I was impressed with the Coat and was interested in why he bid on the coat and if he had other props and costumes from the film. I recently interviewed him via email.

GW: When did you first get interested in the film "Blade Runner"?

FT: I first saw Blade runner while I was a college student in the Boston area, it must have been 1982. I saw it at the Harvard Square theatre, which had a large screen and steeply raked seating. From the opening shots the combination of the visuals and Vangelis's music made a great impression on me. It remained my favorite film since then. Those years during college must have been when I developed my love of movies. The Boston area was a great place for watching movies, from first run movie palaces to its art film houses, many of which are now gone.

GW: Is that when you became interested in sci-fi and started to collect props?

FT: No, although I have been a fan of movies for a while, I didn't collect props or wardrobe until recently. That really started when I got a couple of Marion Davies' costumes on an online auction. Marion Davies happens to be one of my favorite actresses. I really enjoyed taking these costumes to movie screenings and showing them to fans. It was only serendipity that I found out about the auction for Rachael's coat. While reading the online edition of The New York Times, I happened to notice the coat in a Christies ad.

I had no experience in live auctions, and was not about to fly to New York, so I decided to place an absentee bid online. There were several other Blade Runner items in the auction (as well as other items I was interested in), but I figured it was best to put all my resources into one bid. I really didn't expect to win the auction, thinking that a live bidder would outbid me.

I remember hearing on the news that the auction was a great success, with many items going for far above the estimates, including a Bette Davis Oscar for hundreds of thousands of dollars (purchased by Steven Spielberg). Then when I checked the results online, I saw the amount on the coat was above my bid. It wasn't until the next day that it hit me that the realized price included a premium and I was stunned to calculate that my bid was indeed the winning one.

GW: So you weren't following the auction by telephone?

FT: No, I had placed the absentee bid a few weeks earlier.

GW: So you were really surprised to learn that you had won the "Rachael Coat"?

FT: Yes, of course, after I got the coat, I emailed Sean Young's website to let her know that I had it and that I hoped to meet her sometime. Later I learned from her manager, who runs the website, that Sean Young was filming in India and didn't get my message. Coincidentally, right about this time I saw a banner on Yahoo! Auctions website for tickets to meet Sean Young at the premiere of her new movie, "Control". So I went ahead and bought tickets for myself and some friends.

Also I happened to notice on "Bladezone", the Blade Runner screening with Ridley Scott on the same weekend. Even though it was sold out, I figured I'd show up with the coat and hope that I could get in through the waiting line. I did email American Cinematheque to let them know I was bringing the coat and they said okay. I don't know if they let anyone in from the "waiting line", but when it got close to the start of the film and they still hadn't called anyone, I bought a scalper's ticket for $20 (he claimed he would donate the profits to charity). So that's how I was able to barely get into the screening. They let me put the coat in the manager's office during the screening.

The Brocade Coat Fan Tao with the Brocade Coat at the Ridley Retro event
The Brocade Coat
displayed by Christies.
Fan Tao with the Brocade Coat at the
Ridley Retro event.

The next day was the premiere for the Sean Young's film. At this time they had shut down most of the studios in Hollywood due to the terrorist situation, so I wasn't sure if the premiere was still on. When I showed up at the Warner Brothers Studio, all the gates were barricaded. After a while a lady showed up and told us that the event was moved at the last minute to a private screening room. The screening room only seated about 35 people, so they had to bring in extra chairs and people also sat on the floor. When Sean and her husband arrived (dressed in Indian clothes), they had to find chairs for them.

After the screening I was able to talk to Sean and her manager and take photos. Sean was really surprised to see the coat and said it brought lots of memories. I believe that "Blade Runner" is her favorite film. She had particularly fond memories of Charles Knode, the designer, who had been on the Blade Runner set. It was at this time she mentioned that she had the other fur coat at one time, though she felt the brocade one was nicer.

Sean did seem to be genuinely gracious person to me. I should mention that I bought her personal copy of the Blade runner souvenir magazine, which she autographed and also autographed a copy of the Blade runner DVD that her manager was kind enough to help me buy. Her manager also told me that there was originally much more of Sean in Blade runner and that Ridley Scott has about 20 minutes of footage that was cut out (I'm not sure how accurate that is). Sean's last words to me were to take good car of the coat and let me have first dibs on it if I ever decided to sell it.

GW: Do you plan on buying anymore Blade Runner props or wardrobe?

FT: I am getting a neon umbrella from the "Propstore" in London. I won't have it for a while, I'm taking advantage of their monthly payment plan. This is all I have for the time being.

GW: I thank you for this insight into how you acquired the Rachael coat and actually met Rachael (Sean Young).

Fan Tao meets Sean Young The Charles Knode sketches of the Brocade Coat Sean Young modelling the Brocade Coat Umbrella
Fan Tao meets
Sean Young.
The Charles Knode sketches of
the Brocade Coat.
Sean Young modelling
the Brocade Coat.
A neon umbrella as used in the movie.

Related Articles
The Costumes of Blade Runner The Charles Knode Collection The Ridley Scott Retrospective Lost and Found Main Menu

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