Kerry Taylor Auctions is delighted to present our inaugural menswear auction: The Male Sale. Comprising 173 lots that span over 250 years of men’s fashion, there is something for gentlemen of every sartorial persuasion.
The 18th century was perhaps the pinnacle of male opulence, and it is easy to understand why with the first lot in the auction: a sumptuous sleeved waistcoat ornately brocaded with floral motifs in floss silks and silver threads on sumptuous crimson satin. Or lot 2 - an embroidered waistcoat whose rhythmic foliate sprigs appear to dance on the elegant ivory ground.
However Men’s fashions have often necessitated certain practical elements, and the striking 1930s motorcycling coat (lot 13) is exemplary of just that. Made of rubber to shield from the elements, a hidden flap can be strapped between the rider’s legs for additional protection – while giving the wearer a rather spectacular look! Lot 10, a 1912 stalking ensemble, similarly matches form and function with specially branded outsized pockets to store birds and game.
For the Dandies out there we have a groovy selection of 1960s ensembles perfect for peacocking down the King’s Road(lots 15-21) including a dazzling multicoloured leather Mr Fish outfit and archetypical looks from the likes of Brent & Collins and Hung on You.
Vivenne Westwood is well represented through the decades – from important earlier pieces like an original World’s End Buffalo sheepskin coat (lot 30) and a risqué Seditionaries ‘Dancing Cowboys’ t-shirt similar to the one that was responsible for getting the artist Alan Jones arrested in 1975 - and which suitably comes from the collection of another renowned artist: A.A. Bronson. For some less provocative options, there are a plethora of wonderful tartan suits as well as rare, printed denim ensembles from iconic collections such as ‘Always on Camera’ A/W 1992/93 (lot 78) and ‘Mini Crini’, S/S 1986 (lot 41)
The auction contains a huge variety of Jean Paul Gaultier items that demonstrate how the designer helped to redefine masculinity in the 1980s and 90s, a large number of which are unique pieces that never went into production due to either the high manufacturing cost, or the outrageousness of the designs making them unsuitable for retail. Included are rare pieces from important collections such as ‘Chic Rabbis/Vikings’ A/W 1993/94; ‘Tatoos/The Raw and Refined’ S/S 1994, ‘Grand Voyage’ A/W 1994/95, ‘Mad Max/Riders and Horsemen of the Modern Times’ A/W 1995/96 and ‘Tribute to Frida Kahlo/Flamenco’ S/S 1998. Gaultier would often exhibit his men’s and women’s lines at the same time and on the same catwalk, but each collection had distinct names so in these instances we have tried to provide the names of both collections for clarity. In 1993 Jean Paul Gaultier launched his androgynous ‘Jean’s’ label which saw incredible silhouettes marketed at a cool young crowd who were happy to eschew normative forms of menswear and womenswear. From the launch show are several one-of-a-kind pieces such as lots: 80, 81, 84, 85, 86 which you will likely never have a chance to purchase again.
So many important Gaultier themes are represented, such as his Breton striped sailors with fall front trousers (lots 53, 75, 77, 79, 82, 84, 85, 111, 125, 130, 131, 153), as well as the various cultural influences (religion, artists, dance, industrialism, fantasy, futurism) that thematically underpinned his best-loved shows. Gaultier loved seeing men dressed in clothes that had traditionally been reserved for women, and there are excellent examples here such as the 1993 denim corset (Lot 83), or the unbelievably rare 1987 leather waist cincher (Lot 47) – or for a slightly brighter approach we have Converse All Star style waistcoats with corsetry lacing at the back in both red and black colourways (Lots 73 and 76). Male skirts come in the form of kilts such as lot 84’s denim example which is a one-of-a-kind prototype for similar examples worn a year later on the runway for the Tattoos collection. Or another from the Tattoos collection itself printed with the iconic imagery from the show (lot 92). For one of his most iconic creations – the trouser skirt – look no further than lot 154, and for a deconstructed tiny ‘mini’ skirt/loin cloth see lot 79 – an ensemble best suited to only the bravest (or perhaps the proudest) of men.
But Gaultier was not alone in blurring the lines between stereotypically male and female garments. A group of Hardy Amies clothes (lots 139-141) includes a leather waist cincher among several tailoring masterpieces such as a bespoke fur-trimmed coat made specifically for the house’s then-creative director Ian Garlant.
Finishing the sale off are bold modern designs by the likes of Walter van Bierendonck and Charles Jefferey whose joyful colourful creations demonstrate how men’s clothes continue to be a conduit of fun, creativity and ever-evolving style.