Kerry Taylor Auctions is the world’s leading auction house specialising in exceptional fashion (both vintage and contemporary), fine antique costume, European, Asian and Islamic textiles. Our name is internationally synonymous with excellence, unparalleled expertise and extraordinary, record-breaking sales.
Typically, we hold five auctions each year and they are treasure troves for private individuals, collectors, museums and institutions the world over. Our biannual Passion for Fashion sales include only the best examples of vintage, haute couture, contemporary show pieces, rare antique costume and luxury accessories and they have earned us a devoted global following.
We are based in Bermondsey, London, close to the White Cube gallery and the London Fashion & Textile Museum.
Kerry Taylor joins Sotheby’s Chester and rapidly rises through the ranks, becoming the youngest auctioneer in the company’s history and director by the age of 21.
Kerry moves to Sotheby’s London to re-establish auctions of costume and textiles at the New Bond Street saleroom. For the next seventeen years she is personally responsible for numerous international high-profile sales, including the renowned Castle Howard Ballets Russes and Historic Fashion collections, the wardrobes of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, as well as press-grabbing celebrity auctions including Dame Barbara Cartland, the opera wardrobe of Dame Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, Robbie Williams and former ‘Spice Girl’ Geri Halliwell!
Kerry negotiates the private treaty sale of the wedding suit of King James II of England, 1673, to the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Kerry negotiates the private treaty sale of the Burse of Queen Elizabeth I (1593-1603) to the British Museum.
Kerry Taylor Auctions is established. Already a leading authority in the field for more than 20 years, Kerry launches her own independent auction house specialising in her passions – fashion and textiles. The first auction in June 2004 includes rare 17th century costume and early needlework from the venerable Dorset families of Chafyn-Grove and Mansel-Pleydell. Included is a rare lady's jacket, English, circa 1630-40, which achieves £25,000, and a fine gentleman's doublet, English, circa 1660, which sells for £15,000.
We offer two wardrobes belonging to two very stylish women: the inimitable Jibby Beane’s collection of glorious Vivienne Westwood and Princess Gloria von Thurn & Taxis, the ‘Punk Princess’, whose closet contains exuberant examples by Mugler, Montana, Lagerfeld and Lacroix.
Another highlight of the year is a lavishly-beaded Charles Frederick Worth ball gown, formerly belonging to Clara Luz Romero Vargas, wife of the Mexican Ambassador to Germany. It was worn to attend the coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm in 1888, and sells for £10,000.
A record price of £24,000 is achieved for an extraordinary patchwork coverlet by Anne West, 1820 (now in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection). Fascinating vignettes from everyday life include a double wedding, a chimney sweep and an auctioneer!
A rare blue brocaded silk banyan and matching undress hat, 1710-20, in perfect condition, sells for £10,000.
We offer for sale Leslie Caron’s wardrobe of haute couture with elegant examples by Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior.
The Yves Saint-Laurent tangerine silk and sequinned dress, worn by Leslie Caron at the Academy Awards, 1968, sells for £3,800
The Guardian votes Kerry one of their ‘Women of the Year’.
Auction highlights include a Lucile chiffon ball gown, 1904, for £11,000 (now part of the Victoria & Albert Museum collection).
A beaded Chanel cocktail dress, 1927, achieves £25,000 (near-right). Other notable pieces include a heavily-embellished Vionnet evening gown, 1921, which achieves £6,500. Formed from a patchwork of beaded cobwebs, it had belonged to Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon (far-right). Catherine Walker dress worn by Princess Diana for an official tour of Thailand with Prince Charles, 1988, sells for £51,000.
Daphne Guinness asks us to organise a charity auction. The sale created huge interest with queues round the block to get in, with £143,000 raised for ‘Women for Women International’. The collection includes a pair of Christian Dior by John Galliano red suede platform wedges, ready-to-wear S-S 2003, which sell for £3,600.
Jerry Hall asks us to arrange a charity auction of her wardrobe. Mainly dating from the 1980s and 90s, including YSL haute couture, Mugler, and the Antony Price dress he made for her ‘marriage’ to Mick Jagger, which sells for £2,200.
Demand for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes collection is strong with an important Matisse ''Chant de Rossignol'' Mandarin robe, 1920, achieving £33,000.
Our Audrey Hepburn auction represents the most important private collection of the star’s haute couture dresses and accessories ever to come to market, formerly in the possession of her friend Tanya Star Busman. It includes a Givenchy black lace couture ensemble worn in the film ‘How to Steal a Million’, 1966, which sells for £55,000.
A Coco Chanel couture printed lace cocktail gown, Spring-Summer 1928, purchased in a London vintage fair for £50, sells for £20,000!
A fine Christian Dior haute couture 'Esther' evening gown, Autumn-Winter 1952, achieves £11,000.
We are invited to sell the wardrobe of the late Marit Allen, British Vogue editor who was hugely influential in championing emerging young British designers. Highlights include Mod op-art ensemble by Foale & Tuffin, 1964, and the futuristic space-age wedding dress designed by John Bates for her wedding in 1966 (now in the Victoria & Albert Museum).
Interest begins to grow in the leading Japanese designers: a rare Yohji Yamamoto wooden showpiece, Autumn-Winter 1991, fetches £40,000 (now part of the Metropolitan Museum, New York collection). →
The Emanuel archive, which includes toiles, sketches, fabrics and invoices relating to Princess Diana’s wedding dress, comes under the hammer. However, the highest price of the day was for a recently rediscovered black taffeta ball gown, worn by Lady Diana Spencer for her first official royal appearance following the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles, 9th March 1981. It sold for a then record £160,000.
This year sees the sale of numerous important pieces, including Elizabeth Taylor’s gold sari-style gown by Balenciaga, Autumn-Winter 1964, sells for £26,000.
Audrey Hepburn’s Edith Head-designed white lace dress, which she wore in the film ‘Roman Holiday’ and then altered and wore again to collect her Oscar in 1954, which achieves £70,000.
Kate Middleton’s (now the Duchess of Cambridge) slip-dress, famously worn to catch the eye of her future husband, the then Prince William, achieves £65,000.
The dress Amy Winehouse selected for the cover of her album ‘Back to Black’ in 2006, designed by Disaya, sells for £36,000.
Antique costume continues to attract strong museum interest. It is very rare to find a complete ensemble and even more so if menswear, and a rare gentleman's day ensemble, early 1850s, achieves £26,000.
The Mary Holden Illingworth (1838-1908) collection comprises a 19th century wardrobe, many of the garments mentioned in her private diaries. Highlights include a riding habit complete with hat, which makes £26,000, and her mother’s voided velvet Charles Frederick Worth gown, worn to her wedding in 1881, which achieves £6,000. It would have made more but it was a large size!
One of the crown jewels sought after by fashion collectors is Saint Laurent’s ‘Mondrian', Autumn-Winter 1965. Originally purchased by a collector in one of my early 1990 auctions for just £2,000, it realises £27,000 - which reflects how the market has progressed.
Lee Alexander McQueen’s tragic death and the MET’s ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition lead to a spike in McQueen prices, as illustrated by a black velvet and bugle-beaded evening gown, 'In memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem 1692' collection, Autumn-Winter 2007, which fetches a staggering £65,000. The prices have dropped dramatically since...
We get a glimpse into the private life of the infamous Duke & Duchess of Windsor via a group of seductive lingerie and accessories belonging to Wallis Simpson. The fine red chiffon nightgown with Honiton lace capelet achieves £5,000.
This year sees the sale of several important Madeleine Vionnet garments, including a rare black crêpe evening gown with Lesage-embroidered droplet motif, Spring-Summer 1925, which achieves £50,000 hammer. Unlabelled and discovered rolled up in a plastic bag, its owner had no idea it was by Vionnet.
A fabulous Balenciaga couture gown with unusual bustle effect, originally owned by Ava Gardner (a Balenciaga aficionada) who wore it to the premiere of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in 1963, fetches £11,000.
A cloth of gold orientalist gown by Paul Poiret, c.1922, sells for £28,000.
National treasure and style icon Joanna Lumley sells her personal wardrobe and memorabilia in aid of The Prince’s Trust. The collection includes several items from the cult TV series ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ as well as early Jean Muir from her time as the house model. The Jean Muir printed silk dress, 1971 sells for £800
Kerry publishes her book ‘Vintage Fashion & Couture: From Poiret to McQueen’ and the auction house is featured in Channel 4’s ‘Princess Diana’s Dresses: The Auction’. Broadcast in July 2013, the documentary covers the company’s historic auction in March 2013 of ten of Princess Diana’s dresses. The sale attracted global press coverage and international bids. The star lot is the famous ‘Travolta’ dress, which sells for a staggering £200,000.
The star lot of our December auction is the exquisite and important Elsa Schiaparelli couture Zodiac jacket, the Astrology Collection, Winter 1938-39. Covered in Lesage-embroidered astronomical symbols, it fetches £110,000.
In the Autumn of 2013, we begin to sell the important lace collection of the late Pat Earnshaw, many of the pieces having been published in her book ‘The Identification of Lace’. She personally taught Kerry about lace in the early 80s. The collection was carefully curated and sold over two years, as there was so much, and raises a total of £56,000.
Our Spring textile section presents a private collection of the finest Ottoman, Central Asian, Jewish and Islamic robes and textiles, which attracts huge international interest from museums and collectors the world over. Included is an important purple velvet nobleman's robe or 'joma', Bukharan, late 19th century, which achieves £9,000, and another example, heavily embroidered, which achieves £7,000.
Interest in 1960s fashion grows. We offer two Paco Rabanne chain-linked armour plate mini dresses, 1967; the first sells in June for £18,000 but by December the price has risen to £26,000!
Interest in Japanese designers continues; a rare Issey Miyake raspberry-pink moulded plastic breastplate/bodice, Autumn-Winter 1980, fetches £38,000 and a Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons 'Sun Dot’ dress, Spring-Summer 2007, £11,000.
Paris haute couture highlights include a Jeanne Lanvin (cut-couture) medieval-inspired black crêpe evening gown, Autumn-Winter 1936-37, which achieves £25,000, and an Elsa Schiaparelli coat, Zodiac collection, Autumn-Winter 1938-39, the pockets adorned with exquisite Sèvres flowers, £30,000.
In our June sale we present the highly contrasting but equally historically important collections of two outstanding women - Celia Birtwell and the ‘High Priestess of Punk’ Jordan.
Renowned textile designer, wife & creative partner of Ossie Clark, Celia’s collection features garments worn by her through the decades, many featuring her beautiful prints. The most iconic and hotly contested piece is the ‘Heavenly Twins’ dress Celia wore for David Hockney’s ‘Mr & Mrs Clark & Percy’ double portrait, which fetches £9,000.
Westwood/McLaren’s punk movement sounded the death knell for Ossie Clark’s romantic vintage-inspired floral collections. Their shop at World’s End (further down the King’s Rd from Ossie Clark’s Quorum boutique) was managed by the inimitable ‘Jordan’ whose personal style was as legendary as the shop itself. Her collection features Let It Rock, Sex and Seditionaries pieces, including a rare Westwood/McLaren ‘Venus’ T-shirt, which sells for £22,000. With so many fake punk pieces having flooded the market in the early 2000s, buyers are keen to acquire pieces with such an important and proven provenance.
French haute couture of the golden age continues its ascent, with a record price for a Balenciaga – the couture ivory slubbed silk gazar bridal gown and veil, Spring-Summer collection 1968, £60,000. A Schiaparelli midnight-blue 'Rococo' scroll appliqué slubbed silk jersey evening gown and jacket, Summer 1937, found in a Devon farmhouse, sells for £38,000. Interestingly, the jacket alone sold in 2014 for £26,000, reflecting the continuing fascination with this designer. A daisy-embroidered jacket by her from A-W 1937 sells for £26,000.
Didier Ludot, ‘Paris Couture’, Kerry Taylor Auctions in association with Sotheby’s, takes place on the 8th July 2015, with fashion dating from 1924-2006, 171 lots achieve a sale total of 966,269 euros. One of the most respected and knowledgeable of Paris dealers, his private collection includes fine couture pieces normally not seen outside of museums.
The Björk Collection: this exciting sale includes the ‘Kimono’ dress by Alexander McQueen, worn by Björk on the cover of her ‘Homogenic’ album of 1997. The highest price is achieved by the Alexander McQueen 'Bell' dress, 2004, worn for the 'Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)' video from 'Medulla', £45,000. We also include Iris Van Herpen at auction for the first time. Bjork’s couture electric-blue acrylic dress, 2011, worn for the 'Biophilia' tour, 2012, sells for £26,000.
Madonna’s iconic Jean Paul Gaultier stage ensemble, worn for her ‘Blond Ambition’ tour in 1990, sells for £30,000.
Early John Galliano pieces begin to fetch record prices. The first ever ‘Incroyables’ collection coat to be offered at auction, 1984, sells for a then record £36,000 and an haute couture gown by him for the Givenchy 'Princess and the Pea' collection, Spring-Summer 1996, makes £17,000
An Yves Saint Laurent couture 'Ballets Russes' collection complete ensemble, Autumn-Winter 1976-77, sells for £26,000. The last near-identical example in 2009 made just £17,000.
We offer exquisite 17th and 18th century costume and accessories from the attics of Sizergh Castle and from Sudeley Castle. We present a superb embroidered coverlet, Italian, circa 1720-30, with a central vignette of Christopher Columbus landing on the island of Hispaniola, sells for £10,000. In terms of historic dress and needlework, it is one of the finest groups to come to auction for at least a decade.
A superb and early example of menswear, a crimson velvet jerkin, circa 1610-25, achieves £60,000 on the day.
Dider Ludot, ‘Decades of Style, The Little Black Dress’, Kerry Taylor Auctions in association with Sotheby’s, takes place in Paris on the 3rd October, 2017, 160 wide-ranging lots of all periods, which totals 612,000 euros.
‘Couture Fashion Jewellery: the Personal Archive of Shaun Leane’, Kerry Taylor Auctions in Association with Sotheby’s, takes place in New York on the 4th December. The majority of pieces were commissioned by Lee Alexander McQueen and worn on the runway, making them even more historically important. A combination of sculpture, jewellery and fashion, the 42 lots sold for $2,627,750.
The prices for Vivier Dior shoes continue to astound with a particularly rare ‘Virgule’ or ‘Comma’ heel pair fetching £16,000.
We offer the first tranche of rare childhood items relating to Princess Elizabeth, H.M. The Queen, including a baby robe, her doll and matching Liberty-print dresses worn by her and Princess Margaret. The latter sold for £9,000 in December.
We also sell a group of Princess Margaret’s groovy evening wear of the 1960s and 70s, including a Thea silver embroidered ivory chiffon gown, which sells for £3,200.
Three of Queen Victoria’s black silk mourning bodices also attract huge interest. Made 1860-70s, they had come down through the family of Mr. George Searle, who served as her Paige of the Back Stairs. Below, Queen Victoria’s mourning bodice, sold for £8,500 in December.
We achieve £33,000 for a McQueen tartan dress (ready-to-wear) from ‘Widows of Culloden’, 2006-07. This is a particularly desirable piece as it is in McQueen tartan and its aesthetic is overwhelmingly Scottish.
A fabulous Schiaparelli ‘Mirror’ jacket which had belonged to stylish shop girl Vera Bowler, and is sold by her granddaughter, is battled to £50,000.
Full ensembles by Vivienne Westwood continue to soar in price as they appeal to museums who desire complete looks.
A Westwood/McLaren 'Nostalgia of Mud' (Buffalo) printed jersey toga dress, A/w, 1982-3, £5000
A poor-condition but exquisitely hand-painted and printed cotton palampore panel, Indian, early 18th century, is the star lot of our October sale - £17,000.
In February we present the textile collection of the late Roderick Taylor, highly-respected expert and author of ‘Ottoman Embroidery’ and ‘Embroidery of the Greek Islands’. The collection includes an Ottoman embroidered quilt facing, (Yorgan Yuzu) Turkey, circa 1600, which achieves £15,000 and a finely embroidered linen bolster panel, Ottoman, late 17th century, which achieves £5,500.
We sell two breath-taking examples of historic dress: a ‘grand habit de cour’ bodice, French, 1767-75, sells for £45,000 and a finely embroidered gentleman’s undress cap, English, circa 1600, achieves £20,000.
A Turkmen-inspired embroidered coat, by Gabrielle Chanel, 1918-20, sells for £90,000.
The star lot in December is Princess Diana’s Victor Edelstein midnight-blue velvet evening gown – worn when the Princess memorably danced with John Travolta on 9th November, 1985 at the White House. It was last sold by KTA in 2013 and it does even better this time, selling for £220,000. It is now in the Court Dress collection at Kensington Palace.
Long on our ‘wish list’, we finally discover a rare pair of extraordinary shagreen ‘Armadillo’ boots by Alexander McQueen, Spring-Summer 2010 collection, ‘Plato’s Atlantis’. They sell for a staggering £60,000!
And a new record is set for Madame Grès - £40,000, thanks to a fierce battle between a museum and a fashion-lover who wants it for their own wardrobe…
Galliano: Spectacular Fashion’ by Kerry Taylor is published. We smash two of our own records for Galliano designs with a complete 'Afghanistan Repudiates Western Ideals' ensemble, Spring-Summer 1985, which sells for £70,000. The last one we offered for sale in December 2007 was unsold with an estimate of just £2,000! And an ‘Incroyables’ coat worn in his degree show, sold by his original backer Johann Brun, reaches a staggering £65,000. Just two years beforehand in 2016, the first example of such a coat we offered for sale achieved £36,000.
Our 9th March action is filled with interesting and very wearable pieces and is hugely successful. Surprisingly, a plain black 1870s silk gown makes the top price of the day, because it is unaltered, good condition and has a great bustle silhouette (£5000).
The end of the sale comprises the first part of the late Dr Joan Coleman’s collection of shawls. She began collecting in the 1970s and kept precise records of all of her acquisitions, which included Norwich, Spitalfields, Paisley, Edinburgh and French examples – but it is the Kashmir pieces that are most highly prized on the day.
A Kashmir shawl, mid-late 18th century , originally purchased from Phillips Auctioneers, 1989 for £540 sells for £4200
Arguably the most historically important collection sold this year was an archive of fashion, photos and ephemera relating to the Queen of Madagascar, Ranavalona III, and Princess Ramasindrazana, 1895-1924. These rare artefacts were collected and kept by Princess Ramasindrazana’s life-long companion, Miss Clara Herbert. The collection was bought by the government of Madagascar, with a view to displaying the items in the newly-restored Queen’s Palace. Click here to read more about this extraordinary story (lot 51, sold for £43,000 hammer in the December sale).
We were honoured to include items from the world-renowned Sandy Schreier Collection in our auctions throughout this year. Highlights include the Chanel couture by Karl Lagerfeld 'L'Imperatrice' crinolined coatdress, Spring-Summer 1984, which sells for £28,000.
A Valentino Garavani couture printed silk-wool three-piece ensemble, late 1960s,part of a large Valentino couture wardrobe belonging to he late Luisa Frigerio, who modelled for Valentino in his private atelier/show room in the early years of his career.
Barbara Windsor’s bikini, worn in the film 'Carry on Camping', 1969, sells for £9,500 in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.
A rare Alexander McQueen slashed dress - the showpiece from his 'Highland Rape' collection, Autumn-Winter 1995-96, sells for £15,000, part of an early McQueen wardrobe which he gifted to a friend/colleague.
A good Vivienne Westwood corset, 'Portrait' collection, Autumn-Winter 1990-91, sells for £6,000.
The Sally Tuffin collection of British Vogue - a near complete run of the entire 20th century - attracts international interest and sells for a world record of £95,000.
A rare Boué Soeurs pale-pink silk-taffeta Robe de Style, model 'Bouquetière', 1927-28, sells for £6,500 (lot 221, October)
From the collection of Sally Tuffin: a printed cotton summer dress, English, circa 1835, with magnificent leg o’mutton sleeves, sells for £5,500 (lot 243, October)
Lot 41, a fine pair of moiré silk-covered stays, French, 1770-85, sold for £5000
A Christian Dior by Yves Saint Laurent couture coral silk-faille evening gown, model 'Rose de Feu', Spring-Summer 1959, lot 84, sold for £10,000
Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy haute couture white point d'esprit ball gown worn in the opera scene of 'Love in the Afternoon', 1956, sells for £42,000. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Tanja Star-Busmann. Film-worn gowns belonging to Audrey Hepburn are incredibly rare. But the story of this dress is not just one of cinematic fame, but one of an enduring friendship. Audrey would occasionally keep and rewear her screen-worn clothes. Growing up during the privations of WWII, she was raised with a ‘waste not, want not’ attitude which she retained throughout her life. Whenever commissioning gowns from Hubert de Givenchy, Audrey always requested that he made extra-large seam returns so that she could pass the dresses on to others, who could then alter them to wear. Audrey gifted this particular gown to her childhood friend, Tanja Star-Busmann, in 1958 (lot 79, Dec).
Lot 122, £2400, a good Biba striped wool-jersey two-piece ensemble, 1970s
Lot 176, a rare Issey Miyake moulded acrylic breastplate/bustier, Autumn-Winter 1980-81, achieves £32,000 (lot 176, Dec)
Lot 187, a fine Comme des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo 'Body Meets Dress' or 'Bump' collection ensemble, Spring-Summer 1997, sells for £14000