Our Passion for Fashion sale always attracts fierce bidding – but yesterday was one of our best ever. The prices soared above the pre-sale estimates as competition hotted up in the already quite warm saleroom, packed with bidders from across the globe. It took five hours to sell 260 lots as the bids came in thick but not always fast!
John Galliano’s ‘Incroyable’ coat, which had been worn on the St Martin’s catwalk for his degree show in 1984, eventually sold for £65,000 hammer against a £30-50,000 estimate. An iconic piece, it was doubly special as it was seen and bought at the time from Browns boutique for £400 by Johann Brun, who became Galliano’s first backer. In a way, this coat helped launch his career. It went to an overseas museum against a British bidder in the room. A Galliano ‘pouch’ dress from his ‘Forgotten Innocents’ AW 1986-87 sold for £26,000 and indeed, all things Galliano – from jackets to sketches – did really well.
Alexander McQueen, the other major British talent of the late 20th century, was also well represented.
The rare and extraordinary ‘Armadillo’ boots from one of his last and arguably finest collections – ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, SS 2010 – sold for an astonishing £60,000 to an overseas museum. I have always wanted to get my hands on a pair, so I was excited to finally find some! Of turquoise shagreen rayskin, they were made principally for the catwalk show, where models teetered along in exquisite, nature-inspired printed and woven silk dresses, their hair and faces styled to appear otherworldly, like creatures from an imagined underwater civilisation. Very few pairs were made and so although many museums have the dresses, no-one had the shoes until yesterday! Dresses by McQueen also did well – a black satin embellished gown from ‘Angels & Demons’, AW 2010-11, sold for £10,000 and an haute couture piece which he designed for Givenchy AW 1998-99 sold for £8000.
French haute couture is always prized. An exquisite Hubert de Givenchy stole adorned with silk lily of the valley from 1954 sold for £12,000 to an overseas museum. Christian Dior cocktail dresses were fiercely fought over – a red cut velvet and satin ‘Fuseau’ line gown sold for £20,000; a black cashmere and taffeta ‘Profile’ line ensemble, £9000; and a cocktail ensemble with Japanese-inspired chiné fabric, £8,500 – to name just a few.
A group of British Vogue from 1916 to the 1930s sold for an eye-watering grand total of £59,000. The majority of these early issues were pulped during WWII for the war effort and are consequently rare. They illustrated really early models by Gabrielle Chanel, Molyneux, Lucile and others, and I spent many happy hours browsing through them!
Our earliest piece – a gentleman’s embroidered undress cap c.1600 (which looked as though it was made yesterday) – smashed its 10K estimate to reach £20,000. An exquisite French pink satin court bodice overlaid with silver bobbin lace also sailed through its estimate, selling for £42,000 to a British institution.
Lots worn by British Royalty were, as always, in demand. The pair of floral Liberty silk dresses worn by Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in 1935 sold for £26,000, but the star lots were for the Queen of Fashion – Princess Diana. Although we regularly sell her fine evening wear, more formal daywear is incredibly rare. Three ensembles from the 1980s sold for £85,000, £75,000 and £50,000 respectively.