Although I pride myself on being a fast and accurate auctioneer, the 281 lots (which would normally take about 2 ½ hours to sell) took 4 ½ hours – such was the intensity and number of bids on practically every lot. In a packed and rather hot saleroom we attracted international museums and collectors who vied with online bidders and a battalion of telephone bidders. Our buyers came from all over Europe, America, Russia and the Far East. Some of the prices were astonishing and the sale total was more than £100,000 over the top estimate by the end of the day, with most of the purchases going to overseas buyers and some to British institutions.
Lot 98: Schiaparelli 'Rococo' jacket, sold for £32,500
The top price of the day was for our rare Schiaparelli ‘Rococo’ scroll patent leather trimmed evening jacket, which had been languishing in a Welsh barn for decades, which made £32,500. Although the condition was not perfect (its lining was stained and worn and it had a rather musty smell when it first arrived) – it’s a rare and beautiful piece with Dali-esque celluloid buckle. The strong graphic contrast of the creamy patent leather with the wool ground makes it a very exciting piece visually. Historically it is import also - an identical version worn by Wallis Simpson on the eve of her wedding to the Duke of Windsor at the Chateau de Cande in 1937. Our two other Schiaparelli jackets sold for £16,250 and £15,000 respectively.
A slinky Jeanne Lanvin bias cut black crepe dress, Autumn-Winter 1936-37, made an astonishing £31,250 (see main image). It was a very small size with no side openings and so its condition was pristine as presumably no-one had been svelte enough to fit into it in the intervening years. With banks of domed silver sequins and medieval style girdle belt it was a really fine example and as fresh as the day it was made.
Lot 130: Paco Rabanne mini dress, sold for £22,500
Our Paco Rabanne armour-plate mini dress was also in perfect condition and although comparatively simple in design, such is the rarity of this piece that it smashed its pre-sale estimate of £5000-7000 to sell for £22,500. No self-respecting fashion museum should be without one. Another of my favourites, the dramatic 1951 Balenciaga black and white flamenco inspired evening gown (shown on the back cover of our catalogue), made £11,875 and went to an institutional buyer.
Left: lot 233, Rei Kawakubo 'Rising Sun' dress, sold for £13,750; right: lot 107, Balenciaga couture ball gown, 1951, sold for £11,875
There was huge interest in our wonderful collection of Japanese design and the Rei Kawakubo ‘Bump’ collection ensemble of 1997 sold for £16,250, followed by her ‘Rising Sun’ dress at £13,750.
We are now busy collecting and cataloguing pieces for our October Costume & Textile sale so do contact us if you have pieces you wish to consign. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer!