On 31 May at Christies’s Hong Kong bureau, a Himalaya Birkin bag broke records by selling for $300,000. This is not just any second hand handbag and though not all vintage fashion items will attract such interest or financial value, it is a reminder that vintage fashion is big business, especially for items possessing a rarity and exceptional artisanship.
In London on 14 June, Kerry Taylor auctions will hold one of their Passion for Fashion auctions (view the catalogue here). Headlines will be grabbed by memorabilia from the Duke & Duchess of Windsor (including a lovely brown alligator handbag), Madonna (an iconic Jean Paul Gaultier corset, and Bjork. For me though, the jewels are always the couture pieces and the wonderful flapper dresses and evening coats. Here are some of the treats to come this time around.
Top jewel has to be an extraordinary collection of 22 Dior ensembles of which 15 are haute couture, including a black silk faille ball gown, probably from the ‘Ailée’ collection of A/W 1948 (lot 99). There are also haute couture pieces by Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel, Callot Soeurs, Courrèges, Cardin, Charles James, Dessès, Galanos, Gernreich, Givenchy, Griffe, Lucile, Lanvin, Patou, Poiret, Piguet, Jenny, Madeleine de Rauch. It is truly a tour de force of couture.
There are also one or two true icons of twentieth century fashion. There is a whole ensemble from Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Ballets Russes’ collection, A/W 1976-77 (lot 226). There is also a rare ‘Incroyables’ coat from John Galliano’s degree show collection of July 1984, crowning an impressive range of his other work including pieces from ‘The Ludic Game’ A/W 1985-86, his A/W 1987-88 collection and ‘Blanche Dubois’ S/S 1988.
As usual there is also a great showing of Japanese designers including de-constructed examples from Rei Kawakubo’s S/S 1983, A/W 1983-84 and A/W 1984-85 collections.
My choices? I’m longing for the YSL lipstick print dress from 1971 (lot 211), a Lesage embroidered bodice for Dior(?) from the late 50s/early 60s (lot 133), a Balenciaga couture black Chantilly lace evening dress c1964 (lot 151), a Comme des Garcons grey flecked tweed suit AW 1986 (lot 299) and a 1930s Jeanne Lanvin conical hat (lot 96).
Aside from these, I’ll be watching the Chanel items, especially those currently less on-trend, as in the past these have gone for very competitive prices. I will also be fascinated to see what price is fetched by an incredible Philip Treacy couture hat. I expect it will be an object of heated bidding. Though perhaps the record will rest with the Hermes Birkin a little longer.