May 21 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
I love vintage clothes at least as much as new ones, but it’s a very different kind of love. If I come across a mint-condition piece of Bodymap or Stephen Sprouse from the 1980s, I’ll buy it regardless of its size or the gender it’s intended for; I just want it. I approach vintage fashion in the same way as any other piece of art and I’ll display the pieces at home as such.
Whenever the new Kerry Taylor Auction catalogue arrives via email I have to stop what I’m doing and devote an hour to combing through the lots. It’s a little like window shopping at the V&A – there are exquisite Victorian widows’ weeds, elaborately beaded flapper dresses, Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell masterpieces and Gucci and Hermès leather luggage from the 1960s and 70s.
Prices vary wildly – any early 1970s and 80s Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren pieces or metallic 1960s Paco Rabanne always make for a bidding frenzy. In December a black lace Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (first picture) went for £60,000, but many low estimates hover around the £150 mark. Whole collections owned by Jerry Hall and Daphne Guinness have gone under the hammer.
Kerry Taylor holds two Passion for Fashion auctions at Pall Mall, and six smaller Vintage Fashion and Textiles auctions at her Dulwich showroom every year. Images of all the lots are in the online catalogue, with viewings held at least two days before the day of the sale. The next auction in Dulwich is on May 25, and there is a Passion for Fashion auction on June 8. I have my eye on a particularly gorgeous collection of elaborately beaded black capes from the late 19th century and an embroidered silk shawl from India circa 1830. (Also from the May 25 auction, second picture: Ossie Clark for Radley dress, 1968-9, estimated at £300-£500. Third picture: 1920s evening dress, estimated at £250-£350.)