Dior, Chanel, Versace… investigate the craze for vintage pieces, the new stars at auction

A ball gown Christian Dior with black Chantilly lace (haute couture, spring-summer 1956-1957). A Chanel dress in midnight blue muslin (haute couture, 1960), as worn by Delphine Seyrig in “Last Year at Marienbad”, by Alain Resnais. Evening wear by Madame Grès, scavenged from a bin after Bernard Tapie bought the house in the 1980s. A 1989 Atelier Versace Bermuda suit inspired by the Tarzan movie poster. Two sets of tributes to Pierre Bonnard, embroidered by Lesage, from the Yves Saint Laurent Fall-Winter 1988-1989 collection…

Here are some of the pieces from the Didier Ludot collection that appear in the catalog of the sale “My Secret Parade”, organized on January 26, at 14:00, at Artcurial, in collaboration with Christie’s. Ludot, the international eminence of vintage haute couture, who has officiated for several decades in his Palais-Royal boutique in Paris, is not at his first auctions: he has already orchestrated two clothing sales with Sotheby’s. “This is definitely more personal, made up of pieces that in nearly fifty years of work I had kept to myself,” he says. Going through auction houses allows me to reach a wider audience than usual, people who are not necessarily fashion collectors. During a previous session, a Thierry Mugler leather bust was bought by someone who wanted to put it in his living room, as a work of art… This time, the most important pieces will be sold under the hammer and the others, more accessible , will be available online: Courrèges, Patou or Paco Rabanne mini dresses, estimated between 300 and 400 euros. I see it as a great way to talk to the younger generation and introduce them to the work of these designers. »

Vintage treasures

Until January 25, Christie’s is also organizing an online sale of around a hundred haute couture garments from the collection of an anonymous “art lover”: treasures of the brand’s French lore Chanel, Givenchy, Jean-Louis Scherrer or Christian Lacroix. More broadly, vintage luxury seems to be on the rise at auction houses: Gros & Delettrez plans haute couture auctions at Drouot every six months, Millon prides itself on its selection of “historical and museum” pieces that allow “the rediscovery of 19th-century fashion and 20″. ” during regular themed sessions, Artcurial announces a sale almost every month this year… nearly 70,000 vintage garments, including collector’s items such as a Jean-Charles de Castelbajac coat made of teddy bears dating from the late 1980s or a kimono from the 2009 Horn of Plenty fashion show, one of Alexander McQueen’s most striking. “I don’t think there are more cataloged fashion sales today than there have been in the last twenty years,” judge Camille de Foresta, head of auctioneer at Christie’s, responsible for the two sales mentioned above. But now we are in a whirlwind of communication: buyers post on social networks, museums publish press releases about their purchases, people line up in front of major fashion exhibitions… In short, we talk for this more than before.”

©Abd Rabbo Ammar/Abaca

We talk about it more, and the price of some parts is skyrocketing. If we leave aside the clothes of the stars (the white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in “Seven years of reflection”, sold for 5.5 million dollars in 2011, for example), the prize goes to the “Sunflowers” jacket, a tribute to Van . Gogh by Yves Saint Laurent in 1988 and Lesage (again), sold for €420,000 by Camille de Foresta three years ago. Last October and November, two Chanel models broke records. 130,000 euros for a 1922 spring tunic (a unique piece decorated with so-called “Russian” embroidery, found in perfect condition in the attic of a castle in Grasse), sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions, and 320,000 euros for a ” Coromandel’, embroidered by Lesage (always), from the Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 1995-1996 collection, at Christie’s. However, the price of a vintage couture model is generally around 2000 to 5000 euros. It is rare to exceed €20,000 – which is why fashion remains an almost anecdotal sector, in terms of results, for international auction houses.

Many different customers

Also read >> Is it really a good idea to wear a vintage outfit on the red carpet?

Who are the buyers? “Museums, collectors, as well as casual buyers who, turning the pages of a catalog, suddenly fall in love with an outfit they want to wear to a party, for example, Camille de Foresta confesses. And then, of course, the houses. Some have few archives and are eager to buy pieces of their past. Others hardly need it. I’m thinking of Saint Laurent, where everything has been preserved since the first collection – which shows that Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent had the hope, if not the conscience, to mark their era and gave themselves the means to build the name’s sustainability . The auctioneer estimates that the strong core of collectors (mostly based in the United States and Europe, as well as the Middle East) is around 200 people, some of whom are only interested in a single designer. “There is no typical profile,” says English expert Kerry Taylor, who has achieved extraordinary sales, such as those of Audrey Hepburn, Björk and Princess Diana. We know the tastes, preferences and sometimes even the height of our most important customers… They are all different. Many like to wear special clothes, others like fashion historian Sandy Schreier [dont on dit qu’elle possède la plus grande collection privée de couture au monde, ndlr] would never put up pieces they consider works of art. In addition, auctions are attracting more and more designers who are looking for vintage clothes for the celebrities they wear. “Recently, we’ve seen Zendaya in a 1998 Bob Mackie dress at the Time Magazine gala, Bella Hadid in a 1987 Versace sheath at the Cannes Film Festival, Olivia Rodrigo in a Jean Paul Gaultier lingerie dress at the MTV Awards, Sydney Sweeney. in a Mugler mini-dress from 1981 at the Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards… A phenomenon that is not surprising: at a time when generation Z, concerned about eco-responsibility, accepts second-hand, idols his are harmonizing.


©Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA/Sipa

What about the trends that could drive this particular market in the coming months? “Dior, Lanvin, Schiaparelli, Vionnet, Poiret… All these designers continue to inspire desire. Pieces from the 1920s to the 1950s are becoming increasingly rare and highly sought after, notes Kerry Taylor. There is also a resurgence of interest in Cardin and Courrèges designs from the 1960s. And we can imagine that the price of Vivienne Westwood’s creations will skyrocket. after his death last month…” Specialists also predict an increase in the value of Chanel clothing by Karl Lagerfeld: the Metropolitan Museum in New York is preparing to dedicate a major retrospective to the designer (from May 5 to July 16) and elegant American women are already in their search. outfit to make a grand entrance at the inaugural gala…

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