Ever wonder where great vintage comes from? In some cases, it surfaces at auctions, where dealers can acquire trunk loads of frayed 1930s chiffon dresses for pennies against the final retail price.
But there’s another side to clothing auctions, one in which London-based fashion auctioneer Kerry Taylor specializes—museum-quality vintage and haute couture.
This afternoon, Taylor is auctioning off more than 200 pieces of fashion history, including a group of Madame Grès gowns and a cache of Princess Diana-related ephemera. I stopped by the preview exhibition this weekend to chat with Kerry about her career in fashion auctioneering…
…and when I arrived, she was in a meeting with an important client, so I took a few moments to peruse my surroundings.
Picture a large room bordered with clusters of mannequins dressed in mint condition Jeanne Lanvin, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent creations, with rails and rails of Balenciaga, Mugler and Carven filling any remaining space.
That’s half of it. The moment when the experience upgraded from “gorgeous” to “jaw-dropping” arrived when I learned that not only could I photograph the goods…I could also TRY THEM ON! It was like a fashion exhibition without the stern reminders not to touch!
Having previewed the sale online, I knew to head straight for Lot 166, an Ossie Clark red crepe evening gown from the 1970s. I tried it on, did a little twirl, and emerged from the ad-hoc dressing room my usual poised, unruffled self, just in time to see Kerry come back through the door.
Here’s our conversation (edited for length and clarity), along with images from the exhibition: