Mrs Miniver, Sundae, Mark Hughes
Mrs Miniver and Sundae, in homage to Nancy Cunard, by Mark Hughes

An outstanding sale at Kerry Taylor Auctions, London – and there is fur.

Anyone who is anyone in the world of collecting haute couture, designer clothes and historic costume and textiles venerates the auction house that is Kerry Taylor Auctions. Designers, Paris fashion houses, curators, stars of stage and screen as well as the aspiring young.

I have know her for years and bought from her too – a fabulous art nouveau cape with intarsia silk lace butterflies in soft pink and cream, the kind of ‘non-colours’ that Poiret so despised and did away with; a Worth gown from 1905, Ossie Clark, furs and accessories - excluding the textiles which I don’t need but cannot live without. 
Today’s  auction has the most fabulous pieces in it – but I just wanted to let you know that there is a spectacular leopard cape by Dior which needs to be seen, Lot 162, dated to the mid-60s and a throwback to the craze for  exotic skins in the 1920s: Nancy Cunard meets Tallulah Bankhead. Definitely to be worn with a slouch – and above all, cherished. Many of those animals whose pelts and skins fell into the desirable category in the 1920s are now of course endangered species that fall under CITES: leopard, colobus monkey, and ocelot. This cape is accompanied by certification papers.

Kerry Taylor Auctions, Dior Couture leopard and artic fox cape
‘Lot 162, A Dior couture leopard and arctic fox cape, circa 1965, bearing large satin Dior label ...’

Kerry Taylor Auctions, Dior Couture leopard and artic fox cape
‘Lot 162, A Dior couture leopard and arctic fox cape, circa 1965, bearing large satin Dior label ...’

Flapper by Lawrence Mynott

‘Flapper’ by Lawrence Mynott, specially commissioned by Acne Paper for its Summer  2010 ‘Legendary Parties’ issue. She is wearing a green cloche in reference to Michael Arlen’s novel and play The Green Hat, a cause celebre that caught the febrile atmosphere of some of the younger generation, post World War I with its doomed heroine Iris Storm, partly based on Nancy Cunard, and played by Tallulah Bankhead on stage in London in 1925.

by the illustrator BUK, printed silk edged with ermine

This is by the illustrator BUK – Eduard Buk Ulreich -  dated around 1920. Her turban is pure Poiret, but this is a fantasy illustration in my opinion.  It may well be a printed silk edged with ermine; whe is the enchantress Circe, able to tame the savage beast.

BUK specailised in the two-dimenstional style of the Oriental style – specifically Chinese and Japanese; with an added charm which was very western. The passion for the Oriental which had blossomed with the arrival of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in Paris in 1909 and was characterised by some of Paul Poiret’s greatest work was replaced effectively in 1925 with the Arts Decoratifs – ‘Art Deco’ exhibition in Paris.

silk velvet and white fox, c.1931
And this is how it should be worn – Edward Steichen, Dolores del Rio, in opera cape of silk velvet and white fox, c. 1931.

Apart from a really important selection of pieces by the late and great Alexander McQueen that includes a one-off dress in McQueen tartan, cut on the bias – really clever – made for his stylist and friend Katy England – thre is also a fox jacket – mistakenly described by the seller as ‘wolf’ – Kerry agrees with me that it is definitely fox – that manages to be flattering as well as magnificent – the waistband, as it were, is in crotcheted cashmere I believe. It thus played with the proportion in a way that Lee McQueen enjoyed, but also has the bulky silhouette in furs he liked – it looks as though it was inspired by the 1970s-inspired-by-the-1940s -  or indeed, the silhouette of the femme fatale Rachael in Ridley Scott’s  dystopian play on a future imbued with nostalgia Blade Runner  (1982) - costumed by Charles Knode.

Alexander McQueen, AW2008/2009, fox, cashmere knit coat,
Lot No.278 Alexander McQueen, AW2008/2009, fox, cashmere knit coat.

‘An Alexander McQueen wolf [it is FOX] and cashmere knit coat and matching socking boots, AW 2008/2009, ‘The Girl Whol Lived in the Tree’ collection – poignantly, one of his most beautiful  and memorable collection; and the first time that he was in the black for his backers. This did not appear on the runway however.

Sean Young as Rachael, Blade Runner, 1982
Sean Young as Rachael, Blade Runner, 1982, via pininterest/Denise Sandiford.

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