The dogs got married in Paris this July. Wiggles wore Schiaparelli and Nuts topped off his look with a vintage topper.

Illustration by © Mark Karl Hughes.
Illustration by © Mark Karl Hughes.

Of course, as it was couture week, showing winter 2015/15,  Paris was Martian-hot and the seasonal showing of furs, whether heritage or avant-garde were, in some cases, too hot to handle.

Nevertheless, A/W 2015 – 2016 is the 50th anniversary for M.Lagerfeld  joining Fendi as designer. He has modernised and innovated and experimented during the time, making furs fashionable. The occasion was marked with a runway show celebrating ancient and modern skills,from intarsia to  delicately applying silver to sable, upping the cost of a floor-length sable coat to 1 million euros. ‘Show Me the Money’ indeed, but perhaps this could have been more sotto voce. Accusations of vulgarity detract from a landmark collection. Perhaps instead a collection that pioneered fur for the future, with the essential issues of animal welfare, traceability and sustainability would really have enshrined in the Fendi vision, so keen to engage with modernity. One is left wondering: what would Lee McQueen have done here?

But what was a really special treat for anyone interested in fashion, couture and history was the sale at Sotheby’s, in conjunction with Kerry Taylor Auctions of London of the legendary Didier Ludot Collection of important Couture.

Balenciaga Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1965
Balenciaga Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1965

Fine pink silk evening gown covered in ostrich plumes with ribbon belt.

Wardrobe of Madame Francine Weisweiller, friend and patron of Jean Cocteau.


Lot 29 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015.

Christian Dior Haute Couture – Autumn/Winter 1947
Christian Dior Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1947

Black wool jacket trimmed with sable wild mink ‘Corolle’ line, owned by actress Josette Day. 

Lot 12 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015.

Paquin Haute Couture by Ana de Pombo, 1937
Paquin Haute Couture by Ana de Pombo, 1937

This short jacket is an early version, I believe, of generic ‘silver fox’. 1937 is they year that Vogue US  wrote of the popularity of farmed  silver fox; by the end of the 1930s the wraps with head and tail were becoming ubiquitous and the sometime Schiaparelli model, bohemian and writer Barbara Skelton dismissed the fur, noting erroneously that ‘only streetwalkers wear silver fox.’

Lot 43 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015.

Azzedine Alaïa, 1967
Azzedine Alaïa, 1967

Couture checked tweed day coat lined in otter with matching skirt and khaki chiffon blouse. This dyed black fur is from the river variety; sea otter was almost extinct at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries due to the demand for their glorious pelts. Bizaarely, it has a hint of gamekeepers’ moleskin here – beloved in the 1920s by men and women, and this suit is a playful tweak on the huntin’ ’shootin’ and fishin’ culture of European sportsmen and women. This is not for slashing through brambles and nettles, but rather, looking soigné at the shooters’ lunch.

Lot 116 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015

Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano, 1996
Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano, 1996

A 1930s inspired black cashmere coat with full Directoire-style black and pink striped mink collar and matching  cuffs.

Lot 60 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015.

Balenciaga Haute Couture, 1965
Balenciaga Haute Couture, 1965

Mona Bismarck’s black wool evening coat trimmed  and lined  with snowy mink by Cristobal Balenciaga, Haute Couture, 1965

One of the most important pieces in the sale giving the cultural importance of the lady who wore it. Mona Bismark, formerly Mrs Harrison Williams, devoted patron of Balenciaga was one of the greatest ‘Dmes des Vogue’ from the 1920s and 1930s. Riveting, because, as someone explained to me, it is a good piece because the technology of the mink fur cut and worked in such a way it forms a gently rounded corner at the base of the coat.

Lot 128 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015.

Claude Montana, Autumn/Winter 1993
Claude Montana, Autumn/Winter 1993

Like some gorgeous shortened 20s opera coat, this is a  mustard dyed-silver fox and mink swing jacket is from the wardrobe of Madame Wallis Montana.

Lot 138 of the Didier Ludot Collection, auctioned at Sotheby’s Paris by Kerry Taylor Auctions and Sotheby’s on July 8 2015.

Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 6
Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 6

Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015

This was a great move to real form by  Betrand Guyon, the new designer at Schiaparelli , formerly at Christian Lacroix, where both the House  elegance and panache undoubtedly developed. The heavy hand of the previous designer has gone and this was young and fresh; and had Elsa Schiaparelli DNA in it, too.  The colours are  like gorgeously sensuous ice-cream and they are pure Christian Berard!

Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 8
Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 8
Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 12
Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 12

Now, tricky to reproduce Elsa Schiaparelli’s rather limiting fascination with Colobus monkey fur – as long as it was black. On the CITES list of endangered species, you would have to be insane and/or immoral to use it. Solution: goat hair, I believe, was sued to make this sporty wasistocoat over a tartan mohair suit. Very very Schiap; but look at the technique too, at the back. Longing to find out what that is! White goathair with shocking pink so much more ‘now’ than black, particularly as other designers have claimed it as their own.

Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 22
Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 22

Shocking pink, invented in 1937 is one of Schiaparelli’s most recoginisable tropes. Why did she invent it, I wonder, apart from for publicity. It is a funny colour, neither here nor there – but in pink mind with intarsia (what looks like sheared) mink grey hear symbols with the letter ‘S’,  an old look has been reworked well. Contemporary audiences will understand it … it is not ‘heavy’, it is a playful reference to an intense history.

Gaultier Paris Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 3 ; Cranach's Lucretia on the right.
Gaultier Paris Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 3 ; Cranach's Lucretia on the right.

Gaultier Paris Autumn/Winter 2015

Jean-Paul Gaultier ‘s mink-lined robe, worn over sailor striped ‘jumpsuit’, Autumn/Winter 2015  - Look 3. Its beautifully worked ‘T’ shape is reminiscent of slouchy informal robes from the 15th and 16th centuries, erotically charged against naked flesh. In Lucas Cranach the Younger’s Death of Lucrezia, her marten-line robe, open to reveal the dagger plunged into her breast just adds to the frisson.

Vogue December 1921
Vogue December 1921

‘For motoring or skating in that gentle snow which is a feature of all good Christmas holidays, a short fur coat of civet-cat with a collar and cuffs of skunk is not only warm but very becoming’, opined Vogue in its Late December 1921 issue, illustrated by H. Meserole. It shows civet fur intarsiad into blocks or white flames against black; the kind of traditional couture techniques demonstrated at Fendi during the Couture last month.

Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015  - Look 1
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 1

Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015

Sable, the Emperor of Furs, treated with silver, to give it a magic, moonlike glow, as befits Diana the huntress.

Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015  - Look 14
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 14
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015  - Look 17
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 17
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015  - Look 31
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 31
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015  - Look 36
Fendi Haute Fourrure Autumn/Winter 2015 - Look 36

Mrs Miniver

‘Miniver’ has all the gorgeous allusions to the age of chivalry, the medieval past and the courts of the Plantagenets and Valois. Fur in fashion repeats itself over and over again, from the white fox lining the robes of ‘Salome’ in the Byzantine Ravenna Mosaics to the mink that trimmed the robes of Henry VIII.

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