LONDON – Over the course of a remarkable career, Kerry Taylor has touched, evaluated and sold an enormous variety of historically important clothing and textiles: dresses worn by British Royals, hand-sewn costumes of the Ballets Russes, pieces from Ava Gardner’s wardrobe. Her auctions are full of more anonymous surprises, too: a boy’s 18th-century coat, a stash of 1950s colored petticoats, a trove of Chanel fashion jewelry with the unmistakable glass beading of Iradj Moini.
Kerry Taylor Auctions is based in the South London neighborhood of Bermondsey, also home to a fashion and textile museum, and an antiques market.
“More and more people come to our auctions in pursuit of unusual, high-quality, often unique pieces at relatively low prices in comparison with modern mass- produced designer labels,” said Kerry Taylor.
Taylor describes her buyers as an international group. “We probably export sixty to eighty percent of what sells, worldwide. Our buyers include museums, private collectors, fashion houses, fashion designers, film/television/stage costume purchasers, women wishing to buy to wear, and of course dealers who also supply all of the above.” Bidders may participate in Kerry Taylor’s auctions online via LiveAuctioneers.
The house maintains a presence on various social-media platforms. Taylor’s Facebook page features little gems like a short video showing a Victorian blouse – a pair of hands unsnaps the bodice to reveal its elaborate interior construction. The company website, in the process of a redesign, offers an archive “where you can spend hours just trawling through the past sale results of the last ten years,” said Taylor.
Kerry Taylor was a specialist and auctioneer with Sotheby’s New Bond Street from 1979 until 2003, during which time she honed her expertise presiding over many high-profile auctions: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor Collection, the Castle Howard Ballets Russes sale, and the notable wardrobes of Ava Gardner, Geri Halliwell, Robbie Williams and others. Kerry Taylor Auctions was founded in 2003, specializing in her favorite fields – costume and textiles. She continues to advise Sotheby’s, as well as major museums and various media outlets, about vintage fashion and textiles. Kerry has been voted one of The Guardian’s ‘women of the year’ and has been profiled in British Vogue and the New York Times.
February 25, 2014 – Fresh, Private Collections:
Previewing Kerry Taylor’s February 25 Vintage Fashion auction, with its impressive range of clothing and textiles from the past two centuries—well, three if you count the beautiful collections of 18th-century shoe buckles — one can feel the old auction evangelism take hold: Look at all these unique, historic, wonderfully constructed pieces. You can buy them – often for the cost of newly made sportswear! You can wear them!
This sale has so many great lots, it’s hard to encapsulate: A Meet-Me-in St-Louis-ish white witch costume, circa 1885; a selection of beaded 1920s flapper dresses, an Hermes Kelly bag, a Biba blue cotton floral smock dress, bright YSL dresses and accessories, some crazy Vivienne Westwood pieces, a parade of classic mid-century Ceil Chapman cocktail and dance dresses, a bunch of amazing scarves from YSL and Hermes; Hawaiian print cotton dresses, and, for some wonderful reason, thousands of pretty silk flowers—all colors and sizes.
The sale is anchored by material amassed separately by two private collectors: Anne Dettmer and Henning Thorsen.
Part Two of the charming and wide-ranging Anne Dettmer collection includes glamorous Hollywood-inflected American fashion, as well as interesting groupings of shoes, handbags, gloves, scarves, and fashion jewelry.
Henning Thorsen, a Danish television costume designer and collector, was using a sewing machine when he was seven years old. At 15, he was making bridal gowns. He studied menswear design, and by his mid-twenties was designing costumes for Danish Television, before moving on to the BBC costume department in London.
Inspired by their craftsmanship and the quality of the fabrics, Henning began to “rescue” antique and vintage pieces that called to him. Soon he had hundreds of examples, many originally from Copenhagen department stores like Illum, Magasin du Nord and A. Fonnesbech, as well as Parisian sources such as Charles Frederick Worth, Au Louvre and La Samaritaine.
The Henning Thorsen collection will be presented in two parts, in the current February 25 sale and on April 8.
Auctions and previews are held at the Kerry Taylor Auctions saleroom in London, but bidding is also conducted online through LiveAuctioneers.
View the fully illustrated catalog for Kerry Taylor’s February 25, 2014 auction and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
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ADDITIONAL VIDEO & LOTS OF NOTE
Kerry Taylor’s Vintage Fashion and Couture—From Poiret to McQueen is a handsomely illustrated book she describes as “a good introduction to collectible vintage, showing examples of the top end and also inexpensive but still beautiful examples – all of which we have sold.” Hubert de Givenchy wrote the foreword, which is about as legit as it gets in the fashion world. (http://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Fashion-Couture-Poiret-McQueen/dp/177085262X)
Selections from Kerry Taylor’s February 25, 2014 Vintage Fashion Auction, with Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.