25 September 2017

Didier Ludot and his bejeweled little black dresses at Sotheby’s

The fashion antique dealer is selling off 140 little black dresses on October 3rd, 2017. For some of them, the word “bejeweled” is to put it mildly …


This second sale at Sotheby’s is entirely devoted to your favorite clothing. Why not sell them in your shop?

The buyers of vintage pieces of high fashion have evolved, and the way of buying too. These sales allow me to meet collectors who would never come to the Palais-Royal shop that I opened 43 years ago.


Some ornamentation made of metal, gold threads or sequins is just like a real jewelry …

The Chinese embroidery on the Jean Patou dress, which I lent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the “China” exhibition in 2015, may well be made of precious stones. There is also the collar in rhinestones, probably Swarovski, which enhances the wonderful movement of the collar of the Thierry Mugler dress. It looks as though it’s lifted by a gust of wind! Maruschka Detmers wore this dress to the Oscars for fashion, in an ultra-short version, with velvet thigh boots with stone-studded tops. Among my favorites, is the Comme des Garçons dress with its collar in twisted zips which transform into a necklace. What an astonishing effect these utilitarian objects produce, they look like a Massai jewelry piece!


The embroidery on the Chanel dress brings their high jewelry collections to mind …

Inspired by a fountain at Versailles, Lesage’s embroidery is an exceptional piece of work worthy of lapidaries, goldsmiths and craftsmen. The two interlaced Cs can hardly be distinguished at the center. This dress from 1986 only exists in two examples; Inès de la Fressange wore one in an advertisement for the “Coco” perfume. There is another Chanel bejeweled dress that also dates from the 1980s, a fashionable period that’s very fashionable today! It is decorated with large chains like long necklaces that fall down the back. Remember that Gabrielle Chanel loved fake jewelry.


The black bejeweled dresses of Lanvin and Paco Rabanne are classics.

In the 1930s, Jeanne Lanvin was a specialist in dresses enhanced with decorations in pearls, coral, mirrors and metallic-thread embroideries that outlined the collar, armholes and wrist lines. As for Paco Rabanne, he excelled in metal clothing, like the 1965 dress worn by Françoise Hardy in genuine gold plates decorated on the upper part with De Beers’ diamonds. It is not by chance that Gabrielle Chanel nicknamed him “the metallurgist”!


Between 800 and 5,000 euros, the estimates seem reasonable …

Some prices will remain perfectly accessible, whereas others will go sky high as large houses and museums will be present. In my first sale at Sotheby’s, the Balenciaga dress with pink-feather appliqués once belonging to Francine Weisweiller, a friend of the couturier, went for the highest price at 56,000 euros, when it had been estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 euros.


All dresses are not black though! And you are also putting up some Roger Vivier shoes …

We needed to give the whole thing a bit of zing with some dazzling counterpoints like the Alexander McQueen creation. I came by some Roger Vivier shoes embroidered by Rébé in a strange way … A chauffeur in livery came to the shop with three huge garbage bags filled with Roger Vivier shoe boxes. But impossible to know the name of the donor who wished to remain anonymous. Selling is great, but nothing is more exciting than buying!


Sotheby’s Paris – 76, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008 Paris – Exhibition: from September 28th to October 2nd, 2017 – Sale: October 3rd, 2:30 PM.


Portrait of Didier Ludot © Ali Mahdavi

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