Published: February 23, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Augusta Auctions
BELLOWS FALLS, VT. – With 238 lots of historical fashion, vintage couture and rare textiles, bidders were able to find something comfortable to slip into in Augusta Auctions’ February 10 sale. Buyers of these works are active, notes Julia Ricklis, operations manager at Augusta Auctions.
“In the dead of a pandemic winter, people are very eager for something that is a little different, visually interesting and accessible to them in their home,” she said. Without an open in-person preview, Ricklis noted that the firm has found success with offering virtual appointments.
“Either through Zoom or Facetime, we offered remote preview where we show people what they’re interested in. We found that that works pretty well, not as good as being able to feel the items themselves, but pretty adequate in terms of the global crisis.”
The auction found its leader at $20,400 in a Gabrielle Chanel couture evening cape, circa 1923, that was an example of the designer’s collaboration with the Russian Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, then exiled in Paris during the Russian Revolution. In establishing the Kitmir atelier together, the two collaborated to embellish Chanel’s modern silhouettes with traditional Slavic embroidery techniques.
“It’s one of the earliest Chanel pieces we’ve ever sold,” Ricklis said. “We were able to date it to 1923 as it had remained in a private collection from its original purchase. The family had record of the honeymoon when it was bought from the Chanel atelier in Paris.”
The piece had appeared on a 2012 Antiques Roadshow episode. Embroidered in silk floss and metallic thread is a repeating leaf motif that trims up, down and around the cape. Though she collaborated with the Grand Duchess, Chanel’s Kitmir line had its genesis in her romance with the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. The modern Chanel brand released a jewelry line in 2019 inspired by this time in the company’s early history, a period that is further explored in a current exhibition at The Palais Galliera in Paris titled “Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto.”
“There’s always an interest in her early work and her influence in general,” Ricklis said, noting participation from institutional and private collectors.
A selection of 1830-80s silk gowns deaccessioned from the Museum of the City of New York lured bidders. Found here was a late 1860s four-piece golden silk moiré gown that brought $2,160. Of the same vintage was an ivory silk satin trained ball gown that went out at $2,063. With a patently playful flair was a multi-tiered bubble gum pink evening gown, circa 1855, with a crenelated border pattern separated with horizontal stripes that sold for $1,875.
“We’ve been working with the museum closely to move through the Victorian era,” Ricklis noted. “We had this particular collection focused on the 1840s through the 1860s. Many deaccessions are done because pieces are damaged, but it’s not the case with these and we’re quite pleased to bring these high-quality Victorian items to market.”
On the style, Ricklis said, “The 1850s-60s is very wide crinoline hoop skirts – they are very popular, showy, large, voluminous. We find there’s consistent interest in this period because they are so sumptuous with large trains and overskirts.”
Rising to $8,125 was a velvet evening coat with stenciled silk designs by Maria Monaci Gallenga. The designs represented a Persian inspired garden, including leaf, griffin and peacock motifs. Many of Gallenga’s works reference medieval and Renaissance Italian art history. Ricklis said the piece was still wearable and had descended through three generations of the consignor’s family.
A more modern flair was found in a collection of three 1950s evening gowns by Emilio Schuberth, the top result going out at $5,000. The cream silk satin strapless evening gown featured an aquatic flora design in velvet appliqué. It had been exhibited at Fondazione Mondragone Napoli, Mueso del Tessile e dell-Abbigliamento in 2004 and included in two publications, Lo Spettacolo della Moda and Moda Italiana, 1950-1970. The others featured the same history. Right behind at $3,750 was a Schuberth silk satin evening gown from the same period, though this with a central fuchsia poppy decoration and daisy appliqués. At $2,400 was a cream silk satin strapless gown with a flared skirt and sweeping vine embroidery with roses and foliate.
To cover up was an appliqué shawl featuring a central radiating floral medallion bouquet in an octagon of entwined floral and leaves. The shawl was from Brussels, dated to the 1860s, and sold for $2,520.
The firm’s next sale is schedule for May 12. All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 802-463-3333 or www.augusta-auction.com.
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