Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This pre-Christmas blockbuster at New Bond Street was split roughly 50/50 between
costume on the one hand and textiles, accessories, needlework and lace on the other. It was enlivened by numerous small to middle-sized, single owner consignments: 1960s Haute Couture from the late Duchess of Portland; 1970s Zandra Rhodes and Gina Fratini
from the late Viscountess Rothermere; and the first instalment of a comprehensive collection of lace bobbins formed by Christine and David Springett that was the source for Success to the Lace Pillow, the standard reference work on the subject.

Something for most enthusiasts in the field, then, whether they were dealers in textiles, museums keen to buy rare examples of couture, aficionados seeking special pieces of lace or lacemaking equipment to augment their collections, or buyers looking for stylish vintage fashion and accessories to wear. The event had some longeurs noticeably towards the end (surprisingly the lace bobbins were rather tricky to shift and the linen section was especially sticky) but between them the assembled audience and absentee bidders carried off just over two-thirds of the content for a total of £267,460.

There was one major contributor to that overall sale total - the late 17th century Charles II shaped embroidered mirror shown top right. Measuring 23 x 19in (60 x 49cm), worked in coloured silks with allegorical scenes representing the Four Seasons. It was well preserved in fresh colours, so despite being only in satinstitch with no raised work, it was pursued by private and trade bidders from both Britain and America and ending up making no less than £36,000, three times the pre-sale estimate, selling to a UK collector.
If the end of the sale had more unsolds, costume was much stronger, helped by the fact that it mostly dated from the 20th century which, as Kerry Taylor explained, is selling very well at the moment.

One real strength of the sale was the large selection of British Boutique fashion, a diverse good quality selection that gave a real flavour of what the likes of Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes and Biba were producing for high fashionistas in the 1970s.

This type of material is much in demand from both savvy young buyers looking to wear and from the growing number of vintage fashion dealers. Kerry Taylor had thought that the star of this selection might be the moss crepe and damask 'Moon and Stars' dress applied with a suede neckline, embroidery and metal press studs. This one-off design by Clark for his friend Nicky Samuel was the centrepiece of the Victoria and Albert Museum's retrospective on the designer last year. In the event, it made a within estimate £1800, but was dramatically overtaken by the striking 'Guitar' dress with distinctive keyhole cleavage and strawberry embroidered skirt shown bottom right. Museum interest was thought to be behind its high price, as a two-way battle propelled it to a treble estimate £3200.

Anne Crane