Yves Saint Laurent / Catherine Deneuve Auction
Christie’s, January 24th 2019 – Paris, France.
Fashion moments are strange, they can be wildly unpredictable. When I was invited to this auction I was pleased but did not anticipate such a brilliant and amazing few hours, in fact sitting down around 13.30 and leaving Christie’s at around 18.45!
From the moment we entered the house there seemed to be an electric charge and excitement in the air, with at one point many people standing many deep around the room, camera crews fighting for space.
There were hands waving, auction paddles raised high, and in some cases the barely perceptible nod of a head, all indicating bidding at an alarming rate.
The two gentlemen from Germany next to me, private bidders, left having won only two , but admittedly very beautiful, lots. This indicated the frenzy of bidding on many of the items, the speed of the rise from €400 to €2,000 in a matter of minutes.Monsieur Didier Ludot, he of the fabulous emporium which bears his name in the Palais Royal, and others watched a great deal of skirmishing for pieces, often dropping out as the buyers sailed over any estimates.
Bidding was in the room, on the telephone; a bank of around fifteen to twenty wonderfully poised people sitting coaxing their unseen clients into another bid and then another. Bidding was also on line from Japan to Canada, and also some bids were with the auctioneer.
It was this multiple levelled bidding which also made an observer’s head spin, with bids overlapping and coming in from every direction simultaneously.
We knew it was an important moment when the first two hours were conducted by the President of Christie’s Paris, Francois de Ricqlès whose theatrical command of the event was a tour de force performance. His replacement was equally stunning; Camille de Foresta, who wore vintage Yves Saint Laurent and whose humour, style and polish was fabulous.
The art and craft of the auctioneer was fully demonstrated during those hours.
Several times during the afternoon laughter rang out through the rooms and the first time an extremely chic lady stood up and mentioned the lot had been purchased for the Yves Saint Laurent Museum applause and whoops greeted the announcement.
The eventual homes for many of the pieces will be private collections, museums and collectors; several women in the room represented customers who will actually wear again these historic pieces.
The clothes themselves encompassed everything from neat day suits, classic Le Smoking and spectacular special pieces including a slip dress entirely covered in a waterfall of rose embroidery, a Ballets Russes gipsy look and a deep rose pink satin cocktail suit, through to iconic pieces with many photographs bearing testimony to their provenance.
From shoes to clutch bags, from jersey to satin and from restrained navy to exuberant animal print it was truly a classic Yves Saint Laurent wardrobe.
When will such an event happen again? Who today will in the future sell this vast archive of a single designer covering a life time of days and nights, events and work?
The catalogue will be a source book of one woman’s relationship with a designer and that designers understanding and emotional empathy with his client.
At the wonderfully displayed preview on the previous weekend, the equally wonderful Dominique Deroche, for forty years the key Attaché de Presse, and so much more than that title implies, at Saint Laurent, told me to Instagram as much as possible. I truly don’t think the auction needed my help!
Go on line to see prices raised at Christie’s.com