For What it’s ‘Worth’

The designer label commanding the highest price at yesterday’s Doyle New York Couture, Textiles, and Accessories Auction, was NOT in fact, a highly collectible, rare, and covetable early Worth creation (which has traditionally fetched the biggest bucks). Nope, this time around, it went for the dress that incidentally, was chosen for its cover – lot number 3393, described as a “Lucile avante garde vivid voided velvet evening gown”, (American, 1910). Estimated at garnering somewhere between $5,000 – $7,000, it went for a whopping 30 grand!

Lucile was considered to be “the first internationally celebrated British woman couturier” who dressed not only the aristocracy and royalty of her era, but European stage stars as well. She eventually opened salons in New York, Paris, and Chicago where she continued to wow the social set, adding to her stellar list of loyal customers, including celebrated names like Vanderbilt, Whitney, and Pickford. And interestingly, it was her sister, Elinor Glyn, who actually coined the term, ‘It Girl’ in 1907, after using it in her best selling novel, ‘Three Weeks’. If you would love to learn more about this fascinating designer, you’re in luck. Coincidentally, FIT’s spring show, scheduled for February 28th through April 16th 2005 is entitled, ‘Designing the It Girl: Lucile and her Style’.

Hardly surprising, Pauline Trigere’s covetable designs are customarily featured at Doyle’s and this time was no exception. Included in the selection was an arresting color spectrum wool plaid evening dress from the 60’s, a sculptural black silk faille evening dress which recalled the ‘manner’ of Balenciaga, and one of the legend’s timeless and impeccably tailored coats. As any vintage collector knows, her coats have always been seen as collector’s items. In fact, in this past Sunday’s New York Times ‘Style’ section, the keenly observant and very knowledgeable Bill Cunningham noted (in his pictorial celebrating the return of the cloth coat this season), “The surprise was a new generation’s discovery of the late Pauline Trigere’s beautifully constructed designs”.

Well, let’s just say that one bidder at Doyle’s walked away with a ‘steal’- lot number 3537 which was listed as a 1970’s Trigere black wool maxi coat with topstitching and princess seams in very good condition, estimated at between $400 and $600. It sold for a mere $225. I challenge you to find an amazing coat at retail for that amount of money! Impossible.

However, one reverse case where the final price blew the estimates through the roof, was lot number 3521, a Trigere rhinestone embroidered ‘bib’ from the 60’s which featured long tapered set in sleeves, band collar, and back zipper. Unlabeled, the catalogue estimated that it would go for somewhere between $200 and $300, yet it sold for $2,000.

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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