Thursday, 17 September 2009

I HEART: Kerry Taylor and her quest for wonders!

Last Sunday's Stella magazine had a great diary-style story on auctioneer extraordinaire Kerry Taylor. The main focus of the story was, of course, last Tuesday's auction of The Marit Allen Collection, with fantastic pieces by Bill Gibb, Mary Quant and Ossie Clark that the late Vogue editor and costume designer kept. What really grabbed me though were the small references to other treasures Ms Taylor discovered in the most unlikely of places, which means that the old 'dusty-box-in-the-attic' fantasy remains pretty much alive! Here are some of Ms Taylor's quotes. Read and weep or read and rummage through old boxes, the back of your wardrobe or better, your grandmother's!

"Got back to the office and someone came in with a beautiful printed lace dress by Coco Chanel, about 1927, which will do very well because of the release of the film Coco Avant Chanel with Audrey Tautou. I estimated it at about £2,500 to £3,500, but I won't be surprised if it achieves more than that. My client bought it for £100 at one of the vintage fairs. The dealer hadn't looked inside and spotted the label! That will be one for my December auction."

"A lady came in last year with a bag of stuff, and, oh, it was one awful thing after the next. Then at the bottom there was some yellow satin and she pulled it out and I recognised it as being designed by Matisse for Le Chant du Rossignol, one of Serge Diaghilev's ballets. Her brother was a ballet enthusiast and had bought it at an auction in the 1970s. I said, 'I think we will get £20,000 to £30,000 for it', and she nearly died. It made £32,000, in fact."

"Then there was the English couple who phoned me once. They'd bought a mill in France to do up as a holiday home. Up in the loft, covered in pigeon dirt, were original Madeleine Vionnet boxes from the 1920s. This was an important part of Vionnet's development, preceding the bias cut. There was box upon box of them. Quite extraordinary. That little collection raised enough money for their new roof."

Images by The Telegraph, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Library of Congress, Washington DC and Les Arts Decoratifs, Paris.

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