- Chanel’s sequinned “little black dress” owned by Romy Schneider
- the Duchess of Windsor's psychedelic 60s dress
- Loulou de la Falaise's Yves Saint Laurent hat
- Mona Bismarck's Balenciaga cape
- the sculptural dresses Alaïa created for Bettina
- the impeccable Dior jacket designed for Josette Day
- Barbara Hutton's Cartier jewel box
“Each one is a strong testimony of a certain period and the style of a designer, from the ivory damask gown Paul Poiret made for his wife Denise in 1924 to Marc Jacobs’s Downton Abbey-inspired 2012 collection for Louis Vuitton, very important in his career,” notes the French fashion antiquarian, Didier Ludot, who has been wheeling, dealing and collecting top-shelf vintage for the past four decades. His boutique in the patrician Palais Royal gardens, near the Louvre, is a treasure trove of fash history heavyweights, from Madame Grès, to Coco-era Chanel, Yohji, Alaia, Schiaparelli and (Pierre) Balmain. "Couture clothes are an important cultural heritage, a testimony to the fashion of those periods and an extraordinary savoir-faire,” he continues. “I made it a point of honor to have only the most luxurious clothes in recognition of the artisans of couture.”
(Didier Ludot image)
<obligatory listing of Ludot's celeb clients> Julia Roberts, Demi Moore and Reese Witherspoon, who accepted her Best Actress Oscar in 2005 in a frothy white and silver number designed by Christian Dior in 1955). </CelebNonsense>
Throughout his career, Ludot has been steadily stashing away some of his most amazing finds, 150 of which - including garments and accessories, produced between 1924 and the early 2000s - will now be going on the Sotheby's auction block in Paris during Haute Couture Week. "What makes the sale unique is Didier’s consummate good taste, interest in historical fashion and his personal style,” says the London-based Kerry Taylor, who specializes in vintage and antique fashion and is teaming up with Sotheby's on this endeavor. “His choices are highly collectible and, unusually, also highly wearable," she continues. "He has had the pick of some of the most elegant Parisienne wardrobes.”
What prompted Ludot's decision to downsize was interesting. “I’ve been collecting for 40 years, but haven’t taken some pieces out of their boxes for 20 or 30 years,” he says. “Now I want to share these treasures with collectors and museums.” A market which is on fire, of late, particularly at the spendy end. In 2014, annual sales in the global art market finally surpassed 2007's pre-recession high of $51 billion (€48 billion) to rake in a record-smashing $54 billion (€51 billion).
And a good part of the reason is something most of us fashion-loving types are guilty of: if you got it, flaunt it. "High prices are, quite literally, central to the signal — you don’t spend $120 million to show that you’re a savvy investor who’s hoping to flip a Munch for $130 million," explains Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's Planet Money, referring to the 2012 sale of Edvard Munch's iconic painting, The Scream. "Art is often valuable precisely because it isn’t a sensible way to make money. And perhaps as a result, it has become even more valuable of late....You’re spending $120 million, in part, to show that you can blow $120 million on something that can’t possibly be worth that much in any marketplace."
Another interesting way this got-it-flaunt-it trend is manifesting amongst the 1% is in ginormous families. In New York city, where the cost of raising a kid is around $550,000 (compared to the national average of $245,000), "a big family equals a big status symbol," notes Business Insider. In a city where preschool tuition can exceed $40,000 per year and private grade schools even more, educating a brood of, say, six children through two years of preschool and 13 years of grade school represents millions of dollars spent - just on tuition.
"Three is the new two, something you just do in this habitat," observes Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., about the large families that populate Manhattan's elite Upper East Side in her recently-released memoir, Primates of Park Avenue. "Four is the new three — previously conversation stopping, but now nothing unusual," continues Martin. "Five is no longer crazy or religious — it just meant you were rich. And six is apparently the new town house — or Gulfstream."
(And the way UES moms speak without saying a word? By wearing necklaces festooned with tiny medallions or letters, each engraved with a child's initial and stacking rings, one per child. While I approve of expressing pretty much anything worth expressing via fashion, the humblebragging element is offputting, to say the least.)
charm necklace: Jennifer Fisher
Rencontres Couture à Paris de la Collection Didier Ludot starts July 8, 2015 - more info at Sothebys.com.
- Lesley Scott
This post was about the Supremium fashion tribe - spendy, style-conscious fashionistas that enjoy jetsetting, globetrotting and shopping their way across the globe. For more of my posts about the Supremiums, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.