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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s Announces London Fashion Sale on 1 December

Christie’s announces that important pieces from The BillyBoy* Collection of Dior and Yves Saint Laurent are to be offered as part of the upcoming Fashion sale on 1 December 2011 at Christie’s South Kensington. Selected from the collection of BillyBoy* – one of the largest private collections of vintage haute couture in Europe – the sale will feature thirty pieces of couture clothing by Dior and Yves Saint Laurent dating from 1948-1978, as well as a wide range of costume jewellery by Chanel, Dior, YSL, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli and Poiret from the 1930s to 1980s. Featuring several items originally made for BillyBoy*’s friend Bettina, the famous fashion muse and model of the 1950s, the collection is expected to realize in the region of £100,000, with jewellery estimates from £300, and prices for couture pieces starting at £1,000.

BillyBoy. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2011.

The BillyBoy* Collection of Dior and Yves Saint Laurent is a personal one, not only because Yves Saint Laurent was a great friend, but BillyBoy* also wore YSL pieces himself – including, famously, an original runway ‘Mondrian? dress and the androgynous velvet Lord Fauntleroy jacket photographed by Andy Warhol at his Parisian flat in the mid-1980s. BillyBoy*’s passion for couture began as a child, brought up listening to stories of high society told by his great aunts, who were all important doyennes of the Parisian haute couture set (one of his great aunts bought the only known order for a Somalia leopard coat from Dior, designed by Yves Saint Laurent). Schooled in Europe, BillyBoy* was introduced to the houses of fashion and their couture shows at an early age, and over the years this passion has become his life, growing steadily throughout his high-profile careers as avant-garde artist, best-selling author, model, art collector and acclaimed designer. BillyBoy* himself has always collected couture, and he has also always worn it.

BillyBoy* comments, “Applying my fascination for history and documentation to garments made by designers I acquired my collection over a period of 40 years, mostly directly from first owners whom I knew well personally, such as Arletty and Bettina. I decided a long time ago that when I hit a certain age I would refine my collection, and I hit my fiftieth birthday a year ago now! I am currently living the dream of putting together my own museum and I always promised myself that when that time came, I would sell the pieces I was not going to exhibit myself so that other museums might enjoy them. It seems quite greedy and hording to keep every last piece!”

The Collection
The Collection is led by two pieces from Christian Dior’s 1948 collection that immediately followed his first, the iconic ‘New Look?. In this second collection, Dior continued to use yards of crisp, shimmering satins and silks, appealing to post-war sensibilities which had been starved of the wanton rustle of full skirts. „Martinique? is the epitome of summer elegance in blue and green striped organza, with the fullest of skirts (estimate: £15,000-18,000). Its importance in fashion history is demonstrated by the fact that it been shown extensively in museum exhibitions worldwide. The iconic „Lahore?, originates from the same collection and was selected at the time by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson for her own wardrobe. It is equally opulent in strictly tailored midnight blue velvet, trimmed with elaborate silver paste embroidery by Lesage in the Mughal style (estimate: £15,000-18,000).

The Collection continues chronologically with Dior’s 1948 Ligne Zigzag black silk cocktail dress (estimate: £8,000-10,000), and follows the full course of Dior’s all too short trajectory, including the Tulip Line off-the-shoulder cloqué corset bodice and satin sheath (estimate: £4,000-5,000), concluding with Yves Saint Laurent for Dior in 1959 – when he designed the collection after the untimely death of the Master. The YSL designed Fuseau Line for the house of Dior includes a grey mock two-piece satin dress of extreme elegance from Ligne Fuseau Collection (estimate: £4,000-6,000). Several pieces featured in the sale were made for Bettina, the famous fashion muse and model of the 1950s and Billyboy*’s close friend, such as YSL’s iconic 1966 gown of white organdy embroidered with black polka-dots (as featured in Vogue and Women?s Wear Daily, estimate: £4,000-5,000).

Pieces from Yves Saint Laurent’s first solo collection are also being offered by BillyBoy*, such as the runway sample of a green and gold lamé tunic dress which was worn by the famous model Victoire on the cover of Elle magazine the season it came out in 1962 (estimate: £2,500-3,500). A runway sample worn in Vogue of the Chinese-inspired vivid satin tunic and three-quarter length pants embroidered by Mesrine with jewel-encrusted velvet belt by Gripoix (estimate: £5,000-6,000), and the famous transparent front Lesage-embroidered Smoking evening suit worn by Bettina herself (estimate: £5,000-8,000) also feature. Presented alongside the couture clothing will be important couture jewels by Gripoix, Scemama, Goosens and Grosse & Hankel made for Dior and YSL will also be on offer see below for an illustrated selection.

Further Sale Highlights
Complementing the collection will be a large selection of approximately 70 lots from various owners selection comprising important historical costume, vintage fashion, and further couture pieces and accessories from the crème de la crème of 20th century designers including Chanel, Valentino, Balenciaga, Ossie Clark and Jean Dessès. The highlight is the celebrated ‘Mondrian’ dress by Yves Saint Laurent (estimate £25,000-30,000), one of ten gowns from a European collection included in the sale. Dating from 1966, this is an iconic dress that seamlessly draws contemporary art and fashion together. Several items in the sale are on offer from the late Amanda Caroline Serverine of Shakenhurst, ranging from two 17th century bearing cloths (lots 28+29, estimate: £7,000-10,000 each), two sumptuous velvet dresses by Fortuny (lots 42+44, estimate: £3,000-5,000 and £2,000-4,000 respectively), a wonderfully radical 60s Paco Rabanne minidress made of rhodoid discs (estimate: £3,000-5,000), and a men’s waistcoat reputedly formerly property of the painter Andrew Morton and previously owned by the Duke of Wellington (estimate: £1,000-1,500).

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