Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Audrey Hepburn Auction, Louboutins, and Jennifer Lopez

On December 8, Kerry Taylor Auctions, an antique and vintage fashion and textile auction house out of London, held its "Passion for Fashion" sale, including items from the estates of Audrey Hepburn and 70s supermodel Marie Helvin. There were also touring exhibitions of highlights from the Audrey Hepburn collection, in New York and Paris in late November and early December.
Having worked for Augusta Auctions, a comparable American auction house, in the past, I am particularly interested in these items (and their sale prices)! Hepburn was Hubert de Givenchy's muse, so there are understandably a large amount of Givenchy pieces in the sale. There are also a number of earlier pieces, including some early Fortuny and Paquin pieces. Images and descriptions of the lots are available here and the final hammer prices are here. The two highest prices I could find were 20,000 and 50,000 pounds for lots 98 and 293, respectively.

Lot 98 (here) is a stunning Chanel couture cocktail dress from the 1920s made of over-printed lace (where the colors are printed over the floral design on the lace itself). It is listed as in "fine" condition, and this particular kind of lace in Chanels' work is rare. 20,000 is nearly four times the upper estimate of 4400 pounds, which means two people probably wanted this dress very much! I wonder if the Costume Institute at the Met and/or Cora Ginsburg in New York were represented at the sale.

Lot 293 (here) is a Givenchy couture cocktail dress and jacket in black chantilly lace, worn by Hepburn in "How to Steal a Million" (1966). Its 50,000 pound hammer price was over twice its upper estimate. Although a beautiful example of Givenchy's work, it seems as though most of the significace of this piece lies in its connection with the film; therefore, I suspect it was bought by a collector and not a museum (although I could be wrong).

On a sillier note, last night Jennifer Lopez performed her song "Louboutins" on the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance. The routine opened with Lopez (wearing silver or nude Louboutins-- it was hard to tell) on a bed attached to a giant shoe with a red sole. She calls Santa on the phone and asks him for a pair of Louboutins-- "you know, the ones with the high heels and the red bottoms." The song is about leaving a "part-time lover," and the chorus is a repetition of the phrase "I'm throwin' on my Louboutins, I'm throwin' on my Louboutins." While I personally think the song is pretty silly, this is a HUGE popular culture appearance for Loubs. They're quite well-known, for sure, but not only does Lopez use the designer's name as the title for her song and repeats it ad nauseum in the chorus, this performance (on the season finale of a show with an enormous viewership) is also supposed to mark her return to performance after a hiatus of about two years. The focus on Loubs is, as usual, about lifestyle and not quality or even appearance. The character in the song isn't "throwin' on her Louboutins" to go out and look sexy, she's putting them on to walk out the door on her lover (others might choose running shoes). I focus on Louboutins relatively frequently, so I'll not overanalyze all this, but I consider it a big step in the apotheosis of the Louboutin shoe as symbol of conspicuous consumption and glamourous lifestyle.

What do you think? Do you like the song and/or the performance? How do you feel about what this says about Louboutins?
Image of Audrey Hepburn holding her Roman Holiday Oscar by Ralph Morse for Life, 1954.
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