Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Passion for Fashion

While speculation intensifies about who will be designing The Dress - Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen? - there's another frock making news in London. This one was created by designer Charlotte Todd, originally as a skirt, until one of the models in a charity fashion show decided she's wear it as a dress, ultimately turning the head of fellow student, Prince William, squarely in her direction.

Charlotte Todd's dress (lot 293) will be part of  auctioneer Kerry Taylor's next sale, Passion for Fashion and Fine Textiles - It's a Right Royal Affair! curated in conjunction with Sotheby's

"The knitted mesh slip-dress worn by Kate Middleton at the St Andrew's University charity fashion show, designed by Charlotte Todd, 2002, the central ground of gossamer-fine gold and black knitted silk, the peacock blue hem slotted through with a ribbon, the upper elasticated border in shades of blue wool, waistband/upper band 71cm, 28in; together with a photograph of Kate Middleton wearing the dress, (2) Charlotte Todd was studying a degree in fashion/textile design at the University of the West of England in 2000 working on a project appropriately entitled `The Art of Seduction' when she produced this piece. It took around a week to make and was intended as a skirt rather than a dress. In 2002 she was invited by the organisers to submit a garment for the annual St Andrew's University charity fashion show. This piece was selected for Kate Middleton to wear and it was decided that it should be worn as a dress rather than a skirt - and the rest as they say is history! Charlotte Todd says of the piece, If it is true that my design helped change the Prince's interest in Kate from platonic to romantic as has been reported, then I am pleased to have played a part - however minor. I never would have imagined as I sat knitting this piece that one day it would be so important."

The estimate for Lot 293 is £8000 to £10,000 - not bad for a dress that cost about £30 to make.

There sale also includes two gowns that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales:

"The Royal theme continues with two important and unique gowns worn by HRH the Princess of Wales lots 290 and 291: *Lot 290: The Catherine Walker formal white lace evening gown worn by HRH the Princess of Wales for a state visit to France, November, 1988, estimate £40,000-60,000. *Lot 291: The Zandra Rhodes pink chiffon dinner gown worn by HRH the Princess of Wales for her Official State visit to Japan, 1986, estimate £30,000-40,000."

While these things are lovely, the real interest in this sale are lots 85 to 119, garments and personal items that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor.

Part of a collection of personal items belonging to the late Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson

Fit for a queen: The Duchess pictured wearing a scarlet chiffon nightdress, capelet and full-length cape from the late Forties or early Fifties. The outfit is estimated to sell for up to £1,000 at auction

The Duchess holding a brown alligator handbag, circa 1947-50, with gilt ring swivel clasp

The Duchess with a brown alligator handbag, circa 1947-50, with gilt ring swivel clasp

These items from probably the most exquisite wardrobe in the world are being sold later this month in aid of the fund set up by Mohamed al Fayed in memory of his son, Dodi. He bought the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s house in the Bois de Boulogne, and its contents, after Wallis’s death.  The Dodi International Charitable Foundation helps children in need of medical care, and funds treatment for those with psychological and learning difficulties. Kerry Taylor also worked on the 1998 Sotheby’s New York Auction of the contents of the house, which the couple moved to in 1952. Lots 85 to 199 are expected to fetch between 43,000 and £69,000.

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