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July 23 2014

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Hammer Time For Anna Piaggi

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“It was at the V&A show in 2006 that I really became aware of the masterpieces in Anna’s wardrobe,” said milliner Stephen Jones. Not many people have museums begging to show the contents of their closets, but then, not many people have closets to rival legendary Vogue Italia writer Anna Piaggi. Which made it, to say the least, an event when a large selection there from went on sale at Christie’s in South Kensington last week.

Again and again the hammer fell. A black silk chiffon Chanel cocktail dress and beaded cape, circa 1926, went for £2,750 (about $4,523) and £2,500, respectively. A Fortuny medieval-style gown achieved £6,250; an eighties, cone-breasted Jean Paul Gaultier brought £13,750. As Patricia Frost of Christie’s tells us: “The auction saw energetic telephone and online bidding against serious competition in the room, from international designers, private, and institutional buyers.” Of course, not everything sold—among the unbought items was a showstopping Poiret Drap d’Or dress—but it’s hard to regret that too much. It should allow keen collectors some hope for a follow-up sale.

Piaggi herself waxed philosophical: “I always treated my dresses with a fond nonchalance, sense of freedom, mixed with great affection, lightness, and contradiction. Really I had a wonderful time wearing what is in this auction (and much more else!) and I dream to be able to pursue one of my favorite roles, the ‘squatter,’ even inside museums…I hope that, wherever my dresses will go, they will infuse my enthusiasm and love for fashion. The question is: Now what shall I wear?”

Somehow, Ms. Piaggi, we think you’ll find something.

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

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Dept. of Culture