Auctions Market France

Christie’s Paris sale profits from Elsa Schiaparelli revival

An auction of her clothes, art and furnishings doubles expectations to make €1.7m

A 1936 portrait of Schiaparelli by the fashion photographer Horst P. Horst fetched €40,600 (est €10,000-€12,000)

Cosmopolitan, aristocratic and a touch Surrealist, the fashion stylist Elsa Schiaparelli vied with Coco Channel for pride of place in the gilded Parisian social scene between the two wars. After the Second World War, she dropped out of favour but recently there has been a revival of interest in her, reflected in a 2012 exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the planned relaunching of her name as a couture house, with Diego della Valle at the helm, this spring.

Riding the wave, a collection of her designs, personal wardrobe, works of art and furnishings from her home fetched nearly €1.7m, in a sale at Christie’s Paris on 23 January, doubling the pre-sale estimate of €800,000.

Consigned by her granddaughter Marisa Berenson, the collection included photos of Schiaparelli by Man Ray and others, fashion sketches, watercolours, objets d’art and curios.

The top estimate was carried by a patinated bronze standard lamp, created by Alberto Giacometti for the Art Deco designer Jean-Michel Frank in 1935-37. Schiaparelli counted both men among her friends and together they furnished the interiors of her showroom and her Paris homes. Estimated at €60,000-€80,000, it sold for €169,000.

But that was outshone by a pair of marble carved leopards. Estimated at €1,000 -€1,500 they sold for a staggering €385,000. “Maybe the estimate was a bit low, but we wanted to draw in collectors,” a Christie’s spokeswoman said.

A 1936 portrait of Schiaparelli by the fashion photographer Horst P. Horst, estimated at €10,000-€12,000, fetched €40,600.

“What made the sale so important was the excellent provenance,” said Patricia Frost, the director of Christie’s fashion department in London. The sale, she said, was a “ time capsule of the 1930s of artistic Paris”.

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