Los Angeles, California-based vintage historian and retailer Doris Raymond, whose collection dating back to the 18th century has been a source of inspiration for Tom Ford, Martin Margiela, John Galliano, Iris Apfel, Sandy Powell and many more in the fashion and film industries, is putting a portion of her archives up for auction on Nov. 16.
Among the highlights of the 400 lots are a Sonia Delaunay cloche and scarf; a rare 1923 Gabrielle Chanel Kitmer embroidered coat, likely from the fall 1922 Russian collection; a late 1940s Dior New Look suit, and a Claire McCardell 1940s tartan one-piece bubble playsuit.
An early 1900s stenciled velvet Mariano Fortuny coat and a 1930s Chanel black souffle little black dress are also among the lots.
“So many of these pieces deserve to be in collections seen by other people, so hopefully museums will buy them, or collectors will buy them and donate them to museums,” said Raymond, who began her career fashion treasure hunting antique shops and selling her finds at the Marin City Flea Market, before opening her first The Way We Wore vintage boutique in San Francisco in 1981 and relocating to La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles in 2004.
“I remember especially a hat from Sonia Delaunay with its original sketch and a stunning evening jacket from Charles James, looking like a cloud of black taffetas,” Margiela said in a statement. “During the subsequent years, at every one of my visits, I would discover amazing pieces and enjoy the stories and history facts that Doris is always keen and generous to share. I remain astonished by her uniqueness, the depth of her knowledge and above all her touching persona.”
“This magical place with hidden treasures an endless source of inspiration, oxygène to all creatives passionate and obsessed, music that fuels my all-consuming passions,” Galliano said. “Apart from the honor of traveling historically and geographically with her beautiful acquisitions, sharing stories of their provenance, swatches from the 1800s, gossamer fine cobweb beading from the Twenties, pure lace work from the 1900s, a brash ’60s shift with way too much attitude or the unknown.…Hats, jewelry, gloves and shoes lovingly amassed do not escape her laser sharp eyes.”
In 2013, Raymond became known to TV fans through the Smithsonian Channel’s “L.A. Frock Stars” docuseries, which aired for two seasons. Two years ago she launched her YouTube channel, which has 63,000 subscribers. There she hosts weekly shows to educate viewers about Audrey Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Givenchy dress, which was auctioned by Julien’s in July for more than $150,000, unboxes 1957 Pierre Balmain couture, and talks about her fascination for the famed illustrator Erte, among other vintage topics.
Over the years, she’s sold several pieces to Julien’s Auctions, and filmed videos at the showroom about Doris Day and Janet Jackson’s clothing, among others, forming a relationship that led to a discussion about a bigger sale. That became more urgent after Raymond was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year and a half ago, which was thankfully benign, and from which she’s recovered.
“I know my Smithsonian Channel show and YouTube channel really inspired people and that’s what I want to focus on, inspiring people. What is that going to be and what’s the inspiration? Sustainability, maybe. I don’t know yet. I just know I was working too much,” she said, adding that her store and inspiration room will remain open even as she steps back a bit, with an eye toward eventually selling the business and moving into consulting.
She’s also auctioning off several pieces with pop culture pedigree, including a Campbell’s Souper dress made by the soup company during the late ’60s to capitalize on the trend of paper dresses and Andy Warhol’s Pop Art paintings; a Jean-Charles de Castelbajac 1983-84 “Jackie Kennedy” tribute tunic; a Christian Francis Roth 1990-91 “Crayola” crayon dress, and an early Aughts Marc Chagall-inspired Versace beaded catsuit that belonged to Whitney Houston.
Based in Beverly Hills, Julien’s Auctions specializes in celebrity auctions, has handled the collections of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Cher, and sold Michael Jackson’s white glove and Monroe’s Bob Mackie-designed “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, which was worn by Kim Kardashian at this year’s Met Gala.
“We are the auction house to the stars, growing and expanding our business, and fashion is a hot commodity,” said executive director Martin Nolan. “We know from our auctions over the years that celebrity clients also become buyers of these items. So we thought this would be great opportunity to do a stand-alone high-end fashion auction and build out the department.”
The house plans to have two fashion auctions a year.
The market for vintage fashion and accessories has grown in recent years, with the rise of blockbuster historical fashion museum exhibitions about Dior, Alexander McQueen, Comme des Garçons and others, and the Y2K vintage trend boosting awareness.
“I’m 100 percent of the belief that people pay significant sums for these items, and they are the new owners” said Nolan, weighing in on the controversy that erupted after photos of the Marilyn Monroe dress showed it to have damage after Kardashian wore it. Vintage garments can and should be worn, he said, as long as they are taken care of. “They become great conversation pieces.”