INVITED TO A fancy dinner dance in February, a high-power luncheon in March; and what will you wear to the 2017 inaugural (it’s never too early to plan)? If you’ve got any special event on your calendar or just want to look stylish on a Tuesday, then bidding at the Sloans & Kenyon fashion auction in Chevy Chase this Friday and Saturday is a must.
The 638-item lot includes an abundance of riches: Dior dresses, Courrèges skirt suits and coats and couture Dennis Basso furs from the estate of Ina Ginsburg; from the estate of a Massachusetts Avenue medical industry executive and from the closet of a Middleburg socialite come a fire-red Valentino slip-like gown, a knitted Russian sable wrap that feels magically lightweight and a Pauline Trigère black-and-white cut velvet cocktail dress. More to love: men’s cashmere and shearling coats, Ferragamo and Christian Louboutin shoes, Judith Leiber bags, jewelry and vintage gloves.
Particularly interesting because of their elegance, construction and provenance are the 65 items from Ina Ginsburg. The Vienna native, who left Austria by cargo ship to escape the Nazis, made it to the United States and married prominent lawyer David Ginsburg. The couple purchased a 19th-century home in Georgetown, where Mrs. Ginsburg was famous for her lavish parties, one of which she gave in honor of artist Andy Warhol. The two became friends and Warhol asked her to be the Washington editor of his celeb-focused magazine, Interview. She also was an arts patron — a trustee of what is now the National Opera and of the American Film Institute. And, she advised her fellow Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger, how to up his game from weight lifter to actor, etc.
The woman needed a wardrobe for her many roles. But she was anything but a passive buyer and lucky for her, she had a seamstress to help customize her clothing choices. She was a fan of adding detachable white collars to personalize jackets and dresses, according to auction curator, Sabina Fogle. She had weights added to seams to make a Ralph Lauren jacket lay right and narrowed the cuffs on a nubby cream Oscar de la Renta coat.
De la Renta, André Courrèges and Carolina Herrera were among her favorite designers. Slightly frustrating to the auction house but emblematic of her character was her penchant for removing designer labels from her clothing. For auction goers, the catch is that Ginsburg was petite; sizes go from 0 to 4. But there are plenty of mediums and larges in the remaining 500-plus items of the lot. Which includes lots of coats from Guy Laroche, Ralph Lauren and Dolce Gabbana (in tailored leather). Lots of furs, too — chinchilla, lynx, mink, raccoon and sable. But if wearing fur makes you anxious, there are several with water-repellent outer shells and warm fur linings. All are priced well below what it would cost to buy a fur today. Just an example: a Russian sable floor-length coat has a suggested bidding price of $7,000-$10,000. A similar coat at Saks Fifth Avenue retails for $85,000.
Head to Sloans & Kenyon tomorrow for a sneak preview and for the chance to try clothing on. For more information on the bidding process, go the website or call 301-634-2330.
— Janet Kelly