Definitely Not Your Parents' Auction

Definitely not your parents' auction
Vintage items from Chanel and Dior to Versace and Vuitton for younger buyers
Sep. 25, 2006. 11:37 AM
RITA ZEKAS

Matt Damon auctioned off himself, Brad Pitt and George Clooney for charity during the One X One gala at the recent Toronto International Film Festival. One lucky woman gets to walk up the red carpet for Ocean's Thirteen with the trio but she doesn't get to take them home.

Auctions aren't normally associated with such glitz. They are the bastions of the blue-rinse set, inevitably conjuring up visions of a staid old wrinkly gent in bespoke suit sitting grandly in the back bidding gazillions for some important piece of artwork for collectors like the late Ken Thomson.

Ritchies Auctioneers is determined to change all that, starting tonight. This is not your parents' auction. Ritchies is aiming for a younger demographic, 29 to 45, buyers with strong heartbeats. They are lowering prices to under $5,000 and offering auction items that don't reek of Miss Havisham.

For the first time, Ritchies has long-limbed, lissome young models in its showroom. They are so young, their idea of vintage is '90s, yet they will be modelling vintage frocks from the Paper Bag Princess at Ritchies' inaugural Vintage Fashion, Jewellery and Accessories auction this evening.

The auction features more that 180 lots. The clothes span from the '20s to the '90s, ranging from '20s flapper dresses to a Gianni Versace sleeveless blouse printed with Andy Warhol's iconic Marilyn Monroe. There are scads of Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent and a smattering of Adrian (the Hollywood costume designer who worked with Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow and was responsible for Joan Crawford's huge shoulder pads) and even some Norma Kamali. The price points aren't prohibitive. The estimated price for the Versace Warhol blouse is $75 to $150. A white sheared beaver coat is listed between $300 and $400 but a Versace couture cocktail dress is estimated to go for between $800 and $1,000.

The jewellery is impressive: everything from the family rhinestones ($100 to $150) to a rare Schiaparelli-style Bakelite and celluloid necklace in the form of a cluster of grapes that is expected to fetch more than $1,000.

Elizabeth Mason, owner of the Paper Bag Princess, was hooked on vintage from her early teens. Her first score was a Lanvin dress.

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