The Gowns That Keep on Giving

The Unique Allure of Vintage Valentino

Surely one of the most fist-in-mouth moments in the first season of Gossip Girl is when high-society wannabe Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) steals a vintage Valentino couture gown from one of her Upper East Side friends. Jenny assumes that, amid hundreds of other dresses, the wealthy owner won’t notice its absence. Boy is she wrong. Televised fiction aside, it’s true that Valentino’s creations are prized possessions, especially since he stepped down in 2008 (Valentino is now designed by his longtime colleagues Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli). Patricia Frost, director of the Textiles Department at Christie’s, explains: “I think the ladies who wear him tend to be very emotionally attached to his designs and rarely dispose of them.” The auction house rarely sees Valentino lots at its auctions, though Frost hopes a couple of pieces will turn up for the Christie's “Fashion Through the Ages” sale this December. “I would love to see some of his couture 1970s evening gowns, as they represent craftsmanship of the highest quality.” Celebrities seem to agree: Julia Roberts turned to a black, halterneck vintage Valentino dress when she triumphed at the 2001 Oscars for her role in Erin Brokovich, while Jennifer Lopez attended the awards ceremony in 2003 sporting a one-shoulder full-length Valentino number first worn by Jackie Kennedy in 1967, before she married Aristotle Onassis. Young starlets such as Keira Knightley and Anne Hathaway have also looked to the archives of a man whose very moniker (he was named after early screen idol Rudolf Valentino) conjures old Hollywood glamour. According to Cameron Silver, owner of LA high-end vintage boutique Decades, “Valentino pieces continue to grow in value.” One of the rare pieces that did make it to the auction block in recent years was a black ruffle dress that formerly belonged to Audrey Hepburn, which sold  for $11,750. Non-celebrity dresses might go for around $2000, as evidenced by this recent sale at Christie's.

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  • abbysury
    beauty by creator

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