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The exceptional designer wardrobe of Catalina Barcena leads Christie's Vintage Couture Auction
Illustrated here is a gouache from Lanvin's day book for 1924, courtesy of Archives Lanvin. Sold with the lot is a copy of a photograph of Catalina Barcena wearing this gown publicising her production of La Dame aux Camelias. Estimate: £1,000-2,000. Photo:Courtesy Archives Lanvin.

LONDON.- Following over thirty-five years of auctions dedicated to fashion, Christie’s, this November, will present the first in a series of carefully curated auctions: VINTAGE COUTURE. Offering glamorous dresses, important fashion pieces, wearable designs, luxury handbags and shoes, the sale will comprise a two-week online-only auction of 59 lots which will open for bids at 2pm GMT on Friday, 16 November 2012 to be held alongside a live auction (at which lots will be accessible to both internet and real-time bids) of 91 lots to be held on 29 November at 10.30am. All items on offer will be available to browse at Christie’s Old Brompton Road galleries in South Kensington, London, from 24 to 28 November 2012; estimates start from only £100.

The live auction is led by an exceptional Jeanne Lanvin wardrobe from the collection of Catalina Barcena, a Spanish star of theatre and film in the early 20th century, featuring several of her designer stage costumes as well as items from her personal wardrobe.

Catalina Barcena was a supremely beautiful actress, born in Cuba, who came to fame on the stage in Madrid acting in plays by Pirandello, Marcel Pagnol and George Bernard Shaw in addition to classics of the Spanish theatre.

In the mid 1920's, partly to escape the scandal of her well known love triangle with her husband (whom she had married by arrangement) and her lover, Gregorio Martinez Sierra, by whom she had a daughter, Catalina Barcena went on a very long theatrical tour of South America which led her to Hollywood and a contract with 20th Century Fox. In Hollywood in the early l930s, she made seven extremely popular films for the Spanish speaking market.

From the very early 1920's, Catalina Barcena dressed at the major French couturiers, chiefly, Lanvin. At the time, Lanvin was making dresses owing much to the l8th Century revivalist mood prevalent in the applied arts of the time. Catalina Barcena's cameo-like beauty suited these supremely romantic clothes which she wore both off stage, and also in the theatre and on film.

Her relationship with Jeanne Lanvin produced some of the prettiest and most feminine clothes of the early part of the 1920's, documented by original correspondence and invoices.

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