CHICAGO, IL.- Hindman Auctions
will present A Life in Couture: The Collection of Michelle Smith, Washington, D.C. on September 21. This offering from the collection of renowned Washington, D.C. philanthropist Michelle Smith will include garments by top designers including Christian Dior, Halston, Stephen Burrows, J. Mendel, and Ralph Rucci, and will illustrate Smiths carefully curated selection of outstanding designs, a majority of which were custom made for her. Smith cultivated a lifestyle of elegance and refinement in all categories, including collecting fine art and luxury goods. The auction demonstrates how she likewise built a remarkable collection of couture clothing and developed relationships with these leading fashion designers. The sale uniquely offers buyers the opportunity to acquire rare pieces of contemporary haute couture, seldom offered at auction. Spanning more than 50 years and highlighting work by celebrated designers of each decade, the auction exemplifies how Smiths keen eye and curatorial vision shaped a life full of fashions most exclusive and one-of-a-kind designs.
Hindman is honored to be presenting the collection of a woman who embodied style in all areas of her life, from her home to her fashion to her lifestyle, Hindmans Director and Senior Specialist of Couture and Luxury Accessories Timothy Long shared. Museums, international collectors, and fashion-minded individuals will be delighted to see these rare items from the most distinguished designers. It is a privilege to offer a collection of rare quality and significance.
The auction contains an impressive group of Christian Dior garments. From creative directors Marc Bohan to Maria Grazia Chiuri, this selection encompasses the highlights of Dior's creative output spanning 1979 to 2018, including Smiths own haute couture wedding gown, and garments debuted on the Paris runway. From the Spring/Summer 2018 collection, a black wool coat, inspired by surrealist symbolism, that is dotted with white spots evoking dominos (estimate: $4,000-6,000) is another exquisite item. A black silk dress with a sweeping hem and an haute couture two-piece ensemble comprising a cap sleeve shift dress and scalloped banded taffeta coat from Spring/Summer 2012 underscore the refined simplicity of Smiths collection (estimates: $1,000-2,000 & $1,500-2,500).
American couturier Ralph Rucci also features prominently within the sale. One of only three Americans in history invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne to present at haute couture in Paris, Rucci upholds the traditions of French couture in his materials and techniques, infused with modern innovation. Meticulously detailed items by Rucci include a jacket made entirely of hand-woven and knotted leather strips (estimate: $2,000-4,000); a laser cut and hand-embroidered leather jacket (estimate: $2,000-3,000); and a jacket made of ostrich feathers encased in layers of silk net (estimate: $1,000-2,000).
The sale will also feature a stunning session of J. Mendel furs. Continuing and reinvigorating his family companys 150-year-old label, designer Gilles Mendel introduces fresh silhouettes and techniques to the heritage furrier. Standout items by J. Mendel are a gold-tipped sable jacket (estimate: $3,000-5,000); an expertly crafted sable fur vest featuring diagonal-cut strips, simultaneously luxurious and contemporary (estimate: $2,000-4,000); and a knit sable fur wrap (estimate: $1,000-3,000).