PARIS - Joyous, spruce, capricious, light-hearted, touchy, angry or amorous, the upcoming Sotheby's Dider Ludot auction is like a series of variations on women from morning to evening: versatile, living according to their desires, making every garment the raw expression of an emotion. Two of the dresses in this collection particularly appeal to me.
LOT 163, BALENCIAGA HAUTE COUTURE, 1962. ROBE DE COCKTAIL ÉVÊQUE EN CLOQUE DE LA MAISON
VÉRON BALENCIAGA HAUTE COUTURE, 1962, A PURPLE CLOQUÉ SILK COCKTAIL DRESS WITH
ASYMMETRIC DRAPED ‘SACK’ BACK. ESTIMATE €4,500 — 5,500.
First, a magnificent cocktail dress by Balenciaga, a genius designer and connoisseur of the female body. Here, we have a straight design, where the hips are subtly emphasised by pleats in the fabric. Rather than straps or boning, there is a hidden corset that highlights the bust. Above all, the couturier has taken pains to enhance the curve of the back, because a society woman has to be beautiful from every angle. Balenciaga presents an extraordinary lesson in style, with a deceptively simple cut that exalts the complexity of the female figure.
LOT 2, VALENTINO HAUTE COUTURE, 1968. ROBE DU SOIR TAILLE EMPIRE, HAUT BRODÉ SUR JUPE DE
CRÊPE SATIN VANILLE VALENTINO HAUTE COUTURE, 1968 AN EMPIRE-LINE PLEATED CHIFFON GOWN
WITH ELABORATELY EMBROIDERED AND SEQUINED BODICE. ESTIMATE €1,500 — 2,000.
Valentino's evening gown plays a completely different tune: an Empire waist that suggests the female silhouette beneath a diaphanous crepe skirt with a powdery sheen. It gives a long, airy effect of height, leaving the carriage of the head free and unencumbered. The finely embroidered bodice contains a corset that cradles the bust and reveals the nape of the neck, which we imagine as tender and delicate, awaiting a kiss.
Who are these women? With Balenciaga, Mona Bismarck comes to mind as the artist's muse, her pedigree beauty illuminated by crystalline eyes radiating the intelligence of a strong-minded woman. We see her energetic, somewhat haughty walk in her cocktail dress at the end of a society afternoon, a cloud of smoke wafting from the cigarette that elegantly terminates her hand. Meanwhile, with Valentino, our dreamy "Joséphine de Beauharnais" floats, almost naked, in her fabric poem, adorned by her fragility.
So, whose shoes would you care to slip into – those of the femme fatale or the delicate lady?
Sotheby’s France – Sales of Couture from the Didier Ludot collection in Paris
Auction: Wednesday 8 July at 4.00 p.m.
Exhibition: until 12.00 on 8 July