Monday, April 2, 2007


Lilian Grumbach (center), heir of a collection of Coco Chanel's suits and dresses, and the models Sheena Cousins (left) and Elisabeth Flach, posing for the media at the sale of the collection in 1978.

At the death of Coco Chanel in 1971, her wardrobe was bequeathed to Lilian Grumbach. The collection, consisting of about forty suits and dresses and forty-four pieces of costume jewelry designed by, and in some cases worn by, Chanel between 1954 and 1971, together with some three dozen accessories, was assembled and owned by Lilian Grumbach, Chanel's press representative and close colleague.

The key piece in the collection, a beige tweed suit with braid and bright-pink silk, was one of Chanel's favorite suits and a classic example of her design. It brought the top price of the evening: £ 2,400 ($4,800), and was sold to the Oslo Museum.

The Smithsonian Institute Washington bought a similar suit for £1,000 ($2,000) and the Jupiter Corp. of San Francisco paid £ 1,800 for a suit of brown printed velvet made in 1961. The famed "little black dress" was bought by the Baroness de Rothschild for £ 1,500 ($3,000). At the end, the sale's total was £43,256 not very much indeed for such a famous collection.

I guess that each of the above items is worth today at least ten times the price paid thirty years ago.

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