'Eight couture' of a dedicated follower of fashion on sale

Let's talk about Mrs Heard de Osborne. A petite, bird-like beauty with a Lollobrigida-esque penchant for heavy eyeliner, Mrs Heard de Osborne was a shop-a-holic. Not just any old shop-a-holic. Mrs Heard de Osborne had a serious thing about clothes.

Not just any clothes, in the vulgar manner of Mrs Marcos and the Duchess of York. No, Mrs Heard de Osborne collected the finest haute couture money could buy.

Luckily, Mrs Heard de Osborne was also loaded. Daddy was a Texan oil baron (he would be) and hubby was from a leading sherry family in Spain. And when life got a tad dreary - as life must - Mrs Heard de Osborne would nip out and order a new frock.

Fortunately, she didn't just have money (and looks) but taste. She made frequent calls on the studios of Balenciaga, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Lacroix for an 'infanta dress or a 'bal de sortie to wear after the opera.

So obssessed was she with clothes, that even on her deathbed (in her 80s) she had Lacroix make her a coquettish little black cocktail dress with beaded tassled sleeves (pounds 500-pounds 1,000). It has never been worn.

Today her entire wardrobe is being auctioned, mainly because most of the clothes are a size 8 and are, therefore, more likely to attract serious collectors than enough small women to shift the entire collection.

The collection consists mainly of extravagant evening wear and formal day wear; every dress or suit comes with matching, immaculately preserved, haute couture accessories.

'The last entire single collection of the same standard to be auctioned here was Olivia de Havilland's two years ago, and before that Coco Chanels in 1979, says Christie's.

Evening wear includes Bond girl OTT Gucci, some flagship bead-encrusted ballgowns (one with fur sleeves) which can stand up on their own, as well as some true eyecatchers. Like the YSL massive balloon-sleeved silk dress (lot 66, pounds 200-pounds 400) and a slinky black Givenchy sheath with yards of satin bustle (lot 136, pounds 200-pounds 400).

The collection of coats and capes are equally dramatic. Big pink flowered satin dustcoats, vast, sweeping black Victorian capes and a red Balenciaga puffball coat (lot 108, pounds 1,000-pounds 2,000) which, when donned, looks like you've stepped into a child's Hallowe'en pumpkin suit. Alluring, oui?

The day wear is not only more wearable, but affordable. Racks of 50s Hermes dresses and other perky designer suits, all with matching hats, bags and shoes are being sold in lots for about pounds 100-pounds 150.

Thin, chintzy, floor-length nighties, pure Barbara Cartland, are being flogged off in fours and fives, along with some of her husband's suits and silk Lanvin dressing gowns.

Regulars to these designer auctions range from museums to serious collectors and fashion designers. Fashion-luvvie Hamish Bowles apparently has a fine collection of vintage haute couture. Also trawling for treasures are fashion students after new ideas and, of course, the general public.

Whether it's that birthday money you don't know how to spend, or you're simply curious about past fashion statements, this auction is well worth a visit. But don't let it become a habit, otherwise you could end up wasting your last breath bitching about stitching.

Dress for excess

The auction of the wardrobe of Mrs Heard de Osborne is at Christie's, 85 Old Brompton Rd SW7 (071-581 7611) at 10.30am today.

Beachbags

Blackout II, 51 Endell St WC2 (071 240 5006) Mon-Fri 11am-7pm/Sat 11am-6pm.

Silver dungarees, leather catsuits for men and lime green sequinned evening dresses are the kind of vintage 'pieces' you'll find here. Hire charges are a third of the item's cost price per night with a desposit of its cost price. Prices are from pounds 1 for a top to pounds 40 for jackets.

Cornucopia, 12 Tachbrook St SW1 (071-828 5752) Mon-Sat 11am-6pm/Weds 11am-7pm

Whether it's a mint condition 60s Bill Gibb buttermilk evening dress or a 'Dusty Springfield number swarthed in silver disc 'paillete', this is where you'll find that fantasy dress. They do not hire out, but prices are reasonable. Dresses start at pounds 25 for a short black 20s sequinned evening dress and range to pounds 200 for an immaculate crepe dream in pale blue.

The Designer Sale and Exchange Shop, 61d Lancaster Rd W11 (071-243 2396) Mon-Sat 10am-6pm.

The idea is people bring in designer boo-boo buys or simply clothes they no longer wear, a price is set and the shop adds 40 per cent. At present a Worker's For Freedom silk dress is selling at pounds 70 and Flyte-Ostell dresses are going for pounds 100.

Hang Ups, 366 Fulham Rd SW10 (071-351 0047)

Mon-Fri 11.45am-6pm/Sat 10.30am-6pm.

Designer labels are brought in; they are kept for six weeks before being returned if unsold. A price is agreed and the shop takes 50 per cent. While stock is seasonal, a bargain is always waiting to be snapped up - some Ghost shorts for pounds 18, for instance, or a pair of Pied A Terre shoes (pounds 17).

The Merchant of Europe, 232 Portobello Rd W11 (071-221 4203) Mon-Sat 10.30am-6pm.

Their 70s gear is particularly fine. Merchant also hires out a unique collection of lavish vintage outfits from a three-piece orange fur-trimmed, bead-encrusted maxi-skirt and cape ensemble to a full-length cherry coloured evening dress. Cost is pounds 25-pounds 40 for an item over a weekend, plus a deposit of the item's cost.

(Photograph omitted)

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

    Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

    Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

    Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain