On the eve of their big auction with Christie's -- essentially the widest range of 20th Century avant-garde fashion amassed privately and sold at auction -- Katy Rodriguez and Mark Haddawy sat down with me to talk about the collection they gathered piece by piece over the 12 years they've owned their vintage boutique Resurrection.
With such rare pieces as Paco Rabanne's aluminum-paneled dress and Zandra Rhodes's dramatic yellow maxi coat on offer, the fashion world will likely be watching today's bidding as closely as Mark and Katy.
What prompted you to present your collection in this way?
We could have sold off pieces one by one in our stores, but this was a great opportunity to present the clothes as a collection with a point of view. It's not a complete survey of fashion history, but there's a common thread among these designers, which is generally pushing the boundaries of traditional fashion.
Are there pieces that will be difficult to let go or that you're particularly interested to watch?
Rodriguez: I'm very interested in the Paco Rabanne, especially because those are pieces we've had for a long time but have never offered in the store. The artist pieces like the Alan Jones sweater and the Lichtenstein shirt -- you never see those sorts of clothes for sale. I'll also be interested in what happens to the gold leather mask [from Vivienne Westwood's '70s Sex collection], if it will be too edgy for the museums. And there's a Marc Jacobs sweater, which he designed right after college. There are certain pieces that are easier to guess about, pieces that have sold in the past, but some of the early Westwood or the Paco Rabanne is unprecedented.
Haddawy: For any collector, it's important not to see this auction as an ending, but a beginning. This auction for me is really more about tracking these pieces, not unlike a scientist who watches a certain species of animal; it's about these pieces finding the right home. I'm hopeful that will be in museums in some cases, so people will be able to understand the clothes in the context of an exhibit, and will be able to see in them what we saw.
Are you concerned about the economy's influence?
Haddawy: It's a crazy time now, but as we analyze other auctions, inspired material is still selling well, and certain people will continue to be excited about certain things. If I wasn't selling myself, I'd be scrambling to buy from this collection. I've probably seen a couple million pieces of clothing over the 12 years we've been doing this, so I know how rare these are, like the jacket Paco Rabanne designed for Bridget Bardot. These designers were so innovative, not only in how they made clothes but in some cases saying, I'm not even going to use fabric. Of course prices Thursday will reflect the market climate on that day, but in this auction, if you bid competitively, you could walk away with five incredible lots for under $100,000. What other world can you do that in?
Rodriguez: I'm nervous -- it's all been very surreal. At the end of the summer when we were choosing dates, we kept asking ourselves, Is this the right time? But the clothes are so rare, I think they'll do well.
Haddawy: It's a tremendous value for what it is, and you have to trust people to find the material great, which I think they will. Is it a good investment? I don't know. But that's the wrong reason to collect anything. You buy it because you love it -- you collect out of passion.
The pair will be watching the London-based auction together here in Los Angeles, which with the time difference means a 6 a.m. start time on the West Coast. The Norma Kamali New York Times dress, above, is estimated to reach prices of up to $2,300. Place bids online through Christie's LIVE service.