PARIS — Fans of Didier Ludot’s must-see vintage store in Paris can now purchase a piece from his personal collection of art and antiques, and it’s no surprise that fashion permeates the décor of the homes he shares with his partner, designer Felix Farrington.
The couple will put the contents of their Paris apartment under the hammer in a sale on November 17 co-organized by Artcurial and Christie’s, the prelude to a second auction of vintage haute couture from Ludot’s archive on January 26. during Paris Haute Couture Week. .
The “Didier Ludot & Félix Farrington Collection: From Meissen to Memphis” auction consists of 450 lots spanning the 18th century to the 1980s: think of a portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette with towering hair, juxtaposed with a sculpture in the shape of a egg of Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group.
“When I met Felix, we visited each other’s apartment and picked what we liked, and then we mixed it all up,” Ludot told WWD. “And then one day we woke up and decided that the 18th century was really cool. Felix developed a passion for ceramics and I started collecting chairs.”
Among the elements Ludot brought into the mix were sketches by Yves Saint Laurent, Roger Vivier, and Christian Bérard.
Fashionistas can find a battered Louis Vuitton briefcase from the 1910s; chunky jewelry from brands like Chanel and Saint Laurent, and three heart-shaped compacts made by Goossens for Saint Laurent, which were a gift from her friend, model Bettina Graziani.
He compared decorating an apartment to getting dressed in the morning. “You won’t always wear things that necessarily look like they go together. The interesting thing is to mix and match. At the end of the day, when things are beautiful, they go together, even though they are from different eras and different styles,” she said.
One of the star lots is his small blue sculpture of a rhinoceros by François-Xavier Lalanne, with a budget of €30,000 to €50,000. But Ludot is equally fascinated by the heirlooms of the people he admires, whether it’s interior decorator Madeleine Castaing or Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.
Among Simpson’s past possessions that she is letting go is a 114-piece dinner service from her 1937 wedding to Edward VIII, following his abdication from the British throne. More poignant, there are also two embroidered silk quilts from her country home in the French town of Gif-sur-Yvette.
“I like to be around people who fascinate me,” Ludot said, revealing that she clutched the notebook in which Simpson jotted down the habits and preferences of her weekend guests. “She Will Say: ‘Mrs X doesn’t like green beans. Mrs. Y goes to mass at seven. She likes to flip through her pages. She transports me to a world that no longer exists.”
Parts of the collection also reveal bits of fashion history, such as the sketches of Janine Janet, who in the 1950s and 1960s created extravagant window displays for couturiers like Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Balmain and Nina Ricci.
The sale includes a 4ft 5in statue that Janet designed for a Balmain store window, depicting a woodland creature whose limbs are made of leaves and strings of pearls, wearing a guipure dress in mint condition.
Ludot said he doesn’t regret parting with such rare items. “I want to share them with others. It’s like when I did my first couture sale. Once I have an object, I have it for life. It may go to a new owner, but it will always be mine,” she said.
Asked if he and Farrington are turning their backs on Paris forever, Ludot had reassuring news for fans of his vintage emporium in the arcades of the Palais-Royal, whose clients include Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and legions of stylists. , designers and fashion students. .
“I have been at the Palais-Royal for 48 years and plan to continue for a while,” he said. “I love the exchange with the people who come to sell, because I only buy in the store. I never go to auctions, so there’s a dialogue with these people who have been around for a while and who come with their clothes, and I enjoy that.”
The couple are busy decorating their new home and plan to divide their time between the French capital, their home in Provence, and Nice, where they will set up another secondary residence.
“Since Artcurial and Christie’s cleared out the department, we’ve already started buying new things,” Ludot said, explaining that they often get inspired by meeting people. “We are very good friends of Hubert Le Gall. We are interested in acquiring the work of this artist, so we must turn the page.”
Ludot is putting the finishing touches on the catalog for the upcoming Haute Couture sale, which will feature around 180 lots. When he opened his shop in 1974, shortly after Saint Laurent’s Libération collection sparked the vintage clothing craze, the profession of “antique haute couture,” as he describes himself, did not exist.
Now dressing in second-hand clothing has become a lifestyle for millions of consumers, from Generation Z concerned about fashion’s impact on the environment to celebrities looking to stand out on the red carpet.
Ludot got the famous 1950s Christian Dior dress that Reese Witherspoon wore to receive her Best Actress Oscar for “Walk the Line” in 2006. The actress was reportedly embarrassed to have worn a vintage Chanel dress in the Golden Globes that he later found out Kirsten Dunst had worn for the same event three years earlier. She wanted something unique.
Although Ludot was initially reluctant to part with the Dior dress, which he had just found, he eventually relented. “She came to the store and tried on the dress. It was an incredible stroke of luck because couture clothes are made to order, so your body has to be a perfect match. And she bought the dress and she won the Oscar,” he recalled.
Last summer, Kidman visited Paris to model in the Balenciaga couture show. “She bought several dresses,” Ludot reported, noting that the Australian actress has been visiting the store for two decades. “Julia Roberts comes every year. She often buys a coat because she is very sensitive to cold”.
Well-known celebrities and models like Demi Moore, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have been coming to Ludot since the 1990s. But it has gained a new following among Asian customers, particularly from South Korea and China, who have recently converted to the charms of the second-hand clothes.
“I’m seeing a new clientele that feels more chic wearing original clothing, because you don’t see it everywhere,” she said.
“I have a whole network of Chinese businesswomen who want to dress in Chanel for conferences and meetings, but they don’t want to buy current Chanel because they might meet a competitor in the same outfit, so they come here. I have five clients like that. Fortunately, they never met at the store,” she said.
Ludot welcomes the emergence of global online sellers who have popularized vintage clothing and wants to do his part to preserve French haute couture.
“French fashion is a bit like gastronomy: we have an international reputation to uphold. I think the vintage trend is here to stay. It is not a seasonal phenomenon. There are people who, 15 years ago, would not have bought second-hand clothes, and now, many ordinary people dress like this,” he said.
“Twenty years ago, when a woman died, even in wealthy families, her clothes were thrown away or discarded, so there were a lot of couture pieces that were lost,” she said. “These days, every time a grandmother dies, the family goes through her closet to save something of value, which is important, because it helps preserve haute couture.”
As well as passing on rare pieces to new owners, Ludot works closely with leading French luxury brands to source items for their archives.
“It is known that I sold the same design to Dior three times, because they organize many exhibitions around the world, so if they find a copy of a design that they already have in their archives, they buy it too. I also work a lot with Chanel and all the other houses, and it makes me very happy when these clothes go back to their original home,” he said.