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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

A Vintage Clothing Auction in Chicago


Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Any vintage vixen worth her bugle beads knows that scoring top-tier pieces is anything but easy. We’re talking about the sartorial standouts that radiate the panache (but not the eau de camphor) of a bygone era. Many fly to London or scour the arrondissements of Paris. But this month the vintage action is stateside. On March 19, Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers will offer property from the Ebony Fashion Fair Collection—almost 800 lots of jaw-dropping gowns, daywear ensembles, furs and cocktail frocks curated by Eunice Johnson, fashion empress, Johnson Publishing Company co-founder and super-chic philanthropist.

Johnson expanded the Johnson Publishing umbrella in 1958 with the Ebony Fashion Fair, a touring exhibition designed to bring the high-fashion experience to small American towns like Selma, Alabama. The collection (view it here)—amassed over 50 years—is stunningly diverse, showcasing pieces by runway heavy hitters (like the jacquard dress by Christian Dior pictured here), European micro-houses and influential African American designers.

What do all the items have in common? Drama. Johnson was a fan of wow factor and it shows in sleek gowns (Lanvin, Zang Toi, Ralph Rucci, Givenchy), avant-garde silhouettes (Stephen Burrows, Issey Miyake, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood) and lots of Lurex, sequins, leather and painted silk (Halston, Mugler, Zandra Rhodes). March 19, 10 a.m.; 312-280-1212; lesliehindman.com/auctions.

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