As the Director of Couture at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Kenilworth’s Mary Shearson has the rare chance to manage the auction of an extensive collection of Gianni Versace designs from the 1990s.
Where did this collection come from, and why are you so excited about it?
It belongs to an individual who chooses to remain anonymous, and it’s arguably one of the best private collections of ’90s Versace. There are 350 pieces: A third is clothing, and the rest accessories. It includes signature designs like the gold cut-out gown worn by Claudia Schiffer and pieces from the Punk collection, which Elizabeth Hurley made famous with the black safety pin dress. Some of the accessories you can’t find on the market because only one or two were made for the runway. They’re just fabulous statement pieces.
Why are these vintage designs meaningful today?
This auction is very timely. People are realizing what a genius Versace was. He believed people should appreciate the beauty in bodies—wear what you want, wear it well and wear it loudly. Today, Versace is making a comeback. It’s really hot. You turn on any awards show, and Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and Cindy Crawford are wearing Versace. The recent Met Gala and exhibit Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination were perfect showcases for Versace’s trademark religious symbolism and sexiness. Many of the iconic pieces [featured by the Met] are in this collection. Sadly, last year was the 20th anniversary of his death, which inspired the recent FX show American Crime Story, about Gianni Versace’s murder, and that has also increased interest.
How do we see the pieces and bid on them?
We have a six-day preview, and the public is welcome to come in and see the pieces and inspect them firsthand. There are many accessories that will work for a fan who wants a vintage Versace scarf or belt, but there are some pieces that are museum- and collection-worthy. If you’ve never been to an auction before, this is the one to come to. Preview Sept. 15-20, auction Sept. 21, noon, 1338 W. Lake St., Chicago