A visit to Peter Harrington is like walking into an Aladdin’s Cave filled with the world’s finest literature. Regularly, they produce new catalogues filled with incredibly rare titles, and their latest is on the topic of Fashion and Design. In this article, we’re highlighting some of its rare gems.
Peter Harrington’s First Fashion and Design 40-item interactive catalogue showcases the dynamics between the fashion world and broader design and artistic movements, demonstrating the close interplay between the visual arts and the evolution of fabric design and fashion.
The collection incorporates truly fascinating, genuinely rare and one-of-a-kind records of high street window displays, haute couture tailoring, handicrafts, costume, and wallpaper design. It also contains several important manuals, primers and factory samplers that document the crucial, and often hidden, artisanal skills of the industry, including pattern-cutting, needlework, glass beadwork, weaving, dyeing, and boot-making.
“The inspiration behind this catalogue came about from a recently discovered aspect of the history of our premises at Mayfair, which in its past life held both a tailor and a dressmaking business called “Diana and Betty Pacquin” – a customer got in touch to let us know that his grandmother had run the business at what is now our premise at 43 Dover Street,” says Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington.
“This is our very first catalogue to explore the intertwined history of design and fashion from the early 19th century to the modern-day. It allows us an opportunity to present a wonderfully eclectic selection of books and ephemera that would excite the interest of anyone fascinated by the industry. The world of fashion and design offers so many opportunities to acquire visually stunning collectables that are immensely satisfying to own,” added Pom.
Other key highlights in the Fashion and Design Catalogue:
- First edition, presentation copy of Norman Hartnell’s Silver and Gold, inscribed by the author to Princess Mary, “To Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. With respect, gratitude and humble best wishes at Christmastime. Norman Hartnell, Christmas 1955.” In this work, Hartnell provides behind-the-scenes details for several key royal appearances – £750.
- The Hat Shop by Constance Dorothy Evelyn Peel – first edition of an uncommon novel on the morality of fashion – £650.
- Chicago Woolen Mills Co. Saleman’s Fabric Sample Case featuring over 120 swatches, with an accompanying catalogue entitled “What Well Dressed Men Will Wear: Autumn/Winter 1929-1930” – an unusual and remarkable survival of a moment in American fashion which brought tailoring door to door – £1,250.
- Photographs of Jazz Era window displays for Meier & Frank’s Department Store in Portland, Oregon dating from 1925 – a fascinating historical reference for the marketing of women’s fashions at the height of the Jazz Age – £200.
- The Workwoman’s Guide by Maria Wilson – a first edition of one of the most important needlework manuals of the nineteenth century that explores the practical role of women in fabric work – £2,250.
- Instructions for using the Dressmaker’s Magic Scale by Will. C. Rood & Norman Hayden – a guide to a curiously fun tool designed to aid pattern cutting at home, using which “a lady can cut from any fashion plate, making a perfect fit without alterations” – £950.
- First and sole edition of a beautifully produced Art Deco descriptive brochure for The Fashion Academy, a vocational school in New York specialising in design, styling and merchandising that claimed: “No profession has appealed more, or is better suited to the modern young woman than Costume Design” – £395.
- Clan Tartans by John Whyte – early professional pattern drawings of the Sobieski Stuart Tartans providing a richly illustrated record of a key moment in Tartan design. No other copy found institutionally – £7,500.
- A Cecil Beaton-signed original drawing for a costume design for Picnic at Tintagel, a version of the story of Tristran and Iseult performed by the New York City Ballet in 1952, accompanied by a copy of Charles Spencer’s book Cecil Beaton; Stage and Film Design in which this drawing appears as an illustration – £2,000.
- Boot and Shoe Manufacture by Frank Plucknett – First and only edition of this comprehensive and authoritative guide to the principles and methods employed in the manufacture of modern footwear from a key theorist and practitioner of the craft of shoemaking – £250.
- Signed limited edition, number 435 of 500 copies signed by Leon Bakst and the publisher of a richly illustrated volume, depicting the costume designs by Bakst for Sergei Diaghilev’s ballet La Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty), which premiered at the Alhambra Theater in London in 1921– £3,000.
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