Vintage fashions go under hammer at Tennants of Leyburn

From an 18th century silk gown to a rare 1920s tunic designed by an American eccentric, four centuries of costume and textiles will go under the hammer in Tennants Auctioneers next month.

Some of the earliest costume up for sale at the Vintage Costume, Textiles, Dolls & Teddy Bears on 12th August comes from a private collection of 18th and 19th century textiles, which includes dresses, shoes, bonnets, fans and waistcoats.

In a collection of rare items in good condition, one of the most unusual items is a 1830s cerise cotton dress (estimate £400-600); this loosely fitted shift is thought to be a pregnancy dress, an item of clothing rarely seen of this date at auction.

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Expected to generate interest from bidders in America, are two garments from the 1920s designed by Raymond Duncan – a c1920s Crepe Tunic Top (estimate £400-600) and c1920s Crepe Panel (estimate £600-800). Raymond Duncan (1874-1966), was an American eccentric: dancer, artist, designer, poet, craftsman and philosopher. He was also brother to Isadora Duncan, the dancer who performed to great acclaim throughout Europe at the end of the 19th century.

Raymond Duncan was fascinated with both movement and Classical Greece, and was a fervent advocate of classical dress, believing it to be beneficial to health. Indeed Duncan practised what he preached and was once arrested for endangering his son, after dressing him in a Grecian shift and sandals for a walk in Central Park, New York in mid-winter.

He designed soft, flowing textiles loosely based on Hellenic dress that nonetheless fall into the contemporary Aesthetic and Arts & Crafts movements of the early 20th Century. Many of his textiles can be found in the great American Collections, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and The Chicago Institute.

A mid-century item of note is a dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior. One of the foremost fashion designers of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent began his career working for the House of Dior, achieving the position of head designer at the tender age of 21. Here he produced notable collections for Dior, until his dismissal in 1960, which included the Fuschia Pink Silk Chiffon dress from the Spring/Summer 1959 collection now up for sale (estimate £800-1,200).

Also included in the sale will be a selection of more affordable designer dresses, bags and scarves such by makers such as Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Louis Vuitton.

A fully illustrated catalogue for the sale of Vintage Costume and Textiles will be available on our website,, leading up to the sale, alternatively, please contact the salerooms for further details.