November 29, 2019

James Galanos, Fashion School Dropout

James Galanos in 1956

James Galanos (1924 - 2016) was a fashion school dropout turned revered designer to A-List stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, and Judy Garland. After dropping out of Traphagen School of Fashion, he secured an assistant position with Hattie Carnegie in New York in 1944. Hattie Carnegie got her start as a milliner, but had a knack for discovering fashion design talents. Her company became a fashion incubator for American designers such as Pauline Trigere, which we have a few of her designs on view at the gallery from November 14, 2019 to December 10, 2019. The job with Hattie was, unfortunately, a bit more clerical than creative and after growing disappointed Galanos left for another opportunity in California. However, the position he originally went to California for sadly never materialized; but as luck would have it, he was hired part-time at Columbia Pictures. Never one to rest too long Galanos quickly left his employment with Columbia to go work in Paris, just as the couture houses there were rebounding from World War II. He started work with Robert Piguet right alongside Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy, those are two names you might recognize! 

Left: One of the Galanos gowns available on iGavel Auctions
Right: An original advertisement for the dress

In the 1950s Galanos decided to take another shot at California. He created his own company and quickly began selling his gowns to Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. These gowns were made as ready to wear, not custom, but it was apparent from the beginning that his gowns were of higher quality, comparable to haute couture. He was a master at working with chiffon, an example of this can be viewed on item number 5593671 on the iGavel website. Galanos designs are timeless, in fact, Nancy Reagan wore a 14-year-old Galanos gown to her first state dinner at the White House in the 1980s. This is a testament to the workmanship and design of his work. James Galanos’s desire to create was lifelong and he has left an incredible legacy.

December 2, 2019

5 Tips to Tell a Real from a Fake Vintage Louis Vuitton

When buying and selling pre-owned handbags and luggage, tips for spotting fakes can be very useful.  The following is a guide to authentication that can help you navigate the field and save you from spending your hard earned money on counterfeit items.


The first thing I recommend you look at when assessing a used Louis Vuitton piece is the color of the leather trim.  The leather handles and trim on real Louis Vuitton bags ages to a rich tan color.  The trim on fake handbags usually has a pink or orange hue, and the leather is stiffer and not as soft as the leather on the real thing.  On cheaper fakes they use plastic.


Check the heat stamp. This should be crisp and even. If the ends are not as deep as the rest of the stamp, it is a fake.  There is one font, and the letters should be spaced a certain way.  The spacing on fakes can be off or the sizes of the characters can be off.  


Look at the hardware.  First off, if the zipper or any larger piece of hardware does not have a company logo, it is not real. Second, if the logo on the hardware is not crisp, the piece is also fake.  Each piece of these bags is made to the highest quality, so these small details can also be a sign for authenticity.


Look at the stitching.  If it is messy, uneven or off in anyway, the piece is a fake.  Also, the color of the thread could be a sign the piece is fake as well.


The codes on Louis Vuitton handbags are actually date codes, not serial numbers.  This means that multiple bags have the same number.  The date codes started in the early 1980’s, so pieces that predate the 1980’s should not have a date code.  The most recent handbags have a date code that begins with two letters that indicate where it was made. The two letters are  followed by four numbers that indicate the approximate date the handbag was made.  The first and third numbers indicate the week of the year it was made and the second and four numbers indicate the year.  If a date code does not follow this logic, ie it indicates that the bag was made in 2035, it cannot be real.  
While Louis Vuitton handbags never have serial numbers, their trunks do.  Dating Vuitton trunks and luggage can be more important than dating handbags.  Handbags are more easily dateable by style, but trunks are fairly consistent in that regard.  One way to narrow down the date a trunk was made is to look at the address and font on the serial number label.   For example, Louis Vuitton was located at the Avenue Marceau address from 1954 to 1986.  If you see a trunk with this address listed on its label, you know it cannot be older than 1986.  To further narrow down the time period, you can look at the font and design of the label.  This trunk was made in the early 1980’s, right before the time the company moved to the Champ Elysees address that the flagship still holds.

October 7, 2019


Over two hundred of Anthony Bourdain’s most cherished belongings are being sold this month—October 9-30, 2019—in an online auction that’s open to everyone who wants to bid.

September 26, 2019

Asia Week N.Y. In Review

NEW YORK CITY — Although not part of the Asian art feeding frenzy during Asia Week in New York, Lark Mason’s, way uptown, was previewing a month-long series of Asian art sales that opened during September’s Asia Week.

The Asian, ancient and ethnographic works of art auction opened September 5, with sales running through November 5. One of the showstoppers Mason was showcasing in his gallery was a pair of rare Chinese huanghuali continuous horseshoe back armchairs dating from the early Qing dynasty ($600/900,000). Almost all horseshoe back armchairs have a sloping crest rail that terminates in scrolled handgrips, but an extremely rare version has the crest rail terminating into the chair seat frame, which this pair has.

September 16, 2019

An Anthony Bourdain Auction Will Include His Treasured Knife

A collection of belongings left behind by Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and television star who died in June 2018, will be sold in an online auction in October.

Sixty percent of the proceeds of the auction will go to Mr. Bourdain’s wife, Ottavia Busia, and daughter, Ariane. (Mr. Bourdain and Ms. Busia were separated at the time of his death.)

The remainder will be donated to a new scholarship to the Culinary of Institute of America created in Mr. Bourdain’s name that will allow recipients to spend a semester abroad or to study international topics.

The auctioneer, Lark Mason, estimates that the 215 lots on the block have a market value between $200,000 and $400,000....