April 16, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
The artist Mondrian might be pleasantly surprised to hear that a 1965 Yves St. Laurent dress bearing his distinctive red, blue, and yellow squares, sailed out of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers recently, after more than quadrupling the expected sale price, bringing in $27,500 when the final hammer hit. For Anne Forman, a former fashion history professor, now Director of Luxury Accessories and Couture, this spring sale that brought in $177,281 reflected her careful study of market trends and her decision to sell items from the 1960s onward.
“The department works with many global buyers who shop for high profile clients that have been seen wearing garments and accessories bought at Leslie Hindman. We have museum curators, stylists, as well as customers of all ages. We love when we can share a little bit about an item’s origin and where the owner wore it. For our December sale, which featured the Adele Morris Bergreen collection, we got to speak with late owner’s house manager who knew which Valentino ensembles from her massive wardrobe that she had worn at marvelous events with Valentino himself.”
Visiting during a preview of the recent sale featuring items from sixty-three distinct consigners was a delight to the eye: vitrines of Hermes bags, chic costume jewelry, brightly colored patent leather belts, and a wall of couture for spring and summer. Anne had made the clever – and practical – decision that all couture in the show would be seasonal, so that clients could shop for upcoming events on their calendars. With the spring and summer dresses arranged by designer, one collector’s passion for the ladylike look of Oscar de la Renta quickly became evident. A black and white ball gown with a voluminous skirt in a standout graphic design drew Anne’s eye as possibly her favorite of the sale’s offerings. Another favorite included an ivory Comme des Garçons dress, completely covered in numbers, by Rei Kawakubo that fetched almost $1,000.
“We have a mix of sources, and offer two major sales a year, also taking part in the company’s holiday sale. Whether our offerings come from an estate, or because someone is simply downsizing, it is great to go through what has come in and find just the right pieces. From my fashion history background I can very much appreciate a gown from 1919, but I know that is to be appreciated at a museum, not to be worn.”
A delicate blonde, Anne is devoted to workouts at the Daily Method, where she concentrates on ballet barre workouts four times a week. Her four-year-old daughter Maddie and her love of cooking keep her delightfully busy as well. She credits the Junior League of Chicago – where she had held major leadership positions, including Executive Vice President – for teaching her management skills and how to work with people of different perspectives.
“We have several clients in their thirties who shop retail but are looking for a special piece, such as a Céline bag or Chanel jacket, to build their wardrobe. It makes sense to invest in a good handbag, and something like an Hermès clutch is very practical. Also, living in Chicago, spending money on a good coat is very important!”
Showing clients through the collection, she exudes energy and a clear passion for her work.
“For ten years, I taught fashion history at the Illinois Institute of Art, and it is wonderful that here I can take that knowledge and pair it with visual merchandising. Leslie has been great and has created such a wonderful place to grow.
“An important part of my job has become researching new trends in styling. Many women are looking for a very specific thing, such as an Hermès scarf or costume jewelry by Chanel or Kenneth J. Lane, or again, Hermès. We have found that our customers really like the Hermès scarves created by Kermit Oliver. They all have an Americana theme, a turkey, a flag, or Native American imagery. Where our scarves average a hammer price of $150-$250, the Olivers might go for $100 more.”
Anne directed “Arm Candy,” a one-owner sale of legendary bags at the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers Palm Beach outpost, one of six in the country.
“Hermès bags are definitely the most sought after, and the Birkin bag will always be the classic, with the average hammer price of $2,000. We found in Florida, though, that people are looking for the Hermès Evelyne bag, with the cross-body strap. It is a bag that makes sense: you can take it to the park with your kids.”
Just like the Evelyne bag, Leslie Hindman thinks Anne just “makes sense” for her auction house.
“Anne is just so smart, and has done a great job growing this new department. Her daughter Maddie is adorable and we all look forward to seeing her come by; she loves the collections.”
Many of us remember the first showroom Leslie founded on Ohio Street so many years ago in 1982. Over thirty years later, she has grown her company to be one of the largest in the country, with more showrooms than any other fine art auction house. It is also a founder of Bidsquare, an auction platform created by six leading auction houses.
For Anne’s spring couture sale, staff members worked banks of phone taking calls from bidders from more than a dozen time zones, others chose internet bidding, and a circle of shoppers gathered in the auditorium, just off the showroom. Anne estimates that 70 lots can be sold per hour, and when all was said and done, sales totaled almost $200,000, proving that Anne Forman knows just what her chic clientele from around the world to complete their closets.