PARIS - DOZENS of leopard, panther, mink and other fancy furs sent bids flying at Paris' first major auction this season of vintage couture and furs on Monday.
Despite the gloom and doom, the flavour of the day was clearly for flashy leopard, ocelot, cheetah or panther skins. Auctioneer Jean-Philippe Allardi said 70 per cent of items found buyers, a high rate for a vintage clothes sale.
The auction raised 95,000 euros (S$180,000) from the 480 items under the hammer, ranging from Hermes hats to Yves Saint-Laurent couture jewels and little Chanel suits which had been estimated to be worth a total 144,920 euros.
While a handful of more conservative-looking mink, fox or ermine garments failed to attract buyers, spotted fur-coats and bags and hats sold from 400 euros for an ocelot coat to 2,500 for one in cheetah fur.
'I'm not buying you that, I wouldn't be seen dead with you,' one distinguished-looking man said to his wife of an Asian leopard number ahead of the sale. But he backed down only to be outbid.
However the most expensive item under the hammer, a coat from a Somalia panther killed before a current ban on the fur was put into place, failed to find a buyer at its 5,500-euro starting price.
Crowds of fur- and vintage-lovers turned out for the sale in the hopes of picking up cheap furs and couture, but shop-buyers as well as experts and auctioneers said it was business as usual, with no negative impact from the credit crunch.
'We sold more than we usually do,' said expert Dominique Chombert.
'I hadn't seen an auction as packed as this one for a while,' said Mr Allardi.
And as one buyer put it: 'Where else would you pick up a fur coat or jacket for a few hundred euros?' The next big fur sale in Paris is due next month, but with items dozens of times as expensive. -- AFP