......Margaret style. As mentioned last week, I had a call to go finish up getting clothing from Margaret's penthouse apartment. I had been to the actual sale a couple weeks ago, a sale that had been set up hastily by the family and the estate sale company. A sale that was not advertised, as the management of the building would not allow it (wouldn't want lines of scavengers sullying the appearance of the foyer!). A sale set up & run in a speak easy manner, if you weren't in the know, you'd never find it! I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky to have gotten a call & then to have been let in at all!
Funny thing is, I almost didn't go. It was less than 24 hours after having had to make the wrenchingly painful decision to have my cat euthanized. Hobbes was 15 & we'd been dealing with something in his throat (starting off as suspected mass in the chest, etc etc).....weeks of tests, waiting, more tests, Xrays, ultrasounds. We finally came to the conclusion he had paralysis of the flaps above the larynx, and he was scheduled for a surgery at a very good animal hospital. When they went in to do the surgery they found a mass ON the larynx, small, but large enough to be limiting his ability to take in air. They did a biopsy & we were waiting again.....Hobbes stayed there in kitty ICU. He was doing well, then suddenly vomited, aspirated some matter into the lungs & larynx & stopped breathing.
He made no effort to TRY to breathe, and his heart was failing. The biopsy showed the type of cancer to be the worst, a kind not treatable with chemo. So I made the horrible decision from 50 miles away to let him go....clearly, he was trying to go, and keeping him alive on artificial means seemed cruel & wrong. It was a decision I was not prepared to make that day, but I had to respect what Hobbes seemed to be saying to me and let him go. Blessed be, Hobbes.
That very next day I got the call to GO to this estate sale (not at all feeling up to doing some savvy vintage shopping).....a friend had gone & he said there was no real vintage, but the woman had high end designer pieces that were pretty wild. I hesitated, it meant taking my 3 year old along. That gets tricky in tight spaces with glass set out on tables & a lot of people! But something told me to make the effort......and it was WELL worth it! Upon arrival I went through some huge metal automatic doors, was allowed in by a doorman once inside. Elevator to the 10th floor (this was the highlight for my daughter). Penthouse at end of hall, corner apartment. Really quite spacious! This was not so much a retirement community as it was a "private" community. The fact that there are a lot of older people living there speaks more to the building being private than anything else....there is no assisted living, no medical staff. Clearly, to live there.....one must be LOADED. I didnt catch what it would cost to BUY the apartment, but I was told fees to be in the community ran around $1200 a month.
Plush golden tan carpet throughout.....all walls papered or painted in exotic murals. Immediately in the entry way there were two large oil painted portraits....one of our Margaret, one of her long deceased husband. Margaret looked stunning, a painting likely done in the 60s....she appeared in her 40s, blonde hair swept into an elegant updo, white sleeveless gown with an empire waist. She reminded me quite a lot of Grace Kelly. The apartment was clearly decorated in the late 60s as well and never really updated. Greens & yellows throughout, gilded & crystal laden lamps & chandeliers, curio cabinets showcased collections of crystal, Lladro & expensive whatnots. All around the outside corner of the apartment were sliding glass doors to a narrow, L shaped patio with huge picture windows looking out over the city.....carpeted with green indoor/outdoor carpet & furnished with elaborate white iron patio furniture.
Heading quickly into the bedroom, I could immediately assess what kind of life Margaret had lived there......one of great, GLAMOROUS leisure! Her bedroom was as is she were Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Two huge closets were literally bursting with clothing....one closet, mostly 80s & 90s comfortable designer wear for the wealthy "older" woman, i.e. St Johns, Misook & more. The bed.....completely covered with scarves, hats, handbags. The other closet! The source of the glam. Superb loungewear........brilliantly colored & patterned silk caftans, kimonos.....lace & ribbon trimmed peignoirs by Odette Barsa.....maribou, beads, sequins, pailettes. A few gowns for events she'd kept....wonderful velvets, chiffons. Traina, Beene, Givenchy. All late 60s to early 70s, all full length.....but all SO dramatic & over-the-top!
The estate company knew what they had, and priced accordingly. I wasnt able to buy much that day, but DID walk away with two Helen Bond Carruthers sweaters (see my website for the yellow one, the blue one sold nearly immediately, thanks Chellie!).....as well as the silver & maribou Odette Barsa in my Ebay store now, shown in last entry and some other great pieces. I spoke to the estate company & was told they would call me when it was over & talk deal to buy what was left.
The call came last week, & I went on Friday as mentioned before. I was surprised at what was left, and took it all. They had also unearthed a stash of Victorian & Edwardian whites, gorgeous lacy pettipants & petticoats, corset covers & blouses.......quite a contrast to the leopard print caftans & Pucci tunic dress! But it was clear to me that Margaret knew beauty. She herself was a gorgeous woman.....her home impeccably lovely. She had the best lingerie, from Vanity Fair slips of the 60s to lush Wacoals of the 90s. I even discovered a demure white umbrella with a rhinestone encrusted handle & tip! She did have beautiful things, and its been fascinating to work with them......so far, I have only been able to photograph a few things but there is so much to come!
I'm waiting on some pictures of her from my friend at the estate company & I will share what she looked like when I get them. Til then, you can get to know Margaret as I've been doing.....through her wardrobe.
(Side note 14 years later- this huge portrait hung in my shop for 9 1/2 years and now hangs in a good friend of mine's Lustron Home!)
(Side note two- author and former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson now lives in the building this woman did!)