Italian style from 1800s discovered as major clothing collection comes to light

Posted on 30/09/2020 in Press Coverage

Victorian Italian style has come to the fore thanks to the discovery of an ‘exquisite collection’ of period clothing worn by wealthy Europeans more than 100 years ago.

Bodices, evening dresses, blouses, mourning clothes, shawls, long gloves and full-length robes are among a large collection of handmade items in Hansons’ Country House Fine and Decorative Arts Auction on October 8-9.

Notty Hornblower, vintage clothing consultant at Hansons Auctioneers and owner of Derbyshire’s Hope House Costume Museum, said: “It’s a truly exquisite collection. I’m calling it the Italian Job. The clothing dates from the mid-to-late 1800s through to the 1940s.

“The items have been very well looked after. As we unpacked them for valuation, we found old Italian newspapers and black and white photos which sweep you back in time. It’s a collection worthy of any period drama. It’s truly stunning.”

Items include lots 284, below right, a floaty and feminine aubergine/purple robe which would have been worn over a garment. Circa 1904-8, it is heavily decorated in a braided design and its large collar and cap sleeves are edged in black velvet. Estimate £95-£130.

Lot 269, above left, consists of an Italian mourning coat decorated in a braided cotton lace design and featuring a black taffeta bow. It’s being sold together with an Edwardian taffeta coat featuring a foliage design on the back and silk tassel. Its label reads ‘Achille Final. Torino II’. Estimate £95-£130.

Lot 270, below left, is an Italian early 1930s heavy tulle-fabric black evening dress. Its bodice turns into four wide tiers of taffeta bonded into the hemline. It’s being sold together with a midnight blue/satin underskirt, probably 1920s, and an early 1920s black chiffon evening coat. Estimate £80-£110.

Quality design comes to the fore again in lot 266, above right, a loose-fitting Italian purple satin jacket, circa 1890-1900. It is heavily embossed in a striking plumage with a black satin rolled collar. Estimate £80-£120.

Femininity blossoms in Lot 265, below, a late Victorian (1895/1900s) lace and tulle blouse with leg-of-mutton over-sleeves edged in lace; a cream silk high-necked blouse with embroidered decorative yoke and sleeveless modesty garment of fine spotted tulle bearing the label 'Giulla Garcia - Milano'. Estimate £60-£70.

The collection also includes accessories such as lot 282, above right, a red and gold embossed treasure trove-style box from Italy containing kid leather ¾ length gloves, early Victorian lace mittens and Victorian shell pink silk gloves. The same lot includes an early plastic haberdashery case contained various items such as delicate, late Victorian cream crochet gloves; a pure silk red/beige silk square and a long silk blue/cream floral-patterned 1930s/40s Italian scarf. Estimate £60-£70.

The Italian clothing and textiles collection will be sold on Thursday, October 8 in Hansons’ Two-day Country House Fine and Decorative Arts Auction. View the catalogue at