Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

French, English and American fashion designers were especially active, with a distinguished collection of old velvet pieces at the top of their shopping list. Sale expert Aymeric de Villelume told the Antiques Trade Gazette that the anonymous collection was built up at the end of the 19th century by a specialist who regularly sold to European museums; it was consigned by his descendants.

The English trade, thought to be buying for a client from the Near East, outbid Turkish competition to secure two of the top lots, starting with a four-piece red velvet panel, pictured right, 5ft 7in x 7ft 11in (1.7 x 2.41m), with gold thread patterning of artichoke flowers amidst a grid of branches with leaves and crowns, that soared to €43,000 (£26,900), five times estimate. The panel was catalogued as ‘Turkish or Italian’; according to De Villelume: “It’s very difficult to differentiate between the two for old pieces.” The saleroom appeared to plump for an Ottoman provenance.

The other big UK trade buy was even less easy to pinpoint: two green, black, blue and purple Turkish satin fragments, 3ft 1in x 2ft 11in (93 x 88cm) and 2ft 2in x 2ft 8in (66 x 81cm), with beige Islamic lettering and painted with what could have been part of a tugrah. The fragments came from the former Chatol Collection and soared to €11,000 (£6900) against an estimate of just €160 (£100), which De Villelume felt justified by their “very poor condition” – although he admitted this was “an exceptionally fine piece”.

De Villelume, whose three annual textiles sales at Drouot have built up a loyal global following over recent years, insists that “caution is a virtue” when it comes to both estimates and assessing the origin of old textiles.

Here he catalogued the fragments as ‘16th-17th century’ but hedged his bets by citing Isabelle Errera’s belief, expressed in her Catalogue d’Etoffes, published in 1907, that they could date back to the 14th century.

Another area of the sale to arouse fierce interest amongst fashion moghuls was an array of 19th century pattern books. Pick of these was a 242-page pattern-book from Alsace (1860-61), pictured right, containing 1900 gouache samples, that doubled estimate on €6500 (£4060).