The New York dealer Harper Levine has made his name as a connoisseur of rare books and a tastemaker in the realm of contemporary art, selling out of shops in East Hampton and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that are favored by aficionados. This past Saturday, though, he opted to venture bit outside his realm of expertise, staging at his South Fork location a one-day-only sale of vintage clothing and shoes owned by his late mother.
“My mother collected clothes and shoes much in the same way that people collect books and art,” Levine told ARTnews. “She used to fly to Paris and buy clothing and shoes. She was fanatical about it, and at one point she had over 300 pairs of Ferragamo shoes alone. People do this now with sneakers, but I don’t think anyone does it anymore with Ferragamos.”
Alongside vibrantly colored paintings by the New York–based artist Marcus Brutus—the gallery’s hosting a one-person show of his work—were dozens of Ferragamo shoes (all around size 8.5) and mint condition Saint Laurent garments, including a red silk dress, a suede jacket, and a skirt with gold details. The storefront quickly filled up with shoppers from the East End and further afield.
When Levine’s mother passed away in 2010, he and his wife, the novelist Marianne Levine, wanted to memorialize her collection by publishing a catalog and presenting it in a more sophisticated way than a straight sale. “But like many things, and many good ideas, I just could never find the time,” Levine said. The catalogue never happened, but presenting her collection in the gallery became the next best approach.
Among those on hand was the fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, who has a house in the area and purchased a dark blue YSL leather jacket from the mid-1980s. Levine said that he felt particularly attached to the item, but expressed enthusiasm about its new home. “I’m thrilled with the provenance,” he said.