FASHION WITH A SOUL: Rarely is it possible to see such an eclectic selection of couture pieces in the same place — from New Look designs by Christian Dior to Thierry Mugler’s out-there creations.

That was the scene at a cocktail Tuesday night at Sotheby’s in Paris ahead of today’s sale of nearly 180 pieces from vintage dealer Didier Ludot’s private collection. Guests played guess-the-designer as they browsed the pieces, tagged only with a catalog number as the event had proved so popular that catalogs were hard to come by.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac had a theory about the popularity of the sale, which includes several of his designs.

“It’s really showing fashion as art, as something that has a soul. People want to invest in something that has a soul, they don’t just want a logo or a brand,” he said. “Malcolm McLaren, who was my best friend, said this century will be a war between authenticity and karaoke. He was right. Here we are totally authentic and pure. I don’t want to seem like an old fart, but [now] nothing has a story, it’s all images.”

Ludot, for his part, said he was happy to be giving pieces from his collection a new life.

 “I’m not nostalgic at all, and I’m not going to cry tomorrow when the people who buy them take them away. I know they will be well taken care of,” he said.

He said that the sale generated interest from couture houses wishing to buy back certain creations for their archives, along contemporary art collectors and women who wish to wear them.

 “There is a notion of treasure in the purchase of a piece of vintage haute couture, it’s like a piece of jewelry,” he said. “If it goes home, I’m happy too, but I wouldn’t want everything to go into a museum. I know there are dresses that will be worn, and if I see a beautiful woman with the green Cardin dress…it will make me really happy.”

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