Before the days of “design hotels” and Raymond Loewy-appointed Concordes there were ocean liners, crossing and cruising while playing out a luxurious game of oneupsmanship when it came to speed, size, and over-the-top decorative flourishes (verre églomisé, anyone?). This evening in New York City, Christie’s will auction 257 lots worth of ocean liner history, from a cork-filled canvas life preserver recovered from the wreck of the Titanic and a rare list of second class passengers aboard the doomed maiden voyage to a 1935 lithograph of Cassandre‘s iconic Normandie poster (pictured above, at far left) and a life ring from the ship.
Other items in the sale that caught our eye include a dashing French Line uniform, with a red wool “mousse jacket” that features a carapace of metal buttons and a certain Marc Jacobs flair; a trio of nautical-themed Hermès scarves (also designed for the French Line); and a mid-century French modernist chandelier (pictured above) made by Gilbert Poillerat for the André Arbus-designed first class smoking room on board the France. Meanwhile, in our heads we’ve designed the perfect gentleman’s study around the set of four running lights, complete with protruding wires, salvaged from the mast of the Norway. For those who can’t make it to tonight’s sale, which will decide the fate of the only ice bucket we’ve ever coveted, we advise you to curl up with maritime historian extraordinaire John Maxtone-Graham‘s latest book, a fascinating and beautiful look at Normandie: France’s Legendary Art Deco Ocean Liner.