Sisters’ Fashion Legacy to Help Memorial Horse Sanctuary

Sisters’ Fashion Legacy to Help Memorial Horse Sanctuary

By Elizabeth Talbot


There is an auction truism: that every lot tells a story. This is perfectly borne out by a private collection of fashion-related items – garments, accessories, and artworks – consigned to the next Vintage Fashion auction to be held at TW Gaze Diss Auction Rooms on Thursday 24 June.


Patricia and Vivienne Johnson were identical twins born in 1933. A family friend recalls, “They did everything together and learned ballet, art and horse riding from an early age.  They went on to be keen horse riders, competing in events and winning many awards. Amongst the collection are their two riding jackets, jodhpurs, and accessories: if there is two of anything, they would have belonged to the two sisters.”


Vivienne excelled at art and particularly in costume design. Her portfolio demonstrates exquisite talent, and she was offered a job as a fashion artist with Norman Hartnell. Sadly, Vivienne became ill around this time and was unable to take up this exciting position.  She passed away in 1958 at the age of just 25. Two years later her twin Patricia commissioned a portrait to be painted by Winifred Price of Vivienne in her riding clothes, just as she looked before her illness. Letters, bills, and photographs included in the sale give insight into the background.


Patricia, whose clothes collection is being auctioned, was a model for various fashion agencies. She also became Marketing Manager for Elizabeth Arden and taught make-up techniques to the stewardesses at BA and BOAC. “She travelled the British Isles promoting and teaching Elizabeth Arden cosmetics. She married an ex Royal Horse Guardsman and continued her horse-riding activities with him by her side, whilst acquiring the extensive collection of clothes and accessory items now in the auction. Any ties/manly items would have belonged to her husband Anthony”, continued the family friend. Patricia passed away in 2020 aged 87 years.


Debra Brown, fashion specialist and sale organiser at Diss Auction Rooms says, “This wonderful collection is presented in over 80 lots within the rest of the auction and is very broad in its scope, from a portfolio of Vivienne’s fashion art and the portrait of Vivienne by Winifred Price to luxury labels such as Gucci, Christian Dior, Celine and Loewe, fashion jewellery and high-quality occasion wear. The sisters were very stylish ladies and very discerning shoppers. It is clear they thoroughly enjoyed buying and wearing fine things but then cared for them meticulously – everything is in such pristine condition which belies the age of the items. Its very exciting to be working with such lovely pieces.”


The illustrated catalogue and sale details will be found at, including information about viewing times and Café 1857.


In accordance with their long association and interest in horses, all proceeds from the sales are going to The Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary in Ingatestone Essex. CM4 9NZ Charity no 1134951

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