Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree lived like she dressed: bright, bold, and with some serious panache. The wardrobe of the late businesswoman and philanthropist ― who by day gifted millions of dollars to Santa Barbara organizations and by night entertained guests during legendary dinner soirees ― was a source of envy and awe among fashion appreciators near and far. 

Louis John preparing a dress for photos | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

“There were no boring colors in her closet,” said Louis John Almaraz, owner of the Louis John Boutique, who is now preparing Ridley-Tree’s 700-plus-piece collection for auction. “I believe fashion is art, and art is expression. She believed that too.”

Organized by Moving Miss Daisy’s Consignment and Auction House now located on the ground floor of the former Sears building, and facilitated through, the event will showcase a veritable who’s who of top labels, including Chanel, Gucci, Dior, and more. The date will be announced in the coming weeks; sign up for Miss Daisy’s newsletter for updates. In the meantime, on February 9, Miss Daisy’s and Mattress Mike’s right next door will hold a grand opening of their businesses that are injecting some much-needed life into the big La Cumbre Mall space.

Available for bidding on the big auction day will be Oscar de la Renta dresses, Christian Lacroix blouses, and Manolo Blahnik shoes. Almaraz predicted Ridley-Tree’s collection of Hermès silk scarves will get scooped up quickly ― “People will be jazzed about those,” he said ― as will her Louis Vuitton luggage. And let’s not forget her 120 or so hats, Almaraz said, many of them bearing the highly desirable Kokin name. There’s even a deep red Epi leather hat box for travel.

If he had to pick a favorite, Almaraz mused, it would be a pair of Dolce & Gabbana shoes from the fashion house’s 2012 collection that bear the colors and ornamentation of a Sicilian heritage festival. “It’s like a painting jumped out on your foot,” he said, complimenting Ridley-Tree’s keen and discerning eye, and her desire to be enveloped by beauty. “She had a Monet above the fireplace and Matisse in her bedroom,” he said. “That lady had taste.” There was no shortage of oohs and ahhs and gasps when he first peeked inside her closet, he said.

Louis John and Lynne Horton | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

At the moment, Almaraz and his team are painstakingly measuring, photographing, and cataloging each item, including, perhaps unfortunately, a few fur pieces. “I don’t like fur, but I can appreciate it,” Almaraz said, pointing to a dyed fox jacket and dark mink scarf. A variety of Ridley-Tree’s china, crystal, and home furnishings from her Birnam Wood estate will also go up for auction, he explained, but it will be her clothing and accessories that steal the show. “She wasn’t about furniture,” he said. “She was about fashion and parties and art.”

Though Ridley-Tree did buy some of her clothes off the rack, including at the former Saks Fifth Avenue on State Street, much of it was couture, as evidenced by her embroidered name on linings and the lack of size labels, Almaraz explained. “They don’t mass-produce these things.”

And while some fashion collectors are content to let their purchases gather dust, Ridley-Tree did not. “She actually wore her stuff,” he said. A 2017 spread in Vogue showed Ridley-Tree in a gazelle-print Valentino dress alongside Zoe Saldaña, Camilla Belle, and other celebrities at a Lotusland fundraiser. Fashion should be fun, Almaraz said. “And she had fun.” 

Moving Miss Daisy’s Consignment and Auction House has launched its Consign for a Cause program, which offers nonprofit organizations a venue space for fundraisers, meetings, and other special events at no cost. See for details.

Located within Miss Daisy’s, the Louis John Boutique features all sorts of fabulous fashions, including designer clothing, handbags, shoes, and jewelry. It also includes a men’s department, all thoughtfully curated by Louis John. Follow him on Instagram at @louisofmontecito

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