Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – July 20, 2014

The guy from whom I purchased this photo referred to it as the Atlanta Tennis Club.  By the late 1910s, when this photo was taken, the game of tennis was firmly established in the USA, though I doubt these young players were members at a fancy club.  Surely they did not allow men to play with just one shoe at the renowned Atlanta Athletic Club!

And so we’ll start off with a tennis story.

*   What does one do with the dress of a tennis legend?

*  Fashion historian Anne Hollander died recently.  Read this article from her in a 1974 New York magazine to get a small taste of why she was so important to the study of fashion.

*   It has been ten years since Geoffrey Beene’s death, and Colin McDowell reminds us of the importance of the designer.

*   Susan has written about a long forgotten danger of bicycle riding.

*  It would not be Vintage Miscellany without a Charles James link.  At the Sunday at the Met program two weeks ago, Zac Posen and “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” co-curator Jan Glier Reeder discussed the design career of James.  Take an hour and watch, or rather, listen, and be impressed by the very fashion-literate Mr. Posen.

*   Eileen Ford, the modeling agency owner, died last week.

*  Weaver Theo Wright shows how he makes a scarf in this interesting photo essay.

*  The Vintage Fashion Guild has unveiled a beautiful new website.

*  Don’t even think about stealing museum artifacts in North Carolina.  We have cameras everywhere, as two thief wannabees found out.

Next week I’ve having some much needed and long over-due hand surgery, so I may be a bit quiet in the comment department.  Posts will still go up, as I’ve got some nice things already lined up and written, and I’ll be reading your comments.  Hopefully I’ll be back to clicking the mouse very soon!

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Vintage Miscellany – July 6, 2014

People have been coming to the mountains around Asheville in the summer, hoping for some relief from the summer heat for a hundred and fifty years.  And while the climate here is cooler than that of Charleston and Atlanta, it is still hot in the summer, regardless of what the Chamber of Commerce ads would have one believe.  But this long holiday weekend is straight out of the fantasy of a heat-crazed Floridian – cool and dry.  It’s downright energizing.

And now for the news.

*   Designer Gustave Tassell has died at age 88.  Tassell is probably most remembered for the clothes he made for Jackie Kennedy.

*   Amber Butchart has been writing a book on nautical influences in fashion.  She gives us a little taste of it in this post on the Breton stripe shirt.

*   The Met has added a series of audio interviews with people who knew and worked with Charles James.  These are great.

*   And even more from the Met’s Costume Institute.  They have announced another costume exhibition that will open in October, Death Becomes Her.  Good for them, but now I can’t complain any longer that they only do one show a year.

*   The Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener, Ontario, and the  Fashion History Museum are currently exhibiting Street Style which  focuses on fashion and architecture in the Waterloo Region.  It looks fantastic, and I love the idea behind this exhibition.

*   In fashion, image is very important, as proven by this article on Kiel James Patrick.  It’s like these people are living in a carefully crafted commercial.  I must add that their products are made in the USA.  I have a belt I bought from them three or four years ago and it looks like new even though I wear it all the time in the summer.

*   Several of the large home wares discounters now have new Vera print tablecloths at very good prices.  There is a lot of fabric in each one, and the uses are limited only by the imagination.  thanks to Mod Betty

*   I’m really not sure what to make of this last story.  In June a shopper in Wales found a handwritten label in the seam of a cheap fast fashion dress that read, “Forced to work exhausting hours”.  Soon another shopper stepped forward with a garment with a label that says, “Degrading sweatshop conditions”.  The company that markets the garments, Primark, claims it is a hoax.

*

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Vintage Miscellany – June 22, 2014

This photo has identified the beach goers as Jay and Freida.  This photo was most likely taken in the early to mid 1920s.  Freida has adopted the newer wool knit suit, as opposed to the woman to her right who is in an old fashioned bloomer type suit, but she is still not brave enough to expose her legs.

It’s now officially summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Enjoy it!

*   The Vancouver Maritime Museum is hosting Babes and Bathers: History of the Swimsuit, June 28 through November 2, 2014. Thanks to Christina

*  Also in Canada, but on the other side is a new exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto – Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century Now through June, 2016 again, thanks Christina

*   And talk about dangerous, how about those flammable crinolines?

*   I’d never seen the Bowery Boys blog, but I recently found it through a link to their post about the Ladies’ Mile, a stretch of Sixth Avenue in New York that was the place to shop in the late nineteenth century.  There is an accompanying podcast, and I suggest you set aside an hour to listen and learn.

*   The National Museum of World Culture in Sweden plans to return 89 ancient textiles to Peru.  The items were smuggled out of Peru in 1930.  I hope more museums follow suit and return stolen works to their proper owners.

*   Connections: Sheep to Chanel is an interesting look at the interconnections between the various crafts and industries revolving around wool.  There is a great look at the production of Linton Tweed.

*   The New York Time Magazine calls Elizabeth Hawes “the most brilliant American fashion designer.”

* After President William McKinley’s wife’s tiara was featured on Pawn Stars, the William McKinley Presidental Library and Museum raised the money via crowd-sourcing to buy it for the museum.

*   The Warren of Stafford, Connecticut wool mill closed in December, but should be up and running again in the next week or so.

*   Here’s the bi-weekly Charles James link, and it’s a great one.  The Costume Institute conservators discuss the problems associated with the James gowns.

*   Dov Charney has been relieved as his post as CEO of American Apparel due to “alleged misconduct”.  Considering how many women employees have complained about his behavior over the years, I’d say it’s about time.

*   As a result, both The New York Times and The Washington Post (Robin Givhan is back!) ran articles asking if people were not just tired of the sleaze factor in fashion.  Gosh, I sure hope so.

*   And finally, a disturbing look at how a Seventeen magazine from 1973 compares to one from 2010.  I was lucky to grow up in a time when the magazines produced for teens had some substance to them.  Sure, there were fashions, and there were some features that would be considered cultural appropriation by today’s standard, but there were also articles about political issues and cultural issues.  And when was the last time a Native American woman has been featured on the cover of a magazine?  Progress?

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Vintage Miscellany – June 8, 2014

You are looking at the perfect canoeing ensemble.  The wide legged pants give it a touch of the nautical, but not so much that one would forget the vessel is a canoe and not a schooner.  I love her flat canvas shoes and the scarf tied as a bandeau.  Be sure to notice the zipper closure on the top.  It’s a fairly early usage of a zipper in clothing.

And on to the news…

*   This week the Prince of Wales will be conducting experiments with fire, wool and synthetic fabrics in the garden at Clarence House.

*   Last week a 1930 McCall sewing pattern sold on ebay for $831.  Worth it?

*  There is a post on the FIDM blog that I found to be interesting.  It is about a line of fabrics manufactured by H.R. Mallinson & Company in 1928 – prints based on the “Playgrounds of the World.”

*   For those of you in Ontario, the Fashion History Museum has a new exhibition, Street Style, at The Waterloo Regional Museum.

*   McCall’s sewing patterns will be starting a new line based on patterns from the past.  They are calling it “McCall’s Archive Collection”.

*   In the category of news that should excite me but does not, The Biltmore House in Asheville has announced that they will have a display of costumes from Downton Abbey this winter.  I assume this is the same exhibition that is now at Winterthur in Delaware.  I’m not excited because the costumes will be scattered throughout the house, and to see them one must buy an admission ticket.  Prices start at $44 for tickets bought over a week in advance.

The Biltmore Company has been quick to draw parallels between themselves and Downton, hoping to capitalize of the popularity of the program.  When the show is airing there are regular local newspaper articles comparing the Vanderbilts to the Crawleys, including how they were originally supposed to be on the Titanic, how the daughter was married to a Brit, how they lived a lavish lifestyle.  No reports about strange men dying in the daughter’s bed, or babies surrendered to a local farmer though.

*   Critic Suzy Menkes has issued a call for the return to niceness.  You need to read it and nod in agreement, and then think about why it is that people can be so nasty on the internet.

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Vintage Miscellany – May 25, 2014

There’s a lot to love about this trio from the mid 1930s.  I think tops on my list is the nautical themed beach tote.  I have one that is almost identical.  The inside is rubberized.  But I’m also admiring the beach sandals, which look to be made of some sort of braided or woven straw.  I’m imagining that the flowered beach coat is in shades of red and blue.

But the best things about this photo are the details – the freshly applied lipstick, the cigarettes, the sunglasses, his hat.

*  To paraphrase Hamish Bowles, today’s fashion publications are primarily in the business of seducing the consumer.  Surprised?

*  What the world needs now is a good $3.80 tee shirt, or so Forever 21 would like you to believe.

*   Unmaking Things is a site run by the History of Design students at the V&A in London, and the articles are always interesting.  A recent favorite was a piece by Liz Tregenza on Sportaville novelty prints.

*   Barbour did not have a tartan, so they developed some.  Thanks to Brenna

*   The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s collection available for download from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use.

*   Women in works of art were put on a digital diet.

*   Meet the weavers of Harris Tweed.  Again, my thanks to Brenna

*   Andy Warhol and Halston were friends, and now the Warhol in Pittsburgh is celebrating it with Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede.

*   And SCAD in Savannah, GA is having an exhibition of the clothes of Stephen Burrows.  See, one does not have to go to New York City or London in order to see fashion exhibitions!

*  There is an in depth look at clothing and sustainability on the Collector’s Weekly site.  Lisa Hix asks, “Could the clothes on your back halt global warming?”  Lots to think about.

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Vintage Miscellany – May 11, 2014

I looked for a photo of a mother, and of course I ended up with one of my own mother.  Here she is in 1954, at a family gathering.  In seven and a half months, I’d be born.  Guess that’s why she looks so happy!

And now for the news…

*   You’ll love the incredible story of Painted Fabrics, a UK enterprise that employed disabled WWI war veterans.  Thanks to Christina

*   Here’s a photo essay on the origins and continued popularity of  Breton stripe knit shirts.

*   I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned Cooper-Hewitt’s Object of the Day feature, but I can’t stress how interesting it is.  A recent object was a card of the cutest buttons imaginable. 

*   The Wall Street Journal did an in-depth report on the renovated rooms of the Costume Institute.  The good news is that they are planning to expand the number of shows per year, with exhibitions in the Fashion Center over ten months a year.

*   Florence Schulman, one of the original makers of the poodle skirt, passed away at age 94 in April.  She was not the person who “invented” the decorated circle skirt – that was Juli Lynn Charlot.  However, Schulman did design the poodle motif that is so associated with the skirt.  Thanks to Mod Betty

*   Can fashion be sustainable?

*   Here is an eye-opening look into the Los Angeles based fast fashion industry.  It’s not what you might assume.  Thanks to Lynn

*   Modern dressing actually began in the 1930s.

*    Scarves as art.

*   Diane von Furstenberg enters the reality TV arena.

And now for the Charles James posts…

*  Bill Cunningham visited the Charles James show and reminisced.  Seriously, I do hope Bill is secretly writing his autobiography.

*  This article sheds some light on the Charles James/Diana Vreeland feud.

*   As mentioned earlier, Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman are going to attempt to revive the Charles James line.   James’s children,  Charles Jr. and Louise, were spied having lunch with the Weinsteins, and they later visited the Marchesa studio.  Soon afterward the deal was announced.

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Vintage Miscellany – April 27, 2014

This is Lena Mauney, posing in what might possibly be a home sewing project.  It’s kind of hard to imagine that any manufacturer would turn out such a poorly matched up pattern, but it is possible, I suppose.  Anyway, it is a good reminder that not all clothing in the past was superior to clothing made today.  Does the fabric look like a tablecloth?  I thought so.

*   The Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, has a new visitor’s center.

*   Prepare yourself to read a lot about Charles James in the coming months.  Start with this piece from The New York Times.

*  For a more historical perspective on James, read this article from The Telegraph.

*  Anna Wintour has decreed that the dress code for this year’s Met Gala is white tie.  Time to brush off Grandpa’s old top hat, fellas.

*   See how the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, stores extremely fragile archaeological textile fragments.

*   Here is an interesting article about the work of Sandra Aho, a textile and clothing conservator.

*   Not everything in San Francisco was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, including a fabulous dress and coat.

*   Just over a year ago, an unsafe factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1000 people.  Has any progress been made in improving working conditions for workers?

*  Is ‘Made in the USA’ always the most sustainable choice?

*   And here is an extensive list of companies who make at least some of their products in the USA.

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