Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – April 13, 2014

I hope that all of you are experiencing the wonderful weather of sprint, of fall if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s time to get out of the house and enjoy the flowers and sunshine, and when you return, fix a cold drink and enjoy my meager links.

*   I posted about the “trend” of Normcore a few weeks back, and now it looks like it was just a media invention.

*   A new study proves that stuff does not make us happier.  Who knew?

*   In 1971 Cecil Beaton curated a fashion exhibition that was controversial.  Today, the same type of show is commonplace.

*   A glimpse inside the Clothworkers’ Center for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion, the new textile conservation workshop of the V&A in London.

*   How Sonnet Stanfill from Alaska ended up as a clothing curator at the V&A.

*   The FIT blog has a short post about a wonderful little 1920s catalog of embroidered dress lengths.

*   It looks as if the John  Galliano for de la Renta thing is not going to happen.

Edited:  1920s fabrics were embroidered, not printed as I originally posted.


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Vintage Miscellany – March 30, 2014

Sister Dorothy is wearing the outing outfit that was almost a uniform for young women in the late 1910s and early 20s:  middy blouse, large brimmed felt hat, full skirt and sturdy boots.  But is that a necklace I’m seeing?

*   It could happen that 100% cotton fabric could be a thing of the past.  Thanks to Pintucks for the link.

*   I posted a bit about Avoca Weavers several weeks ago, and here is a lovely film about them.  Thanks to Scrapiana for the link.

*   This one is for the guys:  Nettleton shoes has re-released a shoe that was THE shoe in Greensboro, NC.  Who knew?  Thanks to Jan S.  for the link.

*   L’Wren Scott as remembered by her friend, Cathy Horyn.

*   This blog post about Bill Cunningham’s Facades photo exhibition really makes me want to see it.

*   Museums are now working to recycle their exhibition materials.

*   Chanel and the Scottish Cashmere industry.

*   Here’s an interesting look inside a dressmaker’s dummy factory.

*   Thread Cult has an interesting podcast interview with couture expert Claire Shaeffer.

And finally, it seems that everyone has an opinion of the latest Vogue cover.  After years of rumors about how Anna Wintour hated Kim Kardashian, about how she was refused a ticket to the Met Gala, and how she would never grace the cover of Vogue, we now know that at least two of the above are no longer true.

I really don’t see what the big deal is.  People argue that Vogue is a fashion magazine, and Kim has nothing to do with fashion.  The way I see it, Vogue covers have not been about fashion for a very long time.  They are about money and celebrity and selling issues of Vogue.  Period.  Ever since Wintour replaced models with the celebrity du jour, (in the 1990s?) it stopped being about fashion.

You can almost predict who is going to be on the cover by following movies, TV and music.  Crazy Great Gatsby movie being released?  Get Carey Mulligan and have her dressed in faux Twenties look!  New Beyonce CD?  Put her on the cover!  We love a good cross-promotion.

Just so we don’t forget, Wintour did not originate the idea of celebrity covers on Vogue.  Diana Vreeland was doing it in the 1960s.  But there’s a difference.  Look at the vintage covers of Audrey Hepburn or Cher or Sophia Loren, and you see photos that show women of style.  And then there were the cover photos of the models, like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, who Vogue helped make into celebrities.  But always it was about fashion and what was intriguing about each woman.

But getting back to the present, another complaint about the cover is that Kanye West had to have pressured/paid/whatever to get his woman on the cover of Vogue.  Wintour anticipated this, and even denied it in her letter from the editor.  The lady doth protest too much, methinks.


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Vintage Miscellany – March 16, 2014


For those of you not in the States, our country is currently under the spell of college basketball tournament time.  Otherwise know as March Madness, it is a period of time when the sport dominates the conversation.  Instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to join in on it.

I love old basketball team photos, especially when someone was thoughtful enough to paint the year on the ball.  Just look at those girls’ gym outfits.  That’s a lot of fabric to be dragging back and forth across the court.  The two girls on the left have streamlined a bit, as both are wearing turtleneck sweaters.  And Keds might advertise that they created the “original sneaker” in 1916, but as you can see canvas gym shoes existed before that date.

But enough of that; on with the news.

*   As promised earlier, there is a fantastic article in the Reed College magazine about Emilio Pucci which includes his time at Reed and the war years.  Thanks to Marian’s Vintage Vanities for the link.

* And speaking of Pucci, I imagine he will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, The Glamour of Italian Fashion, 1945 – 2014.  It starts April 5.

*  On the V&A blog it shows the conservators dealing with what vintage sellers sometimes call “Devil Dust”.  It’s when the foam padding in bras has degraded into a powder.  Thanks to Christina for the V&A links.

*   I rarely step foot in a supermarket, but the recent Chanel market could change all that.  The best view of the show is from Bill Cunningham.

*   What do you get when you mix Herman Miller, Alexander Girard and Pendleton?  A woven piece of art.  Thanks to Joules for the link.

*   Lanvin has started a beautiful timeline of the company’s history.  It isn’t finished, but they will be adding to it weekly.

*   It is possible to manufacture in Asia using ethical methods.

*   Gastonia’s Loray Mill was almost lost, but now it is being developed into apartments and retail, and will even have a museum room.  The mill played an important role in the fight for worker’s rights in the southern US.

*   This spring sees the release of two competing films about the life of Yves Saint Laurent.

*   Schiaparelli is often credited with being the first couturier to incorporate zippers into her work, but Witness2fashion has found evidence that Vionnet used them in 1929, several years before Schiap.

*   And finally, if you look at only one of my links this week, this is the one.  Meet Jean Wnuk, 90 year old pattern maker.



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Vintage Miscellany – March 2, 2014

I used to really, really hate winter, but for the past ten years or so I’ve found it more to my liking.  I thought it was that I’d finally begun to enjoy each day as I should, but this winter has taught me that I was liking winter more because the winters had not been so cold and miserable.  This winter has put it all back into perspective.  I hate winter.

So, let’s all think of warm summery days, even if you are in Australia and have just been through one of the hottest summers on record.  Remember, winter is coming.

*   Thanks to Normcore, my little town is now the fashion capital of the universe.

*   Bobi Garland is the Director of the Research Library and Costume Archive at Western Costume Company, a job that makes me a bit envious.

*   Why Does American-made clothing cost more?

*   The Met in New York City currently has an exhibition of William Morris textiles and printed papers.

*   The  Blue Jeans Go Green™ program turns old jeans into building insulation.

*  There was an auction of many of the personal items belonging to the late Lilly Pulitzer.

*   Funny Face has been re-released in theaters in the UK.   Here’s a great review, including Diana Vreelend’s thoughts as she was leaving the screening of the movie in 1957  (““Never to be discussed”).

*   The Museum at FIT has put two short films on Youtube about fashion in the Thirties.  This is in conjunction with their current exhibition,  Elegance in a Time of Crisis.

*  CNN did an article on clothing appropriateness, otherwise known as not wearing pajamas in public.   Karen Herbaugh, the curator of the American Textile History Museum puts it into historical perspective.

I usually do not read the comments from readers of articles in the mainstream media.   The general unpleasantness and the downright nastiness that is often found makes me wonder if these people aren’t the most miserable humans around.  But for some crazy reason I read through a few of the comments, and found the usual, “It’s a free country and I’ll wear what I want and how DARE you to tell ME how I can present myself in public…”

It almost seems that as a society a conversation cannot take place about a social issue without people taking it personally.   You would have thought that some of the commenters thought the article was directed at them personally.  Weird, because I’ve never thought the people at CNN were talking about me.

For what it’s worth, I think anyone over the age of four wearing pjs in public is sending the message that they do not care about his or her appearance.  But it’s fine with me if you want to send that message.

It all makes me appreciate the civil discourse here even more.


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Vintage Miscellany – February 16, 2014

Because none of us are tired of winter yet, and because the people in the Southern Hemisphere are looking forward to cooler weather, I thought I’d post this photo of the best ski jacket I’ve seen in a while.  I haven’t quite figured out what all is going on in the print besides the skiers, so I’ve posted a larger image of it at the bottom of the post.

I’m sure you have noticed her feet, with one shoe having a built up sole, and the other in a sock or a cast, perhaps?  My guess is that the photo was taken in the late 1940s or early 50s, but it’s a bit hard for me to say with certainty.

*   Nanette Lapore continues to be dedicated to keeping most of her production in New York City.   In this interview she explains why.

*   Daniel Harris rescues old Victorian looms and such, and he is actually manufacturing cloth from them.  Great video from the BBC.

*   This history of Marimekko is fun and colorful. Thanks to Christina for the link.

*   The Fashion Historian blog is doing a series on Elizabeth Keckly, the former slave who was the dressmaker to and friend of Mary Todd Lincoln.

*   Okay, I’m really sorry I made fun of that Ralph Lauren Olympic sweater.  They are now selling on Ebay for around $1600.  And I spotted one in this fantastic video of two headmasters dismissing school.

*   In 1932 Pendleton made a special Olympics blanket, and it even is labeled as such.

*   Due to the fact that I’ve been snowed in for a week, I’ve not had the chance to see The Monuments Men.  There is an article at Bloomberg about how many stolen works of art did make their way out of Germany, and there are some major museums that have suspect pieces in their collections.

*   Regardless of your opinion on wearing fur, you will find the thoughts of designer John Bartlett (and Ralph Rucci) to be interesting.

*   Want to see my favorite shopping place?  I thought so.  

*   And finally, read this article, “Grown-up Clothes” just because it will make you feel good.


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Vintage Miscellany – February 2, 2014


Snow isn’t meant to be endured; it’s meant to be enjoyed.  At least that’s what you might gather from these two early 1920s sledders.  I love their caps, which are from the WWI era battleship, the USS Pennsylvania.  Presents from sailor boyfriends, perhaps?

*   Many of Elsa Schiaparelli’s personal items were auctioned in January, and you can see the lots and prices realized on the Christie’s website.  One lot, a box of patterns, or toiles, was generating a lot of excitement, but then it was discovered that the box dated from the 1950s, and the patterns were most likely for boutique items.  Still, the price realized was $77,000.

*   Coach has won another battle in the war against counterfeits.  They won a $5.5 million settlement from  a Florida flea market where vendors have been selling fake Coach (and other brands).   The word might be getting out.  On my latest flea market visit I saw no fake bags being sold.

*   Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol is now open at the Fashion and Textiles Museum in London.  I don’t anticipate being in London this spring (darn it) so I’m hoping you UK readers will go and report back about how wonderful this exhibition is.  I’ve read great things about it already.

*   The Paris couture shows have just ended, so it is a good time to look at this video on the making of a dress from Dior’s 2011 spring season.

*   I enjoyed reading this bit of history of Hunter’s of Brora, makers of Scottish estate tweeds.

*   And even more Scotland, there is an interesting video about Made in Scotland goods for the fashion industry.

*   I was lucky enough to stumble across Cooper-Hewitt’s web feature, the Object of the Day.  It’s rather irritating that I had somehow missed this, but on the other hand, now I’ve got hours of great listening while doing mindless sewing.  My favorite so far is A Modern Masters Dress.

*   In 1908 photographer Lewis Hine was in North Carolina, documenting child labor in cotton mills.  His young subjects were largely unidentified, but historian Joe Manning has spent the past five years trying to put names with the images.  Here is one success story in which a young girl in one of his most famous photos is identified.

*  Blogger and historical pattern developer Kass McGann and her husband are planning a walking trip in the UK wearing all vintage reproduction clothing.  Following the development of her wardrobe sounds like fun.

*   New York Times fashion editor Cathy Horyn is retiring due to health problems of her partner.  Her critical eye will be missed.


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Vintage Miscellany – January 19, 2014

I rarely feature photos of men here, but I had this one, and the more I look at it the more I love his jacket.  The men’s collections have been showing this past week, and that jacket would look right in place on the back of a skinny and sullen model from Europe.  Or better yet, on me.

*   There are very few places in New York where you can go to see the important retail buildings of the past.  They are still there, but many, like the Lilly Daché building have been stripped of the glamour of the past.  That is what makes this story about the I. Miller shoe emporium so important.

*   The new bio pic of Yves Saint Laurent is now out, but it’s not showing at my local multi-plex.   The trailer does look interesting, and the film is the first to have the cooperation of YSL’s partner, Pierre Berge.   

*   Should law determine what we can and cannot wear?

*   Thanks to The Highway Is My Home for introducing me to Richard Saja, toile de Jouy embroidery artist.

*   Can the on-line display of images ever replace the museum experience?

*   You must see these beautiful photographs of textile mills by photographer Christopher Payne.

*  There are two new fashion reality programs, one of which is actually based on reality.  Starting January 22, 2014, the Ovation channel will be showing The Fashion Fund.  Unlike other competition programs like Project Runway, the CFDA Fashion Fund had been in place for a decade, and the winners have gone on to become “America’s next great fashion designer.”  Previous winners include Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Rodarte and Thom Browne.

*  The other new program is Under the Gunn, a competition show where teams are mentored by former Project Runway contestants, Mondo Guerra, Nick Verreos, and Anya Ayoung-Chee.  The first episode aired Thursday, but you can see it on the Lifetime website.  Time will tell if Tim Gunn can make this work.  I was amused that when contestants were picking their mentors most preferred a guy wearing multi-colored tights (Guerra) to the man with actual mentoring experience (Verreos).

*   The Saltburn Yarnbomber strikes again, and the results are amusing.

*   The city of San Francisco has announced a Zero Waste Textile Initiative, in which no used textiles will reach the trash dump.  I admire their efforts, but this does not hit the problem at the root which is that the amount of textiles being produced is not sustainable.  One of the aspects of the program is that many of the used items will be taken to Goodwill, where they will, no doubt, soon be loaded on a ship to Africa.


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