North Carolina – Variety Vacationland

Here in the North Carolina mountains we are sort of between tourist seasons.  The summer season is over and it is another month until the fall leaf season gets crazy.  So while things are quiet around here, I thought I’d share a bit of vintage NC, from a booklet the state published.  There’s no date anywhere, but there is a note from Governor Gregg Cherry, who served from 1945 to 1949.  (Side note:  In Gastonia, Cherry’s hometown, it was said that sober he was the best lawyer in town, and drunk he was the second best.)

For those of you unfamiliar with my state, North Carolina starts at the Atlantic Ocean and ends at the crest of the Appalachians (app uh lach uns).  It’s a long, very diverse state.  People tend to confuse it with South Carolina, which is an entirely different place. It’s Charlotte, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina.

I live in the mountains.  For long weekends I like to go to the coast, and in doing so pass on the highway people from the coast going to the mountains.  It’s a good system as it keeps the state even.  According to this brochure, there are also places to visit in the middle of the state, such as looking at the Old Well on the UNC Chapel Hill campus and riding to the hounds at Sedgefield. Somehow I think I’ll stick with the beach.

Mount Le Conte is along the crest of the Appalachians, right on the Tennessee line.  I’ve hiked that trail, and I can tell you that I did not do it in  a dress as the hiker above did.  This is very wild country, though in the summer there is a steady stream of people going up to spend the night at the Le Conte Lodge.

There’s another silly hiker wearing a dress.  I don’t know the location of this trail, but it looks a bit dangerous to me, and I’m used to mountain trails!  The dude ranch is probably the Cataloochee Ranch, which is still in operation.  It’s a beautiful place.

Cherokee is just west of me, near the entrance to the Great Smokies.  No, the Cherokee did not wear feathered headdresses, but a guy has to make a living.  Even today there are Cherokee “chiefs” set up along the side of the road waiting to be the tourist’s next photo op.

As you can see, Dry Falls are not really dry.  The name comes from the fact that one can walk behind the falls without getting wet, well, at least not much.

This is the Blowing Rock, which is near Boone.  There are all kinds of “legends” about the rock, most of which involve lovelorn Indians.

Lake Junaluska is just down the road from me, and it is a lovely little lake.  It is the site of the Methodist Assembly which was started in 1913.  The old camp style auditorium still stands, as do two old hotels from the era.

Now this is interesting.  Neel’s Creek, which is near Mount Mitchell, really was open for fishing only to women.  There were creeks nearby where husbands and boyfriends could fish, but men were not allowed at Neel’s Creek.  In the mid 1940s it was so popular that there was talk of making another trout stream women only.

I was just joking earlier about the middle of North Carolina being just a place to pass through.  The golfing is world class, and there are plenty of historic sites.

Pivers Island looks like a nice place in the late 1940s.  Today the little island is almost covered by a NOAA facility and the Duke University Marine Lab.  Behind the two women you get a glimpse of Beaufort, which is a fishing and sailing center, and a nice little historic town.

Happy sailing!

 

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We’ve Been Punked

From the very beginning I was less than enthused about the Met’s Costume Institute’s Punk exhibition.  My biggest concern was that with all the wonderful objects within the Met’s costume collection, it was sad that they were yet again focusing on fashion from the past twenty or so years.  And then, before the Punk show opened, Malcolm McLaren’s widow made the claim that some of the objects were fakes.

This was not a new claim.  In 2008 McLaren himself had studied objects that had come from the same source as some of the Met’s punk items, and had found them to be fakes. Artist Damien Hirst had spent about $150,000 on punk clothing from Simon Easton, who was selling the stuff through eBay.  After the items were viewed by a former punk and seller of reproductions, Camden Jim, who recognized some of the designs as the ones he had sold at Camden Market,  Hirst became alarmed and contacted McLaren, who found that most of Hirst’s items were fake.

In the meantime Christie’s Auctions, who had some of the Easton material had concerns and called in McLaren to examine the items they had obtained from Easton.  Easton’s Ebay account was suspended.

To backtrack a bit, in 2006, the Costume Institute, in preparation for their Anglomania exhibition, acquired quite a few Westwood/McLaren punk items.  These were a prominent part of the exhibition and accompanying catalog.  When the Hirst fakes were exposed in 2008, it soon became evident that there might be some problems with the Met’s items as well.  At the time, Andrew Bolton, the associate curator responsible for the purchase and the Anglomania exhibition said that the pieces bought from Simon Easton would be reviewed.

At this point the story goes cold until February, 2013.  Malcolm McLaren had died in 2010, but his widow started questioning the validity of objects that were to be shown in that summer’s Costume Institute exhibition, Punk: Chaos to Couture.  She wrote to the Met outlining her objections to several of the items that were to be in the exhibition.  Along with Paul Gorman, who had worked with McLaren to try and establish the authenticity of many items, she gave detailed reasons why some of the objects were “wrong.”  A spokesperson for the Costume Institute replied that  “the provenance of all the punk pieces in our collection and in the upcoming exhibition have been verified”.

But now it appears as if they were not.  Paul Gorman, who examined the Met’s McLaren/Westwood holdings in May 2013 wrote a detailed report on his findings – a report that was not good news for the Met.  Not only did he believe that a large number of the garments were fake, others were suspect, and still others were misdated.  After the Punk exhibition came down, other experts were called in.  As a result, two bondage suits with the Seditionaries label were marked for de-accession. Both suits had been in the Anglomania exhibition of 2006.

However, the two suits in question are still on the Met’s website, but very recently the listing designation was changed to  “Attributed to Vivienne Westwood” and “Attributed to Malcolm McLaren”.  Around thirty other objects now have “Attributed to” in the item description, and photos of most of these items have been removed.

Just as disturbing is the faulty dating of objects.  Gorman gives the example of a pair of bondage trousers that were dated to 1976, but the trousers have the Vivienne Westwood Red label - a label that was established in 1993!  In his article on his blog, Gorman shows the museum’s page on the trousers (2006.253.18) which has a photo of them and the label.  When I looked up the page today, I see that the photograph of the label has been removed.

You should read Gorman’s detailed blog post, and judge for yourself.  I  see some very shoddy scholarship in action here.  As a very small-time collector I can tell you that it is very difficult to always get dating and attribution correct.  But even with my limited resources I want to be as accurate as possible, and I am always willing to admit when I am wrong, no matter how much I want to believe otherwise.  Should not our institutions be the same?

 

Thanks to Sarah at TinTrunk for the Gorman article.
 

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Hillsville Flea Market, 2014

Hillsville, Virginia is a sleepy little mountain town just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Carolina state line.  Way back in the 1970s the local VFW decided to do a gun show on Labor Day as a fund raiser.  The event grew and grew until it became one of the biggest flea markets in the Southeast.

The last time I went was two years ago,  and I vowed that was the last time for me.  It was too big and too filled with crafts and junk.  The presence of guns everywhere was a bit disconcerting.

But for some reason I thought I’d give it another try.  Quite unbelievably, it was a nice experience.  I think that the biggest difference was that the show has gotten smaller.  But not just that; the antique and vintage sellers have stayed while the crafty people were not as prevalent.  It was no longer an overwhelming day where even a fast shopper like me could not cover it all.

I’ve written several times about how many flea markets and antique shows have gotten smaller, so this was not a surprise.  I had noticed a gradual contraction of this venue since 2009.  I’ve also noticed this at the Metrolina, which is a flea market held in Charlotte.  And the Boston Globe recently ran an article about how the great Brimfield is on the decline. (Thanks to Carrie for the link.)

One of the major problems at places like Brimfield and Metrolina is the influx of stuff that looks old, but that is not.  I think Harry L. Rinker nailed it in the Globe article when he said, “It’s not a collectors’ market anymore, it’s a decorators’ market.”   Many people who are decorating a house care only about the look, not the pedigree, of an item.

Interestingly, I did not see a whole lot of that type of thing at Hillsville.  Maybe the difference is that Hillsville is a more rural area, with the shoppers coming from all over the Southeast, where as Metrolina and Brimfield serve a more urban, and thus trendy, clientele.

So I saw some really nice things, and even bought a few of them.  Today, I’ll give a brief tour of what did not make the cut.

My photo is poor, but this is the best vintage Nativity I’ve ever seen.  The condition was excellent, the lithography top-notch, the price tag appropriately high.

Surely, I thought, there is a hat in this pile for me.  Unfortunately there was not.

This dealer had the scarf motherload, and at $1 each she was selling them by the bag full.  There were hundreds of them, and I bet she made her booth rent on these alone.

This is the funniest sun hat ever.  The flowers did not look original to the hat, so I passed on it.

I loved this scissors and pin cushion necklace so much.  Is there a name for these?

This was a nice rack of vintage clothes, but notice the 1920s dress in front.  It has been shortened, and stitched with a machine at the hem.  Still, at least it was not cut and could be restored to original length.  That longer piece behind the dress is actually part of it, and is like an apron.

I really do wish I had gotten a better photo of this one.  It is a 1920s costume made of crepe paper petals attached to a muslin background.  It was adorable.

I wonder if one can get satellite radio on that thing.

I almost bought this for me to wear.  Cashmere, and simply gorgeous.

I saw lots of wonderful old feedsacks.

Old dog prints always get my attention.

Aren’t these a trip?  (Get it, a trip!)

I’ll be slowly but surely sharing all the great things that I did buy.

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Ad Campaign – Dorset Fabrics, 1947

The sun shines on Mr. and Mrs… who have carbon-copy tastes about vacations, about fabrics to live in.  They like the utterly young firm feel of Whaler, that good gabardine from Dorset…they like the way this playmate to all America holds its shape through sports and travel. Whaler is a whale of a fabric for rainwear too.  It’s but one of the new Dorset fashion fabrics going places in men’s wear, women’s wear and sportswear.

I think this is a rather clever way to show off the colors available in this new fabric, with Mr. and Mrs. looking on and ready to enjoy a vacation by the pool.  You can’t tell it so much from my photograph, but the ad photography is crisp enough that you can see the twill and texture of the fabrics.  There is even a gabardine sun.

From the always fantastic American Fabrics, issue 4, 1947.

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August in Review

August is just right for just lying back in one’s hammock with a good book and a cold drink.  Matching toenails are optional.

I’ve been a fan of Genevieve Antoine Dariaux’s early 1960s guide to proper dressing for a very long time, so I was happy to find Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro, a novel in which our heroine tries to up her elegance game by following Dariaux’s advice.  It was fun.

After a failed attempt to find a proper silk with which to reline my early 1960s Davidow/Chanel jacket, I decided to use a less than perfect Vera scarf.  I’m still working on it, but will share photos soon.

Here is just a taste of an incredible dress that I found at the Goodwill outlet.  The bodice is trimmed with those half circles, and the skirt is pleated and swingy.  I was hoping desperately to find a Travilla label, because it is of that quality, and he was known for making and remaking versions of the famous Seven Year Itch dress that Marilyn Monroe wore over the subway grate.  Unfortunately, there is no label.  I’m still researching this one.

The grapes ripened and the birds and I fought over them.

I have a new job.  Just kidding.  We are having some work done at Tim’s grandparents’ place and I couldn’t resist this classy photo op.

I made pajama bottoms.  Tim got a pair too, but mine are cuter.

This is the side of an old dog food tin that I spotted at an antique market.

Two years ago I swore I’d never go to the Hillsville, Virginia flea market again.  It was just too big, too hot, too junky, and too much.  But in a moment of weakness I headed off, and was pleasantly surprised.  I bought a lot of about 50 patterns, most of them from the 1940s, for $20.  And that was just the beginning.  It was a very nice day.

And that is it for August.

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The Eveready Sportsman’s Hand Book, Circa 1914

Never judge a booklet by its cover, I say.  Attracted by the woman in her middy dress, I opened this up to find some great illustrations of sportswomen, not men.

Eveready traces their roots to 1896, but the company was not called Eveready until 1914.  They had obtained the patent for the flashlight which they produced along with the batteries to power them.

Click to enlarge

This little promotional booklet really does have hints for the sportsperson, but the best parts are the illustrations along with poems that describe each scenario.  The “girl” in each is holding and using her Eveready to help her in her quest for sport and health.  Note that the Sight-Seeing Girl seems to be in charge of the tour of the ancient ruins.

 

The Motor Boat Girl needs no headlamp as long as she has her Eveready handy.

The Hunting Girl is not afraid because she is fully equipped with her flashlight. Of course toting a firearm might add to the secure feeling as well.

Night fishing, anyone?

And of course The Camping Girl is in charge of the cooking pot.

The Motoring Girl is most useful when holding the Eveready for the man who can fix her motorcar. And note the hint of Motoring Girl’s reckless driving!

 

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Vintage Miscellany – August 31, 2014

This photo is labeled “Mary & Tante Adafine Hartmann” so along with the wicker beach chair, I think this is probably German.  The beach chair was much more common in Europe than in the USA.  I’ve got to ask you European readers, do you ever see these for sale?

Mary’s white hat and shoes signal that this is probably late spring or summer, but it might serve as a reminder that with a little creative dressing, beach days can extend into the fall, especially here in the South.  September is especially nice, as it is still warm but all the kids are back in school and so the beaches are less crowded, and less noisy.

*  So, what’s the deal with Labor Day and wearing white?  Thanks to Brooke for the link.

*  And I guess I ought to just go ahead and get the issue of the President’s tan suit out of the way.  It used to be that we thought only the dress of women politicians was scrutinized.  No more; we are now a country of equal opportunity scrutinizers.

*  Levi’s made a custom denim tuxedo for Bing Crosby, and his niece is on a quest to find it.

*   Madison Avenue Fashion Heritage Week is a real thing, and will be October 20 through 26, 2014.  The windows of sixteen fashion houses will be turned over to the history of each one during the week.  I love this idea.

*   In “Sign of the Times,” Cathy Horyn discusses the trend toward wearability  in high fashion.  I really can’t see it as a totally bad trend.

*   “The Secret Life of Your Clothes” is an interesting video about how donated clothes end up in Africa and the effect they have on the African clothing industry.

*   Since many of the fast fashion chain designers are so obviously cultural nincompoops, they surely must start hiring history majors who will be able to explain why certain designs might not be a good idea.

*   The ALS ice challenge seems to have its course.  I  appreciate the millions of dollars it generated for research for this puzzling disease, a disease that claimed the life of one of my father’s brothers.  It’s great that something that went viral has actually has a good effect.

I didn’t do the ice challenge, but I did write a check, and another one for my local animal rescue group.  Then I sat with a glass full of ice and oj and cherry vodka.  That’s my kind of ice challenge.  I did really enjoy some of the ice bucket madness, but seeing Anna Wintour’s bob take a hit was the highlight for me.

 

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