Vintage Miscellany – March 17, 2013

This is as close as I could come to a St. Patrick’s Day photo, which might be an odd choice, as this young woman is, in all likelihood,  not Irish.  But I think fun is universal, so grab a green beer and settle in for some fun links.

*   Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, highlights the annual fair held each year from 1958 through 2009 by Ebony magazine.  At the Chicago  History Museum through January 5, 2014.

*   Common Threads: History of Fashion through a Woman’s Eyes is a student and faculty produced exhibition that shows changing fashion trends on college campuses in the Twentieth Century.  At the University of Delaware through June 28, 2013.

*  Talking Chuck Taylors – Spin produces an oral history of the famous Converse sneaker with some interesting interviewees.

*   The Baum School of Art in Allentown, PA, is hosting Vintage Fashion Trunk Show which will include a talk by Monica Murgia, who has recently cataloged the school’s Steig Collection of garments.  There will also be vintage vendors.

*  Reminisce magazine has a nice feature on its website where people tell their fashion stories. thanks to Mod Betty

*   Vivienne Westwood is still Vivienne Westwood.  Please stop expecting age to mellow her.

*   Lillian Cahn, original co-owner, and the first designer of Coach handbags, has died at age 89.

*   A great photo of Vera Neumann at the door of her office is on Shorpy, along with a view of the interior of her Marcel Breuer designed office.  The art on the wall is by Vera.  @SllabStudios

*    Sybil Connolly was an Irish designer who worked to incorporate Irish fabrics into her designs.  Here’s a great old film clip of her and some of her work.  @StitchUpHistory

*   The fashion weeks are over, finally.  I know this blog is about fashion history and vintage fashion, but I always am interested in the new collections, especially of the established firms like Chanel and Dior, and even Ralph Lauren.  It’s fun to see how the designers move forward while keeping the aesthetic of the house in mind.  Love him or hate him, to my mind Lagerfeld at Chanel remains the master of continuing to maintain a fresh look for the house, while incorporating the heritage of the brand in each collection.

I’m too young to remember the beginning of Yves Saint Laurent’s career, but from the mid 1960s on the influence of his Mondrian dresses and the collections that followed reached even me in my little back-water town.   His clothing launched dozens of trends while he was at his peak, everything from safari suits to smoking jackets to Russian gypsies.   This to me, is part of the problem with YSL.  I can’t sum up his “look” in just a few sentences the way I can Chanel or Balenciaga, or Ralph Lauren or Diane von Furstenberg.

But what can be said for Saint Laurent was that he did have the ability for many years to anticipate how women wanted to dress, even before they knew it.  I think Le Smoking is a good example.  How could women have known they wanted a female-scaled tuxedo until Yves gave it to them?

This brings me, of course, to the recently shown Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2013, designed by Hedi Slimane.  The reactions to the show were rather divided, with some younger bloggers and writers saying they thought it was cool, and yes they would wear it, but with the more established fashion crowd seeing it as warmed over grunge and not at all what they would expect to see at Saint Laurent.

So what would one expect to see at a Saint Laurent show?  I really can’t put my finger on it except to say that I would except to see fresh, luxurious clothing that I and other women would want to wear.   When set to that tune, Slimane fell terribly flat.  I did love the coats, but a grey duffle?  I have one from 1983 already in my closet, and they are literally everywhere this year.  And I’ve not worn a high-waisted gathered plaid dress since I was two.

My favorite statement about Saint Laurent came from Cathy Horyn:   Without the label attached to them, Mr. Slimane’s grunge dresses wouldn’t attract interest — because they’re not special. But a box of labels is worth a million.  


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

7 responses to “Vintage Miscellany – March 17, 2013

  1. The runway look is way too grunge for me – it takes me back to what I wore in high school, and as they say in the vintage world – if you wore it the first time around, don’t wear it again ; ). I still have a fondness for big clunky shoes though. Also, I love the photo you included in today’s post. That is an outfit I’d love to wear now!


  2. Your right, Liz…..The young lady in the picture does not look Irish, but then on St Patrick’s Day? Everyone is Irish. Have a Good Day.


  3. Christina

    Re: YSL, Saint Laurent, Cathy Horyn and Hedi Slimane. I have a lot of time for Cathy Horyn as a fashion critic. The spat between her and Hedi Slimane may be entertaining but Cathy Horyn is right to address a designer’s ability to produce a collection that does justice to the history of one of the most influential fashion houses and to review his/her creative talent. It may be early days to assess Hedi Slimane’s influence on Saint Laurent but I have a sense that the evolution of this fashion house will continue to be questioned by the fashion world and its customers. As Lisa Armstrong , The Telegraph’s Fashion Editor said; “The thing is, I’m not sure Hedi Slimane has complete confidence in the understated power of his tailoring to carry him through.”


  4. Lots of wonderful things here! I am heading to Chicago on Saturday to visit my daughter, so I loved the reminder to go to the Chicago History Museum. That place is a treasure–I have seen so many good shows there. And I loved the excellent photo of Vera Neumann–if you click on the photo you can see the fascinating details of her dress.


  5. I love the photo of Vera Neumann and her office! Those pegs on the wall look like they’re meant to display scarves, don’t they?

    The YSL collection isn’t one that caught my eye, so I went to look at it at your link. I liked a lot of the looks–I’m not opposed to the grunge look at all; I prefer it to retro 80s looks, for example–but having looked over the collection, it did feel kind of meh to me. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it didn’t seem like Slimane did much that was new with the grunge. And every skirt being super short…c’mon.


  6. To me, YSL in a nutshell was fresh, elegant, flattering, and luxe. His iconic looks were more sensual than sexy, more rich and less revealing, and for the most part clothes for active but glamorous grown-ups. These sad imposters look like an expensive take on what an 18-year-old would buy at Hot Topic.


  7. Pingback: Dior, Balmain, Saint Laurent: | The Vintage Traveler

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