Vintage Miscellany – July 21, 2013

I’m not sure which is producing more envy, the swimsuit on the girl on the left, or where she is located.  It looks like a perfect beach day, circa 1930.  Here in the mountains, we are still caught in the rain juggernaut.

On to the distractions…

*  Janie Bryant, the costume designer for Mad Men is working on a competition reality show which might be called Janie Bryant’s Hollywood.  In it the contestants will be given the challenge to reinterpret the costumes from a classic movie.

*  And Janie answers questions about last season’s wardrobe on Mad Men.  Part 1  Part 2  (thanks to Beth at Retro Roadmap)

*   Some lucky people got to look inside the Dior atelier during the LVMH  Les Journées Particulières last month.

*   If you spend enough money, some stores will recognize you using face-recognition technology.  Really, really creepy, imo.

*   A group of around 70 apparel brands have agreed to inspect all of their supplying factories in Bangladesh within the next nine months.  It’s a start, but more companies need to step up.

*   And speaking of cheap fashion, Ecouturre breaks down the price of a $14 tee shirt.

*  Project Runway is back, and yes, I did allow myself to get sucked in.  You can watch the first episode online.

*  Brooke at Custom Style has posted a comprehensive look at how to do a burn test to determine the fiber content of fabrics.  Bookmark this one.

*   The Fashion Museum in Bath, UK, is featuring the early work of Laura Ashley.  Here’s a lovely review.


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15 responses to “Vintage Miscellany – July 21, 2013

  1. Thanks for the great links and for thinking my post was good enough to include among them!


    • Of course it was! I thought your comments on burning blends were especially enlightening.


      • An invaluable addition to the burn test (which can be hard to be sure about) is the bleach test. Protein fibers will dissolve completely in bleach, so both silk and wool will simply disappear into a cloud. Other fibers will remain intact. Drop your swatch into a small bowl of bleach and wait (sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes a couple of hours).

        It’s very useful for determining blends; for example, I bleached a sample of stiff but silky vintage ribbon which turned out to be silk warp, cotton weft – it left an amazing zigzag of cotton behind. Or the eBay “silk velvet” that was supposed to be the rare silk-pile version but was really just the usual rayon pile on a silk ground.

        Another useful soak test can be done with acetone, a.k.a. nail polish remover. Acetate will dissolve in it, but nothing else will.


  2. Fashion Witness

    If you (and other fans of Mad Men fashions) haven’t read this book already, I highly recommend it: Mad women : the other side of life on Madison Avenue in the ’60s and beyond, by Jane Maas. Ms Maas was a copywriter and early woman ad executive at several agencies (including her own.) Mad Women is a wonderfully frank and amusing memoir, and she did not just depend on her own memories, but contacted many old co-workers for stories and confirmation. She’s generally very pleased with Janie Bryant’s work on the series, but adds that, to distinguish themselves from the secretarial pool, female ad executives (both of them?) wore their hats in the office all day. Secretaries only wore hats when they left the building. Ah, the good old days, when Mass was the first woman to be assigned a food account, and ads for sanitary napkins & cosmetics were always written by men…. “Hold on to your hats, girls,” — this is a marvellous read.


  3. Teresa

    Thanks for sharing the Laura Ashley exhibition link. I wish I could see them in real life but the photos are wonderful.


  4. Thanks for the link to the great Laura Ashley exhibit review. I love those dresses and am sorry I will miss it in Bath, but hopefully I will be in the UK to see it at its second venue.
    I also got sucked into Project Runway. I have to keep reminding myself that it is a tv reality show and not a true competition to pick the best designer. I hate Nina Garcia’s insistence that every article of clothing have ‘sex appeal’ — she probably loathes Laura Ashley :). I don’t think that sustainability focused designer will last long if he won’t promote the sponsors. My guess is that he will be one of the first to go, but not the first as the judges will want to make it look as though they admire his ethics.


    • I wish I could remember about the second venue, but it seems like it will be up fairly quickly after it closes in Bath.

      The sustainability guy has a lot to learn, though I do think his heart is in the right place. It seems to me that a lot of the stuff he did in that first episode was to create interest in himself, and thus insure his continued presence on the show.

      And I agree about Nina. Dressing is not always about looking sexy.


      • The second venue is at the Bowes Museum in the North. It’s further from London than Bath, but the show will be there in the fall/winter when I will likely be in the UK.
        I’m with the sustainability guy but he isn’t making friends with his model or the hair/makeup people. So he either might be ousted early for not promoting sponsors or be kept around a bit as he’s ‘good tv.’ I liked his first design more than the judges did.


  5. I can confirm that the Laura Ashley exhibition (full title: Laura Ashley: The Romantic Heroine) is well worth a visit, particularly if you’re interested in the early designs of the ’60s and ’70s. I’ll be blogging about it shortly.


  6. Hi Lizzie, my somewhat belated write-up of the Bath Fashion Museum’s exhibition of Laura Ashley dresses is over here:


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