Vintage Miscellany – February 23, 2019

We are having one of those winters that’s cold and dreary and rainy and just depressing. My husband and I looked at the current weather map, trying to find a spot within five or six hours of us that is sunny and relatively warm. That place, at present, does not exist, but we will continue to look. I can be packed and ready to leave in an hour.

This post is either a day early, or thirteen days late. Let’s just say I’m early. And now for some news.

  •   Let’s start with the obvious. Karl Lagerfeld has died. I knew he must be seriously ill when he did not show up for the latest Chanel show.  His death has brought about an interesting conversation on “speaking ill of the dead.” While most of what I’ve read about Lagerfeld in the past few days reminds us of his very successful career at the head of one of the most famous fashion brands, other writers were quick to point out his faults.  Let’s look at both sides. Karl was a fat-shaming misogynist.  Karl was my surrogate brother.  It does give one pause to think. How do we reconcile the bad parts of people whose work we admire?
  •  The fashion weeks have been going on, so that means another round of what the hell were they thinking. First Gucci makes a turtleneck sweater with a quite obvious reference to blackface, and then claimed the inspiration was skiwear. Not to be outdone, Burberry came out with a hoodie with ties that look like a noose. Their excuse was that it tied in with their nautical theme. No. This happens so often that I’ve concluded that they, like Mae West, have decided that it is better to be looked over than to be overlooked.
  • A study by the University of California, Berkeley found that people from the poorest communities in India worked for as little as 15 cents an hour. “Every major brand, every boutique retailer and everyone in between who sources garments from India is touched by this issue.”
  •   If clothing companies would actually pay the workers a decent wage, making clothing prices more reasonable (and by that I mean more expensive) then perhaps over-consumption would not be such a tremendous problem. In the meantime, many people are determined to stop “feeding the monster.”
  • “The calming effects of sewing can help people express and heal themselves.” True.
  •   One of my dreams is to get lost in the racks at Western Costume.
  •    Would your last wish be to visit an art museum?
  •    Don’t buy this book.
  •   How do the struggle for women’s suffrage and the use of a dirigible  intersect?
  •    One of the last hand-pleating workshops, Sorelle Antonini Atelier in Rome, has closed. The business was over 100 years old.
  •   Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is now showing at the Brooklyn Museum and I’m really, really hoping it will travel south.
  •    The Minnesota Historical Society has digitized and put online their entire collection of hats. I hope that more museums find the resources to follow suit.
  •  The Glasgow Museums have a thought-provoking piece on their blog, “The Black History of White Cotton Dresses.”


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

15 responses to “Vintage Miscellany – February 23, 2019

  1. great recommended reading! I was eager to see your link to Western Costume, but it didn’t take me there…. I have been through the racks at Western costume, back in the early 80’s when I was a grad student renting for my thesis project. The costumes made in the silent era for movies set in the 18th century were extraordinary — Studios bought existing bolts and remnants of real European vintage fabrics, so it was sometimes hard to tell if they were reproductions or not. I have rented a suit with Robert Mitchum’s name label in it (Chest 44″) and a “suit of lights” (toreador costume} worn by Tyrone Power. Does your dream visit include standing on a tall rolling ladder and working with your arms above your head? .P.S. Costumes can be very heavy!,0,1271,999_AL_.jpg


    • I fixed the link.

      Yes, I would be willing to put up with pain in order to fondle those fabrics!


    • Dee

      Ooh, Robert Mitchum! And the “suit of lights” must have been from “Blood and Sand”?! How amazing to see so many wonderful costumes (and textiles)!


      • I thought I was just sending an email to Lizzie, but apparently it made the comments section. Yes, “Blood and Sand” is what I thought. I used to know a professional costumer who collected the recognizable nametags from his rentals and patched them into a vest! (He mentioned that they would have been covered by the new nametags anyway, but….) A visit to the major prop warehouses in LA was also mind boggling.


  2. I spent well over a year purposefully buying nothing new, for ethical reasons (i.e. overconsumption, exploitation, environmental degradation). It was easy. I didn’t save any money, as I used it as an excuse to buy an assortment of goodies from our VFG colleagues and to “steal” favorites from my own shop. For everyday stuff I relied, as I mostly did and do anyway, on thrift stores.


    • I tried this way back in the 1990s, and made it almost a year. Seems like I broke down and bought shoes in October.

      As it is now, I rarely by anything new, but when I do it is from a company I trust.

      We really can do quite well with less.


  3. staubs

    Lagerfeld. Only had the opportunity to meet him back in his early days (his hair was dark)it was in the early/ mid 70’s. He was inappropriately one hour late for a cocktail reception given for him at the Octagon House Washington, DC when I was with Garfinckels .As my friend Joan Carl ( asst. Couture buyer) deduced it was a perfume launch probably Chloe. Great attention was given to 18th. century flower arrangements./ waiters in wigs / waistcoats/breeches .I do not know who looked more ridiculous -the waiter or Lagerfeld. He oiled his way through the crowd black lace fan / hair bow and ponytail . Before he had the opportunity the crowd disbursed / we bolted for the door . “brilliant” creative /talented ? That I suppose is a given. What he did to Chanel another story. Over the top – I leave that to the ages to be determined.


  4. Can you drive to Hilton Head?


  5. (ps I meant that Hilton Head is warm this time of year!) OK regarding Lagerfeld…so recently I was trying to reread a book that I first read multiple times and loved in the 90’s..Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Mists of Avalon”. Since that time, it was revealed that the author had sexually abused children. I was having a VERY difficult time coping with the idea of the author’s cruel behavior and rereading the book. I brought the issue up to my book group, in which there are many people smarter than me. The overall response was….we must accept the bad and the good in those with talent. If not, we would have no art to appreciate (I’m thinking of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway off the top of my head). But…I still haven’t reread “Mists of Avalon.: It all haunts me.


  6. As the saying goes, “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men…”. Liking, and disliking, are personal things, whether one dislikes a colour, a scent, or a person. We are living in a crazy time when others believe it is their right to tell you what not to wear (PETA), what not to eat (Vegans, Ketoans, etc), and whom you should not love (racists, anti gay, anti poor, etc.). I say, if you like Lagerfeld’s designs but detest the man, wear his designs — It’s not like you are walking around with the man wrapped around your shoulders! 😂To paraphrase Kondo, if it “sparks joy” wear it, eat it, love it. We are put on earth as unique individuals, and unique we are meant to be. There are far too many outraged undermatured persons whose vocal disgust disguise an intolerance for a world that does not reflect back an image of themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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