Category Archives: Road Trip

High Style at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Part II

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High Style is one of those exhibitions that has a surprise at every turn.  The black (actually dark green, but it looks black)  dress is by Elizabeth Hawes, and it was dubbed “The Tarts” dress by its creator.  Dating from 1937, it was thought to be suggestive, with that arrow pointing toward the breasts.  On the back of the dress there is a purple arrow that points downward to the butt.

The white and black dress was designed by Madame Eta Hentz.  Lynn at American Age Fashion recent wrote about visiting the Madame Eta archive at the FIT library.  Interestingly, one of the garments Lynn showed was the dress above, so I really enjoyed seeing it.  One thing I’d not noticed in the photos I had seen of this dress  is that the over-lapping “wings” were semi-detached, and so there would have been a bit of movement in the design.


The exhibition was not just about dresses; accessories were well represented.  All the hats above are from milliner Sally Victor.  The hat in the middle looks like an elaborate braided hairstyle and dates from 1937.  The red and green hat at the right had the green jersey forming a turban in the back.


Even sportswear can be high style, especially in the hands of Bonnie Cashin and Carolyn Schnurer.  The plaid ensemble is from Cashin, and looks as if it could be from the late 1960s.  The date is actually 1943, which shows how Cashin remained true to her design aesthetic throughout her career.  Note the little matching spats.

Carolyn Schnurer designed resortwear based on textiles she found in her international travels.  The two garments above were from her “Flight to India” collection of 1950.  You can see the Indian influence in the sari-like draping and in the textile.


I hate that this photo is so blurry, as this ensemble from Claire McCardell is so wonderful.  The striped hooded top is made from jersey, while the skirt is cotton poplin.  The hooded coat is reversible, with one side being jersey, and the other brown poplin.  No wonder her designs were so popular.


All three dresses above were designed by Gilbert Adrian.  The two on the left show how Adrian worked with unusual colors combinations, much in the way an artist would.  The tiger striped dress reveals Adrian’s roots as a Hollywood designer in a design that would have been right at home on an actress.  Actually, all three dresses belonged to an actress, Adrian’s wife, Janet Gaynor.


Here are more hats from Sally Victor.  On the left is one of the hats Victor made based on the art of Mondrian, and next to it is one with Matisse-like cutouts.  The hat that looks a bit like an upside down pie crust was actually called the “Airwave” and was designed for First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in 1952.  The First Lady had the hat in several color combinations (the lining being in a contrasting color) and it was available to the public as well.


Most of the designers represented so far in my tour have been women, but men designers were featured as well.  The dress on the left was designed by Geoffrey Beene around 1965.  Would it be too matchy-matchy to have worn that Sally Victor Matisse hat with this dress?  Look carefully at the hem to see that it was scalloped, and that it was lined in bright pink.

The dotted bubble hemmed dress with the red coat was designed by Arnold Scaasi in 1961.  Next to it is a 1955 silk evening dress from James Galanos.  That dress looked to be so light that it would be blown away in a slight breeze.  And finally, there is a pants for evening ensemble by Norman Norell, a revolutionary idea in 1970.


One of the highlights of this exhibition was the inclusion of quite a few garments from Charles James along with the digital deconstruction videos that were developed by the Met for the big Charles James show in 2014.  These videos incorporated x-rays of the dresses which showed the complex structure of the garments, as well as pattern pieces that magically formed the finished garment on display.  It was highly effective.

Two of the celebrated “Four Leaf Clover” gowns were on display.  As with some of the other dresses, this one had no visible means of support, and you could see the interior of the bodice.

I’m not much of a lace-wearer, but for some reason I love seeing techniques of lace application.  The way the lace was molded to the dress was truly amazing.


Another highlight of the James display was the inclusion of some of the original working  muslin patterns.  On the left is one of his ribbon dresses, a development of an idea he had gotten from a stash of wide antique ribbons he found in Paris.  On the right is his pattern in muslin.

The pieced “ribbons” on the right continue around to the back of the dress where they come to a point, with the back pieces fitting neatly under the front.  High style, indeed!

If you are planning to see High Style at the Cincinnati Art Museum, I suggest that you plan for the whole day.  To see High Style, taking your time and taking in all the information presented takes at least two hours (unless you were in the tour groups that breezed through in twenty minutes).  Plus, the rest of the museum is really great.  I was there four hours and could have stayed longer.

Admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is, incredibly, free, though parking is $4.  They do have a nice gift store, and I’m sure they depend on it to help support the museum.  I bought the companion book  to the exhibition at the museum though I knew I could have gotten it cheaper through Amazon.  I consider the extra price to be a donation.



Filed under Designers, Museums, Road Trip

Hillsville, VA Flea Market, Fall 2015

Last week I went to the crazy place that is the Hillsville Flea Market.  I’ve been going to Hillsville for about ten years, and every now and again I swear off it.  But I keep going back, because among all the crazy is so much vintage wonderfulness.  It’s really not the best for old clothes, but I also find patterns and vintage fabrics.  So, what did I see that was interesting , but that I did not buy?

The drawing above is a puzzle.  Is her looking back on his college days, or is he looking forward to them?  He looks quite young, but is that a cigarette in his hand?

Here’s the dream of every person who sews: shears that cut all the way to the points.  And if you do not sew, you probably wondering why that is such a big deal.

I love old gambling boards, or punch boards, especially when they have a woman skating as the illustration.

Oh, for the simple days of Walt Disney World, when there was just the Magic Kingdom, and it was amazing.

This is my dream luggage.

As I said, Hillsville always has great textile sellers.  This one, a Key West Handprint by Zuzek, is for Jacq.

I just can’t seem to get away from quilts.

This poor old calendar from 1924 was trashed, but oh, so pretty.

I couldn’t tell if this basket backpack was newer, or just in fantastic condition.

I love 1950s red plaid objects, and when I spotted this one I couldn’t imagine what it was.

It’s a traveling cutlery set!  I’m thinking maybe I should have bought that one.


Filed under Road Trip, Shopping

Emilio Pucci in America, Georgia Museum of Art

Emilio Pucci skiing at Reed College in the uniform he designed for the ski team there, 1937. Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College.

Yesterday I took a museum day.  The Georgia Museum of Art in Athens had just opened a new fashion exhibition and I was anxious to see it.  The topic was Emilio Pucci, who needs no introduction from me.  What many might be surprised to know is that Pucci actually attended the University of Georgia in Athens after transferring from the University of Milan.  He then went on to Reed College in Oregon.

As the title tells us, the exhibition was not a comprehensive study of the career of Emilio Pucci, nor was it a history of the company.  It was about how the Italian Pucci had relationships with American institutions and companies.  The exhibition is quite small, and there are a few gaps in what was displayed, but overall it gives an excellent view of Pucci’s American relationships.  Photos were not allowed (although there was no sign stating such, and it took getting my hand slapped to find it out) and the photos supplied for press do not show any of the clothes as they are displayed, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to use your imagination somewhat.

Probably the best known collaboration between Pucci and an American company was that with the lingerie company, Formfit Rogers.  Throughout the 1960s and into the 70s Pucci designed undergarments and sleeping attire for Formfit.  On exhibit was a panty girdle, and four matching lingerie pieces in blue.

Braniff hostess modeling in a pink Pucci uniform holding an umbrella standing in the front part of a jet engine. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Between 1965 and 1974, Pucci designed uniforms for the stewardesses of Braniff Airlines.  The ensembles included everything from head to toe: hats, scarves,dresses,tunics,pants, leggings, shoes, and boots.  Archival photos show that the stewardesses were allowed to mix and match the pieces, though the staff was provided with clothing that corresponded to various activities and which involved two in-air clothing changes.

Braniff hostess wearing a pink Pucci uniform and a bubble helmet standing in front of a Concorde airplane at the Paris Airshow, 1967. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

The exhibition had this tunic, and it also had the plastic bubble hood.  Archival photos show that the women often wore the tights with a solid dress.

Group photo of early Emilio Pucci hostesses uniforms for Braniff. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas

Group photo of early Emilio Pucci hostesses uniforms for Braniff. Braniff Airways Collection, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas

The bubble hood was only used for a short period because of its tendency to malfunction.

My favorite outfit from the exhibition was a circa 1955 two-piece swimsuit and matching cape that Pucci designed for Canadian-American swimsuit designer Rose Marie Reid.  The print was a tiny Venice theme, and while I could not find a photo of it online, there is a similar Reid piece for sale.  That set just went to the very top of my wishlist.

I was really hoping that there would be some of the very rare pieces that Pucci did for White Stag in 1948.  They did have the copy of the Harper’s Bazaar in which the pieces were shown, but no actual garments.  And there was no mention of the mid 1950s collaboration between Pucci and the McCall’s Pattern Company, nor was there any mention of the patterns he did for Vogue in the 1960s and 70s.

Even though this exhibition was quite small, I’m glad I took the time to go see it.  The clothing was very well presented, and the lighting was good enough so that the details could be easily examined.  It is well worth a drive if you are in Georgia or the western Carolinas.


Filed under Designers, Museums, Road Trip

Mint Museum Uptown

We can’t all be lucky enough to live in or near a large cultural center like New York City or London, but in most areas there are plenty of smaller museums and historical sites that are well worth seeking out.  The Mint Museum in Charlotte, is a two and a half hours drive for me, but it is well worth the effort and gas money, especially when combined with a bit of shopping.  It’s rarely crowded, never any line, and there are plenty of treasures to discover.

I’m a bit ashamed that I’d never visited the Mint’s uptown Charlotte location, especially since I was so pleasantly surprised by the exhibitions.   The facility houses the Mint’s craft and design collection, but it also has a great exhibition of American art.  As icing on this artistic cake, there are a few items of clothing from the Mint’s costume collection also on view.

The photo above shows a Charles Frederick Worth evening cape, made of silk velvet, point de Venise lace, glass beads, metallic sequins, and silk tulle.  M. Worth did not do “less is more.”  I love how the creator of the exhibit resisted the urge to add any additional items to this display.  I’ve had concerns about over-accessorizating in some of the Mint costume exhibitions.

This early Twentieth century bathing suit is labeled “Water Sprite.”  It’s perfectly accessorized with the black stockings and bathing shoes, which I love.

In the same vein a summer painting by artist William James Glackens is shown.  Good Harbor Beach, 1919.

This 1920s “Orientalist” evening frock is labeled “Pascaud, Paris”

The Mint also has a good collection of the works of Romare Bearden, who was born in Charlotte.  This work is Girl in the Garden, 1979.

The contemporary craft collection is also very interesting.  This bowl is actually made of wood which is painted.  The artist is Binh Pho, the work, Realm of a Dream, 2007.

This work is stitchery on paper.  The artist is Anila Rubiku, the work, Mastering Freedom, 2006

This installation by Hildur Bjarnadittir took up an entire wall.  The squares are crocheted wool which were dyed using plant material.

What makes Urban Color Palatte interesting is that Bjarnadittir gathered the plants from along roadsides and vacant lots in Charlotte.  Even though the dye stuffs were basiclly what we consider to be waste plants, or weeds,  the results produced a wide range of color and character.  The same concept might also be applied to humans.


Filed under Museums, North Carolina, Road Trip

Liberty Antiques Festival, Spring 2014

Last weekend was the one event that try to never miss, the spring Liberty Antiques Festival.   Twice a year some of the best sellers in the region gather for a big two day sale in the middle of a large field.  I can honestly say that I always find at least one exceptional item every show.

And now for the virtual shopping:

I used to collect vintage Halloween before the prices went sky-high-crazy.  These cards were tempting.

Store and salesman display boxes always get my attention.  I loved this one from Kickaway because I have a pair of black wool Kickaway bloomers.

This was a huge table of just summer handbags.

I thought this display for hair nets was interesting.  “For the Woman in Every Stage of Life”

That’s a great pair of 1920s or 30s outing boots.  The wooden thing behind them is a sweater block for knitters or for reblocking a sweater after washing.

This great dress was in the booth of Down South Vintage.  It is actually two pieces, with the skirt being attached to a bodice, and the beaded top is worn over it.  Note the curving waistband of the top. This was an exceptional garment, and I was not surprised to find an exceptional label:

Helena Barbieri was a very high-end evening and cocktail dress maker.

I’m afraid I’m starting to enjoy the self-portrait in the mirror thing.  Here I’m modeling a 1940s tilt hat that was all one big bloom.

Nice travel tag

This is a reminder to always look under the tables.  This was a lovely 1950s suit with matching shawl.

1966 Ar-Ex cosmetics color card.  I sure wish I’d saved all the ones the Avon lady used to drop off at my house.

I’m not a big fan of  Catherine Ogust for Penthouse Gallery dresses, but this print is great.  Seen at Design Archives in Greensboro.

For years Shadowline was a family-owned business in Morganton, NC.   Then the business sold and production stopped.  Now they have reopened with many of the products still being made in the USA.  Seen at Granddaddy’s Antique Mall in Burlington, NC.


Filed under Road Trip, Shopping

On the Road

I’m traveling this weekend, and I’m having too much fun at an antiques festival to do any blogging.   You might check out my instagram to see some of what I’m up to.

I feel a bit bad for the traveler in my photo.  She (it is a she, right?) has on the most unbelievably fussy outfit, and what is with the two dinky little suitcases.  I do hope she also has a huge trunk full of things that are a bit more flattering.


Filed under Road Trip

Vintage Charlotte Holiday Pop-up Market

I first went to the Vintage Charlotte Market in June, and I liked it enough that I made the trip for their holiday show.  I was not disappointed.  The show is not just for vintage clothing, but rather, is a mix of all kinds of old stuff.  The vendors were well stocked and prepared for the 10 am opening.  By 11 the place was packed.

Many of the vendors did have clothing, and so there was quite a bit to look through.  I bought a pair of 1960s bowling shoes from the owner of this booth.

With Christmas and the Holidays coming up, there were boxes of vintage decorations.  I can remember when these could be found for a dime each at the thrift stores.  That was before Martha Stewart showed the world how to make a wreath from them.

The fishy bag was unsigned, and was a craft project, maybe.

This basket bag was not a craft project, as it still had a JC Penney tag attached.  I can remember when these were popular in the late 1960s.  I made one from a fruit basket and some red, white, and blue canvas.

The dress does not look like much in my terrible photo, but it was very nice.  It is net with appliques and an attached under dress.

And here is a close-up of the sleeve.

I had these shoes in the 1980s, and if these had been my size I would have bought them.  Made by Hush Puppies, they were the most comfortable shoes ever.  It is a bit of a bummer seeing the very same stuff you wore not too many years ago being sold as vintage, though.

From 1968, this “Misses Gay Nineties Costume” might be something to carry in the back of my mind just in case a weird “old” bathing costume comes my way!

The market was held at the Fillmore Charlotte, which is a music hall located in an old industrial building.  The only real problem with the set-up is the terrible lighting.  The room is dark, as you can see, and all the lights are extremely bright.  The lucky sellers were located near a window because they could get a little natural light.

So pretty… so distracting…

Finally, the mustache craze makes sense to me.  Isn’t this the best food truck?

At the last minute I decided to drive a few miles to Concord, NC, to two malls I’d heard of but never visited.  First up was The Depot at Gibson Mill.  Housed in an old cotton mill, the building itself was very interesting.  Best of all it is huge.  I could have spent the entire day there, and by the time I’d seen it all, I was pretty much out of energy.  I did manage a quick walk-through at the White Owl Antique Mall, which was also nice.

Concord is in the middle of cotton country, and today there are dozens of the old factories standing empty.  It was great seeing the Gibson Mill being used not only as an antique mall, but also housing offices and other businesses.  The community around the old mill consists of mill houses, many of which look to have been restored and nicely maintained.

My eight-year-old self wanted this badly.

I’m always happy to see Vera Neumann designs.  This is a tablecloth.


I’m looking at this Yuengling calendar, wondering why I did not buy it.  Why?

What is it about old letter sweaters?  I love them so much.


This beautiful old tennis graphic was glued inside an old box, which I assume held lawn tennis equipment at one time.  Still, the box was a real find and it was in nice condition except for the crack.  It also was not for sale.

More tennis, a few decades later.  This is a poster ad for tennis shoes.

All in all it was a great day.  I’ll share what I bought in another post.


Filed under North Carolina, Road Trip, Shopping