Category Archives: Vintage Miscellany

Vintage Miscellany – March 1, 2015

Here’s one happy traveler and one who thinks he’d rather be at home reading the paper and listening to the radio.  I think I’ll hang out with her.

* There’s a saying about the 1960s: If you can remember them then you weren’t really there.  That’s nonsense, thank goodness, otherwise we’d not have great articles like this one that features Betsey Johnson.

*   Scotland’s Barrie Knitwear is doing so well that they have actually taken on more workers, and will be hiring again.

*   John Galliano talked with Hamish Bowles about the pressure to succeed at his new job.

*  Last week the  internet celebrated the life of Leonard Nimoy, whose Dr. Mr. Spock character on Star Trek taught us in the 1960s that the best human of all was actually half alien.  This fan page shows how his famous ears were crafted, along with other costume goodies.  Thanks to Christina for the link.

*  I’ll soon be reviewing the Museum at FIT exhibition, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston.  Here is an excellent interview with Fred Dennis, the senior curator of costume about the show and the work of the two designers.  There is also a video interview with the curators of the exhibition, Patricia Mears and Emma McClendon.

*   Writer Christina Robert talks about the appeal of slow fashion  at High 50.

*   Are we living in a post-trend universe?

*  And along the same lines, are we seeing “the end of fashion as we know it”?

*   Tonight is the ending of the season of Downton Abbey for US viewers.  Costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins discusses her work on the PBS website.

*   There was another incredible thrift store find reported last week.

*   Bloomberg posted a photo essay of the glory days of the NYC Garment District.

*  Here’s another photo essay, this one titled 121 Professional Sports Photographs Taken before 1925.  Thought the title is a bit misleading (there are quite a few photos of high school students) it’s a fascinating look back at sportswomen and sportsmen.  Thanks to Mod Betty for the link.


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Vintage Miscellany – February 15, 2015

On one of the coldest days of the year, I thought we could warm up with Betty in Miami, August 10, 1942.

Or just stay inside with a cup of something hot and the latest news…

*   In preparation of the Savage Beauty exhibition starting next month at the V&A Museum, much is being written about Alexander McQueen.  How has our view of him changed in the five years since his death?

*  And there are also McQueen books to be read.

*   The Sacramento (California) Public Library will soon be lending sewing machines, along with other tools.

*   Those of you in the UK have another great exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, Thea Porter: 70s Bohemian Chic.

*  Where does one make a happy-looking hat?  In a jolly workroom, of course!

*   And another reason to visit the UK this spring is at the Imperial War Museum.  Fashion on the Ration features the clothes of WWII.

*   Is Patagonia the world’s most “authentic” brand?

*   And finally, here’s a story that is almost painful for me to report.  Someone pulled a vintage 1940s West Point athletic sweater that had belonged to Vince Lombardi from the Goodwill bins in Asheville.  It is now up for auction on the Heritage Auctions site, and it will end live on February 21.  I have a lot more to say about the reporting of this story, which will be posted later in the week.

This morning I read that the mystery of the sweater ‘s origin has been solved. The widow of a colleague of Lombardi lives in this area and was cleaning house. The sweater ended up in the donate pile.


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Vintage Miscellany – February 1, 2015

Miami, February, 1942.  That’s Betty and Sy, Sophia and Harry.

It’s rainy and bleak here, and so I’m jealous of Betty and Sy, Sophia and Harry.  But most of all I want Betty’s shoes.

And now for the news…

*   The emotional appeal of clothes that were made to last, featuring a local company, Appalach.

*   Skinny models have been around for longer than you night think.

*   Three young Norwegian fashion bloggers were part of a reality program that had them working in a Cambodian clothing factory.  There are links to the entire series of five short episodes.

*   Converse has successfully sued Ralph Lauren for trademark infringement.  The case concerns the Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker, which has distinctive design elements and which has been in production for 98 years.

*   Here’s proof that it is possible to have out-sourced manufacturing that is ethical.

*   Rick Owens’s latest show for men had a serious case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Caution, not safe for all viewers

*   More and more museums are putting their collections on-line.

*   I thought having one pair of vintage skates was a big deal, but this guy has over 350 pairs. thanks to Christina for the link

*   I publicly announced last week that I like selfies, but that was before I knew they are a sin.

*   If you are a Downton Abbey watcher, then I’m sure you noticed that fashion show Lady Mary and Aunt Rosamund attended.   I’m a bit excited because the Biltmore Estate in Asheville will have Downton costumes on display starting this week.



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Vintage Miscellany – January 18, 2015

This lovely ad card was published by The McCall Company in 1904.  On the reverse it reminded home sewers that MCall patterns were “Stylish, reliable, perfect-fitting and easy to use.”  Who could want more from a sewing pattern?

And now for the news…

*   Have you ever wondered why McCall’s (who owns Vogue Patterns) does not just re-release some of those fantastic designer patterns of the past?  They explain why on the McCall Pattern Company Blog.

*  The hot new branch of law is fashion law.

*   This was new to me:  The Bonnie Cashin Digital Collection at UCLA.  thanks to witness2fashion for the link

*   Our clothes often send strong messages, as Chirlane McCray found out the hard way.

*  Is it important that Joan Didion is appearing in Celine ads?

*   And does it signal a new relationship between fashion and age?

*  Fashion critic Cathy Horyn is back and at The Cut.

*   If you are in need of a deep rabbit hole in which to fall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has provided one in the form of digitized vintage catalogues.

*   Forever 21 is at it again with the copying. thanks to Christina for the link

*   A day in the life of a museum curator.

On a more personal note, I see that I’ve (finally) gone over 700 WordPress followers.  Thanks to all of you who follow, read, and comment, and who let me know I’m not here talking to myself.  It is greatly appreciated.


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Vintage Miscellany – January 4, 2015

Winter is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere, or at least most of it.  I’ll admit I’m a little jealous of the warm people in today’s photos, which were taken in January, 1942 at Miami Beach.  Everyone looks happy and carefree enough, but note the little groups of people who have gathered to talk.  It was about a month after the US entered WWII, and was surely the topic on the minds of every person.

And now for some news…

*  Tonight is the US opening of season five of Downton Abbey.  Avoiding spoilers has been quite difficult, but I won’t spoil any of it for you.

*   Susan at Witness2Fashion post a fantastic chart from 1970 showing all the various skirt lengths.  I’ll admit that in 1970 I was firmly in the mini camp.

*   The LA Weekly did a great piece on the restoration of one of  Scarlett’s dresses from Gone with the Wind.  Most interesting was that this dress had been restored in the 1980s by the original designer,  Walter Plunkett.  (As a side note, I question why the author of this piece used the word zaftig to describe the collections manager of the museum.)

*  The Museum of London did an interesting video called The Anatomy of a Suit.

*   The most interesting name for a bicycle ever must be the Psycho.

*   The Museum at Fit Talks about counterfeit fashion bags.

*   The Fashion Originator’s Guild of America was an attempt by the fashion industry to eliminate fashion copiers.  Protected garments were labeled as such, but unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to trace the maker from that label.  Kickshawproductions has posted a listing of the members of FOGA in 1941.

*   The Museums Association in the UK is planning to tighten their code of ethics in an effort to stop the selling of museum holdings in order to raise money for operating expenses.

*   My last link is probably not of interest to many readers, but the historian in me found it so interesting.  Titled Civil War Military Historians Are Freaking Out, the piece examines an ongoing debate in the Civil War academic community about how the social history of the War threatens to overshadow the military history.  For the life of me, I can’t see how the two approaches are mutually exclusive.



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Vintage Miscellany – December 21, 2014



One of the highlights of my childhood Christmases was going caroling with the youth choir of my little rural Southern Baptist church.  Our community was quite spread out, and so we usually went in cars, or more likely in the backs of some church members’ work trucks.  The photo above is from one of the last times I got to take part.  The best I can figure is that the photo was taken in 1974 or 75, judging by the age of my brother and cousin..  Plus, my boyfriend, Tim, is there on the right and we started dating in 1973.

The kids in the photo, starting on the left are Kim Sharpe, Jimmy Parton, my brother Scott, cousin Sandra Bumgarner, Bo Rhea, me, and Tim. There is actually a second photo, showing the rest of the group but I could not find it.  I remember that my sister Susan was next to Tim, and there were several more kids.   I love this photo, as our group was so close, having attended the same church together throughout childhood.

Unfortunately, Bo was an early victim of AIDS, and my cousin Sandra died at age fifty of lung cancer, of a type very similar to what my sister had.

The photo was taken by my great-uncle Corky, who took photos of everything.  This was in his home, the place where my extended family always celebrated Christmas together.  By this time Christmas gathering had been downsized somewhat, and we gathered at my grandparents.  But it would be Christmas without a visit to Corky and Adore’s house.

And now for the news…

*   Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography was a recent BBC Book of the Week, as such an adapted version is avail for online listening.  Hurry though, as it is available only through January 7.  There are five parts, fifteen minutes each.

*   Handbag designer  Lauren Cecchi explains why she is having her bags made in the USA.

*   In past conversations here about Urban Outfitters, some of you have theorized that company is deliberately controversial.  NPR investigated the idea.

*   In all the talk about cultural appropriation, somehow Ralph Lauren has manage to escape criticism.  No longer, as a new look book from the company used photos of Native Americans in a way that many saw as being insensitive.  The company has issued an apology.

*   And blogger Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist, was called down for a similar deed.

*   Scientist May-Britt Moser won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, and the dress she wore to accept her prize was a reflection of her work.

*   Not all the fabric woven in Bangladesh is cheap and shoddy.

*   Valerie Steele narrates a tour through the Museum at  FIT’s exhibition Dance and Fashion on Youtube.



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Vintage Miscellany – December 7, 2014

Click to enlarge

I could not resist this recently found photo of three sailor girls.  It’s the oldest photo I have that shows women wearing slacks.  The photo is not dated, but there are a few clues.  First, there are those odd hair styles.  In the late teens and into the twenties when brave women were bobbing their hair, their less brave sisters were  cutting their hair short in the front and on the sides, but leaving it long in the back.   They then rolled up the long part to make it look short.

Another hint is the shoes.  The young woman on the left is wearing a 1910s boot, but the other two look as if they are wearing  Keds.  I have an ad from 1919 that shows this very style.

Finally, there is the number “23” handwritten on the back of the photo.  That might possibly be the date.  At any rate, it is a great early example of women were easing into pants.

And now for the news…

*   I’ve already posted about the Chanel Metier d’art show, and the French TV show connecting the dots between Chanel and the Nazis.  The program is on youtube, but it is in French.  If anyone finds it with English subtitles, I’d sure appreciate a link.

*   Chanel replied to this program with an arrogant “So what?” and I can almost forgive them because of all the money they have invested in saving the various little ateliers in Paris that supply Chanel and the rest of the couture.  When watching these workshops at work, I  do want to forgive Chanel for their crazy cult of Mademoiselle.

*   And do not miss the making of some very remarkable tweed.

*  If you were planning to give the gift of LL Bean boots this Christmas, I hope you have bought them already, as  there is not a waitlist of over 100,000 names.

*   The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum in Stowe, Vermont, has a great-sounding exhibition underway: Slope Style: Fashion on Snow 1930-2014.

*   There’s a new Harris Tweed that gives off the aroma of whisky.  Really.

*   The Museum Association in Great Britain has reported that one in ten museums considered selling items from their collection this past year in order to get needed revenue.

*   “When Forever 21 settles a dispute over copying — which, again, the company has done more than 50 times in its 27 years of existence — it typically includes a non-admission of guilt, financial compensation to the designer whose work was copied, and a confidentiality agreement.”  Article at Jezebel.

*   After being closed for what seems like forever, the Cooper Hewitt in New York City will reopen on December 12 with several interesting sounding exhibitions.

*   A look at the making of Brahams Mount blankets, located in Maine.


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