Schiaparelli for Catalina Swimsuit, 1949

Some people might think that designer collaborations with mass market manufacturers is a new idea, but they actually go back at least to 1916 when Lucile’s – Lady Duff-Gordon – name began appearing the the Sears Roebuck catalog.  By the 1930s California swimsuit maker Catalina was calling on the designers of Hollywood films to do an occasional suit for them.

I haven’t been able to find any concrete information about the Schiaparelli for Catalina collection, except for the fact that it was in 1949.  The suits were widely advertised so there is a good record of the various suits designed by Schiaparelli.  It’s interesting that I’ve not found reference to this collaboration in any of my print sources, including Schiap’s autobiography, Shocking Life, and the catalog that accompanied the 2003 Shocking! exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

In an ad in the Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 13, 1949, this suit was touted as the “Official Swim Suit of the Atlantic City Miss America Pageant.”

The best fitting swim suit in the county… and hailed by the nation’s prize-winning beauties!  It’s “Cable Mio,” designed by the world-famous Schiaparelli exclusively for Catalina!  White wool cables on Celanese and Lastex Knit.  It’s a convertible – can be worn with or without straps.

The design is achieved purely through the cutting of the fabric to form chevrons.  It’s amazing the effect that can be made through a bit of creative planning and stitching!

 

 

I’m sorry about of the quality of this 1949 ad.  It’s a scan of a scan…  I’m still trying to locate my original and I will post a better image when I find it.

Purchased from Ballyhoo Vintage, who always has a great selection of vintage swimwear.

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Filed under Designers, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Liberty Antiques Festival – Spring, 2015

I’m back in the land of the internet, but with a new hard drive and new programs, so it is taking me a while to get up to speed. I know I don’t really have to say this because you readers are all very smart, but just as a reminder, ALWAYS back up your files.

As always, The Liberty NC Antiques Festival is always worth a trip.  I love it because many of the sellers there save their best for the twice-a-year show, and I always see new things and I always learn something.  This show was a bit light on clothing and textiles, which was a shame.  I think sellers are reluctant to bring them if rain is predicted as it is held outdoors.

And while there were not a lot of textiles, there were enough fashion related items to keep me happy.  For some reason there were quite a few vintage and antique dressmaker’s dummies, and even in the early hours of the show, most of them were labeled “sold.”

I took this photo, not because these spools are special, but because it occurred to me that those of you living in a place where textiles were not manufactured might not find them to be quite as ordinary as we do here in North Carolina.  I don’t think I’ve even been to a show in the piedmont of North Carolina where there were not piles and boxes of these old spools.

Old advertising pieces often have a lot to say about fashion.  They also remind us that a pretty girl (with shapely ankles) can sell anything, including ice cream.  I liked this paper fan not only because it was local, but also because I can imagine it was given out as a freebie at a 1915 baseball game in Winston-Salem.

And there is nothing like a pretty girl in her underwear to sell corn medication.

I’m wondering how they kept those Chesterfields lit, and how she kept that hat from flying away.

Look carefully at this 1930s display and you’ll notice that the bottle of ginger ale is not part of the print, but is an actual bottle.  There is a little recess with a shelf and it is made to look like an icebox.  So clever, and quite pricey!

I guess I should have bought this great summertime picnic in the backyard print.  It was an apron.

I found this interesting scarf in a box of linens.  Can you tell that the butterfly wings are applied plastic “jewels” like were used on Enid Collins bags?   I was sure this was a Collins piece, but further investigation proved me wrong.

Vera Neumann, and an early piece at that!

The Lilly Purse by Tommy Traveler.  These were vinyl and cheap, but how cute is that display of them!

A 1920s pearl restringing outfit.

Mermaids always insist on real mother of pearl buttons.

Click to enlarge

 

The Parisian Dressmakers Formula by Mrs. L.M. Livingston, copyright 1876.  Note that this cost ten dollars, a lot of money in 1876.  Also note that it appears that the owner got her money’s worth, as it shows signs of being used quite a bit.  Anyone here ever used such a system?

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Filed under North Carolina, Shopping

Vintage Miscellany, May 3, 2015

I’m still without the use of my regular computer, so this post is coming to you courtesy of the world’s smallest and slowest laptop.  I’m hoping that things will be back to what passes for normal around here by the end of the week.  In the meantime, the internet has provided us with some interesting and thought-provoking content lately.

*   The Lilly Pulitzer for Target collaboration came, and fifteen minutes later it was gone.  Tens of thousands of the items ended up on ebay and many would-be buyers were left angered about the entire thing.  Why Target does not impose purchase limits on these special collections, I’ll never know.  The writer of the early 1980s cult classic, The Preppy Handbook, Lisa Birnbach, weighs in.

*   Who makes my clothes?  This was the question on many minds (and all over social media) last week as many people participated in Fashion Revolution Day, the purpose of which is to increase transparency in the clothing manufacturing business, and to hold manufacturers accountable when they continue to use unsafe factories.

* This next link has been all over the internet, so chances are you’ve already seen it.  Comedian John Oliver went on a seventeen minute long rant about fast fashion.  He isn’t saying anything new about the subject, but what makes this so important is that his audience is made up largely of the consumers of fast fashion.  I feel like I’m preaching to the choir whenever I rant about fast fashion because most people who read this blog are not in the fast fashion demographic. Oliver gets the point across by being funny and profane.

*  “…most everyone would be happier if all museums banned not only the selfie stick, but also cellphones and cameras.”  Here’s more in the on-going debate about banning cameras in museums.

* Perhaps they should put Anna Wintour in charge, as she has banned social media posts from this year’s Met Gala, which is tomorrow evening.

*  If there is any doubt this edict came from Wintour, you need to read this New York Times article about how she has complete control over the gala.

I’ve stated before that I’m uneasy with one person having so much power over the Costume Institute.  We can’t be so naive as to think that Wintour’s success at fund-raising for the Met is not being reflected in more than the renaming of the Costume Institute’s display area to the Anna Wintour Costume Center.

*   Why was the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture show such a snooze fest? According the curator, Andrew Bolton, it was the fault of the viewer: “The narrow-minded, often preconceived response it generated made me throw up my arms and think ‘I just can’t win.’”  Poor misunderstood Andrew.

This insight into the thoughts of one of the main curators at the Costume Institute is part of an article at Business of Fashion.  It’s an interesting look at how Bolton approaches the task of developing a show for the Met, as he talks through his ideas behind the soon to open spring show, China:Through the Looking Glass.  This exhibition sounds like a good one, highlighting the cultural give and take between China and the West.

According to Bolton, “In a way, the show isn’t really about China but about a fantasy of China, one that is shared between the East and the West.”  It sounds an awful lot like a Diana Vreeland exhibition, doesn’t it?  I suspect that this exhibition will be more successful than the last Bolton production, the Punk show because the topic lends itself more to his type of “intellectual” curating.

The problem with Punk was not with the viewers, it was with the way the material was presented.  We were given four categories in which post-punk fashion continued to be influenced by punk.  The problem came with the lack of punk examples.  Other than a few tee shirts of questionable authenticity and some Westwood/McLaren outfits, some of which were misdated, there was nothing with which to make the comparison.  So much authentic punk clothing was one-off, made by the wearer for his or her own use.  I can’t see that much of that material has made its way into museums unless worn by a rock star.

My response to Punk might be considered narrow-minded, but I do know when an exhibition does not achieve its stated goals.  And meeting those goals is the job of the curator.

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Filed under Vintage Miscellany

Jantzen Beach Revue ~ 1930





Dear readers, I’m still not able to add new content, so I hope you’ll enjoy this post from five years ago when I had only a few followers.  

Come first to our swimming suit department – then a trip to the crashing waves or placid pool is bound to be successful.  Here assembling your ensemble becomes joy.  We have a complete line of Jantzen sun & swim suit from which to choose the foundation of your costume.  We have the necessary shoes, caps, beach bags, robes, to build a brilliant, stunning outfit.  Won’t you come in and look our things over soon?


This adorable little sales promotion is dated 1930, and it is a great example of the clever way in which Jantzen promoted their products.  Like many of the early swimsuit companies, Jantzen was a knitting mill, and before they started making swimsuits around 1915, they made other woolens such as gloves and sweaters.  But it did not take them long to realize that knit swimsuits were the next best thing, and soon they were concentrating on just swimwear.

The best thing that ever happened to Jantzen was the adoption of the diving girl logo in 1920.  She became an instantly recognized symbol of the company, and though updated, remains on the Jantzen label to this day.

From the 1930s      From the 1950s


Jantzen made sure the diving girl was seen by putting the logo on the outside of the swimsuit, starting in 1923.  They also made promotional giveaways, such as car window decals and hood ornaments.  By 1931, Jantzen was the 7th most recognized trademark in the USA, and it is one of the oldest clothing trademarks in use today.

Notice that in the sales brochure, Jantzen used the words “swimming suit” rather than “bathing suit.”  It is thought that Jantzen was the first company to adopt the term swimming suit, which they first used in 1921.


Comments:

Posted by sues:

:) I am so glad you didn’t resist. I may not have patronized owen moore in 1930, but did shop there in the 1970’s or 1980’s when I was in college. It was a fine store with good quality clothing and accessories. My mom grew up in the Portland, So. Portland area so she would have more info. if you wish. Let me know.

Sunday, August 17th 2008 @ 2:12 PM

Posted by Stacey Brooks Newton:

What a great little advertising piece! I just love the graphics. Very Art Deco.
Went to an estate sale today and thought of you- tons of vintage mod clothing. The girl ahead of me in line bought $500! The dresses were only $10 a piece and the hats were $8. Some real beauties:)
Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 9th 2010 @ 6:52 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Hi Stacey, I’m glad that vintage clothing reminds you of me! Shop on!

Monday, July 12th 2010 @ 7:14 PM

Posted by Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com:

Not sure if you’re a watcher of Mad Men, but in viewing the season premiere tonight they featured Jantzen as one of the clients and I immediately thought of you! Interesting to realize that b/c you know more about their history than I do, you would know before any of us if they decided to use Don Draper’s advertising pitch or not! :-)

Sunday, July 25th 2010 @ 8:38 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

MB, I actually do have a few thoughts on this subject, so stay tuned for a blog post later today.

Monday, July 26th 2010 @ 7:43 AM

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Filed under Ad Campaign, Summer Sports

Currently Reading: Women in Pants

Dear Readers, I am having some problems with my computer, and so I’m not able to make any new posts. While we are waiting for a miracle cure for my old HP Touchsmart, here is a post from five years ago.

I’ve been reading this book, Women in Pants, for the past day or so, and I’ve got to say how much I really loved it.   Ironically, I almost didn’t buy it; in fact had passed on it several times.  You see, I was prejudiced against it for several reasons.  First, there are more photos than there is print.  That is usually a bad sign for me, as I love great old vintage photos, but I like a  little information served up with them.  It’s been my experince that books full of vintage photos usually are just about what you see.  And that leads me to former objection number two, which was this book is pretty much the collection of one person, author Catherine Smith.  Again, I’ve really come to suspect books of this type as being long on images, short on info.

I’m happy to say that I did take a chance on the book, and I was terribly wrong about it.  Smith and Greig present a well researched, beautifully illustrated book on the subject of women who literally wore the pants in an era when it was almost completely socially unacceptable to do so.  The photos Smith and others have collected are accompanied with insights gleaned from many primary sources, which are quoted liberally throughout the book.

While the book shows women wearing pants in the expected ways – college girls in bloomers playing basketball, stage actresses dressed as men during performances – there are some really interesting and off-beat photos of women dressed as men lovers and even all female weddings with half the women dressed as men.  And then there are the women adventurers dressed as men as they flew aeroplanes and scaled mountains.  Fantastic stuff!

As a collector of old photos of women in sportswear, I’ve looked through thousands of vintage photos.  Usually the older ones just get a quick glance from me, but now I’ll be looking for the crooked mustache and the too large suit coat!

And here are some of my favorite women in pants:

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Filed under Currently Reading, Proper Clothing, Vintage Photographs

1920s Girl Power Tin Box

I somehow usually manage to limit any vintage purchases to clothing items for my collection or to print resources that might aid in research.  But sometimes an object so perfect that completely encapsulates my interests presents itself, and so it becomes part of my “archive.”  In this case it is this 1920s tin lunchbox.

That may seem to be an odd object to add to a vintage clothing collection, but with a theme this perfect, how could I say no.  As the vendor put it, “I’ve never seen so much 1920s girl power on one item.”  Neither had I.

For I’ve seen a lot of sports-themed decorated items that were designed for teenagers, but the great majority of them were geared toward boys.  There might sometimes be a token girl, cheering her boyfriend football hero from the sidelines, or maybe a shapely teen in a swimsuit, but the baseball player, the golfer, the racing driver would all be male.

The graphics on my new box put the girls front and center, and put boys in a secondary role.  This is obviously an item designed for girls, but it has none of the pink-tinged soft Hello Kitty motifs of products that are designed for girls today.  These are real girls who enjoy sports.  They are not portrayed as masculine girls, but they are shown to be strong girl competitors.  They are not trying to be boys, but are enjoying the freedoms given to girls in the twentieth century.

Interestingly, it was this generation of American girls who came of age in the 1920s that was the first to grow up knowing they would have the right to vote.*  Girls were growing up better educated and knowing they had opportunities that had been denied their mothers.

I’ve been reading a book written for teenagers about the battle for women’s right to vote, Petticoat Politics, by Doris Faber, published in 1967.  It was the type of book that I loved as a girl.  It showed that our rights were gained by hard work and perseverance.

I’m somewhat perplexed by young women today who claim they are not feminists.  But I think it is because they do not have a strong understanding of the history of women’s rights and because they mistakenly think that to be feminist is to be anti-male.   Maybe they should look to the young women on my tin box as role models.

Cooperation, not competition.

Just because there are no boys at the swimming hole does not mean that they can’t look cute.

Not only can she drive the race car, she can do it in style.

This independent girl finished her needlework pillow and promptly took it for a spin in her canoe.

Presenting the most non-aggressive basketball players ever!

*  Some states, starting with Wyoming in 1869, had already written into state law the right of women to vote.  There was nothing in the US Constitution that did not allow women to vote, as voting rules were left up to each state.  By the time the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, most women living in the West already had the vote.  With the passage of the 19th amendment all states were required to allow women to vote.

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Filed under Collecting, Too Marvelous for Words, Viewpoint

Harper’s Bazar, 1924

Today most people consider Vogue to be the queen of the fashion monthlies, but there was a time when Harper’s Bazar (later Bazaar) was the equal of any other fashion publication.  It is always a great treat to find older copies of Bazar, but these three just happily landed at my doorstep.

Back in the winter reader Susan Maresco wrote to ask my if I’d like to take some 1920s magazines off her hands.  I have a feeling she already knew I’d say yes.  In a few days two packages arrived, packed full of magazines from 1924 and 1925.  Among them are issues of The Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and these three issues of Harper’s Bazar.

Susan explained that these magazines came to her from her 84 year old friend, Tish.  When her stepmother, Meta Redden Thomas, died around thirty years ago, Tish took the magazines from Meta’s home.

From Susan:

Meta was a highly educated black woman who was probably born in the 1890s.  She had a law degree from Howard University and a master’s in math from Columbia University.  She took her degrees and returned to her home town of Baltimore where she taught at Douglas High for 40 years.  She remained single into her 40s when Tish’s father, Clarence Young, asked her to marry him and help him raise Tish, an only child.  Clarence was a busy lawyer in Washington, D.C. and wanted his daughter raised right after his beloved first wife died when Tish was only 7.  He knew Meta and liked her, considered her a kind, bright, good person, so he asked her to be his wife.  She loved Tish and raised her right. 

I love how Meta wrote her name on many of the magazine covers.  Perhaps she loaned them to friends and wanted to make sure she got them back.

Many thanks to Susan for the incredible gift, and to Tish for sharing Meta’s story.

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Filed under Collecting