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Vintage Miscellany – November 12, 2018

Today is the day that in the US we celebrate the armed services veteran. In the rest of the world, yesterday was Remembrance Day, in which we stop and remember the horrific losses of war, and especially of WWI. But in the US, we have Memorial Day in May. Maybe if we switched the two days it would be less confusing to our friends in other countries.

And now for the news…

  •  There is what sounds like a textile lovers dream exhibition at the Cincinnati Museum of Art – The Fabric of India. It then travels to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.
  •   Did this hat belong to Abraham Lincoln?
  •   Halloween is in the past, but this is still a pretty good ghost story.
  •   One of the big problems in publishing a book on art – or fashion – is the cost of image fees.  An undesired side effect is that writers then come to rely on images from institutions that offer them at no cost, and we start to see the same objects over and over.
  •  John F. Kennedy’s Harvard sweater recently sold at auction for $34, 140.
  •   “80 percent of objects sold on the Internet under the Hermès names are fakes.”
  •   If you missed out on Marc Jacob’s “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis in 1992, great news! He’s reproducing much of it, and the clothes “based on ‘found crap'” will be for sale soon.
  • #ClothingofConflict
  • Thanks to Lynn at American Age Fashion for the wonderful photograph.

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Vintage Miscellany – October 21, 2018

We just got back from a road trip to southern Pennsylvania, by way of the Shenandoah Valley. The good thing about that route north is that one is never more than a few highway exits from a historic site or natural sight. One of our stops was at the Natural Bridge, which is actually both historic and natural. I’d been wanting to see the Natural Bridge ever since my cousin Nancy (above) visited it on a trip with our Aunt Adore and Uncle Corky in 1962.

Being gone for a while is absolutely the best thing one can do to revive interest in the world. So much to see! I put the news on hold (a big relief) and just soaked in the experiences. But the news was here waiting for me, and I do have a bit to share.

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Vintage Miscellany – September 23, 2018

Three young women, sisters, or maybe friends, wearing the casual outfits of the late 1910s and early 1920s. The girl on the right sports a middy with skirt (and could that be a wristwatch on her arm?), while the girl on the left is wearing a slightly more grown-up blouse with a banded bottom. The middle girl is wearing a knit sweater, which looks like it might be layered over another top. I hope they were as happy as they look.

And now for the news…

  •   The National Museum of Brazil burned, and the cultural artifacts of a nation were destroyed. It could happen here.
  •    The news came out earlier this month that the FBI had recovered a pair of Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz that were stolen in 2005. Details about the recovery are sparse, but the Smithsonian blog tells the fascinating story of how their conservators authenticated the shoes.
  • Jennifer Daley of the Association of Dress Historians, has compiled a list of online sources for fashion history research.
  • Burberry has announced they will no longer destroy unsold goods, and now other companies need to follow suit.
  •  Here’s a great story of how an exhibition led to the rediscovery of a dress belonging to Queen Alexandra.
  •   The Junto blog has just finished up a series of articles on colonial era dress.
  •   H&M is launching a line of clothing with prints from William Morris. Normally this would upset me (no fan of H&M) but they have promoted the connection instead of merely stealing his designs like happens so often.
  •   Henri Bendel is closing, and it is really not a surprise.  If you are in New York City before it closes in January, be sure to go by, if for no other reason than to climb to the second floor and revel in the Lalique windows.
  •  The word is out: Trump’s trade war is working… to the benefit of handbag counterfeiters in China.

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Vintage Miscellany – September 2, 2018

Do we really have just one more day of summer? Is it reasonable to assume that Labor Day automatically brings autumn to us? If you live in the southern half of the USA, you are probably like me, and scoff at such nonsense. Yesterday I passed through the Piedmont of North Carolina, within sight of Pilot Mountain, seen above, and I can tell you that the 91* of yesterday does not automatically disappear just because tomorrow is the first Monday of September.

I keep a pile of photos just so every other Sunday morning I can go through them to find one to illustrate the Vintage Miscellany. Not only did I see Pilot Mountain yesterday, but a book I’m reading mentioned it as well. The book is The Road to Salem, by the great Moravian historian and archivist, Adelaide Fries. Ms. Fries made it her life’s work to gather (and transcribe, as most of the works were in German) the many records of the Moravians. It is because of her work that so much is known about the early history of the Carolina backwoods.

And now for the news…

  • You don’t live in a vacuum, so you know that Aretha Franklin has died. Of all the millions of words written about Franklin over the past weeks, none are better than Robin Givhan’s.
  •  Marilyn Kirschner has written an in-depth report on the just released Bill Cunningham memoir.
  •  The Abraham Lincoln Library Foundation is in financial trouble and made be forced to sell part of their collection.
  •   The Art of the Late Bloomer, 18th century paper artist Mary Delany proved life begins whenever you want it to.
  •   I officially no longer know the definition of “cool”.
  •   There was a time when “made in China” did not mean “goods produced cheaply”. Can the Chinese silk industry recapture that luster?
  •   A textile stitched by recovering WWI British soldiers was found in a couple’s home, and they have no idea how it arrived there. Big credit to the couple for doing such careful research on the piece.
  • Is the Chinese government quietly stealing back art and antiquities stolen from China? It’s a fascinating theory.
  • One thing is certain, the white tennis dress is dead (except at Wimbledon of course) and many clubs no longer have a dress code. It was a bit shocking when the French banned Serena William’s so-called catsuit from being worn in the future, saying that it was disrespectful. I’m not buying it, and Serena herself pretty much stayed out of the talk, talk, talk, and went on to completely slay with her tutu-inspired dress at the US Open.

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Vintage Miscellany – August 12, 2018

I’m noticing an alarming trend on social media, and that is the insistence of many that autumn is in the air. Personally, I refuse to believe this nonsense, as I’m pretty sure that last week it as the beginning of June. So, enough with the winter’s coming talk!

And now for some news…

    •   The Worthing Museum of Brighton University has a great feature called Objects Unwrapped, in which objects from the collection are researched and written about.
    •   The ongoing problem with preserving items made of synthetic materials extends to bathing suits. Thanks to Betts for the link.
    •   The archive at Italian brand Max Mara is simply amazing.
    •   If nothing else, Paul Manafort is guilty of crimes against fashion and of good taste.
    •    Bihor Couture, not Dior couture.
    •   If you can’t get to New York to see Fashion Unraveled at the Museum at FIT, you can still explore the concepts on their website.
    •   The importance of the artifact is made clear with one little girl’s sweater.  This article also effectively highlights the evils of Nazism.
    • The American Civil War meant hard times for textile workers in Britain. 
    • The Imperial War Museum site is showing art made by women artists during WWI depicting women at work.

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Vintage Miscellany – July 29, 2018

There are times when I run across on old photo and I just wish the people could actually speak to me. This picture was probably taken around 1915 on the occasion of a school or church play. And while none of the girls looks particularly enthusiastic about her budding acting career, the girl in the middle front seems to be a bit more annoyed than most. Did she resent being a bee, when some girls were picked to be flowers? Did labeling her thus lead to issues of self esteem? We can only wonder.

And now for the news…

  •   Here’s a nice article about the clothing of Marie Curie , even though the title is a bit misleading.
  •    Some of Marie-Antoinette’s jewelry will be coming up at auction.
  •    Jonathan Walford has written a nice history of the Breton shirt.
  •    Burberry burned millions of dollars of merchandise in order to keep the brand from being “devalued”. My favorite part of this article is their claim that the items were burned in an environmentally safe manner.
  •    An article claiming Queen Elizabeth was trolling her guest Trump with the wearing of her pins was, unfortunately, quickly debunked.
  •    When Lilly Pulitzer closed shop in 1984, it was thought that her entire archive had been destroyed.  But the fabrics were designed by Suzie Zuzek at Key West Fabrics, whose archive was preserved.
  •    It appears that the poor sales of the made-in-China Ivanka Trump clothing line was not limited to Canada. The brand has now been shelved.
  •   When was the last time you read or heard an historian being credited in a news story?
  •   The history and science behind the stiletto heel, revealed.
  •    You can buy a tacky souvenir New York tote bag all over the city for less than $20, but if you want the $2000 Balenciaga version, hurry before the law suit forces them off the shelves.

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Vintage Miscellany – July 1, 2018

I’m having a hard time realizing that it is actually July. Summer needs to slow itself down! If you have had enough of the heat (or the cold, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere) then a museum trip may be what you need. There hasn’t been much in the line of fashion history news in the past two weeks, so this special edition of Vintage Miscellany will focus on current exhibitions. Hopefully there will be one in your area. And feel free to add any I missed in the comments.

That’s all I have, but be sure to check out your own local museums. Even if there is not a “fashion” exhibition, you might be lucky to encounter clothing, textiles, jewelry, and other fashionable objects anyway.

Added:

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