Tuesday, September 02, 2014

La Vigna Vicuna Trench Coat - 1954

Thinking about your winter coat yet?  You can't go wrong with a classic trench style like this one by La Vigna from 1954.  La Vigna was a coat and suit manufacturer based in New York that was best known for their use of vicuna and vicuna blend fabrics.

The underdown of the vicuna is the softest and most luxurious in the world, and the warmest for its weight.  So popular was this fiber in the luxury market, the poaching of the animals in the high Andes Mountains led to vicuna being listed as endangered in 1974.  In 2002, the rebound of vicuna allowed the classification to be changed to threatened in certain countries of South America and the fiber is again being used in manufacture under strict requirements.

In 1958, Fred La Vigna formed the "Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Vicuna", as he was very concerned about the poaching of these animals.  His company only used fabrics made from vicuna fibers collected in the wild during the once-yearly natural shedding process.  It takes the fleece from about 40 vicuna to make one coat.  Pure vicuna fabric sold for $75 a yard in 1958 (about $620 a yard in today's dollar,) and a pure vicuna coat sold for around $1000 (about $8,245 in today's dollar.)

As for the coat shown above, it is made of "Vicunaire", a fabric made by Einiger of 90% imported wool and 10% pure vicuna.  It sold for $110 in 1954 (about $974 in today's dollar.)

How do you make a classic coat more classic?  Add the touch of a leopard print scarf at the neck, of course!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Exciting News at Couture Allure!

You may have noticed that the Couture Allure website and this blog have been quiet lately.  There's a very good reason for that.  I have been working very hard over the last couple of months opening 3 retail spaces where you can now buy vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, accessories and jewelry from Couture Allure live and in person!  It's been a lot of work, but I am thrilled with the results.

This is the Couture Allure space at Antiques & Uniques in Ozona, FL.  Here, you'll find vintage from the 1930s - 1970s mixed with a few modern pieces that have a bohemian vibe.  


Vintage hats, scarves, jewelry handbags, shoes and home textiles round out the mix, along with some select vintage furniture finds.

Couture Allure goes tropical at House to Home in Clearwater, FL.  Here you'll find vintage clothing and accessories in brighter prints and colors, as well as smaller furniture pieces with a true Floridian flair.

In this space, you'll find lots of 1960s - 70s clothing mixed with vintage-inspired pieces that have that beachy, patio party style.

For the fun and funky, shop my space in Patina Retro and Modern, opening soon on Main St. in Dunedin, FL.  Here's a sneak peek at some of the vintage sparkle and shine you'll find there, along with vintage lingerie and accessories.  This is where you'll see vintage from the 1950s - 80s to add a little spice and glam to your style.

If you are visiting the Gulf Coast of Florida, I hope you'll stop in to see my retail shops. The website will be back in full swing in September with loads of fabulous vintage finds for fall and winter.  I promise!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Teal Traina Suit - 1966

Here's another good example of a fashion trying to bridge the gap between classic clients and the newer Mod looks for the younger generation in 1966.  Venerable old New England department store Jordan Marsh placed this full page ad in Harper's Bazaar.  The dinner suit by Teal Traina is made from a fabulous brocade with a large scale pattern and has a shorter skirt length to appeal to the younger woman.  The choice of the dark tights, gloves and helmet hat are trying to appeal to the Teal Traina and Jordan Marsh client of the past.  What you end up with is a muddled mess.  For this to work, the model should be wearing silver sparkle hosiery, no hat, no gloves and big hair.  It's too bad, as that suit is GORGEOUS!!!!!  Suit sold for $250 in 1966 (about $1836 in today's dollar.)

Photo from a full page ad for Jordan Marsh appearing in Harper's Bazaar, 1966.  No credit given.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Monte-Sano and Pruzan Suit, 1966

Monte-Sano and Pruzan was a high-end maker of tailored suits and coats based in New York.  For the Fall of 1966, they embrace the Mod era with a marvelous wool check enhanced with gold lurex threads for sparkle.  The knee-grazing length of the skirt would still appeal to the company's classic clients by being just mini enough, as would the appearance of the gloves in the photo.  Remember though, most women had abandoned wearing gloves by this time.  There is no notation of who made the shoes, but aren't they wonderful?

Photo by John Engstead for I. Magnin, appeared in Harper's Bazaaar,1966

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vacation Time! Are You Taking Vintage in Your Suitcase?

I am headed off for vacation and road trips for the rest of this month, but not to worry!  My assistant will be in the office to ship your orders and answer your questions while I'm away.

If you're going on a vacation of your own, I hope you'll be incorporating vintage into your wardrobe.  Need last minute ideas?  There are still lots of vintage and vintage inspired summer dresses, separates and accessories available at Couture Allure.

1970s cotton polka dot sundress

1960s Kahala cotton hostess dress
1970s hand embroidered peasant blouse

1980s abstract print cotton skirt
1950s 3-strand bead necklace

1970s large straw tote bag

1980s Benetton leather belt

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Balenciaga Evening Gown - 1963

Hi-low hemlines....they've been around for years and years.  For spring of 1963, Balenciaga created this gorgeous gown.  The hemline exposes the ankle in front and lengthens to form a train in back.  Note how the designer echoes that line at the hip where the skirt attaches to the bodice.  What you can't see here is that he also echoes it at the neckline, which is high in front but dips to a low U in the back. 

The dress shown in this picture was not made in the Balenciaga workrooms, however.  It is an authorized copy made in the US by Nanty and sold at such high end retailers as Bergdorf Goodman, Stanley Korshak and Nan Duskin.  Jewelry by Vendome.

Photo by Irving Penn for Vogue magazine, 1963.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

What's Under That Vintage Dress? Part 2

Monday's post about foundation garments got a lot of interest with comments, emails and even a phone call!  Here are a couple more examples today.

The strapless cocktail dress by Ceil Chapman shown above is worn over a strapless supportive bra and an open bottom girdle by Perma-lift. If you can't get the look without bulges between the two pieces, then wear an all-in-one corset.

And lest you think that girdles were only worn for evening, think again, my friends.  Women wore girdles with their daytime dresses too.  The Sportwhirl sheath shown here is worn with a supportive bra and panty girdle, both by Perma-lift.

I know what you're thinking.  "They don't make foundation garments like this anymore!"   WRONG!  There are several companies that do, including Secrets in Lace, as shown here.  Back in 2009, I did a long blog post about modern foundation garments to wear under your vintage clothing.  It includes tips and links to several companies that offer the types of corsetry you need.  Be sure to read the comments, as many readers shared other companies to look for too!