Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Fantastic Floral Hats from 1954

Evidently French milliners had decided 1954 was the year of fanciful floral confections, judging by these marvelous hats from that year.  Some are stunning, some are silly, all are striking.  Which one is your favorite?

Gilbert Orcel

Gilbert Orcel





Legroux Souers

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

1930s Chanel Adaptation Dress and Jacket Ensemble

In the days before Chanel made ready-to-wear clothing, it was common practice for Mme. Coco to authorize American department stores and high end boutiques to make reproductions of her designs for women in the U.S.  Buyers and designers for these stores would attend the Paris couture shows, then purchase the designs they wanted to reproduce here in America.  Hence, the Chanel Adaptation label.

In 1934, Chanel was showing many garments with fly-away sleeves and capelets in her couture line.

Now available for purchase at Couture Allure is this rare Chanel Adaptation label dress and jacket that I have dated to 1934.  Even though adaptation garments are not original couture, they are still of the highest quality and were made specifically for well-to-do clients by the American stores that offered them.  Remember, in 1934, America was struggling through the Great Depression, and the women that could afford to purchase garments like this were few and far between.

This ensemble is made of dusky pink rayon crepe and is in an even harder-to-find larger size with a 42" bust and 32" waist.
All of the pulled thread work and faggoting stitches are done by hand and the sleeves of both pieces are adorned with the tiniest pintucks I've ever seen.  The ensemble was well taken care of and stored properly for decades until it came to me.  I hope you'll go check out the many photos of this rare set on my website.  It's a joy to behold!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Couture Allure Supports Reading Is Fundamental

I was a painfully shy child. I found comfort in reading. Books were my friends, stories were my playmates, reading taught me about the world.  Children's literacy is near and dear to my heart.  But we can't encourage our children to read if they have no books.

Reading Is Fundamental is an A-rated charity that works to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.  They work to put books in the hands of children who don't have them.

From September 1 - December 31, 2014, 10% of all sales at Couture Allure, SewHallie and through my retail shops goes directly to Reading Is Fundamental to support their programs.  If you feel strongly about children's literacy, I hope you'll consider a donation to this important charity.  Thank you!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Valentino Cape, 1969

This exquisite cape by Valentino comes from his couture collection for Spring 1969.  The coral branches on the ivory satin are completely painted by hand.  Worn with coral colored crepe pants.  Exquisite, no?

Monday, September 08, 2014

6 Hilariously Awkward Model Poses - 1960

I was perusing a fashion magazine from 1960 this morning and kept coming across pictures in which the model was posed in a very awkward way.  I thought they might bring a little fun to your day.

This girl looks like she is holding a dress that is far too large for her up with her armpits.  If she lifts her arms, that dress is going to slide right down.

Sit on the chair, but don't wrinkle the dress!  Isn't this one of those difficult yoga poses?

No one will notice your hair if you hold this rose.  Caress the rose, make love to the rose, it's all about the rose.

She needs a prop.  Get her a book!  Reading a book while standing in heels and wearing gloves and a big fur hat is perfectly normal!

Model with long legs and chair with short legs.  Make it work!

The gal on the left looks like she definitely has an opinion about the gal on the right, and it's not pretty!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Plaids the Couture Way - 1952

Today I want to show you some couture garments from 1952 that are made with plaid fabrics.  When looking at these designs, notice how perfectly the plaids are matched at the seams, across openings and even on pockets and pleats.  If you've ever sewn with plaid, you know how difficult this is to do.  Enjoy, appreciate, then be inspired!

Dress by Germaine Lecomte.  Note the the plaid on the lapels and the perfect matching across the diagonal opening on the bias cut skirt.  Oh...and those sleeves!

Dress by Agnes Drecoll.  See that line that crosses above the bust?  Look how perfectly it drops across the sleeve. 

Dress by Germaine Lecomte.  Matching plaid is difficult enough.  Matching it on the bias?  That makes my brain hurt.  Note the pockets at the hips.  Perfectly matched.

Dress by Henry a la Pensee.  Take a plaid and play with pleats to make a new design.  Then make it perfectly symmetrical.  Oh and match the first pleat to the flat fabric at the center front from waist to hem.  How did he do that?

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!