Friday, October 31, 2008

Vintage Coats on Sale at Couture Allure

I've been having a frustrating battle with my newsletter service, as I sent a newsletter yesterday at 11:30 AM which you all should have received by now. Newsletter service says the emails all went out, facts say no they haven't. I didn't receive mine and not one person has opened this email. Who knows when they'll go out? You'll probably get yours at midnight on Sunday, the 33rd. Bah!

The newsletter offers a sale on vintage coats, so I thought I'd better put that information for you here. From now through Monday, November 3, save 20% off on all coats and furs at Couture Allure. Simply enter coupon code "coat" at checkout. The coupon is only good on coats and does not apply to previous purchases.! Click here to see all Couture Allure vintage coats. Or click the pictures to see more details.

Have a Vintage Halloween!

If ever there is a day to wear orange, it's Halloween! This gorgeous suit was shown in the December 1957 issue of a fashion magazine. The magazine calls this color "golden apricot" - um, OK. Orange. The suit is by Handelsman & Raiffe and is trimmed in lynx fur. It was available at Henri Bendel for $185.00 ($1420.00 today) I can't find any references to "Handelsman & Raiffe" anywhere, and the label is unfamiliar to me, but isn't the suit yummy?

My impression of this photo? Love the suit, but the model is way too thin! If you thought super thin, anorexic models were a modern phenomena, think again. This gal is so thin, the back of the skirt is sagging because her non-existent derriere can't fill it out. Perhaps a little trick-or-treating would help!

Have a fun vintage Halloween, watch out for ghosts and goblins, and play safe!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doing Housework in a Dress

In these ads from the October 1959 issue of Ladies Home Journal, one would think women dressed up to do the cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Somehow, I don't think life was as pretty as these advertisers (men) would have us think. I can remember my mom wearing pants and blouses during the day, but always changing into something pretty before dad got home from the office. And she would usually pop on a shirtwaist when going out to run errands, at least when I was younger. But wearing a dress while vacuuming or scrubbing the bathroom? I don't think so.

Thank goodness for jeans and sweats!

And microwaves!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vintage Designer Puzzle - Who is Rappi?

During my years as a seller of vintage clothing, I've run into this label a few times, but I can never find any information about this designer or design house. All of the garments I've had by Rappi have been from the 50's and 60's, and all but one were cocktail or evening dresses.

So, I'm sending out a plea to the vintage community. If anyone knows anything about Rappi, please comment here or contact me through the website.

UPDATE: You'll find some great information about Rappi in the comments. This photo of her comes from a vintage sewing pattern.
UPDATE 2:  I was contacted by one of Rappi's relatives.  Her real name was Sydonia Rappaport Samalman and she died in 2000.

Henry Rosenfeld - Designer for the Budget Minded

Henry Rosenfeld started his career as a shipping clerk in Manhattan's garment district. He worked his way up the ladder at Bedford Dress, Inc. before striking out on his own in 1942.

The war years were a difficult time for the garment industry due to government restrictions on fabrics and designs. Rosenfeld had contracted to buy fabrics for his line just before the OPA (Office of Price Administration) was preparing to set ceiling prices on fabrics to control inflation and help the war effort. Many garment manufacturers cancelled contracts to purchase fabrics in order to take advantage of the new, lower prices. But Rosenfeld was smart. He honored all of his contracts at the agreed-upon prices that were set before the ceilings went into effect. In later years, when fabric shortages affected the industry, grateful fabric manufacturers gave Rosenfeld first choice.


Elizabeth Hilt was the designer for Henry Rosenfeld, which was a budget label, with dresses ranging from $10.95 - $19.95 in 1946 ($121 - $221 today). Yet the dresses were well cut and simply tailored, which gave them an expensive look. In 1945, Rosenfeld grossed $8,000,000 on sales of 2,000,000 dresses to 12,000 stores.

One of those stores was Lord & Taylor, which featured a Henry Rosenfeld dress in this ad for Glamour magazine in November 1949. This dress was sold in Lord & Taylor's Budget Shops for $17.95 ($163 today). Fashioned of rayon lamé in silver, gold, or gun-metal grey, it has a velvet sash at the waist.

Thank you to Rosenfeld's nephew for pointing out these photos that were featured in a Life magazine article about the designer and his company in 1951.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Party Dresses

Just listed at Couture Allure - some great vintage party dresses! Click on the pictures for details!

Christie's London 20th Century Fashion Auction

Christie's London will present an auction of 20th Century fashion from a private collector on Thursday, October 30. Even if you can't bid, you should try to attend the preview currently open and ending on the 29th. This will be an opportunity to see fashions from such important designers as Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Andre Courreges, Rudi Gernreich, Ossie Clark, Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaia, Gianni Versace, and others. You can see the entire auction catalog at Christie's website.

1960's Paco Rabanne leather and aluminum wedding dress:

1960's Yves St. Laurent evening gown:

1960's Pierre Cardin "Satellite" Cape:

1988 Stephen Sprouse dress after Keith Haring:

1987 Jean Paul Gaultier evening gown:

1970's Ossie Clark dress with Celia Birtwell print:

Anyone up for a quick trip to London?

Vintage Vogue Pattern 196 - 4 More Looks

Here are the other 4 looks produced from Vogue Design 196 as shown in the October 1959 issue of Ladies Home Journal magazine. I showed you look number 1 yesterday. Look number 2 is made in grey wool flannel. The pleated dress is matched with the boxy jacket for a suit look. The belt makes all the difference with this look. Big mother-of-pearl buttons are matched to bound buttonholes and the pleats on the skirt are pressed to a sharp crease. I love the addition of the yellow gloves and hat. They perk the grey right up.

Another suit look, this time in violet tweed, with the slim sheath dress matched to the fitted jacket. I don't know where the magazine found a mouton fur collar tinted to match the fabric, and I doubt you could today. But, you could remove a fur collar from a vintage coat or suit, take it to your fabric store, and match your fabric to it. The magazine also suggests this dress can be worn for evening without the jacket and by adding sparkly jewelry. Hat by Mr. John.

Look 4 includes the slim dress in red wool jersey matched with the boxy jacket worked in faux Persian lamb. To pull this off, you'd have to make this from a high quality faux fur - not the cheap stuff that is used to make stuffed animals available at your local big chain fabric store. Donna Salyer's Fabulous Furs sells the most incredible faux fur fabrics that look and feel like the real thing. Expensive, but worth every penny if you don't want to wear real fur. The jacket shown requires 1 3/4 yds in a With Nap layout.

Finally, look 5 consists of the slim dress worked in gold silk brocade. A beautiful fabric cut with the utmost simplicity is always in fashion. How did she make a belt to match? You can buy belting that you cover with your fabric, both online and at your local fabric store. Add a buckle and you're done! I love the idea of wearing a large rhinestone brooch on the belt, but to the side of the buckle.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Vintage Vogue Pattern 196

The October 1959 issue of Ladies Home Journal magazine did a feature about 5 different outfits you could make from one pattern, namely Vogue Design No. 196. This pattern features two dresses, one with a straight skirt and one with a pleated skirt. It also features 3 different jackets. There are an infinite number of ways you could combine these pieces, and the magazine shows 5.

The first version uses the pleated dress and the short bolero jacket. The dress is made of plaid wool and the jacket of blue velveteen with brass buttons. The outfit is worn with a wide belt, a brooch pinned near the waist of the jacket, a navy hat and white gloves. And yes, that is Jane Fonda, who was also featured on the cover of this magazine, which I showed on Saturday. She does not receive credit by name anywhere in the magazine, but you can't mistake those eyes!

Fonda was 21 when these photos were taken. She had a very brief career as a model while studying acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. It is reported that she used the money from modeling to pay for those acting lessons. She was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine twice. By 1960, Fonda had moved on to start her acting career in the film Tall Story.

More from Vogue pattern 196 tomorrow!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy - And a Quiz

Do you recognize this model on the cover of the October 1959 issue of Ladies Home Journal? Answer on Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vintage Cocktail Dress - One Last Illusion

We just have a peek of a dress in this 1949 ad for Coro Pearls, but what a peek it is! The dress, by Martini, has an off-the-shoulder neckline that reveals a glimpse of an attached red bustier that accents the decolletage. This gives the illusion that madame's racy red undergarments are showing, but it is part of the dress. I love the addition of the red hat. Just another way to entice without revealing too much.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vintage Cocktail Dress with a Jacket

Here's another way to make an impression. This dress looks rather covered up for evening. But presto, chango:

Take off the jacket and you've got a strapless bombshell of a dress. Interesting how the buttons on the jacket match the buttons on the dress, so you have the illusion (there's that word again!) of one piece, when it is actually two.

This dress by Saks Fifth Avenue is from 1949. The ad states:

"Sheila Lynn's beautiful change-of-costume. Jacket on at the restaurant table, nude shoulders when the music begins."

Now if we only had a fancy restaurant around here that had dancing after dinner, I'd be all set. Love those strappy shoes!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vintage Cocktail Dress - More Lace

Ooh la la, another use of Chantilly lace - this one from 1949 by Henri Bendel Young-Timers. The photo is in soft focus, so you may have difficulty making it out, but the dress is fashioned from black taffeta with the lace covering the bodice and forming the sheer cap sleeves. The scallops at the edge of the lace extend beyond the taffeta for an alluring neckline.

The dress was originally sold in brown, red, navy, and black and retailed for $69.95 (that's $634.00 today!). The model wears a black velvet bandeaux hat and a rhinestone bracelet. She carries a tiny clutch purse. This ad appeared in the November 1949 issue of Glamour magazine.

In other news, you may not know this about me, but I volunteer at the MSPCA dog shelter in Boston. Meet Lucky and Calvin.

Lucky the Chihuahua and Calvin the Cairn Terrier were surrendered to the shelter because their owners could no longer care for them. The two dogs have always been together and the shelter would like to place them together in a new home. I worked with these boys yesterday, and they are sweet as can be. If you are in the Boston area and are interested, or know someone who might be, please contact me or the Boston MSPCA.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vintage Cocktail Dress - Another Illusion

More of that sexy lace, but this time it is hidden behind sheer black silk marquisette. The lace covers the deeply cut decolletage of pink silk satin. Another enticing illusion, don't you agree? Featured in a full page ad in the December 1957 issue of Vogue magazine.

Karen Stark was the designer for Harvey Berin and her name was found on the labels, though not in the ad shown here. Even though Stark was the designer, Berin had final say on whether a design would be produced or not. The company was known for its ultra-feminine styles.

"I like dramatic clothes for evening and uncluttered clothes for daytime. I like to use beautiful fabrics and unusual trimmings. I design for everyone - short women, tall women - but always very feminine women."

Karen Stark, 1966

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vintage Cocktail Dress - Illusion Lace and Goodbye, Mr. Blackwell

Trompe 'oeil - fool the eye.

Illusion - a deceptive appearance or unreal image.

Lace is so important for this holiday season, and I've always loved the look of 1950's illusion lace cocktail dresses. This one, by Mary Black, uses black Chantilly lace layered over flesh silk satin. The flesh satin blends with the wearer's skin to give the illusion that she is nude under the lace. Of course, nothing shows, but the dress certainly entices! From the December 1957 issue of Vogue magazine, this dress sold at high end department stores, such as Bergdorf's, I. Magnin, and Sakowitz.

Get the look with this 1950's cocktail dress by Carnival, available at our website:

In other news today, we mourn the loss of Mr. Blackwell, who was most famous for his Worst Dressed list each year. Richard Blackwell started his career as an actor, but abandoned that for fashion design in 1958. His designs were always extremely feminine and sexy. His first Worst Dressed list was issued in 1960, and included Zsa Zsa Gabor and Anna Magnani. The list brought Blackwell the celebrity he desired, and he became a favorite on the talk show circuit. He died October 19, 2008 at age 86.

Here's one of his incredibly sexy cocktail dresses, this one with an amazing rhinestone choker attached to the dress with rhinestone strands. It's available at my website, Click the picture to see the details.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy - Rose Valois Hat

One more hat - this one by Rose Valois, Spring 1950. Have a great weekend!

P.S - Check out these beauties just added to the website: