Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Gilbert Adrian Suit

Just look at the geometric precision used in constructing this 1940s suit by Gilbert Adrian! A simple stripe fabric is cut and resewn at various angles. Each of the stripes is precisely matched in an intricate marvel of design. I am in love.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to School Separates - 1955

If you were a teen or young 20-something in 1955, this is what you wanted for back-to-school, back-to-college, or for casual wear.

Jantzen separates were offered in lots of co-ordinating colors. You could mix-and-match their sweaters with pants, skirts, and Bermuda shorts. Prices ranged from $7.95 - $19.95 in 1955 ($65.00 to $164.00 in today's dollar).

More separates from Jantzen.
Orlon sweaters from various manufacturers were worn with pants and skirts.

Thermo-Jac "boy-inspired" khakis, plaid shirts, and plaid lined jackets. Pants sold for $5.98, shirt $4.98, and jacket $6.98 in 1955 (about $49.00, $41.00, and $57.00 in today's dollar).

Cotton long sleeved blouses by Laura Mae were so well priced, you had money to burn! All sold for $2.98 in 1955 (about $24.00 in today's dollar).

All photos from 1955 advertisements.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Prints of Leonard Fashion

I recently listed this stunning vintage 70s panné velvet dress by Leonard Fashion on my website. While perusing my vintage magazine collection, ads for the company have been catching my eye ever since. The other day, I came across an article about the company in a 1973 magazine and I had to share a bit of it with you.

The textile firm of Jacques Leonard et Cie was founded in 1954. In 1958, the company decided to launch a fashion line and Daniel Tribouillard was made Chief Executive Director. Tribouillard invented a new printing process in 1960. He patented this technique which allowed for a knit fabric to be continuously printed, and that technique is still used today.

Each season, the team at Leonard reviews about 5000 designs which are presented by the artists and print designers. Of those, only about 200 make the cut for final review.

After carefully examining the designs for their ability to be engraved and their commercial viability, those designs are further reduced to about 100 per season. For every design, a photoengraver separates the various areas of the print, each of which will be engraved into a separate frame for the printing process.

Here, a printer uses a frame to hand silk screen the design onto silk jersey, the fabric most often used by Leonard. The fabric will be screened several times as each color is applied individually.

This woman is examining the final printed fabric for flaws. You'll notice there is no Leonard signature in this fabric. This is not uncommon in Leonard prints from the early 70s.

Leonard ad, 1971

After the fabric prints are complete, the garments are then imagined and designed, based upon the prints.

Leonard ad, 1972

In 1987, Tribouillard bought the company and became Chairman. He remained the head designer until the Fall of 2001. The Leonard Company is still alive and well today, with over 100 stores worldwide. Veronique LeRoy is the current head designer of the firm.

Leonard ad, 1973

Please note: Biographical information about Leonard Fashion is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vintage Suits - 1949

I don't think you can find anything more unique and more sexy than a vintage suit from the late 1940s through the 1950s. Suits from this era are fitted to the body, exquisitely tailored, and they always have unique design details. They were made with great attention to fine construction. You'll usually find bound buttonholes, high quality fabrics, interfacings and linings, and wide seam allowances to allow for individual alterations.

Just look at the Paul Parnes suit from 1949 shown above. It closes with buckles instead of buttons, the white lapel and cuffs are probably removable for a different look, and the pockets and peplum are top-stitched. This suit sold for $125.00 in 1949 (about $1155.oo in today's dollar).

The fact is, a suit from the 1940s or 50s will always be of higher quality than anything you can buy today, unless you're shopping couture. That makes a vintage suit a fabulous bargain as well.

The suit above, by Philip Mangone for Bonwit Teller has bands of ruching at the lapels, cuffs, and at the hem edges of the jacket and skirt. Mangone was one of the premier suit makers at the time, and his suits are highly sought after today.

In the 1940s and 50s, most women had at least one suit in their closet to wear to meetings, to dinner, to go shopping in the city, for travel, or to wear to appointments with professionals such as doctors, attorneys, or teachers. Because suits were so well made, a woman could expect one to last for years.

This suit by Zuckerman and Kraus has three rows of buttons at the front. It's the center row of buttons that is used to close the suit. The rounded pocket edges mimic the hem of the jacket.

One suit to last for years? Yes, that was the expectation and the norm. A bride would usually purchase a good suit as part of her trousseau. She would wear it as her going-away outfit, and then continue to wear it for years to come. Women changed the look by changing their accessories, just as we do today, but they had the added options of hats and gloves in addition to handbags, jewelry, scarves, and coats.

Another beauty by Philip Mangone. Here the plaid lapels stand out against black wool. The pockets are decorated with plaid cording and the suit came with a matching plaid coat. The set sold for $395.00 in 1949 (about $3646.00 in today's dollar).

Why not try a vintage suit on for style? I know you'll be glad you did! We've got a great selection for you at Couture Allure.

This Cymonette Original suit was available in black, navy, or pale gray wool. Lines of trapunto accent the shoulders and the pocket edges have the same shape. Sold for $60.00 in 1949 (about $554.00 in today's dollar).

Photo #1 by Harold Halma, #2 by Radkai. All 5 photos are from advertisements in a 1949 magazine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

LAST CHANCE Sale at Couture Allure

We've got loads of new vintage goodies coming to you for fall, but we have to make some room for it! All this week, we'll be marking some great vintage items down to $50.00 each during our LAST CHANCE Sale! You can't afford to miss these deals! Come on.....where else are you going to find a vintage Dior for $50????? Check back often for fabulous bargains all week! Simply type "Last Chance" into the search box at Couture Allure and find your dream deal!

Jonathan Logan Dresses - 1955

I've talked about my love of Jonathan Logan dresses in the past. While perusing an August issue of a 1955 fashion magazine geared toward younger women, I found page after page of ads for Jonathan Logan dresses. Each ad was paired with a regional department store, like Goldsmiths, Best Apparel, and Woodward & Lothrop, and included a coupon for ordering the dress. That way, the manufacturer and the department store shared the cost of the ad, and Jonathan Logan dresses got a lot of notice. Smart man, that David Schwartz.

The "Starlight" sleeveless dress came with a matching bolero jacket in blue, pink, or purple faille. Sold for $19.95 in 1955 (about $164 in today's dollar).

Soft corduroy full skirted dress came with a removable dickey at the neckline so the dress could go from day to date with ease. Sold for $14.95 in 1955 (about $123 in today's dollar).

Velveteen dreams in full skirted or slim silhouettes. Full skirt dress came in blue, purple, or black. Slim dress came in purple, red, or black. Sold for $22.95 and $14.95 in 1955 (about $189 and $123 in today's dollar).

Mix-and-match separates that were dyed to match. Wool flannel skirts were matched with a wool jersey top or a cotton puff sleeved blouse. All 4 pieces came in blue, red, or green. Prices ranged from $3.98 to $8.98 in 1955 (about $33 to $74 in today's dollar).

Black wool flannel fashions a polo collar dress with elastic waist or a sleeveless dress that could be worn with a blouse for daytime. Sold for $17.98 and $19.98 in 1955 (about $148 and $164 in today's dollar).

Nubby wool tweed full skirted dress is accented with soft angora at the collar and cuffs. Available in lilac, royal, or gray. Sold for $25.00 in 1955 (about $205 in today's dollar).

Wool check slim cut dress came with a matching boxy jacket in brown, gray, or turquoise. Set sold for $25.00 in 1955 (about $205 in today's dollar).

Mix-and match-separates in corduroy with a black wool jersey blouse. The separate pieces included a full skirt, slim skirt, boxy jacket, and pants. Prices ranged from $5.98 to $8.98 in 1955 (about $50 to $74 in today's dollar).

Don't you love Jonathan Logan too?

All photos from advertisements in a 1955 magazine.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cat Deeley Wears Vintage

I'm a huge fan of the TV show So You Think You Can Dance on Fox. One of the best parts of the show is watching what host Cat Deeley will wear each week. The 5'9" tall British born gal is a former model with a great sense of style. She often wears vintage dresses on the show, which she mixes with modern accessories and shoes to great effect. She has an affinity for styles from the 60s and 80s, and I can tell that she has many of the dresses shortened before wearing them. We can only hope that her tailor is leaving all of the original length intact rather than cutting the hems off!

Cat wears a vintage 60s yellow dress with beaded collar and sleeves and a 60s sequin knit dress, both in season 7.

Here, a 60s beaded fringe cocktail dress from season 7 and a 60s pink brocade dress with beaded neckline in season 6.

Here, an 80s strapless gold lamé dress and an 80s green beaded dress, both from season 6.

Lastly, an 80s sequined dress and a 60s blue dress with Cleopatra collar, both from season 6. I loved that blue dress. Her stylist did her hair long and straight that night, and the look really worked!

What will Cat wear this week?

All photos courtesy of

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses

Well, there WAS lots of great new stuff this week at Couture Allure, but several of those have already sold. That's OK, though, there's still some beauties left for you!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Swimsuit and Cover-up

In the early 1940s, actress Marsha Hunt wears a green and white print cotton two-piece swimsuit with a matching green and white cover-up jacket. Note the platform sandals!

Photo taken by MGM studio photographer Clarence Bull.

Friday, July 23, 2010

24 Hour Birthday Sale at Couture Allure!

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the Couture Allure website! To celebrate, we're offering a rare opportunity for you, our Blog readers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. For the next 24 hours, take 10% off any and all purchases at our website, including sale items! Simply enter coupon code Birthday2 at checkout, and your discount will automatically be calculated. Discount does not apply to shipping costs or prior purchases. Sale ends promptly at Noon Eastern Time on Saturday, July 24. And thanks for being a part of the Couture Allure party!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 Fashion Prediction

Season 4 of Mad Men starts this Sunday, July 25 on AMC!!! If you love Mad Men as much as I do, you've been dying for any and all details, but this year AMC is keeping a tight lid on things. I guess even the cast doesn't know what will happen until they show up for rehearsal. If we assume that things will pick up right where they left off with Don starting his own agency, then the show will be set in 1964 this year. Mon dieu, I only have 2 magazines from 1964 in my collection. That is a situation I must correct! In the meantime, I thought I'd give you a taste of what was going on in fashion in 1964, so you have an idea of what to expect from Betty, Joan, and all the gals.

In 1964, the sheath dress reigns supreme. Full skirted styles are completely gone from fashion magazines, and I think they will play less of a role on the show this year. Even though fashion magazines don't show them, it takes a couple of years for real women to catch up, so I'm sure we'll see one or two, especially on Betty.

You may see some pleated styles, but those skirts will not be worn with crinolines.

The look is simple and elegant with less emphasis on the waist. Expect to see dresses that skim the body from shoulder to hem. Blouson bodices over fitted skirts are also popular.

Architectural seaming was made popular by Jackie Kennedy. Expect to see influences from her fashion sense on the show this year, especially on Betty.

Tailored garments with simple lines will also point to Jackie's ongoing influence.

Cowl necklines, stand-away collars, and rolled collars are very popular, as are abstract prints. Keep in mind, however, that you probably wont' see many hats on the show this year. Even though magazines are still showing them, younger women like Betty, Joan, and Peggy consider them old fashioned by 1964.

Suits are important, with boxy jackets over slim skirts.

Expect to see lots of pretty blouses worn with skirts or slim pants...

....and kitten heeled shoes!

Evening gowns will have simple cuts with empire or raised waistlines. Hair is becoming pouffier and we might see some blue eyeshadow or pale lipstick.....maybe.

Be patient through the commercial at the beginning. It's worth it!