Sunday, October 31, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses

New at Couture Allure this week are some over-the-top vintage designer evening gowns! I've also added some more sweaters. Be sure to check our What's New page for all the latest listings!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Guy Laroche, 1964

I showed this gown a while ago on the Couture Allure Facebook page, but I wanted to share it again. This is one of my all time favorite vintage dresses and I would faint if I ever found it. White lace is covered in mink puff balls. Guy Laroche, 1964.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Charm School - The Art of Conversation, Part 4

Welcome to Friday Charm School! There's a lot to this conversation stuff, isn't there?

Conversation Essential 4: Develop Creative Listening Skills

While creative listening will never take the place of participation in a conversation, it is the listener who is often able to keep the conversation ball moving along. Does that sound contradictory? Here's how it works:

The creative listener truly listens to what another person is saying, becoming involved in their story and silently taking note of interesting points that bring up questions or comments. Then when the ball passes to you, you can easily keep the conversation moving with a remark that ties in directly to the statements of the last person. And you can easily ask questions that show you are interested in the other person and that will bring out the best in them.

Here's an example. John is talking with Sarah and Krissy about his recent trip to Paris. Sarah, our creative listener, has been paying attention with interest. When John finishes his story, Sarah might say, "John, I've always wanted to visit Paris, and you make me feel as if I'd been there!" Her creative listening helps keep John enthused in the conversation. Then, to keep the ball moving and to involve Krissy, Sarah can say, "Have you ever traveled to France, Krissy?" This is an invitation for Krissy to pick up the conversation. If she hasn't been to Friday Charm School and drops the ball, Sarah can turn back to John and a question like, "Did you visit any other countries in Europe, John?"

This may sound hokey, but with practice you'll be a natural at keeping the conversation lively and interesting with ease.

Creative listening is nothing more than expressing a sincere interest in another person. It's the highest form of making others interested in you - by you being interested in them!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Designer Chester Weinberg

I've talked about Chester Weinberg in the past, but today I want to show you a few more of his pieces. Weinberg trained at Parsons School of Design and worked at Leonard Arkin and Herbert Sondheim before becoming the designer at Teal-Traina in 1963. In 1966, he struck out on his own with financial backing from William and Edward Parnes, son and nephew of designer Paul Parnes. The dress shown above is from his first collection in the Fall of 1966. Bergdorf Goodman carried his line, and this dress sold for $160 (about $1085 in today's dollar).

Weinberg's designs were always exquisitely tailored and he only used the finest fabrics. “Fabrics set the whole mood of my collection. I cannot design a dress until I know what the fabric will be.” said Weinberg. You can see that high quality fabric and tailoring in the suit shown above, also from the Fall of 1966.

For the Fall of 1967, his fabric choices became a bit more bold. Here, a geometric tent shaped coat in black and white wool.

A vibrant black, green and red chinchilla cloth coat is flared and has a heavy brass zipper at the side. Sold for $190 in 1967 (about $1250 in today's dollar).

In the early 70s, the Chester Weinberg company floundered due to poor sales of the midi lengths he offered. In 1973, he found new financial backing and re-emerged to offer this collection centered around cashmere sweaters. The Weinberg label closed in 1975, but he continued to design for the Jones Apparel Group and Ballantyne Cashmere.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vintage Chanel

Do you notice a difference in Chanel from 1979 to 1983?



Do you know what the difference is?



The difference is Karl Lagerfeld. He was hired as the head designer at Chanel in 1983 and brought the floundering company out of the doldrums. His fresh designs appealed to a new crop of younger women while still paying homage to the spirit of Coco.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Filene's French Shops

If you live in Boston, you remember Filene's, the city's venerable old department store in Downtown Crossing. Founded in 1881 by William Filene, the store was best known for the famous Filene's Basement where surplus and closeout bargains were housed. But if you left the chaos and hubbub of the basement and made your way upstairs to the Third Floor, you would find the elegant French Shops. Started in the 1920s and lasting into at least the 1960s, this is where Filene's offered exclusive and expensive clothing from the best known designers of the day. While it may have started out offering only French clothing, by the 1940s the French Shops carried garments by the elite of American designers as well. Below are images from a two page advertisement in Harper's Bazaar from 1949.

"Filene's French Shops present Adrian's Baroque Memories, a commanding dinner costume with dramatic long-paneled stole."

"Filene's French Shops present Nettie Rosenstein's Petal Chemise, billowing lace over a sheath of pure silk taffeta."

Adrian and Nettie Rosenstein? Where's that time machine when I need it?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vintage Sportswear - 1936

A typical women's riding habit from the 1930s.

When you think of clothing in the 1930s, your mind probably conjures up an image of a tall slender woman wearing a slinky bias cut evening gown. Or maybe you picture her in a floral print tea dress made of a sheer cotton or rayon that floats over a slip. But sportswear was also an essential part of most women's wardrobes. Sweater knits were very popular, as were split skirts and ski pants. Here's a look at some sportswear outfits from 1936.

For hunting and fishing, women wore menswear inspired wool suits with split skirts.

Instead of boots, spats were worn over the shoes to protect the lower legs
when walking in the woods.

A typical ski jacket and pants in heavy wool loden cloth.

Heavy wools like this fell out of favor for skiwear by the 1940s,
as snow tended to clump and stick to the fabric.

That probably wasn't a concern if you could afford fur ski clothes!

Split skirts were also popular for skating, whether on the pavement or the ice.
Here, a suggested outfit for roller skating in New York consisted of a turtleneck sweater, plaid culottes, a matching hat and belt, plaid socks, and suede oxford shoes. Sounds like fun to me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses

New at Couture Allure this week are several vintage designer dresses. Be sure to check out our What's New page to see all our new items this week!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Norman Norell, 1952

A handsome and beautifully tailored suit by Norman Norell from 1952.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Charm School - The Art of Conversation, Part 3

Welcome to Friday Charm School! Today we continue our look at the Art of Conversation.

Conversation Essential 3: Have Something Interesting to Say

One of the best things you can do in preparation for a party or get-together is to go armed with at least one or two interesting stories, anecdotes, or thoughts about the latest world news. Remember, the best conversations are not mere accidents. Plan in advance to have something interesting to say!

Here are some ideas for topics that will make for great conversations:

- Recent news headlines from your favorite newspaper, online news website, or blog.
- Your favorite book or a recent one you've read, or your favorite author
- Your favorite type of music, a favorite song, or musician
- Sports headlines or sports you participate in
- Places to go and things to do in your city
- Your hobbies or interests

Talking about ideas or experiences that interest you will show in your enthusiasm and tone of voice, and thus will interest others. That's the way to keep the conversational ball rolling!

Avoid falling into the conversational pitfall of trying to talk intelligently about something you don't have an interest in or understanding of. It is much more graceful to admit you are not familiar with a subject than to pretend that you do. No one likes a phony.

Taking a look back at My Fair Lady, here are the amusing consequences that happen when Eliza is introduced to society. She has been taught how to speak, but not what to talk about!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vintage Fur Coats - 1958

I am a firm believer that if you chose to wear fur, you should always chose vintage. That keeps coats and stoles already in existence out of our landfills and at the same time doesn't support the unneeded slaughter of today's animals for fashion. In showing images of vintage furs on this blog, I hope to inspire you and show you how beautiful they can be for the modern woman. Enjoy these images from 1958.

Scaasi for Ben Kahn Russian Crown sable jacket with large collar. Lined in red and gold lamé.

Emba pale gray mutation mink coat by Emeric Partos of Bergdorf Goodman.

Alixandre Empress Chinchilla stole.

Two Elsa Schiaparelli licensed Southwest African Persian Lamb jackets with mink collars.

Maximilian black Russian broadtail lamb completely lined in natural dark ranch mink.
Mink also forms the bateau neckline.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mad For Plaid - 1972

It's 1972 and the whole world is mad for plaid. Plaid coats, plaid suits, plaid skirts, plaid pants. Plaid, plaid, plaid!

Get Gaston Jaunet wool plaid coat with cape style sleeves.

At left: Webe plaid overcoat with detachable capelet.
At right: Redine Loubens herringbone wool cape and knickers.

Dormeuil tartan plaid pant suit with bell bottoms.

At left: Boutique Nina Ricci plaid wool jacket worn over black pleated dress.
At right: Jean Patou Boutique bias cut wool coat with kimono sleeves.

Pierre Balmain Boutique fuzzy wool coat with capelet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My 1000th Post!

Today is an important one in the life of this blog. This is my 1000th post! I started this blog in January of 2006 as a way of sharing my love of vintage clothing from my unique perspective of a being a fashion designer and an experienced seamstress. It has evolved over the years into a way to share my extensive archive and library with you. I wish to thank all of you who are devoted readers of my blog. It is truly a labor of love, one from which I derive the deepest satisfaction. Let's get started on the second thousand, shall we?

I thought you might enjoy a look at some of the highlights of the past:

My first post from back in January 2006 no longer has the original pictures. I was still trying to figure out how to use Blogger at that point! My second post in the same month talked about the design technique of balancing asymmetry and showed a dress I was selling on eBay. That's my old mannequin. I used her for several years, but she is now long gone.

The post that has gotten the most views over the years is one from May 2009 entitled, "My Cinderella Dress". There must be a lot of people searching for Cinderella dresses out there!

The second most popular post was one I did about 1950s prom dresses in March of 2009. Hmmm, I sense a theme here!

The post that got the most attention and the highest number of comments ever was the one I did about Fraudulent Label Switching in the vintage industry in January of this year. It took months of research to pull this post together and I feel it is some of the most important work I've ever done.

My favorite post is one I wrote in August 2008. I poured my heart and soul into "An Ode to My Grandmother", the most important woman to have touched my life.