Monday, February 28, 2011

The Little Brown Dress

Christian Dior, 1949Christian Dior New York ribbed silk dress with a large bow draped across the bodice.

It is said that every woman should have a little black dress in her wardrobe. But if you subscribe to the "seasonal" skin tone theory, the only people who can truly wear black near their face well are those described as "winter". The rest of us should choose something less harsh like gray, navy, or brown. Granted, I wear black a lot, but rarely on top because I am a "spring". Black near my face tends to accentuate the rings under my eyes and makes me look tired. I do like to wear brown, though. It just works for me. What about you? Do you wear brown as a neutral in your wardrobe?

In the spring of 1949, brown was a popular color of choice for many fashion designers (especially M. Dior), as evidenced in these photos.

Omar Kaim, 1949Omar Kaim for Ben Reig silk organza and satin evening gown with a large bow at the side.

Christian Dior, 1949, suitChristian Dior Couture brown wool suit.

Jo Copeland, 1949Jo Copeland brown tulle over taffeta dress with low decollete.

Christian Dior, 1949Christian Dior Couture silk dress with fly-away skirt panel at the back.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage 60s Mod Dresses and More!

New this week at Couture Allure are some fabulous graphic print dresses from the 60s and more 50s dresses. Be sure to check our What's New page to see all the new items!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Nina Ricci, 1970

Nina Ricci uses layer upon layer of printed silk chiffon for this dramatic look from Spring, 1970.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pattern, Color, and Texture - 1971

It seems that every few years designers go a bit wild with pattern and color combinations. There was no wilder time than the early 70s when those crazy hippies were influencing high fashion as never before. Need proof? Look no further than these designer clothes from 1971.

Two half circles fashion a skirt and shawl by Chloe.
The diving girl adds a whimsical touch.

Yves St. Laurent tie dyed silk organza evening gown.

Missoni ensemble. The silk jersey skirt is printed with an
embroidered pattern from a 1920s piano shawl.

Oscar de la Renta beach caftan.

Thea Porter Ikat print silk chiffon blouse and long vest worn with panne velvet knickers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quirky Fashion of 1984

When I started my own business in the 80s, these weren't the clothes I liked or wore. I was more traditional in my taste. Now, nearly 30 years later, there is something about the quirky clothing featured in this editorial from 1984 that I really, really love. The unexpected shapes, the combination of patterns, and the neutral colors all strike me as very, very wearable at this stage of my life (sans shoulder pads and crazy hair, of course.)

One of my favorite daily reads is Ari's blog, Advanced Style. The women Ari features have inspired me to bolder choices, especially with my accessories. And today, these images from 1984 have come along to inspire me to look for new/old shapes and textures in my clothing. What do they say to you?

Loose top and bias cut longer skirt by Oscar de la Renta in a fun combination of stripes and checks. Both pieces in linen. Anthony Ferrara mesh and black leather belt. Norma Kamali tights. Bottega Veneta luggage.

Issey Miyake combines various striped cottons into a full blouse over cullottes. Wide belt by Harry Parnass. Striped tights by Hue. Shoes by Armando Pollini. Satchel by Albert Nipon and suitcase by La Bagagerie.

Issey Miyake oversized and sleeveless sweater worn with a striped cotton wrap skirt. Black fishnets are worn over brown tights. Lancel luggage.

Zoran black cotton sweater and linen sarong style wrap skirt belted narrowly. Patchwork fur bag by Rafael Sanchez. Joan and David Shoes. Lancel luggage.

Salvatore Ferragamo cropped linen pants in a subtle botanical print and oversized black cotton shirt. Lancel bag. Shoes by Vittorio Ricci.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Sister the Stylist, Part 2

Yesterday I showed you some of the stylist work done by my late sister Barbara. Here is another Little Luxuries shoot she did for San Francisco Magazine in May of 1991. The photographer was Tony Metaxas. You know how much I love hats. I cherish these images.

Jenifer Mathieu black straw hat with natural raffia flower.

Frank Olive wide brim hat in orange and pink.

Phillipe pink sculpted burlap hat with silk ribbons.

Frederick Fox black straw hat with polka dot tulle veiling.

Jenifer Mathieu salmon straw pagoda hat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Sister the Stylist

A year ago this past weekend I lost my dear sister, Barbara. It's hard to believe a year has gone by since that tragic and traumatic time in my family. My sister loved fashion and made it her career. She worked in New York City for a time before moving to San Francisco in the late 1980s. There, she worked hard and became a fashion stylist for a few years before becoming a full time mom. She worked her way up in the industry and styled photo shoots for Levis, The Gap, and others, as well as many shoots for San Francisco Magazine.

While cleaning out Barb's personal effects, I came upon her portfolio from her stylist years. I took it out to look through it over the weekend and I want to share a couple of the shoots that Barb worked on for San Francisco Magazine. This editorial feature, called Little Luxuries, is from 1990 and was photographed by Ann Rhoney. The clothes are now considered vintage.

Celia Tehada silk organza blouse with black and gold lace skirt.

Giorgio di Sant'Angelo stretch netting gown.

Left: Bill Blass dress with illusion sequined bodice.
Right: Yves St. Laurent chiffon dress over black lace slip.

Carolyne Roehm velvet gown with fishtail hem and organza bodice.

Mr. Beene black and silver point d'esprit cocktail dress. Last year, I was sitting at Barb's dining room table flipping the pages of her portfolio when I came upon this image. I immediately burst into tears as I had the almost identical dress for sale on my website at the time. It has since sold and I had a hard time letting it go. It touched my heart to find this thread of connection between Barbara and I. Life is full of serendipity.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Remember, Every Day Will Count

Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of the loss of my sister. Following is a re-post of my tribute to her. The words still hold true. Please call your sister or brother, your mother or father, your aunt or uncle, your friend or your child and tell them how much you love them. Don't let the opportunity slip through your fingers.

Thank you all so very much for your heartfelt thoughts, prayers, and words of condolence over the past week. The loss of my dear sister has been devastating to me and my entire family. Your words meant a lot.

My sister Barbara was 5 years younger than me, which disproves the theory "Older is wiser", as she taught me many life lessons through the years. Barbara taught me how important it is to define your dreams and then go and get them for yourself. She taught me that it was OK to pursue being happy with my life. She taught me to take care of myself first, so I could be the best mom possible for my children. She taught me what it means to be a friend through her ability to listen and care. She taught me what it means to be a sister through her love for me, Pam, Becky and Brenda. She taught me what it means to be a daughter through her abiding love and respect for our parents. She taught me what it means to be a mother through her willingness to do anything for her children. She taught me what it means to be an aunt through her caring for all her nieces and nephews.

Barbara's passing has left a rift in my family that will never be filled. I wish that I had spoken with her in the week before she died and told her how much I loved her. As it is, I must believe that she knows it somehow.

Please reach out to someone in your family today and tell them that you love them. You never know if it will be your last chance.

During the past week, I found the following passage written by Barbara in her journal. It was written sometime in 2000, the year she turned 39. It was read at her memorial service on Thursday, and I want to share it with you here.

"What can I say, but be true to you and you will never disappoint yourself.
Try to treat your children as you would see your perfect self behave.
Don't sell yourself short. Amazing things can happen - even at 39.
If you were to know that you would have your last year on earth - how would you live your life?
Don't settle.
Know that every day will count.
Go surf, ride the bike with the kids, plant a tree, put a fence in, put a hot tub in.
Try to make a difference for your children."

Rest in peace now, my beautiful sister. I love you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage 50s Dresses and More!

New this week at Couture Allure are a bevy of beautiful dresses from the 1950s, as well as other fun stuff. Be sure to check our What's New page to see all the new items!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Paul Poiret, 1923

Another look at the genius of Paul Poiret. This dress is from 1923 and Poiret called it "Caucase". In English, that translates to "Caucasus", which is a region between the Black and Caspian Seas that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. That fabric definitely has an Asian influence, doesn't it?

Friday, February 18, 2011

David Crystal Dresses, 1955 #2

Today we continue our look at the 8 dresses by David Crystal that were sold in some of America's finest department stores in 1955.

Cotton striped sheath in blue, brown, or pink on white. The Halle Bros. Co. in Cleveland carried the dresses. Sold for $29.95 in 1955 (about $244.00 in today's dollar.)

This silk shantung full skirted dress featured polka dot accents at the neckline and sleeve cuffs. It came in black or navy with red polka dots or beige with brown dots. Hudson's in Detroit carried the line. Sold for $45.00 in 1955 (about $366.00 in today's dollar.)

Pleated stripes with lots of movement in rayon. The dress came in pink, navy, or aqua with white stripes. Burdines in Florida carried the line. Sold for $25.00 in 1955 (about $203.00 in today's dollar.)

Double breasted full skirt dress in Dacron/rayon blend checks. The dress came in navy, black, brown, or red with white checks. Julius Garfinckel in Washington, D.C. carried the line. Sold for $39.95 in 1955 (about $325.00 in today's dollar.)

I'm hard pressed to choose a favorite, but I really like the first silk printed one from yesterday. And the simple dress with matching sweater. The polka dots are really nice. And stripes are always fun................

Thursday, February 17, 2011

David Crystal Dresses, 1955 #1

When I say the name David Crystal, what comes to mind are the polyester dresses he made for Izod LaCoste in the 1960s. But the David Crystal label meant quality dresses, suits, and separates from the time the company began in 1906. In 1955, the David Crystal company took out an 8 page advertisement that featured 8 dresses for spring and resort. Each page featured a different high end department store that carried all 8 dresses. I'll show you the pages today and tomorrow. Which one is your favorite?

Gray or blue floral print on white silk surah fashions this classic shirtwaist dress. Bergdorf Goodman, arguably the finest department store in America, carried these dresses. Sold for $49.95 in 1955 (about $406.00 in today's dollar.)

A button front sheath in Tootal linen was offered in ice blue, pink, white, black, and orange. I. Magnin carried the line. Sold for $39.95 in 1955 (about $325.00 in today's dollar.) Want that handbag!

This darling rayon dress came with a coordinating wool sweater in pink, blue or beige. Thalimer's of Richmond carried the line. Sold for $49.95 in 1955 (about $406.00 in today's dollar.)

White polka dots on red, brown, gray, or navy silk shantung. Neiman Marcus carried the line too. Sold for $55.00 in 1955 (about $448.00 in today's dollar.)

I love the drawings, don't you? Unfortunately, there is no credit given to the artist.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carolyn Schnurer Swimsuits, 1955

Carolyn Schnurer began her design career in 1940 working for her husband's bathing suit company, Burt Schnurer, Inc. It's no wonder that as the years progressed, she continued to feature bathing suits every year. In 1955, Schnurer designed several suits with low-cut back treatments. I find it interesting how changing the strap placement entirely changes to look of the suit.

1. Everglaze rayon crash in a black and white embroidered design. The straps in back close with silver buttons. Sold for $30 in 1955 (about $244 in today's dollar.)
2. Black nylon velvet suit. Sold for $28 in 1955 (about $228 in today's dollar.)

3. Cotton pique embroidered with brown flowers with brown cotton sateen straps. Sold for $23 in 1955 (about $187 in today's dollar.)
4. Blue, black, and white gingham checks in a blend of acetate, cotton, and elastic. Sold for $23 in 1955 (about $187 in today's dollar.)

5. Brown and white striped wool and Lastex jersey. This one is my favorite of all. Sold for $18 in 1955 (about $146 in today's dollar.)

Here's the same suit in a color photo. I'll bet this look influenced Rudi Gernreich about 10 years later.