Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dresses for the Heat of Summer - 1956

Air conditioning was not mainstream in 1956.  Some public buildings offered it, but at home window units were expensive and uncommon.  Women tried to stay cool by wearing lightweight fabrics, although slips, bras and girdles were still de rigueur.  Today, summer dresses from 1956 that were made to beat the heat.

Pink and white checked cotton lawn is criss-crossed with insertion lace for a light airy effect.  Larry Aldrich.  Sold for $110 in 1956 (about $914 in today's dollar.)

Cotton voile in black with copper colored dots.  Oleg Cassini.  Sold for $70 in 1956 (about $582 in today's dollar.)

A sweet cotton poplin playsuit gets dressed up for town by wearing a co-ordinating floral skirt over it.  Both pieces by Pat Premo.  Sold for $40 in 1956 (about $332 in today's dollar.)

Semi-sheer cotton voile in a cool champagne color fashions a simple shirtwaist dress.  Vera Stewart.  Sold for $95 in 1956 (about $789 in today's dollar.)  Mr. John lace hat.

White pintucked cotton batiste with rows of insertion lace layered over pale yellow lining.  Harvey Berin.  Sold for $175 in 1956 (about $1454 in today's dollar.)

How do you dress to stay cool in summer?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Day Celebration Sale at Couture Allure!

We're Having a Party!
Couture Allure is celebrating the fact that we now have 3000 fans on Facebook!  We're having a party and you get the presents!  Today only, take 20% off your entire purchase at Couture Allure.  Use coupon code "facebook3000" at checkout and your discount will automatically be applied.  The discount is good on the entire site, even sale items!  Discount does not apply to shipping or previous purchases.  Sale ends at noon on Thursday, June 30.

Paris Frocks - 1930

A reader has requested more posts about garments from the 1930s and 40s.  Today, a look at daytime dresses and suits from Parisian designers in the spring of 1930.  You can see in these examples that the dropped waist of the 20s is moving back to the natural waistline of the 30s. Are you as much in love as I am with these?

Jean Patou blue and white tweed tissue wool suit with a linen and lace blouse.  Can you see the bracelet handle on the purse?
Elsa Schiaparelli wears a dress of her own design in black silk crepe backed satin.  The front skirt drape was new and "of the moment".

Two polka dotted silk crepe de chine daytime dresses by J. Suzanne Talbot.

Cecile Welly wool tweed suit accented with a black fur collar.  Puppy dog not included.

Lousieboulanger silk crepe de chine afternoon dress.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simple Black Top Six Ways - 1945

During the years of WWII, fabric restrictions limited the amount of fabric manufacturers could use in garments.  Designers adapted by making skirts slimmer and shorter and eliminating fussy details.  Women became more creative with their use of accessories.  Here, from the summer of 1945, 6 ways to wear a simple black top.

Left:  A dress with cutaway shoulders and high neck, black on top, chestnut brown on bottom.  Worn with a leather belt and multiple necklaces.
Right:  One shoulder dress, black on top, red on bottom.  Worn with a leather belt and multiple bangle bracelets.  Both dresses by Henry Rosenfeld.  Sold for $15 in 1945 (about $188 in today's dollar.)

A simple rayon crepe top is worn with a beige rayon shantung skirt that ties at the front.  Both pieces are by B.H. Wragge.  Set sold for $23 in 1945 (about $289 in today's dollar.)  The model wears a Lilly Dache snood in her hair.

The same B.H. Wragge top is paired with a long sarong skirt in black and white cotton batik by Mady Martell.  A sparkling brooch is pinned at the top of the sarong wrap.  Skirt sold for $95 in 1945 (about $1,193 in today's dollar.)

A black surplice jersey knit top worn with a rayon taffeta evening skirt in red, white and green plaid.  A gold metallic belt finishes the look.  Sold for $35 in 1945 (about $439 in today's dollar.)

A Minx Modes sundress looks like separates.  The top has wide shoulder straps and swirling embroidery.  The skirt is striped in yellow, black and gray.  Sold for $18 in 1945 (about $226 in today's dollar.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank You and 1949 Evening Gowns

Thank you a thousand times for the huge outpouring of support after my blog post last Monday.  As your comments and emails poured in during the day and throughout the rest of the week, it became crystal clear that my time spent here is worth every minute.  I appreciate every one of you and am so glad that you enjoy my work.  I want you to know that I approved and posted every comment that came in, including a couple of less-than-positive remarks from anonymous posters.  In response to a few suggestions, I have removed the word verification from comments and will be watermarking the photos in a less conspicuous way.  And now, back to work!

I wish I could tell you where Louise Dahl-Wolfe took these beautiful photos in 1949.  The background of the antique silvered mirror wall provides a perfect setting for three luscious party dresses that are perfect for summer.

Left:  Red and white polka dotted cotton organdy fashions a strapless pouf of a dress by Fred Perlberg.  Prarie points accent the edge of the bodice.  Sold for $29.95 in 1949 (about $284 in today's dollar.)
Right:  More organdy, this time in white printed with bouquets of roses.  The gown is by Ceil Chapman and has a ruched bodice with a shoulder wrap that extends from one side.  Sold for $70 in 1949 (about $665 in today's dollar.)

David Klein designed this dress to look like a flower.  White taffeta forms petals over netting in the skirt.  Sold for $35 in 1949 (about $332 in today's dollar.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Dresses

New this week at Couture Allure are a variety of vintage dresses.  To see all the latest additions be sure to check out our What's New page at the website.

1960s Space Age metallic party dress.

1950s cotton shirtwaist dress in a larger size.

1960s Samuel Winston silk dress in royal purple.

1960s op art silk dress and coat.

1970s Scott Barrie matte jersey dress with coat.

1950s black illusion lace cocktail dress.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - June Bride, 1940

Bride Barbara Cushing (later to be commonly known as Babe Paley) wore this exquisite silk jersey bridal gown by New York designer Mabel McIlbain Downs in 1940.  Downs was one of several American designers who became better known after WWII essentially shut down Paris couture. 

Photo by Horst.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vintage Swimsuit Inspiration - 1973

Dots and stripes.  Didn't Barbie have a striped suit like the one on the right?  You can see from today's photos how lycra changed swimwear dramatically.  Both suits by Ungaro Parallele.

Strategically placed cut-out, bracelets, and fabulous sunglasses!  Suit by Nautic
Simple black halter suit with a low low low-cut back.  The only accent needed is long straight hair.  Silhouette.
Twiggy wears a barely there hand knitted string bikini.  You can just see the openwork knitting on the top.  These teeny handmade bikinis were hugely popular in the early 70s.  Twiggy wears hers with a black wig.

Set off a simple black bikini with a printed head scarf worn around the head and then wrapped and tied at the neck.  Pierre Cardin Diffusion.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vintage Swimsuit Inspiration - 1966

How about a swimsuit with a hood?  Oh yeah.  Nina Ricci Boutique.

Newsboy cap atop a wild pop-art print.  Tom Brigance for Sinclair.

Reversible?  You bet!  Purple and mustard wool knit suit and cape by Maljana.  Both pieces reverse to the opposite color.  Cool.

How does that teeny-tiny top stay up?  I'll bet is has wires.  Bikini bottom is wrapped and tied in front.  John Weitz.

Halter neckline with tiny little buttons and loops to leave open or attempt to close.  Beach towel makes a huge turban for your wet hair.  Cole of California.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vintage Swimsuit Inspiration - 1956

Check out the neckline of that little jacket.  See how the opening extends into rounded tabs with buttons?  Love that!  Set by Andre Ledoux Sports.

At the beach, wear your hair in a simple braid.  Blue and white polka dot rayon skirted suit by Laure Belin.

Border printed fabric offers lots of opportunities to change the look of a design.  Simple white mules and a parasol are the perfect accessories.  Set by Laure Belin.

Slits in the skirt mimic the V-neckline in a nice example of design symmetry.  A vintage swimcap adds that extra je ne sais quoe. Suit by Marie-Rose Lebigot.

Cat's-eye sunglasses and a parasol add the perfect touch! Yipes stripes in cotton by Jeanne Lanvin - Castillo.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Debbie Reynolds Auction

By now, you've probably heard about the record breaking prices set at Saturday's auction of Debbie Reynold's Hollywood costume and prop collection.  Reynolds started the collection in 1970 when she hand picked and purchased a large selection of items that MGM had sold to an auctioneer.  She continued to collect and receive donations for decades.  For years, she sought to to find a museum for the collection and she came close 7 times, but each venture ended in failure.  Reynolds was left with the bills for architects, designers, contractors and materials.  As the creditors started to close in, she was forced to admit defeat and came to the heart-wrenching decision to sell the collection. 

As Reynolds said of the Hollywood studios that didn't care, "It's not so much that I had vision, it's that they had none."   It is sad to find that many of the most iconic pieces from the auction are now headed to Japan and Saudi Arabia.  An important part of America's movie history will no longer reside here.  Following, a look at some of the highlights of the auction.  Keep in mind that ending bids shown do not include the 23% buyer's premium or California state taxes.

Claudette Colbert's gold lame gown from Cleopatra, 1934 sold for $40,000.

Judy Garland's blue dress worn during the first 2 weeks of filming The Wizard of Oz sold for $910,000 to a buyer representing Saudi Arabian oil money.

Garland's ruby slippers sold for $510,000 to the same buyer.  These are one of about 7 pair used during the film.

Marilyn Monroe's red sequined costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sold for $1.2 million.  "We're two little girls from Little Rock."

If I had been able to bid on anything, this would have been my choice.  Bette Davis' gown from The Virgin Queen sold for $22,500.  Bette Davis is my all-time favorite actress and this was one of her best roles.

Grace Kelly's dress from To Catch a Thief sold for $450,000.

Charlton Heston's tunic and cape from Ben-Hur sold for $320,000.

Elizabeth Taylor's ceremonial headress from 1963's Cleopatra sold for $100,000.

The second highest ending auction price, Audrey Hepburn's Royal Ascot dress and hat from My Fair Lady sold for $3.7 million.

Called the "most recognized costume in film history", Marilyn Monroe's pleated crepe dress from The Seven Year Itch was also the most highly anticipated lot of the auction.  The dress set a record price for movie memorabilia and sold for $4.6 million.  Sigh..........

It's hard to believe, but there will be two more auctions of Debbie Reynold's massive collection, one in December 2011 and the other in spring, 1012.