Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Debutante of the Year - 1947

Do you recognize her?  It's Jacqueline Bouvier wearing a $59 off-the-rack dress in 1947.  In 6 years she would be the wife of Senator John F. Kennedy and in another 7 she would be First Lady.  Do you think she had any idea of what was to come behind that smile?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Couture Stripes

If you've ever sewn with stripes, you know what a masterpiece this dress and jacket ensemble is.  Made by Paris couturier Marie-Louise Bruyere in 1955, the workmanship here astounds me.  Bruyere insets horizontally striped panels between the vertically striped ones from neckline to hips.  Each piece would have been individually cut by a master cutter to keep the stripes straight on the pattern piece.  Then each piece would have been fitted and sewn with extreme care to keep the stripes straight.  Those long vertical darts that give shape to the dress do not extend through the horizontally striped bands.  I cannot imagine the amount of hours it took to construct this marvel of design.  It's pure genius!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Forgotten Designer Mary Black


When perusing Vogue or Harper's Bazaar magazines from the 1950s, in the first few pages you are most likely to see ads from Bergdorf Goodman, Lilli Ann, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, Emba Mink and Vanity Fair.  Amongst those ads from well-known names, you will quite often see a full page ad for a dress from Mary Black.  I know......who?  I've never found a dress with the Mary Black label and I've often wondered about this forgotten designer.  This week I was determined to dig up more information about her.  There is not much to go on, but with the help of fellow VFG member Lynne, here is what we found.

Mary Black was a London designer who started her business sometime in the 1930s.  She emigrated to the U.S. in 1940-41, probably because of the war.  In July of 1941, Mary Black of London leased showroom and salon space on W. 47th St. in New York. In addition to welcoming exclusive clients at her salon, Mary Black dresses were also sold at fine specialty shops and high end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and I. Magnin.  In 1947, her dresses sold for $80 - $400 (about $812 - $4,060 in today's dollar.)

In late 1951, Mary Black of London moved her business to the 10th floor of 18 East 50th St. in New York City.  She maintained a personal apartment there as well.  On July 29, 1954, Mary was wed to Nichlas Baciu in a civil ceremony.  She continued in business until at least the early 1960s.


As a designer, Black preferred simple lines without an excess of decoration.  She felt that women preferred to adorn their dresses with their own jewelry and so would avoid the use of buttons, rhinestones etc.  She would often use simple bows or flowers, but always made them removable.  She did not like belts and would only offer a belt if a store or customer insisted.  She felt a belt ruined the lines of a dress.

Black often traveled to Europe to buy the expensive fabrics used in her dresses. As we can see in the ads shown here, she liked to use lace for evening wear.

In 1960, Mary Black made a cocktail dress for Bergdorf Goodman that was offered in sizes 10-40 (yes, that's size 40.)  It was a simple tiered sheath with a draped capelet caught at the back with a single rose and came in black or navy.  The dress sold for about $245 in 1960 (that's $1,874 in today's dollar.)  Bergdorf's offered the dress to appeal to the larger sized woman who wanted the more stylish designs usually only available to the size 10 figure.

Sometime between 1958 and 1962, Black moved her business again, this time to the more high end neighborhood of W. 57th St. off of 5th Avenue.  She continued to serve private clients as well as selling to department stores and high end boutiques across the US.

Thank you to The Spectrum Vintage for allowing me to show you a Mary Black dress that they sold years ago.  Isn't it a beauty?

Please note: This biography about Mary Black is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free Shipping at Couture Allure!

Happy Holidays from Couture Allure!


As a special thank you, we're happy to offer free standard shipping worldwide through Saturday, December 3.  Use coupon code "freeship" at checkout and your shipping cost will be automatically deducted! 

Note:  Some U.S. orders will ship via First Class Mail or Parcel Post instead of Priority Mail during this promotion.  Please allow extra time for delivery. 

Free shipping is limited to First Class International Mail for international orders.   International orders that must ship via Global Priority or Global Express Mail are excluded from this offer. 

Offer does not apply to previous orders and expires at midnight Eastern time on Saturday, December 3.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Erik Schaix, 1988

Wouldn't you love to wear this as your Christmas dress?  Designed by Erik Schaix in 1988, the dress is fashioned of white tulle and is adorned with 3-dimensional embroidered strawberries.  Erik Schaix is still in business today on the rue Saint Florentin in Paris.  He designs custom couture and ready-to-wear clothing and accessories.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Enjoy Today the Old Fashioned Way

When did this become what Thanksgiving is all about?  Instead, I hope you'll enjoy today in other ways that have some meaning.

 Spend time with your family.

 Sit down and watch your kids at play.  Even better, get down on the floor and play with them.

 Warm your tootsies by a cozy fire.

 Play a game of cards with grandma.

Read a book or two.  

 Take a long walk in the woods.

Enjoy some leftovers.

Continue to give thanks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. It's a day when we stop to think about all the things in our lives that we're thankful for. Today, I am thankful for you.

I'm thankful for all my dear readers who come here each day to share a bit of my world.

I'm thankful for the online friends I've made who also enjoy vintage fashion.

I'm thankful that I have a place to share things the that I am passionate about.

I'm thankful that you "get" me, that you understand, and that you love the same things I do.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Going to Grandma's

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. Today will be one of the busiest travel days of the year. So whether you're going to grandma's by car,

by train,

by ship,

or by plane,

please travel safely!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Paris Couture - 1938

Let's get back to our series on Paris couture from the 1930s.  Today, a look at evening gowns from 1938.  Which is your favorite?

Mainbocher uses gold lamé for the bodice of this bias-cut gown.  The matching cape is completely lined in lamé as well.  What an entrance maker!

Callot Soeurs gown in heavy Duchesse satin.  The bodice is red and the skirt is gray.  The waist and shoulders are covered in diamante rhinestones.  Note the corded hem.

Madeleine Vionnet halter gown in black silk velvet accented with red and purple flowers.

Lucien Lelong blue velvet one-shoulder gown with sapphire buttons down the side.

Germaine Lecomte strapless gown in red tulle with red and silver lace insets.

Nina Ricci black and gold velvet.  Note the perfect placement of the gold diamond design.

Marie-Paule black silk taffeta gown with rows of ruffles adorning the skirt.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Party Dresses - 1954

As the holiday party season approaches, have you given thought to what you'll wear to all those special events?  Please tell me you're not considering jeans when you can dress up your surroundings in vintage!  Today's looks are from 1954.

Bergdorf Goodman dress in silk lamé.  The lamé was offered in silvery pink or blue, but you could also have the dress made in silk satin in gold, blue or pink.  No black!  Sold for $135 in 1954 (about $1,136 in today's dollar.)

Filcol strapless crystal pleated silk organdy dress worn with a white velveteen coat embroidered in blue and silver.  Set sold for $200 in 1954 (about $1,683 in today's dollar.)

Harvey Berin pale pink satin strapless ballgown.  Sold for $180 in 1954 (about $1,515 in today's dollar.)

Adele Simpson dress in brown lace layered over cafe-au-lait lining.  Satin bands encircle the neckline and tie at the shoulders.  Sold for $265 in 1954 (about $2,231 in today's dollar.)

Hannah Troy black Chantilly lace dress with bands of satin and tiers of netting.  Sold for $175 in 1954 (about $1,473 in today's dollar.)

What are you wearing to your holiday parties this year?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Hats and the End of Fall

This week at Couture Allure we've added several vintage fur hats and the last of our items from this year's fall/winter collection.  Coming soon will be loads of vintage goodies for holiday gift giving, including scarves and jewelry.  Be sure to check our What's New pages to see all the latest listings!

1930s broadtail lamb tilt hat

50s black faille princess coat

70s Eugenia Santambrogio rayon blouse and skirt

60s Chester Weinberg orange dress with lion's head buckle

60s Malcolm Charles metallic dress and coat

70s Saks wool gabardine pant suit

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Balenciaga, 1951

Yet another simply gorgeous gown for your holiday dreams.  This strapless black velvet gown has a mermaid hem filled with layers of white tulle.  I've always had a soft spot for this style of dress because I had the Solo in the Spotlight dress for my first Barbie.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fur - Chanel, 1934

Leave it to Coco.  Here she takes a simple brown wool coat and turns it into a face framing beauty with a huge sable fur collar and matching trim at the sleeve cuffs.  Even the little hat is sable.  Photo from 1934.  By the way, if you've been looking for a sable hat, we've got one for sale at Couture Allure.  Check it out!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Silver Shines for Evening - 1966

Silver was the choice for evening wear in 1966.  Not gold, not copper, not bronze, but silver, silver everywhere.  Accessories were silver too: shoes, evening bags, stockings and jewelry.  Makeup glinted with silver in lipsticks and eye shadows.  Shimmering, shiny silver was everywhere.

Anne Fogarty

Lynn Stuart mylar blend jeans and shirt with Golo booties.

Norman Norell

Galanos caftan with beaded sleeve cuffs

Teal Traina silver ribbons on sheer organza

Pat Sandler
Joan Arkin
Would you wear any of these looks today?  Which would you choose?