Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

It's Leap Day!  Let's all jump for joy because we have an extra day to live it up this year!
  Go have some fun today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jo Collins - 1958

Jo Collins was a junior label made by Mandel Manufacturing Company in St. Louis.  St. Louis, MO was the center of junior clothing manufacturing in the U.S. from the 1930s into the early 1960s.  Jo Collins was likely not a real person, but rather just a name used by the manufacturer.  The Jo Collins line consisted of dresses, suits, and separates in junior sizes and was active from about 1949 to the early 60s.

The rose print dress above is from 1958 and was made of Everfast cotton.  I love rose prints and this one is especially pretty.  

The same rose print cotton is used in separates as part of the same line in 1958.
Left:  One-piece playsuit.  Sold in 1958 for $8 (about $63 in today's dollar.)
Center:  Blouse and skirt.  Sold in 1958 for $16.50 (about $129 in today's dollar.)  
Right:  Blouson top and shorts.  Sold in 1958 for $14 (about $110 in today's dollar.)

As I've said before, I love coordinating separates.  Don't like the blouson top?  Wear the little blouse from the center with the shorts.  Pop the skirt over the playsuit.  The possibilities are are limited only by your imagination!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Favorite Academy Awards Gown

I am quite amused this morning reading various opinions regarding who wore the best and worst gowns last night to the Academy Awards.  One site gives Gwyneth Paltrow an A for her Tom Ford gown with matching cape, another site gives her an F.  One site says Glenn Close's dress and jacket by Zac Posen were a "Hit", another calls it a "miserable Fail."  When did we start grading the gowns worn by Academy Award attendees?  I prefer to just enjoy the fashion and say everyone looked beautiful.

Instead of rehashing last night's Oscar fashions for you, I thought I would share one of my favorite gowns from the past.  Grace Kelly wore this gorgeous silk satin gown to the 27th Academy Awards in 1955.  The photo was taken for the cover of Life Magazine by Phillipe Halsman.

 The gown was designed by Edith Head (here with her back to the camera) and was worn with a matching evening coat.

Grace Kelly won the Best Actress Oscar that night for her role in The Country Girl.

It is said that the yards and yards of silk used for the gown cost over $4,000.

I love the coat worn over the dress.  It makes it that much more regal and special, don't you think?

Here you can see the gown in motion as Grace accepts her award.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Dresses and Hats!

New this week at Couture Allure are more vintage dresses for spring and some wonderful hats that are perfect for Easter, the Kentucky Derby or the Queen's Jubilee!  Be sure to check our What's New pages to see all the latest listings.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Christian Dior, 1949

Christian Dior, Spring 1949.  I don't really need to say anything else, do I?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Dress - 1949

One red dress, perfect for a day of shopping on 5th Avenue or the Champs Elysees.  Cotton pique is set off with a long row of buttons down the front and a bow at the neckline.  The huge full skirt has deep unpressed pleats and pockets at the hips.  By J.L.F Originals.  Sold in 1949 for $35 (about $441 in today's dollar.)  Bring your own reusable shopping bag, in this case a straw on by Simon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adele Simpson Dress and Capelet - 1964

I always enjoy these ads from Bergdorf Goodman.  The artwork is superb and the wording is beautifully descriptive.  Today, "The Capelet Costume" from February, 1964.  Sold for $160 (about $1,170 in today's dollar.)

"The Capelet Costume...full-of-flair and elegant bravado.  Watch this shape-in-the-news sweep South and into Spring '64, a beautiful balance of crisply-controlled width and eased slenderness.  Adele Simpson flings the breezy little silk-lined cape over a dress of matching rayon Fibranne, its waistline lashed with a sliver of leather.  Navy with vivid green lining and belt, sea green with turquoise, gold nugget with black or black with gold nugget.  Sizes 6 to 16.  From our Plaza Collections, Fourth Floor."

I do think I'd have to choose sea green with turquoise lining and belt.  How about you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In the Swim: Vintage Swimsuits, 1959

Whether you're going on a tropical vacation or just dreaming of one, you're sure to be inspired by these vintage swimsuits from 1959.  2 piece suits were still considered pretty daring at this time, but they begin to show up more and more at this time and into the next few years.  Which one do you like?

Cole of California made these 4 co-ordinates in Siamese silk plaid.  The 2 piece swimsuit could be worn with or without the matching sarong skirt and beach jacket.  4 piece set sold for $70 in 1959 (about $545 in today's dollar.)
John Weitz pleated cover-up is worn over a 2 piece Lastex and cotton faille suit.  Set sold for $25 in 1959 (about $195 in today's dollar.)

Jantzen International Set "Shoji" suit was inspired by Japan.  Fashioned of elasticized mohair-type knit.  Sold for $25 in 1959 (about $195 in today's dollar.)

Catalina maillot in nylon/Lastex knit.  Blue flowers float on a navy background.  Sold for $20 in 1959 (about $156 in today's dollar.)

Sea B's satin Lastex suit in a floral print of turquoise and orange or apple green with blue.  This likely came with removable straps.  Sold for $18 in 1959 (about $140 in today's dollar.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Remember, Every Day Will Count

Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of the loss of my sister. Following is my annual 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.

Originally published February 28, 2010:

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.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hayley Mills

I can't fool you, dear readers!  Many of you guessed that this photo, taken by Helmut Newton in 1965, is indeed Hayley Mills.  She was 19 years old when this photo was taken for British Vogue.

Hayley Mills is best known for her role as Pollyanna in the Disney movie of the same name from 1960.  She was awarded a special Juvenile Academy Award for her performance.  She appeared in several films for Disney, but returned to England after her contract expired in 1965.  There she has remained active in movies and television throughout the years.

In 2008, Mills was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She stated in January of this year that she has recovered.  She is still a working actress.  And she is still beautiful!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Dresses and Markdowns!

New this week at Couture Allure are more pretty dresses for spring.  AND we've taken major markdowns on all the items in our Sale Room!  Be sure to check our What's New pages for all the latest listings and our Sale pages for some fabulous bargains!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Pierre Cardin, 1969

In 1969, Pierre Cardin introduced jewelry and belts made of cut steel to accent his dresses made of solid black wool crepe.  Shown here, a massive cut steel pendant with a large honey-colored stone in the center.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Guess Who

Do you recognize this face?  Answer on Monday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Artistry of Lillian Bassman

Famed fashion photographer Lillian Bassman died this week at the age of 94.  Best known for her work for Harper's Bazaar magazine in the 40s and 50s, Bassman's artistry had a voice of its own.  The following photos by Bassman all appeared in the April, 1949 issue of Harper's Bazaar.  Spread throughout various editorials in the magazine, the photos all relate to each other in a harmonious fashion. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shipping is Not Free

I recently received an email from a potential customer stating that the reason she did not order from my website was because of the "high shipping charges."  With the proliferation of "Free Shipping" offers on the web today, I can understand why this person might come away with the perception that the shipping we do charge is high.  However, I can assure you that Couture Allure does not make a profit on shipping.  In fact, the opposite is often true.  Let's take a look at it, shall we?

At Couture Allure, we pride ourselves on our careful and thoughtful packaging.  We don't crush your vintage dress into a Flat Rate envelope.  We don't throw your vintage coat into a used grocery bag.  We don't send your vintage beaded evening gown in a Tyvek envelope so it can get crushed and smashed as it makes its way to you.  Each item we sell is carefully folded with tissue paper to cushion it.  The item is then wrapped in more tissue and placed in a brand new, clean plastic bag with a printed packing slip.  We then pack most items in boxes.  The only items we ship in envelopes are non-beaded dresses going to international destinations.

At Couture Allure, we use the US Postal Service exclusively, since their prices remain far lower than those of UPS or FedEx.  99% of our domestic packages are shipped via Priority Mail so they reach you within 2-3 days.  For the past several years, the USPS has increased shipping costs annually.  We have only increased our shipping costs once in the past 5 years, and that decision was not made lightly.  All other postal increases were absorbed by us.

Here's an example based upon an average shipment weighing 1-2 pounds with insurance for $150 shipping halfway across the country from Boston to Kansas.  According to the USPS website, the shipping cost for that average package via Priority Mail is $8.75 with insurance costing another $2.90.  That's $11.65 in postage.  Couture Allure charges $11.00 for that shipment, which means we absorb $0.65 of that cost.

Of course, postage is not the only cost that goes into shipping that item to you.  Consider the costs of tissue paper, new plastic bags, packing tape, paper for those packing slips, blank shipping labels, printer ink for the packing slips and shipping labels,  bubble wrap and packing peanuts for items that need them, boxes and envelopes for international shipments, and the percentage that PayPal or the credit card companies take from the payment you send us.  Those items add up to another $0.55 to $0.75 per shipment.

Is Couture Allure making money off of shipping costs?  No, we certainly are not.  And those companies that do offer free shipping?  Be assured that they are hiding the shipping costs by raising the price of the item you purchase, using a slower method of shipping, producing the item you buy from lower quality materials, or lowering their overhead in other areas to compensate, usually by laying off workers and having their goods produced overseas. Here's an interesting look at the free shipping question from MintLife.  Here's another look at the actual cost of free shipping from Fair Indigo, a maker of fair trade garments.  Finally, here's an article about not so free shipping from MSNBC.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be My Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day dear readers!  The following glorious dresses are all Parisian Haute Couture from 1956.  Can you match the dress to the correct designer?  Included are garments from the following designers:

Mme. Gres - Dress #5, identified correctly by Anonymous
Jean Desses - Dress #3 identified correctly by Fiery Voluptas
Lanvin-Castillo - Dress #1, identified correctly by Fiery Voluptas
Givenchy - Dress #6, identified correctly by Happy Thoughts, Darling
Christian Dior - Dress #2, identified correctly by Fiery Voluptas
Pierre Balmain -  Dress #4, identified correctly by Fiery Voluptas

I'll fill in the answers for you when they are guessed correctly.  If you follow Couture Allure on Facebook, you already know the answer to number 1!

Lanvin-Castillo, guessed correctly by Fiery Voluptas

Dior, guessed correctly by Fiery Voluptas

Jean Desses, guessed correctly by Fiery Voluptas

Pierre Balmain, guessed correctly by Fiery Voluptas

Mme. Gres, guessed correctly by Anonymous

Givenchy, guessed correctly by Happy Thoughts, Darling