Friday, August 31, 2012

20% Off at Couture Allure - Final Day!

We're celebrating the end of summer by offering you 20% off your entire order at Couture Allure.  Sale ends at midnight Eastern time tonight!  Take 20% off everything, including new listings and sale items!  Sale does not apply to shipping or prior sales.  Go! Shop!  And have a fabulous holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jo Copeland Evening Dress - 1958

Jo Copeland designed this stunning evening gown in 1958 and it was featured in a full page ad for Bonwit Teller.  "Almondine, my beauty...ravishing almond green satin that sweeps up front, down in back with fringed satin panels trailing.  The bodice is a shimmer of metallic ribbon."  Note how carefully the ribbons are layered to follow the lines of the fitted bodice.  Matching opera length gloves?  Yes, please.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forgotten Designer Georgia Bullock

Designer Georgia Bullock
Georgia Bullock was born in about 1918.  Her interest in designing began at an early age when she made clothes for her dolls and dressed them in the latest styles.

Her first job in the fashion world was a a floor model for Bullock's Wilshire store.  Though you might think so, Georgia Bullock was no relation to the Bullock's retail family.  Georgia Bullock had her own line briefly in the 1940s, but by 1953, she was designing for Nelly Don in Kansas City.

In 1954, Bullock returned to Los Angeles and founded the first corporation in the fashion world with an all female executive team. 

Late 1950s
Her line of simple, elegant and expensive fashions was very popular in the late 1950s and 1960s and was sold in the finest shops and department stores all across the U.S. When her clothing became popular with women of means, Bullock began having private fashion shows on the tennis courts of her Holmby Hills home.

Bullock continued to have private showings for her elite clientele after she moved to Palm Springs in the 1970s.  She stopped designing sometime in the late 1970s and died in 1991.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Forgotten Designer Marjorie Michael

Marjorie Michael in 1961
Marjorie Michael started her California based dress business in 1948 with 2 sewing machines and 2 employees.  She had a desire to make "custom look clothing that also made women look like women."


While largely forgotten today, Marjorie Michael's creations were considered on par with her contemporaries Peggy Hunt and Dorothy O'Hara.  By 1961, the Marjorie Michael business employed over 60 people and her dresses were sold in over 800 stores and department stores in the U.S.

Michael had one quirk when making her designs.  She only used natural fibers like silk and cotton.  She never used synthetics or synthetic blends, as she felt they were not the high quality she wanted to maintain for garments bearing her label.  Most of her fabrics were imported from France and Italy.  And she liked to purposely use "cotton that doesn't look like cotton."

In the early 1950s, Gracie Allen wore many Marjorie Michael dresses on "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show."  The Marjorie Michael company went out of business sometime in the early 1970s.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Irene for Marshall Field's 28 Shop - 1957

After Friday's post about Marshall Field's 28 Shop, I came across this ad from 1957.  Designer Irene Lentz's fashions were carried in the exclusive 28 Shop.  "The covered look for evening, dramatically done by Irene: a long sleek line of black crepe....a touch of transparency in lace and chiffon. $310"  (about $2,527 in today's dollar.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Designer Dresses

New at Couture Allure this week are some vintage dresses by important designers and more vintage coats.  Be sure to check our What's New pages to see all the latest listings!

1940s Claire McCardell wool dress

Rare 1960s Louis Feraud Mod era dress

1960s Mod Shannon Rodgers dress and jacket

1960s pink silk cocktail dress with floating panels

1970s wool coat with fox fur collar

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Ceil Chapman, 1956

From 1956, a dress by Ceil Chapman made from Ametex brand lace.  Note how the dress is allowed to be the star here by way of a sleek hair style and no accessories except little white gloves.  I adore this photo, don't you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Marshall Field's 28 Shop

Marshall Field and Company was one of Chicago's oldest and finest department stores.  In 1941, the store opened it's exclusive 28 Shop which was one of the first in-store boutique shops in the U.S.  The 28 Shop was the brainchild of Hughston M. McBain, who would go on to become manager of the entire company in 1943.  The 28 Shop was named for it's private elevator entrance at 28 East Washington St. and featured 28 dressing rooms.  It was here that Marshall Field's sold high end clothing from many of America's best designers.  After the war, fashions from Paris were also featured.

The 28 Shop was designed by Joseph Platt who arranged those 28 dressing rooms around a central salon.  There were 2 each of 14 different dressing room designs, all in various colors and decor to suit the customer's taste.

 This photo by George Platt Lynes ran in a full page ad for the 28 Shop in 1943.  Offered was a pure silk dress in a pink, red and white print with black filigree worn with a hand-loomed wool raspberry wool coat.  There is no mention of the designer of this ensemble, just that is is "From the 28 Shop's Spring Collection of clothes from distinguished designers."  Note the silk floral spray at the dress neckline and how it offsets the extreme shoulders of the coat.  And can you see the little curlique on top of the hat?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meet Shamma!

Meet the lovely Shamma.  She snapped this picture of herself wearing a vintage 4-strand bead necklace she bought at Couture Allure.  Looks marvelous, doesn't it?  Shamma, you are beautiful.  Thank you for sharing your photo with us!

Vintage 50s 4-strand bead necklace purchased at Couture Allure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1960s Mod Era Master Designer Louis Feraud

Louis Feraud, 1967
When you think of the leading designers of Mod clothing, your mind probably automatically jumps to Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges.  You would be correct, but you should also include Louis Feraud in that list.  Louis Feraud? Really????
Louis Feraud, 1968
I know, I know.  When you think Louis Feraud, you think of the rather mundane (dare I say awful) and ubiquitous designs of his from the 80s and 90s.  But today, I want to challenge you to put aside that impression of the Louis Feraud name and look at the fabulous Mod clothing the man was creating in the late 1960s.

Louis Feraud, 1968
Fabulous?  Indeed! 

Louis Feraud, 1968
Mod?  Indeed!

Louis Feraud, 1969
Creative?  Indeed!

Louis Feraud, circa 1968
A 1960s Mod Louis Feraud dress available at Couture Allure?  Indeed!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lanvin-Castillo - 1951

Blouse and skirt by Lanvin-Castillo, 1951.
I often marvel at the genius of couture.  What goes on in the minds of designers who dream up over-the-top fashion?  It's the fall of 1950.  Antonio Canovas del Castillo has been hired as the designer at Lanvin and needs to make a splash for his first collection in the Spring of 1951.  Was he sitting around one night, nervous as can be, folding and re-folding a piece of paper?  Was he unrolling a bolt of silk organza and the way the fabric folded upon itself caught his eye?  Did he take a class in origami at night school?  Whatever it was, Castillo's genius appeared in giant folds of white silk in several garments at that first showing for Lanvin.  And, oh, it was marvelous.

Same blouse, different view. Lanvin-Castillo, 1951

Another blouse, this one with giant folds at the collar.  Lanvin-Castillo, 1951.

And the piece-de-resistance, an incredible evening gown.  Lanvin-Castillo, 1951.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New at Couture Allure - Vintage for Fall

New at Couture Allure this week are lots of vintage goodies perfect for Fall!  Are you starting to think ahead?  Be sure to check our What's New pages to see all the latest listings.

1950s red faille full skirt dress

1940s faux leopard fur reversible cape

1960s black wool dress & jacket, with bright pink lining

1980s articulated lion rhinestone brooch

1980s St. Gillian draped silk cocktail dress

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Jean Desses, 1956

From 1956, a lovely confection of a dress by Jean Desses.  Bands of white lace adorn pink mousseline silk.  I love the effect of the lace sewn closely together at the bodice and then opening up with the pink between in the skirt.

Friday, August 17, 2012

John Carr Doughty Trompe L'oeil Knitwear

UK knitwear designer John Carr Doughty made a brief sensation in 1966 with his knitted men's sweaters and women's sweater dresses that fooled the eye with trompe l'oeil patterns knitted right in.  The designs shown here were made in pure wool and were commissioned by the International Wool Secretariat for the Designers Convention. 

Carr wasn't a clothing designer, per se.  Instead, he worked behind the scenes figuring out how to translate his ideas for knit designs into a manufacturing technique.  Those ideas were then presented as samples to UK knitwear manufacturers for their use in making garments.  He also designed and patented several knitting machines for various uses.

Carr Doughty was the genius behind the intarsia designs in Pringle cashmere sweaters starting in 1952.  What's intarsia?  That is a knitting technique in which a pattern is knitted into a design with separate pieces of colored yarn instead of carrying the unused strands of color across on the back of the knit.

Carr Doughty is said to have made a Mondrian inspired knitwear design 2 years before Yves St. Laurent translated the artist's work into dresses in 1965.  One of his favorite Pringle instarsia designs was based on a painting by Klee. But after the brief media frenzy about his trompe l'oeil looks in 1966, John Carr Doughty disappeared back behind the scenes in the knitwear industry.  He did consulting work for UK knitwear manufacturers until at least the late 1970s.

Woolmark Company images from the collection of the London College of Fashion.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fashion Effects with Top Stitching

Top stitching is an attractive accent for tailored garments.  It accents the lines of a garment and gives additional firmness along the edge.  Top stitching can be done in matching or contrasting thread, by hand or by machine.  A single line of stitching gives a welted effect.  On lighter weight fabrics, several parallel rows of stitching accent a design line or call attention to a particular area of a garment.  Well done top stitching adds an aura of richness and exclusivity, as it is a technique used by designers and couturiers.

Top stitching was popular in the 1940s, as it added style to a garment without using extra fabric, which was important during wartime restrictions. 


In the 1960s, top stitching became popular again as a way to accent the geometric seaming that was used on Mod era garments.


Detail of a 1960s coat I sold several years ago.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Macshore Classics Blouse - 1960

Macshore Classics was a maker of women's blouses beginning in 1943.  The company's products were well made, so well made you can find their vintage blouses for sale quite often.  If you wear blouses, I recommend that you give a MacShore Classics cotton blouse a try. The quality of materials used, the construction, the fit, and the details will far surpass any modern blouse you can buy at the mall today.  I guarantee it! 

The blouse shown above from 1960 is a great example. The front panels are accented with navy blue embroidered flowers that are filled with white lace appliques.  Isn't it pretty? 

Macshore Classics is a family-owned company and is still in business today in Greenville, SC, although now they make bedding and drapes.  All of their products are made in the USA! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meet Lauren of Wearing History

Today, I'd like to introduce you to the lovely Lauren of Wearing History.  Lauren is a costume historian, blogger and the owner and designer of the Wearing History line of sewing patterns based on vintage and historical styles.

Lauren recently wore this 1930s inspired dress and cape to Costume College.  The theme for this year's Gala was "The Golden Age of Hollywood" and Lauren made this 30s inspired dress to wear.  Yes, she MADE it!!!!!  The sheer outer layer is gold netting with spangles.  The lining is made from the gold metallic crepe fabric I have for sale in my SewHallie Etsy shop.  Incredible, isn't it?  You can read more about Lauren's dress and cape and get inspired to sew your own dress at her Wearing History Blog.  Thanks Lauren!  You look fabulous!