Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Favorite Dresses of 2012

I was cleaning up my photo files yesterday and, looking at the thousands of pictures we took this year, brought back some fond memories of the many vintage dresses that have passed through my hands and gone to live in new homes.  Here, in no particular order, are my Couture Allure favorites of 2012.

Oh, the evening gowns!  On the left, a 1940s beaded crepe with the most wonderful draping at the back and on the right, a 1950s burlesque stage gown covered in sequins with a tulle hem.

Remember that 1950s gold Suzy Perrette?  It sold within minutes and I hear the new owner is wearing it with much panache during this, the golden anniversary year of her birth.  The 1950s purple silk satin had the most intricate beading and draping and there were little pleated fans of fabric on the underskirt.

On the left, a 1950s fiery red silk chiffon and on the right, an early 60s stunning rose print taffeta ball gown.  Both dresses had back drapes, one of my favorite design details.

And speaking of 60s, the Victor Costa brocade dress on the right was woven in the most wonderful op art pattern.  The magenta jacquard cocktail dress and coat set by Mardi Gras was pure Jackie.

Who can resist puppies and polka dots?

There were dresses from important designers like Renee Marciel, left, and Pauline Trigere, right.

Like Claire McCardell, left, and Mollie Parnis, right.

You know I love a fabulous pop art or op art print and these two cotton shifts were stand outs in 2012.

Which is your favorite?

Side note:  Due to a huge increase in the number of spam comments from Asian manufacturers of garbage garments this blog receives, I have been forced to close comments to those of you who are members of the blog.  If the spam continues, I will have to close comments completely for a while.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2nd Annual Road Trip!

I am so excited!  I am headed out on my second annual 6-week cross country road trip that will take me through at least 12 states in my search for vintage clothing to bring to you.  Along the way, I'll see old friends, travel old roads and have some good old times.  I'll be poking into antique shops, flea markets and thrift stores.  I'll be making house calls and digging in attics.  And I'll be shipping loads of wonderful vintage goodies back to our offices that will be coming to the website starting in February.

I've spent the last month preparing lots of vintage dresses for spring that will go live on the website while I'm away, but my assistant will only be shipping once a week (usually on Mondays) from December 28 through February 6. 

During that time, blog posts will be erratic.  I'll try to keep you posted about my adventures, but I can't guarantee that I'll have time or computer access every day.  I'll be posting updates and photos on the Facebook Fan page as I can.  See you in February!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, dear readers. May the joy of the season be with you today.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Think Pink

You know everyone else will be wearing red or green today.  They'll be wearing ugly Christmas sweaters to make you giggle and groan.  You know what I think?  I think you should wear pink!  Gown by Ceil Chapman.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New at Couture Allure - The Beginnings of Spring

New this week at Couture Allure are the earliest hints of all the wonderful vintage dresses we'll be bringing you this spring. I also listed some wonderful vintage scarves! Be sure to check our What's New page to see all the latest listings.

Very early 1960s red prom or party dress by Mike Benet

1990s Valentino silk dress

1960s orange abstract silk flared skirt dress

1960s op art print dress with pleat skirt

1950s cotton circle skirt dress

1950s cotton paisley day dress

1960s Christian Dior silk scarf

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Party

Remember what I said!  Take your holiday dressing up a notch!  Wear vintage to your holiday parties this weekend!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking Ahead

Dress by Pat Premo, 1956.
 I know your life is probably a bit crazy right now.  You may think I'm a bit crazy too.  Here at Couture Allure, we're very busy preparing our Spring 2013 collection of fabulous vintage for you.  Some of those items are hitting the website this week.  I just felt a bit of color and fun was right for right now.  And I have loads of gorgeous vintage dresses and more on the horizon for you.  Couture Allure is looking ahead to 2013.  I hope you'll come along for the ride!

1980s 50s style cotton full skirt dress.

1960s orange silk dress
Sneak peek at pretty prints coming in January

Sneak peek at 1950s cotton dresses coming soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Here's Kristel!

You've met Kristel before.  Here she is dressed for a holiday party in a fabulous vintage dress she purchased from Couture Allure.  The dress is a pretty shade of olive-y green that works beautifully with Kristel's auburn hair.  The brocade has gold threads woven in for a bit of sparkle.

 I love the little jacket that Kristel added.  She said everyone loved her dress!  Thanks for sharing your photos Kristel.  You look beautiful as always.

1960s cocktail dress from Couture Allure

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Update to our Dry Cleaning Policy

Two years ago, I posted on this blog about "The Issue of Dry Cleaning."  In that post, I explained to you why Couture Allure had all garments dry cleaned before listing them on the site.  I also shared with you information on how to find your own dry cleaner for your vintage garments.  Sadly, I now must tell you that I have stopped using my favorite dry cleaner for the vintage garments we sell at Couture Allure.  Here's why:

-   Over this past summer, my dry cleaner was closed for a couple of weeks while they installed all new machinery at their location.  The owner told me that he was doing so to comply with new and stricter laws and that their new machines would clean with an environmentally safer method.  Here in Massachusetts, all dry cleaners that share building space with residential apartments and certain other types of businesses must stop using perchloroethylene (perc for short) by 2023.  Perc is a known carcinogen and is hazardous to the environment and ground water supplies.  Since my dry cleaner shares building space with residential apartments and a pre-school, he decided to make the switch earlier than required.  Honestly, I admire him for doing so.

-   I continued to use my dry cleaner for all garments listed on the site through the fall of 2012.  But after the new machines were installed, I found that the new environmentally safe cleaning method was not as effective at removing stains and odors as the perc had been.  I had to send several garments back for a second cleaning and had to remove some stains myself.  I became more and more frustrated, and have finally had to make the difficult decision to stop using his services due to the less than satisfactory results.

-   During those months of frustration, I began to teach myself which garments could be hand washed safely and which could not.  I nearly cried when a couple of beautiful cocktail dresses were lost during those experiments, but I learned a lot in the process.  I have also invested in a professional quality steam chamber for those items that cannot be hand washed.  

What does this mean for you?  Most garments sold at Couture Allure will no longer be sent out to be professionally dry cleaned.  Many of the garments we sell will be hand washed and pressed.  Those garments will be wearable right out of the box, as you have come to expect.  Non-washable items are put through a 45-minute cycle in a steam chamber here in our offices, which freshens the fabric and removes odors and wrinkles.  If you choose to do so, you may opt to have your item professionally dry cleaned before wearing.  When required, we will send certain garments out to be dry cleaned with an environmentally safe method.   Any garment not cleaned prior to selling will be clearly listed as such on the site.  

There will still be some garments that must go to the dry cleaners and we'll be sure to do so when needed.  At the same time, I'm very happy with the results we're getting with our in-house cleaning and I hope you will be too!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alex Maguy Coat - 1948

The fact that couture is an art form becomes very apparent in this coat made by couturier Alex Maguy in 1948.  Maguy has used a wool fabric in black with gray and white stripes.  He has manipulated those stripes and seamed them into rectangles and chevrons.  I am in complete and utter awe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mad For Plaid, 1948

This coat by Nina Ricci from 1948 does a great job of expressing the joy of life returning to some sense of normalcy in Paris after the privations, horror and destruction of WWII.  It even makes the model happy.  Note how perfectly the plaid is matched, even at the sleeve cuffs!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Sale at Couture Allure!

As our holiday gift to you, take 20% off your entire purchase at Couture Allure.  Simply enter coupon code "holiday" at checkout and the discount will automatically be deducted.  Ends Friday, December 14!  Discount not valid on prior purchases, gift certificates or shipping costs.  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

High Fashion Shoes - 1966

This image from 1966 made quite an impression on my Facebook fan page yesterday.  Everyone fell in love with these shoes!   What strikes me is how wearable and comfortable these shoes look.  There's not a 5" spike heel or a platform in site.  You could actually wear these shoes to a party and stand up all night!  From left to right the shoes are by Christian Dior, Charles Jourdan, Charles Jourdan, and Roger Vivier.  Would you wear them?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mad for Plaid

There's something about wearing plaid on the cold blustery days of late autumn that feels so right.  I love the look of this simple jacket worked in a large scale plaid worn over a pair of jeans and a tee.  It's by Juniorite and is made from a traditional tartan wool in blue and brown.  Love that collar!  Sold for $25 in 1954 (about $215.00 in today's dollar.)  If you could find it, I'll bet the quality of the wool and construction would mean this jacket was still going strong 58 years later.  That's one of the reasons I love vintage. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Jean Desses Evening Gown - 1961

Electric blue silk evening gown by Jean Desses haute couture, 1961.  How I wish this picture were in color!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Jean Patou Ball Gown, 1957

Jean Patou haute couture ball gown, 1957.  Strapless black lace re-embroidered with satin ribbons.  Simply divine.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Ball Gown, 1953

Pierre Balmain haute couture ball gown, 1953.  Blue silk faille with blue beading.  New Year's Eve anyone?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Sarmi Evening Gown, 1959

If ever there was a time to feature ball gowns and party dresses, it's during the holiday season.  So I think that is what I'll do!  Today's beauty from 1959: White silk satin embroidered in gold ball gown by Sarmi.  Worn with a matching opera coat lined in golden brown with brown velvet ribbons at the shoulders. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy: Balenciaga, 1954

White lace over blue poof.  Balenciaga, 1954.