Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1951 Suit in Miron Wool

This ad, found in the July 1951 issue of Vogue magazine is not for the suit, but for the wool it was made from. This suit was made by Roxspun from "Miroque...Worsted with a vertical rib. One of Miron's unique new texturals, 100% Virgin Wool."

I often find labels sewn into garments from the 40's and 50's that identify the manufacturer of the fabric, as well as the manufacturer of the garment itself. Miron is one of these.

Here is an early 1950's suit by Fashionbilt, also made of Miron wool. It's available at our website. Click the picture to see more!

The Miron label is sewn right next to the Fashionbilt label on the inside of the right front of the jacket. A well-known fine fabric was just as important as the maker of the garment to a woman back in the 50's, when suits were expected to last many years.

The Miron Woolen Mills were located in Clinton, MA, a tiny town north of Worcester in the central part of the state. Sadly, the building was demolished in July 2008 to make way for a CVS. Another piece of fashion history makes way for modern retail.

Monday, September 29, 2008

1964 Bill Blass Evening Gown with Hat

Yes, the answer to Saturday's quiz is Bill Blass.

"A new incandescence of sharp-contrast colors, Bill Blass couples vivid Moroccan rose with saffron in cool-touch textured silk. Shapes them into a new look for after-dark drama, inspired by the mystery of Morocco and the native Caftan."

t this point, in 1964, Blass was the vice-president of Maurice Rentner and his name was on the label. He bought the company in 1967. It is interesting to see that as early as 3 years before buying Maurice Rentner, he was promoting himself and his name by joining with Cover Girl for their advertisements. There is no mention of Maurice Rentner in the ad.

Vivid colors such as these are just starting to show up in fashion, and will become all the rage in a couple of years time. It is interesting that Blass uses them for evening.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ralph Rucci: A Designer and His House

I just watched the short film "Ralph Rucci: A Designer and His House", which I taped this morning on the Sundance Channel. Unfortunately, this exquisite film is not scheduled to be shown again, and if you didn't see it, I'm very sorry you missed it. It was very well done, with lots of discussion about the clothes, the couture techniques, and the design process that Rucci uses.

Ralph Rucci is the first American to be invited to show his couture collection in Paris since Mainbocher in the 1930's. I'm not sure if you can see the details, but these garments are completely made by hand. You can find better photos at the Kent State Museum's Chado Ralph Rucci Couture retrospective exhibit website.

"We don't make couture to sell nail polish. We make couture and women write the checks for this. I don't put clothes like this on the red carpet. These clothes go privately to homes, I'm proud to say." -Ralph Rucci

Why Am I Closing My EBay Store?

I posted this message on all my EBay listings a couple of weeks ago, and since then, I've been receiving several emails a day asking "Why? Why are you closing your EBay store?" The outpouring of support and commiseration has been overwhelming, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

There are several reasons I am moving away from selling on EBay, not the least of which are what I consider poor business decisions on EBay's part. That being said, here are my reasons, in no particular order:

1. You met my first granddaughter a few months ago. She is now 6 months old, and is the sweetest bundle of fun and blessings any woman could ask for. When my daughter calls to say, "Mom, HELP!", I drop everything and go, which means I need a bit more flexibility in my life.

2. My new website, www.coutureallure.com has been very successful since the launch in July, and I will be devoting most of my work efforts to filling it with the best vintage I can find for you.

3. I'm almost too embarassed to show this to you. This has to change. This is about 1/3 of my office/storage space. Over the past year or so, I was very lucky to receive calls for several large estate clean-outs. I also bought a LOT of vintage at various auctions. I ended up feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and stressed. I was working 6 days a week, not sleeping well, and always thinking about the business. That's no way to live.

About a month ago, I had a life-changing, light bulb moment in which I suddenly stopped and asked myself, "What are you doing? STOP!". The next day, I went through everything in storage, and donated 25 large trash bags full of ordinary, boring, or damaged vintage to the local thrift store. Much of the remainder is top notch vintage that went back into storage to be listed on the website. The rest was divided into piles by era, which I've been selling off in large lots on EBay, and to local dealers.

At the end of that day, I suddenly felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders and I've been sleeping really well. Each large lot that goes out the door, goes with an enthusiastic wave goodbye and my best wishes. My mailman will get a huge basket of homemade cookies when the last big box goes.

4. And then there is EBay. EBay has made several policy changes in the last few months that negatively impact sellers on their site. Not only have their fees increased dramatically, but now they are forcing buyers to use PayPal only. No more money order payments will be allowed on the site starting in October. And don't get me started about their new Best Match search experience!

As a buyer, have you noticed there is far less vintage being offered on EBay? That's because sellers are leaving the site in large numbers. Have you noticed you can't find anything on EBay anymore? That's because EBay's new search returns lots of irrelevant items and you have to weed through things you're not interested in to find a few that you are.

I will still list an item or two for auction on EBay from time to time, and will probably always have a few Fixed Price items available, but I'm closing my EBay store within the next month. Please bookmark the new website at www.coutureallure.com, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter while you're there!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekend Eye Candy - And a Quiz

From the October 1964 issue of Vogue magazine. This photo is part of an ad for Cover Girl make-up. The photo was taken by Richard Avedon.

But who designed the hat? Answer on Monday!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Balenciaga Adaptation Suit by Dan Millstein

For the past couple of weeks, we've been looking at Paris and Italian couture garments that were purchased by departments stores and manufacturers in North America specifically to copy for their customers. Just listed on our website is this early 1960's dinner suit which is a Balenciaga Adaptation by Dan Millstein. Click the picture above to see the listing with many more photos.

Dan Millstein, Inc. was a high end suit and coat manufacturer in New York which first became successful during WWII when the company made civil service and civilian uniforms for the US government. After the war, Mr. Millstein was one of the first manufacturers to visit Paris, where he began to work with Christian Dior and Pierre Cardin. He would purchase items from these designers, bring them back to New York, and make copies for the American market with the designer's approval. Later, he would attend the shows with the buyers from Lord & Taylor, who would advise him as to which garments to buy to make copies for their stores.

During the 50's and early 60's, Millstein (and others) would pay a cover charge of several thousand dollars to attend the couture showings in Paris with the understanding that he would purchase several of the samples. His designers would sit in the front row making sketches of the garments as they came down the runway. Calvin Klein got his start in the business by sketching for Dan Millstein.

The dinner suit shown above is made from black wool and is adorned with black braid and passementerie trimmings. Balenciaga used these elaborate adornments many times over the years. With the suit's wider collar opening, shorter jacket, and straight skirt, I estimate this to date right around 1961-62. We can assume from the label that Millstein purchased the original of this suit in Paris and copied it in New York, then sold it to high end department stores and boutiques. This particular suit was sold by Raphael's, a family owned department store in New Britain, CT.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Valentino Beaded Suit 1964

Valentino Garavani was born in Italy in 1932. He grew up wanting to study art and design, and moved to Paris at age 17, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the school of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. He then apprenticed at Jean Desses and Guy Laroche. With a solid background in French couture, he returned to Rome in 1959 and opened his own atelier.

Rome in the early 60's was a playground for the jet-set. Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Gina Lollobridgida were all there working on films. Elizabeth Taylor visited Valentino's atelier in 1960 while filming Spartacus, and began a friendship and fashion collaboration that has spanned the decades.

In addition to Hollywood actresses, Valentino's first fashion shows were also attended by Parisian society women whom Valentino had met during his years there. His designs were met with favorable fashion press, and a couture dynasty began.

The beaded suit shown above was featured in the October 1964 issue of Vogue magazine. "Valentino's night ideas - dazzling, provocative, with some of the impish dash of his day clothes. Valentino's spectacular black suit, covered entirely in beads. All around the jacket, including cuffs - loopy bead fringe. The blouse, sleeveless black velvet."

Gorgeous, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Valentino Suit 1964

More Italian couture, this time from Valentino, as pictured in the October 1964 issue of Vogue magazine. Valentino was a great favorite of Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue, and this issue features several pages of his fashions.

"The guaglione ideas of Valentino, suggesting a tough little Italian boy - sassy and adorable. A suit with a pullover in swaggering checks of grey and khaki wool; high pockets, a loose buttoned belt; short swinging grey skirt with panels front and back. With it, a khaki turtleneck blouse, deep round boy-cap of checks."

I had to look it up in the dictionary. Guaglione: Boy, young boy, frivolous and unreliable person (adj) funny, playful, irresponsible. This suit does show the young look just starting to emerge in fashion, which will become ubiquitous by 1968.

This is not a traditional jacket that buttons up the front, but rather a pullover top with a polo style neckline in heavy tweed. The turtleneck, up to now considered a casual look, is paired here with a suit - another young boyish touch. The belt is worn loose and slouchy. And that newsboy style brimmed hat!

This suit was available in America at Lord & Taylor, probably as copies made from the original purchased by the store.

More about Valentino over the next two days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Galitzine Palazzo Pajamas 1964

As mentioned yesterday, Galitzine is most famous for introducing palazzo pants in 1960, and here we see one of the earliest incarnations as shown in the October 1964 issue of Vogue magazine. Named "Palazzo Pyjamas" by Diana Vreeland, they were a relaxed but sophisticated evening look.

Princess Irene Galitzine was born in Russia, but her family fled to Rome during the Russian Revolution when she was only 1 year old. She studied art and design in Rome, and then turned to fashion. She worked for the Fontana sisters for three years as an apprentice. There are conflicting reports as to when she started her own house with dates ranging from 1946 - 1949.

Success came when Galitzine was given the pretigious "Filene's Young Talent" award in Boston in 1959, and her designs were introduced to America. She was voted "Designer of the Year" by the Italian press in 1962 and given the "Sunday Times International Fashion Award" in 1965.

Galitzine closed her house in the late 60's, but reopened 1970. Princess Galitzine died in October 2006. Her house is still in operation today.

Shown above are her palazzo pyjamas in black matelasse. "Softened folds at the neck continue under the short top tier, and flare to a tunic over wide pants. The back - bared to the waist. In America at Lord & Taylor." There is a wide black satin ribbon sash at the waist, tied in a big bow at the front. The model wears little jeweled evening slippers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

1964 Galitzine Suit

My, how things have changed in 3 years! Vogue magazine is showing Italian fashion - here a suit by Galitzine. We clearly see a movement towards a more youthful look. The model's pose is more casual, she wears boots, and look at that hair!

"Italian clothes are alive with ideas, with exuberance, and a beautiful sense of adventure. Imagination fires all. Living skirts with gores, godets. Broader shoulders, batwing tops. Important belts. Marvelous young dash." Clothes are becoming looser and more relaxed. Skirts are not as tight as a few seasons previous, and hem are becoming gradually shorter. Armholes and shoulders are not fit so tightly to the body.

There are changes evident in the magazine credits, too. No longer do we see the words "copied" or "adapted". While Italian garments were copied for the American market, no mention of the company who made the copies is given. Credit is given for the accessories, and the hair and make-up stylists.

"The suit, white-beige and all roundness - the collar, slightly broader shoulder, cuffs. The gaiters - a Galitzine idea for most of her suits - of Corfam, piped in white. Suit, in America at Lord & Taylor. Hat by Canessa. From the Elizabeth Arden Rome Salon: the coiffures by Imo; make-up by Pablo."

Galitzine, who is acknowledged as the designer who gave us the palazzo pant, shows a youthful boot, an idea which will become a fashion basic within a few years. And she does it in Corfam imitation leather, a brand new product which had just been invented by DuPont.

Get the look with this vintage 1960's glen plaid wool suit available in our EBay store. Click the picture to see the listing.

Now, back to that sable trimmed suit I posted on Saturday. Looks 50's or 60's, doesn't it? It's actually a current suit by Italian design house Brioni, from their Fall 2008 collection, but is clearly influenced by a Givenchy coat from 1963. For a better view of the Givenchy coat, take a look at the cover of L'Officiel October 1963 magazine, available from Paper Pursuits.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Love It or Not?

It's the weekend and time for a break.

Do you love it, or not? Can you guess the era? Answer on Monday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

An interesting note regarding the photos of the Paris original couture garments we've been looking at this week. On the Table of Contents page of the September 15, 1961 Vogue magazine is the following highlighted caveat:

"The Chambre Syndicale de la Couture has requested that all publications showing Paris models from this collection publish the following line, to apply to all models shown: "Copyrighted model - reproduction forbidden." Of course, this does not apply to shops and makers who have bought the original models."

In other words, if a store paid the price for a couture original, and the designer approved, the store could produce copies for the North American market. Very soon after this magazine was published, the couture houses would demand that their names not be used in association with the copied garments. The stores were allowed to hint at who the original designer was, but were not allowed to use the name. This is when Dior became known as Monsieur X, Jacques Fath became Monsieur Y, and Hubert de Givenchy became Monsieur Z.

Our final coat this week is by Pierre Cardin. Made of red chinchilla wool, it has a full skirt with an asymmetric waistline, huge buttons at the side, and an attached scarf that flows from the top of the button placket and is worn like a stole by wrapping over the opposite arm. This coat was imported and copied by Macy's.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

1961 Dior Suit Dresses

Dresses that look like suits were shown by Dior for Fall 1961. "Dior's delicious dinner suit that almost stopped the show - pale blue velvet, with whipped creamy chinchilla collar and cuffs; worn with a great, squashy chinchilla beret. Besides all this un-hidden flattery, it has a hidden surprise - it's actually one piece."

This dress was imported and copied by Saks Fifth Avenue.

Again, a dress that looks like two pieces by Dior for Fall 1961. This dress was shown on the runway under the third flared coat we showed the other day. Here we see the shortening of the hem length that began in the early 60's. The waist is belted above the full flared skirt. Note how the model wears her long gloves over the sleeves of the dress.

This dress was shown by Dior in dark brown wool and was copied by Abe Schrader for Saks Fifth Avenue, Julious Garfinckel, and Frederick & Nelson.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two 1961 Nina Ricci Coats

We continue to look at copies of 1961 Paris originals today, with two coats from Paris couturier Nina Ricci. Ricci always worked directly on the body by draping the fabric for a fluid and flattering garment. She was reknowned for her clever use of gathering, tucks, and drapery for dramatic effect.

Nina Ricci retired in the early 50's, and her son Richard took over the business. He hired Belgian designer Jules-Fran├žois Crahay in 1954, who was very successful in paying homage to Nina's trademark feminine look. The two coats shown here are his designs.

These images, from the September 15, 1961 issue of Vogue, are of the Paris originals, which were copied in America. They are similar to the Dior coats we looked at yesterday in silhouette, yet very different in structure, with the fullness achieved through the use of soft pleats and godets.

The first coat was shown by Ricci in green tweed and was copied in the US by Dan Millstein for Saks Fifth Avenue, Woodward & Lothrop, and Daytons. The second coat was shown by Ricci in yellow wool boucle and copied in the US by Zelinka-Mattlick in Forstmann wool for Lord & Taylor and I. Magnin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Three 1961 Dior Coats

Three coats from Christian Dior's Fall/Winter 1961 collection. These were designed by Marc Bohan who took over design responsibilities for the company after Yves St. Laurent left to form his own company.

In looking at these coats, I see a nod to the past and a foretelling of the future. The wide flare gives a nod to Dior's New Look fullness from a decade past, but the fullness falls from the shoulders, not the waist. This tent or trapeze shape becomes popular in dresses later in the 60's. Also note how the flared lines of the coats are accented with strong seams that have noticeable top-stitching - another design hallmark that becomes popular in coats and suits in the early 60's. The buttons also follow the flare of the coat, rather than falling in straight vertical rows as would be expected.

Coat #1 was shown by Dior in red wool, and was imported and copied by Saks Fifth Avenue. Coat #2 was shown by Dior in taupe wool fleece, and was copied by Frank Gallant for Saks Fifth Avenue and Hutzler's, or, you could buy the original Dior at Frederick & Nelson, Seattle. Coat #3 was shown by Dior in a bright yellow-orange wool and was copied by Frechtel for Lord & Taylor and I. Magnin, or you could buy the original Dior at Nan Duskin.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall 1961 Saks Copy of Dior Tweed Suit

Until the mid-to-late 1960's, it was common practice in the US for major department stores and manufacturers to purchase French couture garments and copy them for the American market, with the approval of the couturier. We'll look at several of these garments over the next couple of weeks. The department store's line-for-line copies were less expensive than the Paris originals, but were also produced in very limited numbers, to maintain the cache of exclusiveness. Bergdorf's custom order department refused to produce more than 30 copies of any particular Paris original, but considered 12 orders of that garment a success.

Shown above: A Dior black and white tweed suit with matching scarf and hat, copied by Saks Fifth Avenue, pictured in the September 15, 1961 issue of Vogue magazine. The magazine states that the picture is of the original Dior couture garment, not the Saks copy.

The short jacket is double breasted and has large black buttons at the front. The 3/4 sleeves are set off by long black kidskin gloves. The skirt has slit pockets set into the front Princess seams, and is slightly flared. The scarf has short black fringe.

Friday, September 12, 2008

1974 Pucci Vivara Perfume Ad

This ad for Pucci's Vivara perfume is from the November 1974 issue of Harper's Bazaar. Isn't it great? The original Vivara fragrance was discontinued years ago. It has a new incarnation, available at Sephora, but the scent is reportedly nothing like the original.

I just want that sailboat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fall 1975 Fashion

Is it just me, or are these clothes unflattering, and in some cases, just plain ugly? These images are all from the July/August 1975 issue of Vogue Pattern magazine. I've always found Vogue patterns to be fashion forward, so these styles were on trend for 1975. But I just can't get excited about these clothes.

Maybe its because I've already had to deal with not liking these styles once in my life during my 20's. I hated the fashions that were in the stores back then, and always felt unhappy with my wardrobe. But what do you think? Are these styles great, or not so much?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hippie Fashion Revival

The musical "Hair" is in revival Off-Broadway in New York, and apparently has been a smash. It closes this weekend, but rumors are that it may move to Broadway this winter. Who knows?

What I do know is that Bohemian hippie fashion is back......again. Indian gauze prints, layers, patchwork, fringed leather, vests, long strands of beads, and piles of bangle bracelets - it's all good. The above photo shows the current cast of Hair in Central Park.

Get the look with these authentic 1970's dresses, now available for one week at Couture Allure on EBay. Click the picture to see the listing:

See all of our Bohemian Luxury Collection, available for one week only.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fall 1975 Vogue Pattern Magazine

We're seeing a lot of 70's influences in Fall fashion this year, but what was Vogue Pattern Magazine showing in 1975? How about a bit of Bohemian peasant?

Two skirts - one worn over the other for a gypsy look. The striped overskirt is worked in wool challis with a decidedly ethnic feel. It is worn over a burgundy cotton skirt with a deep ruffle at the hem. A clever touch is seen in the use of a stripe cut from the challis and appliqued as a border at the hem of the ruffle. The shawl is worn here over the head, but you could also tie it around the waist for another layer. The peasant style blouse has puffed sleeves and a square neckline. The model also wears a wrap belt made from the burgundy cotton and a pile of bangle bracelets.

The skirts and shawl were made from Vogue pattern 9228, the blouse 9247, and the belt 9255. Here are the pattern sketches:

Monday, September 08, 2008

1974 Donald Brooks Evening Pajamas

Donald Brooks began his design career in the mid 1950's working for a junior sportswear line called Darbury. Darbury was a relatively inexpensive line, but Brooks made the clothing look great by using unexpected fabrics for his designs. In 1959, Brooks moved to Townley, where he replaced the late Claire McCardell, and was able to use more expensive fabrics to design elegant clothing for daytime and luxurious fashions for evening.

After winning two Coty awards, Brooks opened his own company in 1965. With his own label, Brooks' signature look started to appear. He loved to use bold patterns and striking color combinations. He continued to be a style innovator and won another Coty award in 1970.

Brooks closed his business in 1973, but he continued to design with various licensing agreements, including loungewear for Maidenform. By the 1980's, Brooks produced custom garments, which he sold privately from his town house on East Seventieth Street in New York.

Through the years Brooks also designed costumes for the theatre, film, and television industries, for which he was nominated for several awards.

The evening pajama set shown above was pictured in the November 1974 issue of Harper's Bazaar, and is one of Donald Brooks' licensed designs for Maidenform. Consisting of a tunic and pants with some of the widest bell hems you'll ever see, this set was made from a tiger print jersey woven with metallic threads. The set retailed for $200 (about $875 today), and was sold at Altman's, Marshall Field, and I. Magnin.

The model wears a wide cuff bracelet and glitzy sandals.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

1950 Fashion Silhouette #4 Bell-Shaped

The full skirt - introduced by Dior after the war with his New Look collection, and worn into the early 60's. This dress is a shirtwaist with very full sleeves to complement the fullness of the skirt. The full sleeves are set onto a dropped shoulder line, which makes the dress look more grown-up. A full gathered sleeve set into a normal armsceye might make this dress look too girlish.

This dress was made from Simplicity pattern 8269. The model is wearing a wide belt, which again accentuates that narrow tiny waist and wide curving hips. She has on a tiny pillbox style hat with a full veil covering her face. Here's a look at the back view:

Get the look with this taffeta check dress available in our EBay store. It's got the same dropped shoulder line, the same full skirt, the same Peter Pan collar, the same shirtwaist styling. But this one comes from a high-end Boston boutique named Jay's. Click the pic to see the listing!

Friday, September 05, 2008

1950 Fashion Silhouette #3 Tubular

Of course, we would call this "wiggle" today, but the Fall-Winter 1950 issue of Simplicity pattern magazine defines this as a Tubular Silhouette. Doesn't sound all that attractive or complimentary to me. Since, the 1980's, a tube dress is considered one that is made from a circular knit tube that is very stretchy and tiny so it stays on and contours to your curves.

But back to this outfit. The article states the smooth sculptured look of the sheath dress is the most important of all the evening silhouettes for 1950. And the most sexy, I daresay. This is actually two pieces - a satin tank top made from Simplicity pattern 3263, and a super slim velvet skirt made from Simplicity pattern 2937. So, is the skirt really that skinny at the knees? Not according to the back sketch on the pattern envelope. Honey, you know once the fashion stylist gets the model pinned into that skirt, she's not walking anywhere! But it sure makes her hips look super curvy, doesn't it?

That tank top is darted to fit the waist though.

The thing I love best in this photo is those lace gauntlet gloves. They are by Aris, and wouldn't they be perfect for this season's focus on all things lace for evening? Oh la la!