Friday, April 30, 2010

Vote For Me and I'll Set You Free!

For the past two years, I have been very proud to have been voted as one of the Top 10 Vintage Websites at Lulu's Vintage Blog. Lulu has two categories - her own favorites and the People's Choice award. My friends, Couture Allure needs your help! If you love this blog and my website, please pop on over to Lulu's Blog and vote for me by leaving a comment on this post naming Couture Allure as your favorite vintage website!

OK, so I can't set you free, but as a thank you, I will do two things for you.

1. I'll continue to bring you the best selection of vintage clothing on the web.

2. I'll share this video of the Temptations performing "Ball of Confusion" so you can stop wondering, "What song was it that had that line, 'Vote for me and I'll set you free'?". If you're like me, that was going to bother you all day until you figured it out, right? By the way, "Ball of Confusion" was released in June of 1970 and hit #3 on the Billboard charts. Rock on. Now!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pierre Cardin - Tout Pour L'Homme

Pierre Cardin, 1965

When you think of Mod, you think of Pierre Cardin. He was one of the pioneers of the architectural design lines and cutouts of the mid 1960s. But did you know that Cardin also was a menswear fashion innovator? As early as 1960, Cardin was experimenting with the traditional business suit by removing collars, lapels, and cuffs.

Early Beatle's suit by Douglas Milling in the collection of the Museum of Liverpool.

London tailor Douglas Millings, who made many of the early Beatles stage suits, copied Pierre Cardin's collarless suit for the Fab Four, and the look was an instant success all over the world. Cardin's menswear was also worn by John Steed in the British TV series, "The Avengers".

In 1966, Cardin opened his first menswear store, "Tout Pour L'Homme" at 59 rue du Fauborg Saint-Honoré in Paris.

Pierre Cardin, 1968

Cardin was an innovator in mixing leather, vinyl, and metal with wool for fabulous op-art effects.

Pierre Cardin, 1968

He often designed coordinating men's and women's fashions. Here he uses silver and black vinyl in a pair of Space Age looks from 1968.

Pierre Cardin, 1970

It was Pierre Cardin who introduced the Nehru jacket after traveling to India and Pakistan in the 1960s. He used fancy brocades and other unusual fabrics for men's jackets. He also showed turtlenecks instead of button-down shirts for men.

Pierre Cardin, 1972

Here, Cardin shows wider lapels in a suit coat that extends to midi length.

Pierre Cardin, 1972

A precursor to the look that American menswear manufacturers would ruin in polyester fabric, a Leisure Suit in bright blue wool.

Pierre Cardin, 1972

Another popular look for men in the early 70s - bell bottoms and vertical stripes. Somehow Cardin makes it all work.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vintage Play Clothes - 1949

Rochas seersucker jumpsuit, 1949

When you think of your mom or grandmom going to the beach or to the park in mid-summer 1949, what do you see her wearing? Sometimes, we have a notion that back then, women wore dresses or skirts all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth! For casual or sporty outings, shorts, clam diggers, and pants were definitely A-OK. After all, you don't have to be a kid to have fun at play!

Tina Leser madras cotton coverall. Sold for $19 in 1949 (about $174 in today's dollar).

Sportwhirl navy poplin jacket is matched with lighter blue cuffed shorts. The jacket sold for $10.95 in 1949 (about $100 in today's dollar).

Blue cotton midriff blouse and bloomer shorts by Mme. Grés.

Wellington Sears made a line of cotton sailcloth separates in 17 colors that could be mixed and matched in many ways. The line included jackets, shorts, pants, skirts, and halter tops.

The pieces ranged in price from $4.95 - $9.95 each (about $45 - $91 in today's dollar) and were sold at Neiman Marcus and Peck and Peck.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yves St. Laurent's Nod to Elsa Schiaparelli

For his Fall/Winter "Collection Shakespeare" of 1980, Yves St. Laurent paid tribute to literature by using references to various poets in a surrealistic manner.

The jacket shown above is embroidered with a line from Jean Cocteau's 1920's poem "Battierie". Translated, the line reads, "Sun, I am black inside and rose outside, which is the metamorphosis." The pink satin jacket is lined in black velvet and a crystal and sequined sun forms the collar.

This black coat is embroidered with the title of a poem by Apollinaire, "Tout Terriblement".

As part of the same collection, St. Laurent showed this blue velvet jacket embroidered with a pair of eyes and the words, "Les Yeux d'Elsa". Translated as "The Eyes of Elsa", the words are the title of a poem by Louis Aragon. However, St. Laurent also cleverly pays tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli with this jacket by taking inspiration from her Zodiac Collection of 1938-39.

This Schiaparelli jacket in blue velvet is embroidered with the signs of the zodiac, planets, and constellations.

Metropolitan Museum Costume Collection

And this Schiaparelli jacket from the same collection, is embroidered with gold starbursts. Do you see the inspiration?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bare Midriffs - 1990

Yes, 1990. To me, this looks like it could have been designed by an American sportswear designer like Joset Walker or Carolyn Schnurer in the 1940s, but this midriff baring ensemble from 1990 is by Gianfranco Ferre. The top is in stretch jersey with the matching pants in silk crepe de chine. Bare midriffs were a hot trend in the early 90s. In the coming years, waistlines of pants and skirts will drop to reveal even more, but for now they remain at the natural or high waist. Check out this post of mine from 2009 about bare midriffs from 1945 for a comparison. And here are more looks from 1990 and 1991.

Louis Feraud, 1991

Krizia, 1991

Louis Feraud, 1990

Claude Montana, 1990

Givenchy, 1991

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Dresses

We have lots of newly added vintage dresses at Couture Allure this week, including several little black dresses from the 1940s and 50s. See all our new items by clicking the What's New tab at the website.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Nina Ricci 1957

Floral print + evening gown = Love at first sight. Nina Ricci silk evening gown, 1957.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Guess the Date

Care to take a guess at the date of this bare midriff ensemble? Answer on Monday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Awful 80s Fashion #6

Today, the 6th in our series of public service announcements about how not to dress. I bring you Awful 80s Fashion!

Do I really need to say anything?

Do my ankles look fat? Hell, yes!

Why do designers think we want to look like little kids? I don't know if you can tell in the insert picture, but the back of the sweater has the backs of the bunnies with real pom-pom tails. And Saks had the audacity to charge $180 for this sweater in 1985!

Take one sweater, add another sweater to each sleeve and you've got three sweaters in one!

Honey, I lost my underarms.

Add 10 pounds to your hips instantly with this amazing dress!

Even better, add 20 pounds!

I'm big, I'm bad, I'm plaid.

I actually like this cape-coat. But the photo cracks me up. Did someone call Zorro?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meet Rosemary

Meet Rosemary, another Facebook fan of Couture Allure. Last week Rosemary posted some photos of herself in the Fan Photos folder there. Isn't she lovely?

A few months back, Rosemary bought this vintage 1950s Karen Stark for Harvey Berin dress from Couture Allure. I loved this dress, and was so glad it found a happy home. One of the downsides of selling online, however, is that I rarely get to see the smiling faces of my customers or the dresses they buy from me being worn. Not so in this case.

Here are Rosemary and her date at her prom. She is wearing her vintage Harvey Berin dress, and I think she looks stunning! In fact, I have no doubt that Rosemary was the most beautiful girl in the room. I know her dress was one of a kind! Thank you for sharing these photos with us Rosemary. They make me smile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meet Lois

After my post about the Look of Suits from 1955, Facebook fan Bonnie sent me these pictures and the story of her mom and dad. She has kindly given permission for me to share them with you here.

Lois Marie Cashell and Charles Berkeley Randall were married in November 1957. Lois was working as a hairdresser at Hochschild-Kohn, one of Baltimore's famous department stores at the time.

Because the wedding was small, with only immediate family in attendance for the service at St. James Lutheran Church, Lois chose to wear a suit instead of a wedding gown. She purchased the Glenhaven suit at Hochschild-Kohn, and remembers it was quite expensive, even with her employee discount!

I found this ad for a very similar Glenhaven suit from 1957. Glenhaven suits were of very high quality and made of the best fabrics. Lois's suit was made of Forstmann wool, one of the premier wool mills of the time.

Sadly, Charles passed away just months shy of the couple's 50th wedding anniversary, but their children took Lois out to celebrate the date despite that fact. Amazingly, she was still able to fit into her wedding suit, and wore it along with the original hat, jewelry, and slip that she wore on her wedding day for the celebration. Isn't she beautiful?

Bonnie was kind enough to take some detailed photos of the suit for us.

Not only did the suit last all those years, it still looks stylish today! Thanks for sharing your story and pictures, Bonnie and Lois!