Thursday, September 30, 2010

Look Fabulous From Head to Toe - 1936

In 1936, if you found the perfect dress or suit, your ensemble wasn't complete without the right hat and the smartest shoes. Accessories can still make or break your outfit. Are you paying attention to the details?

Left: Franklin Simon fedora. Sold for $8.95 in 1936 (about $142.00 in today's dollar).
Right: Schiaparelli "Roly-Poly" cap. Sold for $10.00 in 1936 (about $158.00 in today's dollar).

Left: Pandora black doeskin shoe piped in black and gray. Sold for $12.75 in 1936 (about $202.00 in today's dollar).
Right: Stetson Shoe shop suede step-in shoe. Sold for $11.75 in 1936 (about $186.00 in today's dollar).

Left: McCutcheon's navy felt beret with grosgrain trim. Sold for $10.00 in 1936 (about $158.00 in today's dollar).
Right: Rilla Marie black velvet cap with feathers. Sold for $15.00 in 1936 (about $237.00 in today's dollar).

Left: Andrew Geller "Valora" black suede pump with black patent piping. Sold for $10.75 in 1936 (about $170.00 in today's dollar).
Right: Saks Fifth Avenue high cut pump with Cuban heel. Sold for $7.95 in 1936 (about $126.00 in today's dollar).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vacation Time!

Amelia Earhart luggage 1949Dear friends, I am headed off to the West Coast to visit family for a few days. The website will be closed, and there will be no shipping until October 12. But the blog will still be active, with fresh new posts every day while I am away.

While I have no desire to take 6 suitcases with me, I do wish I had this sweet little jacket from 1949. The original was designed by Jacques Fath and was copied in the US by Jaunty Junior in suede. Sold in 1949 for $55 (about $508 in today's dollar).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Party Dresses -1954

Today, just some fabulously wonderful, over-the-top party dresses from 1954. Which one is your favorite?

Mollie Parnis silk taffeta fitted dress with flying panels at hips.
Sold in 1954 for $125 (about $1021 in today's dollar).

Rappi long torso dress in tulle decorated with rows of ruffled taffeta ribbons.
Sold in 1954 for $70 (about $572 in today's dollar).

Sophie of Saks silk satin strapless dress.
Sold in 1954 for $495 (about $4043 in today's dollar).

Adele Simpson lace dress.

Pat Premo dress with scallops and buttons.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rudi Gernreich in the 1950s

Rudi Gernreich for Walter Bass dress and jacket, 1956.

You may be familiar with Rudi Gernreich's swimsuits from the 1960s, or the dresses bearing his name by Harmon Knitwear, but did you know he was making a name for himself as early as 1951?

Gernreich's early forays into the fashion world included stints in theater costume design, advertising and textile design. In 1949, Gernreich tried designing women's fashion for the first time. He produced a collection, but was unable to sell it, as he had no knowledge of manufacturing or production. In 1951, he was hired by Morris Nagel to design for Versatogs, but Gernreich left the job when Nagel insisted he stick to the Versatogs formula. Gernreich later described his stint with the company as a "disaster".

Rudi Gernreich for Walter Bass linen dress with felt jacket, 1954.

Enter Walter Bass, a fellow Viennese immigrant who made women's suits in Beverly Hills. In 1952, he and Gernreich teamed up to produce Rudi's "crazy" designs, which included loose-cut dresses in ginghams and rayons that were tightly belted. The dresses were inventive and unusual for the time.

Rudi Gernreich for Walter Bass wool jersey trapeze dress, 1958.

Jack Hanson owned Jax in Beverly Hills, a store that had an avant garde clientele. He felt Gernreich's designs were perfect for his store, and pushed Gernreich for more. The association between the three, Hanson, Bass, and Gernreich, was a successful one for 7 years.

Rudi Gernreich for Westwood Knitting wool knit maillot, 1959.

At the same time, Gernreich was designing swimwear for Westwood Knitting. When he started with Westwood, women's swimsuits had stiff inner construction with boned linings. Gernreich reintroduced the world to elasticized wool knits that clung to a woman's body without constricting it.

Rudi Gernreich for Westwood Knitting wool knit swimsuit with back cut-out, 1959.

His basic button front maillots were popular design that Westwood Knitting produced year after year. He also experimented with unusual fabric combinations and cut-outs, a precursor to his sensation-making designs of the 60s.

Rudi Gernreich shoes labeled Ruvals, 1959.

In 1958, Gernreich designed women's shoes for Genesco. Those shoes were sold under several brand names, and the partnership lasted until 1960.

In 1959, Gernreich ended his partnerships with Walter Bass and Westwood Knitting to form his own company, G.R. Designs, Inc. (the name was changed to Rudi Gernreich, Inc. in 1964). His company produced semi-custom clothing, which featured several basic designs and a swatchbook. Women could order a style in whatever fabric and color they wanted.

Also in 1959, Gernreich partnered with Harmon Knitwear in Wisconsin to produce his swimwear and a less expensive dress line.

Please note: Biographical information about Rudi Gernreich is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage 50s Dresses

New this week at Couture Allure: You've been asking for 1950s full skirted dresses, so I added several to the site this week! I also added a gorgeous coat by Irene Lentz. See all the new items by clicking this link.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekend Eye Candy - Jacques Fath 1947

By 1947, Paris couture had bounced back from the war. Jacques Fath showed this suit in his Fall 1947 collection. Brown wool crepe tailors to perfection. The flared peplum is trimmed in mink fur.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Charm School - How to Carry a Purse and Wear Gloves Like a Lady

Welcome to Friday Charm School! Today's lesson deals with purses and gloves.

Today, purses have become a much more important part of your fashion statement than they were in the 50s and 60s, but the basic rules for how to carry your handbag still apply. Above all, you don't want to appear awkward and unbalanced as though you are carrying a burden. Your purse should be an accessory that you carry neatly and effortlessly.

To carry a handbag, slip your hand through the handle from the outside and let the handle rest on your wrist. Turn your palm up with fingers relaxed. Place your wrist lightly against your waist so the purse rests on the flat of your hip. Don't carry your handbag under your arm like a football, as this can ruin the lines of your dress. Don't carry your handbag down by your side with your arm fully extended, as this can not only bump your leg repeatedly, but also become an obstacle for passers-by.

To carry a clutch purse, hold the bottom of the bag in your hand, resting it on the length of your index and middle fingers. Rest your hand against your hip, letting the bag relax to an angle.

To carry a shoulder bag, rest the strap on your shoulder. In order to keep the bag from swinging when you walk, grasp the center of the front strap to hold it in place. Don't push down on the top of the bag. Don't slip the strap over your head and wear the bag criss-crossing the body. This ruins the lines of your garment.

Gloves have started to come back as an important fashion accessory. Do you know what to do with your gloves?

How to put on gloves:
1. Slip your hand down the glove and gently ease it on by grasping the cuff.
2. If the gloves are snug, smooth the fingers on gently to avoid splitting the seams.
3. Never pull by the cuff, as this can stretch your glove. Instead smooth the glove with upward strokes from the fingers up the arm.
4. Never push between the fingers. Smooth the fingers with upward strokes until the glove is comfortable.

How to remove gloves:
1. Pull gently at the tip of each finger until you can hold the fingertips of the glove.
2. Grasp all the fingertips of the glove in the opposite hand and pull gently to ease your hand out.
3. Never grasp the cuff to pull your gloves off, as this will turn them inside out.

How to hold your gloves:
1. After removing your gloves, ease away any creases and reshape them.
2. Fold the thumb of each glove in and press the two gloves together, palms in, with fingertips and cuffs even.
3. With the cuff end facing out, fold the gloves over the side of your hand between the forefinger and thumb. Hold them in place with your thumb.
4. If the gloves are long, fold them in half lengthwise and place the folded part out, then hold between the forefinger and thumb.

Remember, a lady always wears both gloves, not just one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shoes - 1946

I love these shoes. I love them more than any shoe I could buy today. I love them more than my comfiest flats. I love them more than my black booties that I can wear all day when shopping at the mall. I love them more than my leopard print pumps that jazz up my little black dress. Made by Newton Elkins in black, red, blue, tan, or gray suede with studs, I love these shoes from 1946. Anybody have a time machine I can borrow?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy Eveningwear, 1963

Yesterday, we looked at Audrey Hepburn in daywear from Givenchy's line for Spring, 1963. Today, she wears evening gowns from the same collection. The wonderful and imaginative hair designs are by Alexandré. The first photo is one of my favorites of Audrey.

Hepburn poses with her husband Mel Ferrer in a pink tulle confection.
The tulle cocoons intricate beading and embroidery.
A gossamer white silk tulle stole adds another layer of fantasy.

Blue cloqué silk déshabillé that falls in loose folds to a slight train at the back.

White lace with appliqued mauve, pink, yellow and blue silk daisies, then beaded and embroidered in gilt thread and sequins. Don't you wish this photo was in color?

Vivid yellow silk shantung with woven-in dots. The strapless neckline blooms like a flower.

Pink cloqué silk wrapped gown that exposes a bit of leg in front and has a tiny train at back.

All photos by Bert Stern.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Audrey Hepburn Wears Givenchy, 1963

White with black tweed suit with a black silk twill cowl neck blouse and white hat.

Just before beginning filming of "My Fair Lady", Audrey Hepburn posed for these photos in clothing from Hubert de Givenchy's line for Spring 1963. Hepburn wore Givenchy exclusively after he designed the costumes for her 1954 film "Sabrina". Before meeting the designer, and before her career exploded, the actress said she still wore homemade dresses.

Hepburn's normal wardrobe consisted of 3 day suits, two in beige or gray and one in black, coats that would last for several seasons, and several late-day and evening dresses for use when she was working. At home in Switzerland, she wore pants and sweaters. After work, she wore a déshabillé, or dresssing gown, to relax in.

Whether for day or evening, Audrey Hepburn had a sure eye for fashion, and she had a thorough understanding of proportion and of her image in Givenchy designs. Here, her choices for daywear from the line. Tomorrow, we'll look at eveningwear. All clothing by Givenchy, Spring 1963. Hair by Alexandré.

Pink tweed suit with a deeper pink linen overblouse and wide belt.

Beige jersey dress with a pseudo-overblouse that is cut on the bias
and fastens with buttons at the sides.

9/10 length white gabardine coat shaped close to the body in front
and loose in the back is worn over a brown silk linen dress with cap sleeves.

Short dinner dress in yellow silk with beaded clusters.

All photos by Bert Stern.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Toni Owen, Sportswear Designer

Toni Owen was one of the best known designers of American sportswear in the 40s and 50s. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Owen taught for 2 years before moving to Orange, New York to become manager of a clothing shop there. Not satisfied with the sportswear on offer, she began to design separates and her career as a fashion designer began. She soon moved to New York City and started her own company, with headquarters on Seventh Avenue. Toni Owen received a Mademoiselle Merit Award for Fashion Design in 1947, and a Coty Award in 1949. In 1950, Vogue magazine named her as one of America's top 12 designers.

Owen was best known for her coordinated, interchangeable separates that were offered in a wide range of sizes, both women's and juniors. Here from 1953, is a group of cotton separates available in solids and a clover print. Tops, skirts and capri pants were all mix-and-match and came in dark or light blue, red, and putty.

Prices for the separates ranged from $6.98 to $12.98 in 1953 (about $58 to $107 in today's dollar).

In 1958, Toni Owen did a multi-page ad with General Foods to introduce their Gourmet Foods line. The lead line was "Because You're An Entertaining Woman". Here, a pleated skirt and a portrait collared blouse in pink moire. The pieces were also available in blue, white, and black. Blouse sold in 1958 for $13 and the skirt for $17 (about $99 and $129 in today's dollar).

Mix and match wool jersey top with a tweed full skirt that had an attached velveteen cummerbund in pink or blue. Top sold in 1958 for $10 and the skirt for $30 (about $76 and $228 in today's dollar).

Here, Owen pairs a wool jersey top with a floral print tweed full skirt in pink or blue. Top sold in 1958 for $10 and the skirt for $35 (about $76 and $266 in today's dollar).

Embroidered rayon separates in red or black to be mixed and matched as you desire. Prices from 1958: Cardigan jacket $23, skirt $30, blouse $12, and pants $25 (about $175, $228, $91, and $190 respectively in today's dollar).

By the way, the Gourmet Foods line included such canned delicacies as Green Turtle Soup, Lobster Newburg, Crepes Suzette, and Cherry Pickles. Yuck.

Winners of the Vermont Country Store Shampoo Giveaway!

The winners of the Vermont Country Store shampoo giveaway are elaine r, Kathleen C., Darlene, BeccakBecca, and Glamoursurf. Congrats to the winners. I'll be in touch! And thank you all for entering the contest.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Couture Evening Gowns

New this week at Couture Allure are more vintage couture evening gowns, vintage sweaters, vintage cocktail dresses, vintage fur coats, and vintage hats!