Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Nina Ricci, 1936

What better way to greet the New Year than in a dress from the 1930s?  Nina Ricci designed this metallic brocade gown in 1936.  It is deep Persian blue with a multi-colored metallic design in the weave of the cloque fabric.  Whatever you decide to wear tonight, have fun, stay safe, and party like it's 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lanvin-Castillo Dress - 1958

Bergdorf Goodman offered this copy of a Lanvin-Castillo design in their custom salon for Spring 1958.  The dress was available in all white lace or white lace re-embroidered in gold or silver threads. Perfect for your New Year's celebration, no? Sold for $650 in 1958 (about $5,093 in today's dollar.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Serbin Golfer - 1949

Actress Jane Russell models a Serbin Golfer dress from 1949.  Not only for sports, Serbin sold this dress for daytime around-the-house wear too.  Versatility is the key here with a full length separating zipper hidden behind the fly front, sleeves than could unbutton for more room, a pleated back yoke for easy movement and removable shoulder pads.  Made of striped cotton chambray.  Sold for $12.95 in 1949 (about $123 in today's dollar.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adele Simpson Dress and Coat - 1956

What could be better than a dress by Adele Simpson?  How about one with a matching coat?  Spatter print silk in Delphinium blue makes the dress and lines the blue wool coat.  Sold for $275 in 1956 (about $2,289 in today's dollar.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oscar de la Renta Dress - 1967

Here in Boston, we've been blessed with relatively mild temperatures for the past couple of months.  (Did I just jinx it?)  That doesn't mean I don't long for tropical temperatures and warm ocean breezes.  This 1967 dress by Oscar de la Renta is perfect for enjoying those fantasies.  And a long orange beaded necklace as an ankle bracelet?  Why not?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Road Trip!

My dears, I am very excited!  I am headed out on a 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.

My staff will continue to list new items on the website while I'm away, but we'll only be shipping once a week from now through February 6. 

For the blog?  I'll be showing one fabulous dress per day for the next 6 weeks.  There are some real drool-worthy beauties coming for you.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Paul Poiret, 1929

I finally got to see "Midnight in Paris" yesterday.  It has now taken it's place in the list of my top 10 movies of all time.  If you haven't seen it I highly recommend this wonderful, wonderful film.  After watching the movie, I am inspired to bring you a dress from the 1920s today.  Paul Poiret designed this beauty in 1929.  It is red crepe with gold embroidery.  You certainly could wear it to hang with Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Fur - Lanvin, 1948

There are furs, and then there are furs.  This full length silver fox fur coat by Jeanne Lanvin from 1948 is certain to cover even the most voluminous ballgown.  Winter winds be damned!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Office Christmas Party

Having an office Christmas party today? Remember, he won't look nearly as handsome after the punch wears off, dear.

This Public Service Announcement brought to you by Couture Allure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Les Bijoux - 1980s

Still dreaming!

Mouauad, 1980

M. Gerard, 1982

Boucheron, 1985

Van Cleef & Arpels, 1987

Yves St. Laurent, 1988

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Les Bijoux - 1950s

Because every girl is allowed to dream, isn't she?

Cartier, 1950

Van Cleef and Arpels, 1955

Cartier, 1957

Mauboussin, 1959

Boucheron, 1962

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tom Brigance Playsuit - 1955

Yes, 1955.  Most of you were very close and congrats to Val and Lauriana who guessed the year correctly!

Tom Brigance was a well known designer of American sportswear. He worked in London for Jaeger before coming to New York in 1939 as the in-house designer for Lord & Taylor. He was noted for his use of soft draping, unusual fabrics, and interesting prints. He was absent from the design world from 1942-47 while he served in the war. Upon his return, he once again designed for Lord & Taylor, until he announced his resignation in March of 1949 to join Charles Nudelman. He didn't stay long, however, as by 1951, Brigance was the exclusive designer at Frank Gallant.  In the 1950s, 60s and 70s Brigance designed for several manufacturers including Sportsmaker, Gabar and Sinclair as well as under his own name.  He retired in the late 1970s and died on October 14, 1990.

The cute playsuit shown above was designed under Brigance's own label in 1955.  This is actually two pieces:  a short play dress with matching bloomers made of Mooreville cotton plaid.  This would have been worn on the beach, by the pool, or perhaps for boating.  It was far too short to go into town in 1955!  Note how the bottom two buttons of the dress are left daringly unbuttoned for the photo.  The ad calls this a "Miniature dress."  Sold for $25 in 1955 (about $211 in today's dollar.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Mme Gres, 1957

Need a little something to knock 'em dead on New Year's Eve?  How about this silk satin evening gown with matching hooded cloak by Mme. Gres from 1957?  In my dreams!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Guess the Date

It's time to play Guess the Date again!  What year is this cute playsuit from?  Answer on Monday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Norman Norell Bubble Dress - 1957

Traina-Norell, 1957
Norman Norell was the designer of this bubble dress in 1957 for the Traina-Norell label.  Anthony Traina was Norell's financial backer.  He died in 1958 and Norell took over the company and changed the label to simply Norman Norell about 1960.  Richard Avedon took this photo of Norell's bubble dress and I have to assume that the dress is puffed up with air or stuffed with something to give it this round shape.  It's likely there are slits for the arms hidden in there somewhere and when the dress was worn in a normal fashion the bubble silhouette was far less severe.

I normally associate Norman Norell with the "ladies who lunch" crowd and his design esthetic in the 60s and 70s certainly fit that mold.  But Norell was a master of stunning cocktail and evening dresses and his work in the 40s and 50s included some incredible, incredible designs.  Here are a few more examples of his earlier work.


circa 1955 from the Met Museum Costume Collection

That bubble dress at the top is not the only wacky design Norell ever did.  Take a close look at this dress from the 1950s.  Do my eyes deceive me or is this actually a split skirt with two huge harem pant legs?

circa 1950s from the Indianapolis Museum of Art costume collection
 And take a close look at this evening gown from 1949.  Those are satin harem pants under the lace skirt.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guess the Date, Guess the Designer

I won't make you guess that this is a dress.  I have no idea where her arms are or where they are supposed to be.  I have no idea if this is the true shape of the dress or if it has been "puffed" up with air or stuffing for the photo.  Yes, it's a bit whacky, but can you guess the date?  How about the designer?  Answer tomorrow!

Where do you think her arms are supposed to go? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What We Were Wearing - Fall 1941

Here's a look at what women were wearing 70 years ago this month.  America had just entered WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  While L-85 restrictions were not yet in force, fabric shortages and the needs of war did influence fashion.  Hem lengths became shorter and there was less volume in silhouettes.  American designers were beginning to lead the world in new fashion trends as the Paris couture lost contact with the rest of the world.  Nylon and wool were needed for the war effort and Japanese silk was banned in the U.S., so a relatively new fabric known as rayon became the choice for most women's clothing. 

Shorter hemlines are visible in dresses and skirts as well as jackets.  Fancy decorative touches like ruffles, pleats and tucks are starting to disappear as they require more fabric.

Coats are also shorter and cut with less volume.  Even double breasted styles will go away after the L-85 restrictions are put in place in 1943.  Here you can see the beginnings of the padded shoulders that give a masculine appearance in support of the military.

Clothing becomes more utilitarian.  Basic skirts and blouses are worn for everyday wear.

In contrast to the severe look of most clothing, hats become more ostentatious.  High peaked hats are popular..... are tilt hats that are worn forward over the brow.

Shoes become more utilitarian as well with thick sturdy heels.

Rubber will be needed for the war effort, so girdles made with Lastex start to appear.  Lastex was made from latex.  Stockings are now made of nylon instead of silk.  Soon, they will become scarce due to nylon being used for parachutes for our soldiers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Wear a Vintage Fur Stole

I recently received a question from Erin over at Fashion is Danger asking for advice on how to wear her vintage mink stoles.  Erin wrote, "I have two (yes, two!) vintage mink stoles of the kind with the heads, feet and tails on them....I can't figure out HOW to wear them. Both have little bakelite chains of 3-4 links, ending in a cord-wrapped bead with a snap in it-- it seems like these are used to fasten the collars. They also "bite" each other on the tail, via a clip built into their mouths. Finally, on some of the feet (!) there are cord-wrapped beads with snaps.  In short, there are a whole lotta ways to fasten the little critters, but no matter what I do, it ends up looking weird; I end up with a head or a foot or a tail in a bizarre position."

Erin the best way I can answer this is to just give you pictures to look at.  All those clips and snaps are meant to give you versatility in how you wear your stole.  Don't forget, you can wrap it more than once, you can just drape it over your arm or your shoulder, or you can clip it to your lapel, your belt, a pocket, your handbag or your collar.  Keep experimenting!

Check out the little face on her hat!

Two feet clipped together

This is probably 5 pelts, but they are just draped nicely around the neck.

Clip under the face attached to fur on the other end.

Clipped to her belt then wrapped around the shoulders.

Probably clipped to her collar on the side, then wrapped completely around and allowed to fall.

No need to watch all 14 minutes of this video.  In the first few, you'll see Barbara Stanwyck in "Ladies They Talk About" from 1933.  Take a look at how she has the heads of her stole are clipped to the sleeves of her coat.  Genius!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Christian Dior, 1947

What better way to welcome the holidays than in a red satin evening gown all tied up with a big bow?  Christian Dior, 1947.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday Fur - Revillon, 1951

Winter, 1951.  Revillon Furs takes a simple black wool swing coat and ups the ante with a fitch fur lining edged in jaguar.  Jaguar also forms the cuffs on the sleeves.  Interesting mix of two furs, isn't it?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Jerry Parnis Dress - 1954

Jerry Parnis was Mollie Parnis' sister.  While not as well known as Mollie, Jerry was just as talented.  Her favorite fabric to work with was cotton, which she used for both day and evening dresses.  This dress from 1954 is simply superb.  What I love most about it is that unusual neckline treatment, one I've never seen before.  The black and white cotton print is accented with bands of white cotton pique.  Jerry takes the pique band down the front neckline, but stops short of the deep decolletage and weaves it straight across.  This adds a peek-a-boo effect that I adore.  By the way, Formite was the brand name for the interfacing used in the dress. 

We have a beautiful 1950s beaded cocktail dress by Jerry Parnis available at Couture Allure right now.  And yes, it's made of cotton!