Friday, September 30, 2011

Ermine Fur Jacket - 1963

While you normally think of ermine fur as being white, the ermine's coat actually changes with the seasons.  It is a soft beige with a white belly in summer and pure white in winter.  In 1963, Sarmi designed this summer ermine fur jacket that has a decided casual feel to wear for day or evening.  Big buttons and a herringbone cut to the pelts give this jacket it's sporty look.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paris Couture Evening Gowns - 1936

Today, we'll continue our look at Paris couture from the 1930s with evening gowns from 1936.  Which is your favorite?

Madeleine Vionnet gown with white tulle ruffles.

Maggy Rouff red velvet tunic and skirt.  The tunic is completely smocked.

Elsa Schiaparelli red crepe gown with exclusive print in white.

Jean Patou black crepe with lace yoke and sleeves.

Lucien Lelong midnight blue jersey with gathers at one shoulder.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Suits Illustrated - 1963

Department stores often used illustrations instead of photographs in high fashion magazines and newspapers as it was less expensive to hire an artist than it was to hire a fashion photographer, a model and a studio.  Some illustrators were on staff at the stores, come worked for the advertising agency, and some were self employed with contracts to provide drawings for the store. Only well known artists were allowed to add their signature to the drawing.  These illustrations are all from one magazine in August of 1963. 

I. Magnin & Co.  "A look of elegance, a look of opulence...three-piece costume of Anglo's lacy-textured wool tweed with natural Canadian lynx 300.00...from our Manor-Bourne Collection designed exclusively for I. Magnin".  (about $2221.00 in today's dollar.)

Bonwit Teller, illustration by Kenneth Paul Block.  "From Ben Barrack, magnum houndstooth checks in a costume of brushed mohair and wool.  Unexpected tour de force: the opulent peau de soie bodice.  Pink, amber or white-checked with black, bodice and scarf in black.  $145.00."  (About $1074.00 in today's dollar.)

Best & Co.  "Bardley blends the perfect ensemble....of imported wools.  Well-bred wools are a Bardley byword and as you can see here they know just how to mix texture and color and line ot a connoisseur's taste.  Both in cranberry, pebble beige, loden green or French blue.  Coat with set-away collar of thick, airy, silky wool tweed.  $125.00.  Suit of needlepoint wool.  $90.00."  (About $925 and $665 in today's dollar.)

Saks Fifth Avenue  "Our own Sophie's town suit prophecy in French wool tweed - the attenuated jacket jersey-framed at the neckline to match the shell beneath, $395.00."  (About $2924.00 in today's dollar.)
Lord & Taylor, illustration by Dorothy Hood.  "High casual - new turnabout of suit with buttons up the back, scarf all around - the easy mood of Monte-Sano and Pruzan, in black and white windowpane wool from France.  $290.00."  ($2147.00 in today's dollar.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

11 Pieces Make a Wardrobe - 1954

Fall has arrived and with it the traditional colors of brown, orange, and gold.  Take those shades, add a couple of prints that co-ordinate and you've got endless possibilities to mix and match.  Two dresses (the solid brown at the far right and the print shirtwaist next to it combine with a solid brown vest, brown straight skirt, brown bolero jacket, brown Bermuda shorts, a solid gold blouse, a print blouse and skirt, and an orange knit sweater jacket and skirt for a week's worth of outfits.

If you put your mind to it, I'll bet you could come up with an entire month's worth of outfits from these 11 pieces and not repeat the same one twice.  How would you mix it up?  I'd wear the brown bolero with the darker printed shirtdress.  Or I'd pair the gold blouse and orange jacket with the solid brown skirt.  Or I'd.............fill in the blank in the comments!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wearing Vintage Sweaters - 1954

I spent a couple of days last week adding this year's collection of vintage sweaters to the website.  If you've never worn a vintage sweater, I urge you to give one a try.  They are made from much higher quality yarns that those of today and they are usually fully fashioned, which means the pieces are knitted into shape, not cut and sewn from a flat piece of fabric.

Since it's now officially fall (drat!), I thought I would show you some photos of sweaters from 1954.  They're all matched with basic pants and skirts in khaki and gray. Prices shown are the actual prices from 1954 and today's equivalent is in parentheses.

Left:  Pringle gray cashmere pullover with a stripe of lighter gray in the mock turtleneck.  $26 ($219)
Center:  Bernhard Altmann strawberry red cashmere pullover with short sleeves.  $23 ($194)
Right:  Korrigan-Lesure black button down cardigan worn with the buttons in back.  $35 ($295)

Left:  Braemar ribbed pullover in pale ivory.  $23 ($194)
Center:  Hadley red cashmere short sleeve with white stripe accents.  $22 ($185)
Right:  Jantzen ivory wool/vicara blend pullover with white angora neck and cuffs.  $11 ($93)

Left:  Dalton cashmere turtleneck with button placket in ice blue.  $25 ($211)
Center:  Maurice Handler cashmere sweater in the style of a shirt with shirt tail hem.  $30 ($253)
Right:  Goldworm wool rib-knit with zipper neckline.  $14 ($118)

Left:  Geist and Geist purple wool pullover with cowl collar.  $25 ($211)
Center:  Roseanna white ribbed wool with big sailor collar.  $18 ($152)
Right:  Stanley Boutique reversible jacket, cable knit on one side, alpaca on the other.  $40 ($337)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Coats, Vintage Sweaters, Vintage Furs, Vintage Scarves

31 new items were added to the website this week, including loads of vintage cashmere sweaters, more vintage coats, some furs and fabulous vintage scarves.  Be sure to check our What's New pages to see all the latest listings!

1960s pop art coat by Michael Novarese

1920s beaded coat by Philip Mangone

1950s Dalton beaded cashmere sweater

1960s Ballantyne cashmere argyle sweater

1950s genuine fox fur stole

1970s Vera silk scarf

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Elsa Schiaparelli, 1936

Earlier this week I posted about Elsa Schiaparelli and her use of plastic zippers in the 30s.  Here is another example from her Fall/Winter line from 1935/36.  The dress on the left is a black wool knit lined in white satin.  The bodice of the dress has a white plastic zipper at the front.  Schiaparelli used the same zippers to decorate the gloves.  Love that belt with the angled buckle!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ends Today! 2 Ways to Save at Couture Allure

Today is your last chance to grab a deal during our 2 Ways to Save extravaganza!  Sale ends at midnight Eastern time tonight!

Deal #1 - Take 20% off any purchase from our 1970s Collection.  There are over 50 fabulous 1970s dresses, coats, furs and accessory items for you to choose from.  Simply enter coupon code "70sonsale" at checkout and your discount will be automatically applied.  Discount does not apply to shipping charges or previous sales.

Diane Dickinson silk butterfly dress - now just $180!

Huge Bohemian necklace - now just $100!

Hermes wool and leather skirt - now just $220!

Deal #2 - Take an extra 10% off any items in our Sale Room!  I just added lots of new markdowns to the Sale Room yesterday.  Don't miss your chance for an even better deal!  Simply enter coupon code "extra10" at checkout.  Discount does not apply to shipping charges or previous purchases.

50s full skirt dress - now just $121.50!

1920s silk velvet gown - now just $265.50!

1940s wool gabardine suit - now just $175.50!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Schiaparelli and the Plastic Zipper

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on nylon coil zippers, today I'd like to clear up a bit of confusion about earlier plastic zippers.  The Lightening Fastener Company of Great Britain and Canada began experimenting with plastic in place of metal zippers in 1932.  By 1934, Japanese company YKK, US company Hookless Fastener (maker of Talon zippers) and French company Eclair all had made plastic zippers.  The teeth on these early plastic zippers were quite large, more the size of today's heavy brass industrial zippers, so they weren't really practical or attractive for use as closures on clothing.  Nylon wasn't invented until 1935, so these early zippers were likely celluloid or some other early plastic.

In 1933, Harry Houghton of Lightening Fastener's Canadian division offered Elsa Schiaparelli $10,000 (about $175,000 in today's dollar) to use their zippers in her clothing.  Schiaparelli decided to use the colorful plastic zippers as a design element in her clothing.  She shocked buyers who arrived to view her Winter collection of 1935-36 by using the plastic zippers in unexpected places and in a very visible way.  Zippers were found on pockets, necklines, sleeves and shoulder seams.

Actress Frances Drake wore this Schiaparelli wool jersey dress in the 1936 film I'd Give My Life.  A Lightening Fastener plastic zipper closes the entire front of the dress.

This Schiaparelli taffeta evening gown from Winter 1935-36 incorporates a decorative YKK plastic zipper placed diagonally on the front of the skirt.

This cotton dress by Schiaparelli is from about 1940 and was shown as part of last summer's High Style exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.  I took this photo of the back of the dress, which has a yellow plastic zipper all the way up the back.  You can see here how chunky the zipper looks and the fact that the teeth are left exposed as a design element rather than as a practical way to close the garment.

A close-up of the chunky teeth in the zipper .

Schiaparelli did not use plastic zippers exclusively, nor did she use them when she wanted a hidden or understated closure on a garment.  The use of industrial zippers as decoration was an unusual element that became one of her signature looks.  The evening gown shown here is from about 1933-34 and uses visible heavy brass zippers at the side seam and the sleeve cuffs.

Dilys E. Blum:  Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli (2003)
Jan Glier Reeder: High Style (2010)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When Was the Nylon Coil Zipper Introduced?

Many vintage dealers will look to the type of zipper used in a garment to help date it.  Metal zippers were in common use in garments from the 1940s through the 60s and I've even seen them in a few early 70s dresses.  But many people believe if a garment has a nylon zipper, it probably dates to the mid-to-late 60s at the earliest.  Not true.  Today I came across this ad for the "New" Talon Zephyr zipper in a magazine from October of 1960.  While it is true that nylon coil zippers were not immediately popular, you will find early ones from time to time, especially in designer garments.  The new nylon coil zippers were probably more expensive than metal ones at first, as most new technology is.  And they weren't available to home sewers until later.

The dress shown is by designer Hannah Troy.

There is the copy from the ad:  "New Talon Zephyr...fabulous nylon closure with the feel and flex of fabric.  Borne on the high winds of fashion:  A pouf of silk damask unburdened by the look and feel of hardware - accomplished by the new Talon Zephyr.  A new nylon coil design makes it as light, soft and supple as fabric.  And Zephyr's color lives forever, so it can't reveal that metal gleam along a seam.  It's virtually snag proof.  Magically self-healing.  (If fabric or thread should catch in coils, bend it in half to open....remove fabric.  Then zip it down, zip it up and it 'heals' itself!)  Look for the tiny Zephyr in fall's most important fashions.  Hannah Troy designed this one, and put special interest on the sleeves."

I'm not sure if Talon was the first company to introduce nylon coil zippers to the fashion industry, so I can't say that 1960 was the definitive year when the nylon zipper first appears in clothing.  But I can say that Talon advertised it's new zipper in 1960 and that provides a valuable clue when trying to date some vintage garments.

Photo source

UPDATE:  Please note that the zipper I am referring to in this article is the nylon coil zipper, as shown on the right in this photo.  Earlier plastic zippers were available and were most often used as a decorative element.  They were heavier and looked similar to the one shown on the left in this photo.  Please see my follow-up article on early plastic zippers from the 30's.  Nylon wasn't invented until 1935 and it's use for zipper coils did not come until much later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Revlon's Queen of Diamonds

I've blogged before about Revlon's use of alluring names for it's lipstick and nail polish colors.  In this ad from November of 1954, Revlon introduced it's new color "Queen of Diamonds".  New "real-thing-red" for lips and matching fingertips...a bright-hot, white-hot flame like acres of diamonds flashing with fire!  This is the red that turns every other red pale with shame.

That's Carmen Dell'Orefice at age 23.  Carmen is still working as a model today and is known for her stylish gray hair these days.  In the photo here, she is either wearing a wig or her hair has been colored gray, but it's an interesting portent of how beautiful she would continue to be as she aged.

In order for the red lipstick and nails to stand out, Carmen wears a white satin gown adorned with rhinestones.  And what a gown it is!  It is by designer Zita.  I've never heard of her and can't find any information about her.  If you know anything about Zita, please let me know in the comments.  Look how the curving rows of rhinestones accent Carmen's already tiny waist. 

Of course, you can't advertise a product called "Queen of Diamonds" without real diamonds.  The jewels in the photo are by Harry Winston.

But most of all, I want that fan.  Red feathers with a rhinestone encrusted handle?  Yes, I want it please. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lounging About in Giorgio di Sant'Angelo - 1971

In the early 70s, loungewear in the form of caftans and luxurious pajama sets became important for entertaining at home.  As women's wardrobes became more casual overall, eveningwear was not unaffected.  Today, loungewear to be worn for hostessing from 1971, all by Giorgio di Sant'Angelo.  You may be surprised at the prices of these garments, expecially considering they are all made from synthetic fabrics.

Above:  Pants suit in turquoise silky polyester.  Sold for $165 in 1971 (about $920 in today's dollar.)

Asian inspired pajama set in bright cherry red satin of acetate and nylon.  A matching chiffon sash trails to the floor from the waist.  Sold for $225 in 1971 (about $1,255 in today's dollar.)

This time Sant'Angelo uses a beautiful acetate satin floral print for this Asian pajama set.  The top is accented in apricot satin and apricot chiffon shirt sleeves billow out from under the jacket.  Sold for $350 in 1971 (about $1,952 in today's dollar.)

This scarlet caftan in brocade and chiffon has billowing sleeves and a slit at the front of the skirt.  Of acetate and rayon.  Sold for $295 in 1971 (about $1,646 in today's dollar.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New at Couture Allure - Vintage Furs and Accessories

This week at Couture Allure we've added some luxurious furs and accessories to the site.  Be sure to check our What's New pages to see all the latest additions!

1960s mink hat stenciled in a jaguar pattern.

1970s genuine black fox fur stole.

1970s genuine black fox fur hat.

1950s genuine stone marten fur jacket.

1960s Mod coat with Persian lamb fur trim.

1970s statement necklace.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Eye Candy - Christian LaCroix, 1990

Christian LaCroix Pret-a-Porter, Fall 1990.  Do I like the floral encrusted bodice or the jewelry more?  I can't choose.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Maximilian Broadtail Lamb Fur Coat - 1958

You may have noticed I've been showing fur coats on Fridays for the last couple of weeks.  I'm going to continue this series for a few reasons.  First, these coats are beautiful and even if you don't wear fur, you can appreciate the designs and styles.  Second, when perusing my collection of vintage magazines, they are full of photos and ads for fur coats.  Furs were an important part of fashion and my blog would not be complete without them.  Third, one of the most frequent questions we get on the discussion boards at the VFG is "What type of fur is this?"  The VFG has a fabulous Fur Resource to help identify varieties of fur and I'm hoping to do a similar thing here.  If you type a variety of fur over in the search box, it will bring up posts from the past with photos of actual fur coats and you can use that to help identify your fur.  OK?

From 1958, the coat shown here is by Maximilian and is made of black Hollander-dyed Russian broadtail lamb fur.  The coat is completely lined in natural dark ranch mink.  The bateau collar is also mink.  That's quite a pairing of two fur varieties in one gorgeous coat!