Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays!

I'll be taking a short break from blogging until after the new year.  I wish each and every one of you a happy holiday and a safe and healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Prints for Evening - 1971

Just 15 short years after yesterday's post, this is what high end American fashion looks like.  In one of Diana Vreeland's final issues editing Vogue magazine, she said, "Print's the thing for evening." 

At left:  "The prettiest quilted silk coat, in a happy-go-flower print.  Shaped, belted, and perfect over every little thing you wear for evening.  Originala.  About $395" (about $2,273 in today's dollar.)  Mr. John hat, Graff watch, Golo boots worn over striped stockings.

At right:  "The print is paisley, and it's got you covered. Black, red, pink silk with trumpet sleeves and a wide belt - Jacques Tiffeau's small evening dress. Abraham fabric. About $325" (that's $1,870 in today's dollar.) Wig by Halston, bracelets by Oscar de la Renta.

Photo by Gianni Penati for Vogue magazine, 1971.
Fashion editor, Diana Vreeland.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Harvey Berin for Bergdorf Goodman, 1956

Harvey Berin is one of my favorite vintage labels. This stunning dress was sold by Bergdorf Goodman and featured in a full page ad in December of 1956. 

"Out of the Blue by Harvey Berin $175
As fragile-looking as a snowflake drifting through the night. Our short evening dress of imported white French point d'esprit appliqued with pale blue French silk Chantilly lace embroidered with rhinestones. Heavenly dressing after dark for sizes 8 to 16. Ready-to-Wear Evening Gowns, Fourth Floor."

Point d'esprit is white lace netting with little polka dots woven into it.  The blue Chantilly lace appliques were individually cut and appliqued onto the white point d'esprit base and the whole thing sparkles with rhinestones.  Maybe someday I'll see this dress in person.  For now, I have to dream about it.

$175 in 1956 is equal to about $1,502 in today's dollar!

Photo by Sharland for Bergdorf Goodman full page ad appearing in Harper's Bazaar, 1956.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My Christmas Tree

I posted a picture of my Christmas tree over on my Facebook page and several people asked to see close-ups.  I have a skinny silver tree that needed something to jazz it up.  I found turquoise tree lights on sale.  During our recent move, I had taken all the broken bits of vintage rhinestone jewelry, buttons and trim and put them all together in a box.  I pulled out that box, added ornament hangers to the sparkly jewels and buttons and draped the necklaces and bracelets like garland.  At the thrift store this past week, I found two tins full of small glass ornaments from the 50s and they added just the right touch of color the tree needed.  Voila!  Here she is in all her glory!

 She's wearing a tiara at the top and that's a vintage Santa pin made from yarn and cotton batting.

 Rhinestone necklaces, buckles, buttons and vintage ornaments all sparkle in the glow of the lights.

 Finally, a use for that large 1950s pin with missing stones!

Broken rhinestone bracelets are hung from one end as long sparkling icicles, as seen at the right.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Madeleine de Rauch Evening Gown - 1955

Pale blue satin with a wide gray satin sash at the waist.  Blouson bodice over a full length buttoned skirt.  Long sleeves and a wide, wide neckline.  Gown by Madeleine de Rauch, Fall/Winter Couture 1955.  Earrings by Arpad add just the right amount of zing. 

Photo by Richard Avedon for Harper's Bazaar, 1955
Model, Dovima
Fashion editor, Diana Vreeland.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ceil Chapman - 1955

You know that I love the ad copy that accompanies Bergdorf Goodman ads.  This one is from 1955.

"Chiffon Flame in the Wind by Ceil Chapman $135
Born to dance the night away - our silk chiffon in a smoldering, flaming pink.  It's draped bodice, one-shouldered stole and cloud-formation skirt beautiful accompaniment to music heard or unheard.  Also in black, in sizes 8 to 16."

The stole shown draped around her head is attached at one shoulder and can hang freely down the back of the gown.  Interesting gathered waist extends up into the bust and down into the hips.  $135 is about $1,176 in today's dollar.

Would you chose pink or black?

Photo by Karen Radkai for Bergdorf Goodman.  
Full page ad from Harper's Bazaar, 1955.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I. Miller Evening Shoes - 1958

"To balance The Empire, gold medallions on lustrous silk satin woven in France by Cotillion. For late day and resort in gold with sparkling colors." 

They just don't make shoes like they used to.  Would I wear these?  In a heartbeat.  Shoes by I. Miller, 1958.

Full page ad from Harper's Bazaar, 1958.  No artist signature on the illustration.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Swansdown and Jaunty Junior Coats - 1949

The Swansdown line of coats and suits were manufactured by America's largest firm of the sort, Morris W. Haft & Brothers, Inc.  The company also made the Jaunty Juniors line.  Morris Haft and his 6 brothers opened the company in 1916 and were very successful until the company was dissolved in 1950.

In piecing together clues, it appears that Morris W. Haft continued the Swansdown company until his own retirement in 1955.  Haft made a lot of money in the coat and suit industry and formed a philanthropic foundation with his wife Fannie in 1958.  They funded Haft Hall, a dormitory at Syracuse University and the Morris W. and Fannie B. Haft Auditorium at the Fashion Institute in New York.

Swansdown wool tweed coat, 1949
In 1965, Morris Haft sold his personal collection of original Impressionist artworks at auction.  The sale made the news when one of the paintings, Van Gogh's "The Sower" sold for $250.000 to an anonymous bidder.  The sale brought in nearly $1.5 million total.

Full page ads from Charm Magazine, 1949.
3rd image by Ray Solowinski for Charm Magazine, 1949. 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Coco Chanel's Personal Wardrobe Auction in 1978

On December 2, 1978, Christie's in London auctioned the personal wardrobe of Coco Chanel which had been bequeathed to Lilian Grumbach (center above) upon Chanel's death in 1971.  At the time, auctioning of "used clothing" or "personal wardrobes" was not the norm, in fact far from it.  There was a lot of speculation prior to the auction about who would want to buy the "out-of-date" clothing and jewelry from an auction house that normally specialized in fine art and antiques.  The House of Chanel itself was floundering in the late 70s and would not become a sensation again until 1983, when Karl Lagerfeld was hired.

Lilian Grumbach was press representative and closest personal associate to Chanel during the last 14 years of her life.  She was also heir to Chanel's personal effects.  The auction consisted of about 40 suits and dresses, either worn personally by Chanel herself or designed by her and kept as part of her personal collection.  There were also 44 pieces of jewelry and 36 other accessories (presumably handbags and such.) 

The auction was attended by museums, department stores, private collectors and women who were wise enough to realize the value of a piece of couture designed by Chanel.  A beige tweed suit with bright pink silk braid brought the highest price of the evening, about $4,800 (about $17,200 today.)  The total proceeds for the evening were $138,000 (about $494,000 today.)

Think about that.  Less than $500,000 for 120 items owned and designed by Coco Chanel herself.  If the same auction were held today, I am sure there would have been single items that sold for that price.  What a difference 35 years makes!

This link will take you to a French news report about the auction on Youtube.  In it, you can see some of the clothing and jewelry that was auctioned being worn by models.  You'll also see some of the bidders.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Cute Ideas for Wearing Vintage Scarves

This full page ad for Kimball scarves is from 1949.  "4 clever little tricks with a knack for turning a costume into a wardrobe.  Wear them in gay ways for occasions galore - they're pure silk and hand-rolled and sized just right for your Summer ensembles.  All the colors you could possibly want."

Top left:  "wear it tantalizingly at the base of your plunge neckline"
Top right: "tie it as a cravat adding a chic color note at the throat"
Lower left:  "create the brilliant French touch with flowing wing knot"
Lower right:  "sport a vivid dickey and a twin hipline fillip"

Speaking of scarves, I have a fabulous selection right now at Couture Allure, including designer silk scarves from Wesley Simpson, Vera, Giorgio Sant'Angelo, Albert Nipon, Glentex and more.  Vintage scarves make great holiday gifts!

Kimball ad scanned from Mademoiselle magazine, May 1949.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Mollie Parnis Dress - 1956

"My dear, you're the most exciting woman in this a Mollie Parnis dress of William Rose black taffeta. 125.00"

This dress had every opportunity of being austere with its long sleeves and solid black color.  But note how Parnis offsets that by making the neckline as wide as it can be with the sleeves sitting just at the very edge of the shoulders.  Those shoulders become the center of attention, don't they?

Dress by Mollie Parnis shown in a full page ad for Harper's Bazaar, December 1956.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Ben Reig Evening Gown - 1969

Are they palazzo pants or is it just a very full gown?  Hard to say, as there is no mention of the fact in the ad copy.  I. Magnin simply says, "dreamy moonbird.  Plunged in glamorous, gleamy silk satin by Ben Reig. Our exclusive."

Ben Reig, one of the designers beloved by America's well-to-do women, women who "are pillars of country clubs and who never get thrown out of restaurants," this said at a time when fashion was turned upside down by pants, plunging bra-less decolletage, mini skirts and see-through blouses.  "No wearer of a Ben Reig costume is going to get photographed because she's way-out, and no Ben Reig customer wants to be."

First quote by Angela Taylor writing for the New York Times, May 1969.
Second quote by Florence de Santis, New York reporter, January 1969.
Photo by Jack Cowley for I. Magnin, 1969. Model Lauren Hutton.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Markdowns and Holiday Gifts at Couture Allure

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekend Eye Candy - Givenchy, 1958

Suddenly, the holiday party season is upon us.  How about an oh-so-feminine velvet bubble dress with matching fur lined hooded bolero?  Yes, please!  Ensemble by Hubert de Givenchy, 1958.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Enjoy an Old Fashioned Friday after Thanksgiving

When did this become what Thanksgiving is all about?  Instead, I hope you'll enjoy today in other ways that have some meaning.

 Spend time with your family.

 Sit down and watch your kids at play.  Even better, get down on the floor and play with them.

 Warm your tootsies by a cozy fire.

 Play a game of cards with grandma.

Read a book or two.  

 Take a long walk in the woods.

Enjoy some leftovers.

Continue to give thanks.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. It's a day when we stop to think about all the things in our lives that we're thankful for. Today, I am thankful for you.

I'm thankful for all my dear readers who come here each day to share a bit of my world.

I'm thankful for the online friends I've made who also enjoy vintage fashion.

I'm thankful that I have a place to share things the that I am passionate about.

I'm thankful that you "get" me, that you understand, and that you love the same things I do.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Going to Grandma's

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. Today will be one of the busiest travel days of the year. So whether you're going to grandma's by car,

by train,

by ship,

or by plane,

please travel safely!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ceil Chapman Evening Gown - 1954

This full page ad for Lurex from 1954 features an evening gown by Ceil Chapman and jewels by Harry Winston.  The gown is white taffeta woven with gold Lurex threads.  I would love to see this gown shimmer and shine in person!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel

I finally watched the film "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel" last night.  To watch this film is to "get" me and my fascination with fashion in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.  To watch this film is to understand the allure of vintage clothing from those eras.  To watch this film is to see why today's fast fashion is such a tragedy.  The film is now available to watch for free on Amazon Prime if you are a subscriber.  It is also available on DVD.  I urge you to watch it, then watch it again.

And, as Diana says, please, "Don't be boring!"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It Must be Pucci - 1957

In this full page ad from 1957, Lord & Taylor featured this dress with the headline, "That flair - it's pure Emilio."  They've got to mean Emilio Pucci, don't you think?  "Black cotton ribbing and a brilliant print, 75.00, from the Italian resort collection imported for Lord & Taylor."  It must be Pucci. 

Illustration by Dorothy Hood for Lord & Taylor, 1957

Monday, November 18, 2013

Forgotten Fashion House Foxbrownie

Late 1930s evening gown by Foxbrownie in the collection of The Mint Museum of Art
Designer Stella Brownie Kaufman joined with William Fox in 1937 to form a high end fashion house called Foxbrownie.  Once referred to as "the high priestess of youth in fashion", Kaufman designed expensive clothing for day and evening in the finest fabrics. The Foxbrownie Company was a member of the Fashion Originators Guild and their clothing was carried by the best department stores and high end boutiques, such as Jay Thorpe in New York City.  Not much is known about the company today beyond these few details, and Foxbrownie disappears from media mention by 1949.  Stella Brownie Kaufman died in 1997 and her obituary in the New York Times simply said, "During her lifetime, she was very active in, and made several important contributions to, the fashion industry."

Following are fashion drawings of Foxbrownie fashions from the 1940s.

 These Foxbrownie suits sold for $100 each in 1945 (equivalent to about $1300 each in today's dollar.)


These dresses sold for $79.95 each in 1947 (equivalent to about $840.00 each in today's dollar.)


Friday, November 15, 2013

Eva Marie Saint, 1954

Richard Avedon shot this photo of Eva Marie Saint in 1954, just before the release of the film On the Waterfront.  Her performance as Edie Doyle was her debut on the big screen and garnered her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress that year.  Here's one of her most memorable scenes from the film.

Photo by Richard Avedon for Harper's Bazaar, 1954

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gloria Vanderbilt Wearing Christian Dior - 1954

The pages of my vintage Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines are often graced with images of well-known socialites, royalty and actresses of the time modeling fashion.  Our fascination with celebrity goes back many, many years. 

The caption for this 1954 photo says, "Mrs. Leopold Stokowski, whose career as an actress is off to a flourishing start, is chairman of the Patron's Committee for the Little Orchestra Society's series of Holiday Concerts for children, which are to benefit the St. Luke's Hospital Building Fund.  She wears a challis coat and trousers, flowered in brilliant red and green; and a chiffon blouse of the same creamy white.  By Christian Dior-New York."

Mrs. Leopold Stokowski is none other than Gloria Vanderbilt, whose acting career and marriage to the famous conductor would be over within the next year.  She likely made the plug for the hospital building fund  a condition of her posing for the magazine.  Vanderbilt would build a fashion empire with her famous jeans in the 1970s.

I do like this lovely little at-home ensemble by Christian Dior-New York.  It's a lot less formal than the clothing we usually associate with this label.  The set sold for $210 in 1954 (about $1,828 in today's dollar.)

Photo by Louise Dahl-Woolfe for Harper's Bazaar, 1954.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jo Copeland Suit - 1943

After being in a box for the last 6 months, I finally unearthed my scanner and I have all my vintage fashion magazines out of storage.  Yay!

How I wish this image were in color, but Harper's Bazaar and all magazines were judicious with full color pages at this time, especially during the war years.  This fabulous suit is by Jo Copeland for Patullo.  The jacket is a blue, white and yellow check, the skirt is navy blue and the blouse is yellow rayon crepe. I really like that buckle at the waist.

The model?  None other than Lauren Bacall.

Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene for Harper's Bazaar, 1943.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

50% Off Everything at Couture Allure!


My post yesterday about transformation and the new and exciting things coming into my life also made me realize that it is time to reward you.  Why?  Because during all the many moves and changes over the last few months, I have not been as active here or on my website as I (and I'm sure you) would like.  The fact of the matter is, Couture Allure is loaded with hundreds of gorgeous vintage garments and accessories that need to find new homes before I can begin to list the hundreds more that are waiting in the wings.

For the first time ever, and for 4 days only, I am offering 50% off everything on the website.  Yes, 50% off every vintage dress, evening gown, and fur.  50% off every vintage scarf, purse and belt.  50% off dresses from the 1920s, 50% off vintage designer garments, 50% off vintage jewelry.  Everything!  Simply enter coupon code "50off" at checkout and the discount will automatically be applied.  Sale starts now and ends at midnight Eastern time on Sunday, November 10.  I am unlikely to ever do this again, so don't miss your opportunity!  Shop now!  Note: Discount does not apply to shipping costs or previous purchases.  Sorry, there will be no layaways or holds allowed during this sale.  All items will be considered a final sale and no returns will be accepted.

Thanks for sticking with me this year.  Now, go get your reward!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Vertigo and Transformation

I've always been a control freak.  My life was arranged in neat and orderly rows, everything in its place, schedules followed, no deviations from the straight and narrow.  That was my safety net.  Nothing random, no flying by the seat of my pants, no chaos, always in control.

This is what my life looks like right now.  There is no order, no control.  The universe is teaching me about randomness, about letting go, about jumping into the void to see what happens.  It's quite wonderful and very scary. And it's quite dizzying, hence the vertigo.

If you follow my blog, you know that in the past year, my husband and I have sold our home in Massachusetts, shed our lives of all our "stuff", and moved to Florida to embrace a warmer climate and a far friendlier community.  During the past 5 months we have lived in 2 temporary homes while enjoying the summer in New England and then while searching for a house here in our new city.  We've been living out of boxes and have packed, unpacked and packed 3 times.  Last week, we moved into our new permanent home.  This week, I am settling into my new studio space.

They say our lives change in 12 year cycles.  In my case, the cycles are sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, but they are definitely real. In thinking about the chaos that controls my life right now, I suddenly realized that the last big change in my life was exactly 12 years ago when I left a corporate job to pursue my dream and started Couture Allure in 2001.  Wow.

I don't know what any of this has to do with vintage clothing, but I do know that there are new and exciting things happening in my tumultuous world right now.  I am ready to embrace a less rigid existence, hence the transforrmation.  I hope you'll stick around to see what happens next!

By the way,I want to thank each and every one of you who took the time to write your thoughtful and insightful comments regarding the question "Are you tired of vintage clothing?" last week. I continue to contemplate them with great interest.