Friday, May 31, 2013

We're Squished Sale at Couture Allure!

The move is complete and we're we're all unpacked. Our new digs are smaller than expected and we are desperate for some breathing room. All remaining spring and summer items on the Couture Allure website have been drastically marked down! There are 3 full pages of bargains in our Sale Room right now.  Here is just a sample of the great deals you'll find on dresses you can wear right now!

1950s incredible party dress, now just $325!

1960s linen patio or evening dress, now just $125!

1950s lilac roses cotton dress, now just $95!

1960s silk floral dress, now just $95!

1950s cotton wrap dress, now just $85!

1960s Shannon Rodgers cotton maxi, now just $125!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crinoline Petticoats, 1951

In August of 1951, Life magazine did a small article about the latest crinoline petticoats a woman needed to wear under the new full skirted fashions.  The magazine featured fashions by Anne Fogarty and showed the crinolines she used for her fashion shows to give the latest bell shaped skirts the oomph they needed.  I thought you might like to see those crinolines.

A quilted cotton dress worn over a black turtleneck sweater and with strappy sandals.

That heavy quilted fabric required a ruffled cotton petticoat or two.  Over the petticoat, the model wears a very stiff lacquered net slip with a wide horsehair braid hem.  The lacquered net crinoline provides the support needed for the heavy quilted fabric of the dress.

3 lighter weight dresses by Fogarty are shown with layers of petticoats underneath.

Prepping for a fashion show, the models don multiple ruffled cotton petticoats to wear under full skirted dresses.  In the foreground, you can see how stiff those lacquered net slips are.  They stand up on their own!

All photos by Nina Leen for Life Magazine, August 13, 1951.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We've Moved!

The move is complete!  Thank you to everyone for your well wishes during this process.  It has been a long and arduous task.  The estate sale was a huge success with the help of a very dear friend and we managed to get rid of most everything we no longer need.  The packing up of the business and house took days and days, boxes and boxes.  Downsizing from a 2700 sq. ft. house to an 1100 sq. ft. one is very freeing though.  We have pared our lives down to the essentials and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to go from the bedroom to the kitchen in a few simple steps instead of down 2 flights of stairs! 

I'm still unpacking the business and trying to fit everything I need into a smaller space.  It will take some clever space planning, but I'll get it done and hopefully I'll be back up to full speed within a few days.  The best part is, unpacking boxes of vintage that were in storage is like finding the treasures all over again.  I can't wait to show you!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is Dressing Well a Thing of the Past?

Here's what I believe. It does no good to watch this and say, "I wish people would dress with more elegance." It has to start with each one of us. You and I need to set the example each and every day, just like Professor Przybyszewski. I'm not saying we need to wear gloves and hats. I am saying I will think each day about how I present myself to the world. Will you?

My friend Liza over at Better Dresses Vintage said it far better than I ever could.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My New Muse

I've been packing up my office for the last couple of days in anticipation of our move this weekend.  What a job!  In doing so, I came across a French magazine from 1988 that I had forgotten about.  I flipped through it quickly and this image stopped me cold.  The magazine gave credit to the clothing designer, the makeup artist, the hair stylist and the photographer, but gave no mention of who the model was.  I posted the picture on my Facebook page, along with several others from the same photo shoot and an all day guessing game ensued about who she is.  Guesses of Isabella Rossellini, Helena Bonham Carter, Geena Davis, and Nastassja Kinski all proved wrong.  Then I got a private message with the answer.  This is model Celia Forner, who hails from Spain.  She had a brief career both in print and on the runway from 1987 to 1994.  Isn't she beautiful?

Photo by Cynthia Hampton for L'Officiel, 1988.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dots and Spots, 1959

Need I say more?  Dress by Pat Premo, Spring 1959. 

Ad in Harper's Bazaar, January 1959.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where I Have Been....Where I Am Going and a Sale!

Over the past few months, you may have noticed that the pace of new vintage dresses coming to Couture Allure has slowed down considerably and that my posts on this blog have become erratic.  There's a reason for that.

Winter.  I can't do winter any more.  You'll recall my road trips down south in January 2012 and 2013.  In addition to shopping for vintage all along the way, my husband and I were also scouting for a new place to live during the winter months.  And we've found it in delightful Dunedin, FL.  We've both worked for years and years to get to this point and our dream is finally coming true.

In 2012, we made the decision to start working toward selling our home here in Massachusetts.  It took us a year of hard labor making repairs and improvements, decluttering and staging the house to put it on the market.  All that work at home has pulled me away from the business at times.  We had a goal of getting the house on the market by April 1, 2013.  We missed that goal by 9 days. 

But we were very, very lucky as all our hard work paid off.  The house sold in 5 days to a lovely family that is the perfect fit for it.  In the past month, we've found a temporary home here in MA for the summer, we've been packing up and getting rid of things we no longer need.  We're having a big estate sale this weekend to sell off most of our furniture and we're moving out of our house next week.

Does that stop me from finding fabulous new vintage for you?  NO!  But in the past month, all that new vintage has been piling up as I have no time to go to the office.  There's too much to do at home! 

This coming week, not only do we have to move out of our house, I also have to move my business closer to our new home.  What that means for you is there will be no new vintage hitting the site for the next week or two, but starting June 1st I should be back up and running with loads of new beauties for you.  It also means a SALE!  The less I have to move, the easier that move will be.  Starting right now through Saturday May 18, take 20% off your entire order at Couture Allure.  Simply enter coupon code "move" at checkout and the discount will automatically be applied.  The discount does not apply to previous orders or shipping costs.  All orders will ship on Monday, May 20.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nettie Rosenstein for I. Magnin - 1956

I love a rose print.  Add a matching hat and I'm over the moon!  I. Magnin featured this dress by Nettie Rosenstein in a full page ad from 1956.  "we like the look of a rose on a stem...a big hat...a stem-slender dress by Nettie Rosenstein cut from rose-printed silk shantung, swept to the back and gently our Magnin-exclusive Rosenstein collection."  Perfection, pure and simple.  If anyone can tell me what the illustrator's signature says, I would really appreciate it.

I. Magin ad for Harper's Bazaar, March 1956.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Travilla Dress - 1958

Travilla's version of the sack back dress from 1958.  The dress is likely fitted to the body under the blouson that falls from the thin shoulder straps and tucks back in under the waistband.  The magazine calls this a "cocktails-through-dawn" dress.  I like that description.  Sold for $125 in 1958 (about $1,007 in today's dollar.)

Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper's Bazaar.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dan River Plaids - 1958

Plaid never looked so good.  In this ad from 1958, the Dan River fabric company features 3 dresses made from its yarn dyed woven plaids.  Started in 1882, Dan River was one of the most famous and prolific of the American textile companies, well known for their gingham fabrics.  Sadly, the company fell victim to cheap overseas competition and declared bankruptcy in 2004.  The company was purchased by firm in India in 2006 and all jobs were moved out of the US.  The historic textile plant in Danville, VA was taken down in 2008.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Weekend Eye Candy - Lanvin-Castillo, 1958

Thursday, May 02, 2013

How to Restore the Back Darts in a 1950s Dress

Before the late 1960s, when women kept their clothing and expected to wear each garment for years, it was common for them to make alterations when necessary instead of shopping for something new.  An alteration I see frequently is the removal of the vertical darts in the back of a dress to add inches to the waist.  While this does work, it also brings the side seams forward on the body and the dress won't curve to fit the small of the back like it would with darts in place.  I always prefer to restore the darts if they have been removed so the dress hangs and fits like it was originally meant to.  If your dress doesn't have a waist seam, simply resew the darts along the original stitching lines.  If your dress does have a waist seam, however, restoring those darts requires a few extra steps.

The alteration is fairly easy to recognize because you'll often see the original needle marks or press lines in the fabric.  On some dresses, you may see tiny holes at the point of the dart and at a midpoint along each leg.  These were the original dart markings for the stitchers in the factory. 

On this particular dress, the original owner also added room at the back by taking out the zipper placket so the zipper was exposed.  I'm going to fix that too.  If the zipper is still in the original place on your dress and you can rework the waist seam without removing it, simply ignore the references to the zipper in these steps.

Step 1 is to open up the waist seam below the dart and for about 2" on either side of it.  If you need to, unstitch the zipper to just below the waist seam as well.

Repin the dart along the original stitching lines.  If you can't see needle marks, look closely for the original press lines in the fabric or the little holes that marked the darts originally.  Stitch the dart back in place.

Press the dart flat, always toward the center back of the garment.

Now that I have the dart restored, you can see that the center back edges no longer match up.  On this dress, in order to accommodate the extra length added in the waist, some of the depth of the inverted pleat was taken out which made that last pleat wider than all the rest.  Your dress may have had gathers flattened, pleats entirely removed, or a matching dart in the skirt removed.  Look for clues in the fabric.  In this instance, I can just make out the original press line for the fold in the pleat.  Restore whatever shaping was removed in your garment skirt section to make it match the darted bodice.

Sew up the waist seam again.  Ahhh, now those pleats in the skirt look correct again!

Restitch the zipper in place if needed. 

And voila!  The dress is back to the original shape it was meant to be!  This is a fairly simple fix if you have basic sewing knowledge. 

Here she is in all her glory.  You can see the deep pleats have been restored in the skirt and the bodice back now hugs the curve at the waist as it should.  The restoration took me about 1/2 hour total because I also had to reset the zipper in this dress.  I think it was a half hour well spent, don't you?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Henry Rosenfeld Dress - 1955

Dress it up, dress it down, there's nothing like the versatility of a little black dress.  This one by Henry Rosenfeld is fashioned of a cotton knit.  Shown here belted and blousoned, you could also wear this as a straight column with completely different accessories. 

I know it is difficult to see, but the model is wearing a multi-strand pearl necklace that is tucked inside the square neckline.  I really like that idea.....a lot.  The dress sold for $17 in 1955, equivalent to about $148 in today's dollar.  I can assure you, this dress was far superior in fabric and construction that anything you can buy for the same amount today.  Choose vintage!

Photo by Irving Penn for Vogue