Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Couture Allure Supports Reading Is Fundamental

I was a painfully shy child. I found comfort in reading. Books were my friends, stories were my playmates, reading taught me about the world.  Children's literacy is near and dear to my heart.  But we can't encourage our children to read if they have no books.

Reading Is Fundamental is an A-rated charity that works to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.  They work to put books in the hands of children who don't have them.

From September 1 - December 31, 2014, 10% of all sales at Couture Allure, SewHallie and through my retail shops goes directly to Reading Is Fundamental to support their programs.  If you feel strongly about children's literacy, I hope you'll consider a donation to this important charity.  Thank you!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Valentino Cape, 1969

This exquisite cape by Valentino comes from his couture collection for Spring 1969.  The coral branches on the ivory satin are completely painted by hand.  Worn with coral colored crepe pants.  Exquisite, no?

Monday, September 08, 2014

6 Hilariously Awkward Model Poses - 1960

I was perusing a fashion magazine from 1960 this morning and kept coming across pictures in which the model was posed in a very awkward way.  I thought they might bring a little fun to your day.

This girl looks like she is holding a dress that is far too large for her up with her armpits.  If she lifts her arms, that dress is going to slide right down.

Sit on the chair, but don't wrinkle the dress!  Isn't this one of those difficult yoga poses?

No one will notice your hair if you hold this rose.  Caress the rose, make love to the rose, it's all about the rose.

She needs a prop.  Get her a book!  Reading a book while standing in heels and wearing gloves and a big fur hat is perfectly normal!

Model with long legs and chair with short legs.  Make it work!

The gal on the left looks like she definitely has an opinion about the gal on the right, and it's not pretty!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Plaids the Couture Way - 1952

Today I want to show you some couture garments from 1952 that are made with plaid fabrics.  When looking at these designs, notice how perfectly the plaids are matched at the seams, across openings and even on pockets and pleats.  If you've ever sewn with plaid, you know how difficult this is to do.  Enjoy, appreciate, then be inspired!

Dress by Germaine Lecomte.  Note the the plaid on the lapels and the perfect matching across the diagonal opening on the bias cut skirt.  Oh...and those sleeves!

Dress by Agnes Drecoll.  See that line that crosses above the bust?  Look how perfectly it drops across the sleeve. 

Dress by Germaine Lecomte.  Matching plaid is difficult enough.  Matching it on the bias?  That makes my brain hurt.  Note the pockets at the hips.  Perfectly matched.

Dress by Henry a la Pensee.  Take a plaid and play with pleats to make a new design.  Then make it perfectly symmetrical.  Oh and match the first pleat to the flat fabric at the center front from waist to hem.  How did he do that?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

La Vigna Vicuna Trench Coat - 1954

Thinking about your winter coat yet?  You can't go wrong with a classic trench style like this one by La Vigna from 1954.  La Vigna was a coat and suit manufacturer based in New York that was best known for their use of vicuna and vicuna blend fabrics.

The underdown of the vicuna is the softest and most luxurious in the world, and the warmest for its weight.  So popular was this fiber in the luxury market, the poaching of the animals in the high Andes Mountains led to vicuna being listed as endangered in 1974.  In 2002, the rebound of vicuna allowed the classification to be changed to threatened in certain countries of South America and the fiber is again being used in manufacture under strict requirements.

In 1958, Fred La Vigna formed the "Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Vicuna", as he was very concerned about the poaching of these animals.  His company only used fabrics made from vicuna fibers collected in the wild during the once-yearly natural shedding process.  It takes the fleece from about 40 vicuna to make one coat.  Pure vicuna fabric sold for $75 a yard in 1958 (about $620 a yard in today's dollar,) and a pure vicuna coat sold for around $1000 (about $8,245 in today's dollar.)

As for the coat shown above, it is made of "Vicunaire", a fabric made by Einiger of 90% imported wool and 10% pure vicuna.  It sold for $110 in 1954 (about $974 in today's dollar.)

How do you make a classic coat more classic?  Add the touch of a leopard print scarf at the neck, of course!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Exciting News at Couture Allure!

You may have noticed that the Couture Allure website and this blog have been quiet lately.  There's a very good reason for that.  I have been working very hard over the last couple of months opening 3 retail spaces where you can now buy vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, accessories and jewelry from Couture Allure live and in person!  It's been a lot of work, but I am thrilled with the results.

This is the Couture Allure space at Antiques & Uniques in Ozona, FL.  Here, you'll find vintage from the 1930s - 1970s mixed with a few modern pieces that have a bohemian vibe.  

Vintage hats, scarves, jewelry handbags, shoes and home textiles round out the mix, along with some select vintage furniture finds.

Couture Allure goes tropical at House to Home in Clearwater, FL.  Here you'll find vintage clothing and accessories in brighter prints and colors, as well as smaller furniture pieces with a true Floridian flair.

In this space, you'll find lots of 1960s - 70s clothing mixed with vintage-inspired pieces that have that beachy, patio party style.

For the fun and funky, shop my space in Patina Retro and Modern, opening soon on Main St. in Dunedin, FL.  Here's a sneak peek at some of the vintage sparkle and shine you'll find there, along with vintage lingerie and accessories.  This is where you'll see vintage from the 1950s - 80s to add a little spice and glam to your style.

If you are visiting the Gulf Coast of Florida, I hope you'll stop in to see my retail shops. The website will be back in full swing in September with loads of fabulous vintage finds for fall and winter.  I promise!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Teal Traina Suit - 1966

Here's another good example of a fashion trying to bridge the gap between classic clients and the newer Mod looks for the younger generation in 1966.  Venerable old New England department store Jordan Marsh placed this full page ad in Harper's Bazaar.  The dinner suit by Teal Traina is made from a fabulous brocade with a large scale pattern and has a shorter skirt length to appeal to the younger woman.  The choice of the dark tights, gloves and helmet hat are trying to appeal to the Teal Traina and Jordan Marsh client of the past.  What you end up with is a muddled mess.  For this to work, the model should be wearing silver sparkle hosiery, no hat, no gloves and big hair.  It's too bad, as that suit is GORGEOUS!!!!!  Suit sold for $250 in 1966 (about $1836 in today's dollar.)

Photo from a full page ad for Jordan Marsh appearing in Harper's Bazaar, 1966.  No credit given.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Monte-Sano and Pruzan Suit, 1966

Monte-Sano and Pruzan was a high-end maker of tailored suits and coats based in New York.  For the Fall of 1966, they embrace the Mod era with a marvelous wool check enhanced with gold lurex threads for sparkle.  The knee-grazing length of the skirt would still appeal to the company's classic clients by being just mini enough, as would the appearance of the gloves in the photo.  Remember though, most women had abandoned wearing gloves by this time.  There is no notation of who made the shoes, but aren't they wonderful?

Photo by John Engstead for I. Magnin, appeared in Harper's Bazaaar,1966

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vacation Time! Are You Taking Vintage in Your Suitcase?

I am headed off for vacation and road trips for the rest of this month, but not to worry!  My assistant will be in the office to ship your orders and answer your questions while I'm away.

If you're going on a vacation of your own, I hope you'll be incorporating vintage into your wardrobe.  Need last minute ideas?  There are still lots of vintage and vintage inspired summer dresses, separates and accessories available at Couture Allure.

1970s cotton polka dot sundress

1960s Kahala cotton hostess dress
1970s hand embroidered peasant blouse

1980s abstract print cotton skirt
1950s 3-strand bead necklace

1970s large straw tote bag

1980s Benetton leather belt

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Balenciaga Evening Gown - 1963

Hi-low hemlines....they've been around for years and years.  For spring of 1963, Balenciaga created this gorgeous gown.  The hemline exposes the ankle in front and lengthens to form a train in back.  Note how the designer echoes that line at the hip where the skirt attaches to the bodice.  What you can't see here is that he also echoes it at the neckline, which is high in front but dips to a low U in the back. 

The dress shown in this picture was not made in the Balenciaga workrooms, however.  It is an authorized copy made in the US by Nanty and sold at such high end retailers as Bergdorf Goodman, Stanley Korshak and Nan Duskin.  Jewelry by Vendome.

Photo by Irving Penn for Vogue magazine, 1963.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

What's Under That Vintage Dress? Part 2

Monday's post about foundation garments got a lot of interest with comments, emails and even a phone call!  Here are a couple more examples today.

The strapless cocktail dress by Ceil Chapman shown above is worn over a strapless supportive bra and an open bottom girdle by Perma-lift. If you can't get the look without bulges between the two pieces, then wear an all-in-one corset.

And lest you think that girdles were only worn for evening, think again, my friends.  Women wore girdles with their daytime dresses too.  The Sportwhirl sheath shown here is worn with a supportive bra and panty girdle, both by Perma-lift.

I know what you're thinking.  "They don't make foundation garments like this anymore!"   WRONG!  There are several companies that do, including Secrets in Lace, as shown here.  Back in 2009, I did a long blog post about modern foundation garments to wear under your vintage clothing.  It includes tips and links to several companies that offer the types of corsetry you need.  Be sure to read the comments, as many readers shared other companies to look for too!

Monday, June 02, 2014

What's Under That Vintage Dress?

I post pictures of gorgeous vintage clothing here on my blog and on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds daily.  The comments and questions I receive most often deal with the tiny waists or fit of the dresses shown.  In our modern world, where most of our clothing is styled to be loose or made with stretch fabrics, we find it difficult to relate to wearing a dress that molds to the body like this. The answer, of course, is what she is wearing under that gown.

Before the late 1960s, every woman wore control undergarments, whether they be girdles, corsets, or an all-in-one, as shown here.  Every woman, every day.  You just can't get the look and fit presented in that first photo without some kind of foundation garments. Period. 

Red dress with cape by Pauline Trigere.  All-in-one corselet by Warner's. Both photos from a 2-page ad for Warner's in Harper's Bazaar, 1961.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Missoni - 1982

Missoni knits from the spring of 1982.  So right now.

Photo by Avi Meroz for Missoni ad, Town and Country magazine, 1982.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pauline Trigere Suit - 1983

At an estate sale over the weekend, I picked up a big pile of Town & Country magazines from the 1980s.  While not focused exclusively on fashion, Town & Country is full of advertisements for luxury goods including loads of high end designer clothing and jewelry.  I'll be bringing you lots of those images over the next several months.

This stunning suit by Pauline Trigere was featured in a full page ad for the Martha luxury boutiques in 1983.  It looks like the sawtooth trim on the jacket is likely black suede and I imagine it adorns wool crepe in a jewel tone, likely red, emerald or cobalt blue.  The suit is paired with a black fox fur hat and stole and black gloves.  This look was the height of American high fashion at the time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Greta Plattry Swimsuit - 1955

Love, love, love!  This little feature from Harper's Bazaar not only shows us the swimsuit, but gives a flat image of the terrific fabric it's made of.  The fabric is an Everglaze cotton by Tarnmoor and features various ships in yellow on white.  Greta Plattry used the fabric to make the adorable two piece swimsuit in 1955.  She paired it with a yellow corduroy beach jacket.  Suit sold for $12 and jacket for $17 in 1955 (about $106 and $150 in today's dollar.)

Photo by Robert Randall for Harper's Bazaar, 1955.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Yves St Laurent Models His First Men's Collection - 1969

Hugely successful French couturier Yves St. Laurent designed his first collection of ready to wear clothing for men in the fall of 1969.  The clothing was sold exclusively in the Rive Gauche boutiques in New York and Paris. Here, a few of the designs are modeled by St. Laurent himself for Vogue magazine.  The photos were all taken at his home, Dar El-Hansh, in Morocco.

Above: White gabardine suit with flapped pockets, worn with a black cotton voile shirt and striped silk scarf.

 Laced glove leather tunic and corduroy jeans.  The tunic was also available in suede.

The same suit as the first photo, but in pale pink worn with a cotton floral shirt.

Photos by Patrick Lichfield for Vogue magazine, 1969.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pleats Please, 1962

This yummy evening dress was designed by Jo Copeland for Patullo in 1962.  Made of pleated black crepe with criss-crossed bands forming the neckline and falling to a bow at the back.  The raised waistline was fashion news in 1962.  Notice how it allows the pleats to hug the body so the dress fits in a way reminiscent of a Fortuny Delphos.  The dress sold for about $200 in 1962 ($1565.00 in today's dollar.)

Photo by Horst P. Horst for Vogue magazine, 1962

Monday, May 05, 2014

Carolyn Schnurer Folkloric Dresses - 1955

Carolyn Schnurer was well known for basing entire collections on the fabrics and ethnic traditions of the countries she visited on her world travels.  For the spring of 1955, she featured a collection based on the folk lore of Norway with fabric prints and design elements inspired by Norwegian traditions.  The fabrics here are Everglaze cottons by Ameritex for Schnurer.  Schnurer also designed the co-ordinating jewelry.

Above:  Swimsuit with buttoned straps and little pockets, sold for $18.95 in 1955 (about $167.00 in today's dollar.)
Sun dress with the same buttoned straps and pleats at the hem, sold for $29.95 in 1955 (about $264.00 in today's dollar.)

Darling dress with suspender detail, gathered cap sleeves and pleats at the hem.  Sold for $29.95 in 1955 (about $264.00 in today's dollar.)

Photos from a 2-page ad for Carolyn Schnurer and Ameritex Fabrics, featured in Harper's Bazaar, 1955.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Adele Simpson Ensemble - 1964

You know I love Bergdorf ads.  But it's the outfit here that catches my imagination.  From 1964, the Adele Simpson rayon sheath dress with interesting seaming is set off with a matching capelet.  The cape was lined in contrasting silk and the set came with a leather tie belt in the same color as the cape lining.  The color combinations were wonderful: navy with vivid green lining and belt, sea green with turquoise, gold nugget with black or black with gold nugget.  The set sold for $160 in 1964 (about $1220 in today's dollar.)

Which color would you choose? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cotton Suits for Spring - 1961

Cool, comfortable and certainly chic, did you know cotton tailors well?  Here are two great examples from 1961.

Above: Ben Zuckerman sheath dress and 3/4 coat in luscious pink cotton pique. Yummy!

Adele Simpson blue cotton jacket and skirt paired with a printed silk blouse.  The little jacket is lined in the same fabric as the blouse.  The giant buttons add just the perfect finishing touch.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Test Your Fashion Eye Answer

Did you see it?  The suit is a navy wool with a bolero jacket over a bias cut midi length skirt, worn with a white silk blouse.  All three pieces are by Stavropoulos.  Nothing wrong there.

The gold tassel belt is by Richelieu and adds a perfect bit of sparkle.  Nothing wrong there either.

Chunky platform shoes by Viner Bros. worn with dark hosiery.  Nope, that's OK.

Gloves by Crescendoe-Superb.  Wait!  Gloves in 1970?  No, no, no, no, no!  Gloves, like hats, had gone completely out of favor by this time, especially with the younger fashion reader that editor Diana Vreeland was appealing to.  They look very out of place with this ultra modern 1970 suit.  Why include them in the photo?  My guess would be that either Vreeland was under pressure to appeal to her more traditional readers from the powers on high at Vogue, or the Crescendoe company required their gloves be used in fashion shoots as part of an agreement to buy ad space in the magazine.  What do you think?

Photo by Bert Stern for Vogue magazine, 1970.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Test Your Fashion Eye - 1970

This image comes from a 1970 issue of Vogue magazine.  When you look at this photo, can you tell what is "off" or "out-of-place" and why?  Answer tomorrow!