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Archive for February, 2009

Cut & Print: Vintage Dresses With Film Flair

By , 26 February, 2009, No Comment

I just love vintage novelty print dresses!

East meets West in this vintage novelty print dress. In true New Look style, it’s a full-skirted party dress — but it features exotic Indian or Arabian scenes which remind the seller and I of Morocco — and therefore brings to mind Casablanca.

Vintage Dress With Moroccan Print

Vintage Dress With Moroccan Print

This pretty frock is covered in a flock of birds — but these cheery birds don’t look like they’ve seen Hitchcock’s film… Then again, maybe that’s their idea of getting close enough for an attack? *wink*

Full-Skirted Vintage Day Dress

Full-Skirted Vintage Day Dress

Vintage Bird Print Dress

Vintage Bird Print Dress

This vintage dress dates to the 1940s and if the print doesn’t have folks thinking about horsing around, thinking of a curvy figure beneath the petal bust bodice will.

Vintage Dress With Horses

Vintage Dress With Horses

Bodice Of 1940s Print Dress

Bodice Of 1940s Print Dress

(If you’re wondering what the film connection to this dress is, I’m going to ask if you really don’t have a Flicka of an idea, my friend. *wink*)

Fashion Returns To The Romper Room

By , 25 February, 2009, No Comment

In the March issue of Giant magazine, a feature on rompers & jumpers by Madison Mobley titled Romper Room (which is likely a reference above the heads — and years — of the average Giant reader). But if you do remember Romper Room, you may also remember the one-piece dressing fad of retro rompers.

Romper Room article in Giant

Romper Room article in Giant

From Romper Room: One is the loveliest number:

Fashionistas have adopted jumpers and rompers as this season’s go-to getup. To pinpoint the modern-day onesie’s origin, look no further than the birth of overalls in the 18th century. The rest, as they say, is history. In the ’70s glamour icons such as Bianca Jagger demonstrated in white Grecian splendor that a woman’s figure won’t drown in parachute pants and poet sleeves if you just cinch the waist with a subtle, matching sash. This year, however, brings a bit more spice to the romper’s unassuming beginnings. From the runway to the red carpet, designers such as Proenza Schouler, Giorgio Armani, Roksanda Ilincic and Bruno Pieters have given style mavens attainable examples of the jumper’s versatility. Hollywood has taken note. Attending a black-tie affair and don’t want to wear a gown? Mimic actress Malin Akerman’s glittered, form-fitting suit with a plunging neckline and flared bottoms. If you dare, follow UK singer Estelle’s lead and match a vibrant print with simple accessories. Regardless of what inspires you, shake your rompers, ladies, and bring the heat this spring.

Along with Bianca Jagger, the article shows Pam Grier and Farrah Fawcett in retro one-piece rompers.

Celebrities wearing rompers - then and now

Celebrities wearing rompers - then and now

As a general rule, rompers are for the more flapper-esque among us — not just for the more active fashion style (pants vs. skirts), but jumpsuits often work best on the slim, straight and narrow.

Retro jumpsuit

Retro jumpsuit

Those of us with booming bods like Pam Grier, can’t help but end up looking like we are in an exploitation film. Not that that’s always a bad thing. *wink*

Pam Grier rockin' a retro romper

Pam Grier rockin' a retro romper

Love this authentic 1970’s black jumpsuit and jacket set with feather trim!

Retro black romper set with feathers

Retro black romper set with feathers

Here’s Linking To You, Kid #2

By , 20 February, 2009, No Comment

Catching up on links related to the blog this week…

I wanted to first mention the wonderful advice & warning to collectors of film memorabilia regarding COAs, aka Certificates Of Authenticity:

Most COAs are not worth the paper they are printed on. Anyone with a pen and/or a printer (the printer isn’t even a requirement) can make a COA — and there are no laws, governing bodies or agencies which approve or regulate COAs. So I could make you a COA about this blog post — no matter how ridiculous the claims. (If you’d like one, let me know.)

COAs are not legal contracts; so no matter what the guarantee presented on the COA, good luck getting it carried out to any satisfaction. Should you even be able to get a legal hold on the seller, your case is as legally worth bupkiss. Even if you can prove the seller is guilty of selling more than $1,000 in fakes &/or forgeries, are involved in a successful class action suit, or, if you were duped on the Internet, get the FBI to assist you with a case of Internet Fraud, the most you’re going to get back for all your work is your purchase price. (If you’re just seeking your purchase price refunded, don’t ignore sales venue and method of payment avenues; there are often buyer protection programs available to you.)

I’m not saying you should ignore your rights and these avenues, but it’s best to avoid being duped in the first place.

Rule #1 Unless a certificate of authenticity originates from and is signed by the celebrity, author/artist (or in the case of limited editions, the publisher of the work), a confirmed dealer or agent (not a third party or reseller), or an acknowledged expert, that certificate is pretty much meaningless.

Read the rest of the article for more tips — save yourself money & heartache.

Now for this week’s Vintage Roadshow:

Here’s Looking Like You, Kid helps you plan a classic Hollywood Oscars party — complete with vintage party games!

Glamoursplash pays tribute to Lucille Ball.

The Vintage Traveler talks basketball, clothes, that is.

Freudian Slips Vintage looks at how to get the look of Anna Friel as Chuck in Pushing Daisies.

Debutante Clothing is thrilled with her new vintage Roger Van S bag.

Couture Allure shows how to dress up a vintage suit.

A few scattered other links worth noting:

Two Here’s Looking Like You, Kid posts made the latest edition of The Fabulous! Festival — so check it out!

And here’s my Lust Of The Week, Film Version: A lot of three pieces of ephemera from Hollywood in the late 60’s.

Retro Hollywood Ephemera

Retro Hollywood Ephemera

Here’s how the seller describes it all:

1) 4 page Hollywood Stars of Tomorrow Award 1968 – all pages shown below along with a number of the candidates on the ballot. Ballot creased in half and marked off.

2)Hollywood Stars of Tomorrow Awards program from January 27, 1968. This is the one with the gold cover in the first image below. 40 pages packed with photos, some shown below. Some small stains, ballot inside once again marked off, writing on inside back cover.

3) Showcase Who’s Who Volume 1 from Showcase Productions, Hollywood Hostess Division. 24 pages of “a complete catalog and directory of talented, interesting, intelligent and beautiful females who would be available to help business and industry to quickly choose the right girl … Hostesses and Guides for conventions, Assistants and interpreters for business meetings, receptionists for Seminars and Trade Shows…” Copyright 1969. No famous names here, but interesting Hollywood area ephemera. This has the black cover and is in pretty good shape.

I just love stuff like this! See the listing for more images! (And if you go shopping for more in the store, tell Cliff that Jaynie says, “Hello!” Cliff is my pal from Vintage Meld.)

Fashion & Film History Lesson: Designer & Costumer Go Head To (Edith) Head

By , 19 February, 2009, 3 Comments

You likely recall the lovely gowns Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina; this one in particular is a classic example of the chic “Parisian” look Sabrina returns with — proof of her being “all grown up”.

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

The nipped in waist and voluminous skirting, tell-tale markers of New Look fashions.

Classic New Look Evening Dresses

Classic New Look Evening Dresses

The fashions may be the iconic vintage look many of us call ‘classic’, but the story behind the dresses Audrey wore are lesser-known.

The beautiful strapless white organdy gown, embroidered by hand with black and white flowers, was not the creation of legendary film costumer Edith Head — even though she won the Oscar for it. Rather, it was the work of designer Hubert de Givenchy.

Givenchy was one of the first (if not the first) couture designer to break into film costume design. He was hired to design the creations to illustrate & accentuate the grown-up, sophisticated Sabrina upon her return from Paris. As the story goes, it was Hepburn’s idea to have real couture fashions used in the film; director Billy Wilder agreed. When Givenchy was told that ‘Miss Hepburn’ had arrived to see him, he’d expected Katharine Hepburn:

But when the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read VENEZIA. I told her, “Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers, I am in the middle of doing a collection, I can’t make you clothes.” So she said, “Show me what you have already made for the collection.” She tried on the dresses–“It’s exactly what I need!”–and they fit her too.

Givenchy also said:

Later I tried to adapt my designs to her desires. She wanted a bare-shouldered evening dress modified to hide the hollows behind her collarbone. What I invented for her eventually became a style so popular that i named it ‘décolleté Sabrina'”

We would come to call it The Hepburn Look.

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy gown -- with poodles

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy gown -- with poodles

And so, a style collaboration — and a close friendship — was born.

Givenchy and Hepburn

Givenchy and Hepburn

Edith Head, however, did not care so much for The Hepburn Look — at least not enough to allow shared credits for the costuming on Sabrina. As reining queen of Hollywood costume design, she wielded incredible clout, and her complaints about having to share the credits with Givenchy couldn’t go unnoticed; Paramount & Wilder would need to appease her.

In order to prevent her from quitting the movie, they gave her full screen credits for Costume Designer; and gave not a one to Givenchy. While Head (&/or her team) did create the majority of the costumes, it’s obvious to anyone who has seen the movie that Givenchy’s gowns are the most memorable designs — literally providing the look for the film.

The white organdy gown with floral embroidery is so iconic, that it was one of the dresses recreated for Jennifer Love Hewitt to wear in the 2000 TV movie, The Audrey Hepburn Story.

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Audrey Hepburn Story

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Audrey Hepburn Story

Obviously Hepburn & Givenchy went on to become life-long friends — and to create more memorable fashion moments, with Givenchy designing the fashions she wore in daily life and in film.

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

That alone could have been the “living well is the best revenge” ending. But it’s not.

Edith Head got her comeuppance on Breakfast at Tiffany’s where the closest she and her department got to Holly Golightly’s fashions was to make “some plain clothes and doubles for the Givenchy dresses”. And Givenchy saw to it that she was credited merely as “supervisor” rather than costume designer; it was likely an incredible insult to a costumer of her stature.

One of the three copies of the black sheath dress from the opening scenes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which sold at Christie’s for $923,187 in 2006, was presumably made by Edith &/or her team. This dress was not used in the film but it is believed, due to the slit, that Givenchy designed this dress for promotional purposes, as the film posters feature the dress with a saucy slit.

Film poster with black dress with slit

Film poster with black dress with slit

Unfortunately, Breakfast at Tiffany’s wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award; but Audrey in that black dress (and with that wicked cigarette holder) lives on as one of the most memorable images in cinematic and fashion history.

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffanys Photos

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffanys Photos

Truths About Buying Vintage Fashions

By , 18 February, 2009, No Comment

There’s an article on buying vintage fashions over at Chloe Jo’s GirlieGirlArmy — a guest blog by Chrissie Eden Våzquez called How to Shop for Vintage. I’m usually happy when people write about buying vintage fashions, but I have a few bones to pick…

The first vintage fashion shopping tip is this:

Before you even begin looking for a vintage gown, find a tailor in your area that you can trust to handle any alterations or repairs necessary. Keep in mind that an evening gown can be a rather large and labor-intensive project. If you’re going all out for a black tie type of event, you want to allow time for proper handling of delicate fabrics, as well as any detail work like beading. A rush job might cause irreparable damage to a one of a kind piece, leaving you scrambling last minute to find a back up dress.

The advice on the importance of being selective in choosing a tailor is sound — but after all these years, I’ve never used a tailor or had any alterations done. There are a few pieces I’ve set aside for such things. But to say that you need a tailor, let alone before you buy, seems inappropriate. I bet just hearing that puts a lot of people off buying vintage.

So I’m here to say that a tailor is not a requirement for buying and/or wearing vintage clothes.

Should you require alterations, repairs or otherwise require the services of a seamstress or tailor, be as picky in selecting them as you would be a cobbler to work with vintage shoes.

The information on knowing your measurements for sizing is good, as is giving yourself lots of time to shop (the latter is especially important if you’re looking for something to wear to a special occasion). But then she talks about foundation garments and my hackles rise a bit…

Dare to think about underwear. Vintage silhouettes were very heavily shaped by the wearer’s undergarments (think about the bullet bras of the 50s and the tiny corseted waistline that defined Dior’s New Look). {EDITORS NOTE: YOU CAN FIND AUTHENTIC BULLET BRAS ONLINE ON BULLETBRAS.NET} The dress may look different on you than it does on a mannequin or on a model wearing period undergarments to complement the style. If you’re determined to keep it authentic by wearing a vintage or vintage inspired corset or bra, ask the seller if they have any recommendations. However, if you value free breathing or don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s undergarments, relax, and remember that it’s your dress. You can have it restructured or changed any way you want! As long as you’ve followed tip #1 and acquired a good tailor, you should be able to rework the gown so that it is more flattering to your body without the use of bionic underwear.

One of the primary reasons for buying & wearing vintage clothing is to have the fabulous fashion silhouettes, so having them restructured to change the silhouette defeats the primary purpose!

And it makes me cry — even die a little — on the inside.

Taking out the waist & flattening the skirts on New Look fashions is like nipping the waist & putting a bustle on a flapper’s dress — it can be done, but heaven’s why?!

(I know some folks restructure vintage fashions. Usually people do this only when there is no other way to salvage the piece, saving the beaded top from a nearly destroyed party frock, for example.  Some, I’m sure, do much more… When they own them, that’s their choice, of course, but gone is the real vintage style.)

Yes, you need the proper foundation garments to get the proper silhouette; but no, you do not need to give up “free breathing”, nor do you need to “wear someone else’s undergarments”.

Vintage bras & girdles are not the restrictive nightmares you might imagine. Many of them are, when worn in the proper size, no more uncomfortable than today’s spandex lingerie.

You can buy authentic vintage lingerie which has not been worn — typically described online as “New Old Stock” (NOS), “New With Tags” (NWT), or “New Without Tags” (NWOT).

But if you cannot find the proper vintage foundation garments in the correct size, don’t overlook modern makers.

Here’s a (very short) list of modern makers of lingerie designed to give you & your fashions a vintage silhouette:

BulletBras.net (currently only carries Bullet Bras™)
Cameo Intimates (vintage & more risqué styles)
Petticoats A Plenty (aka crinolines — which I’ve written about here)
Secrets In Lace (also carries a large collection of authentic Rago Shapewear — the same stuff you often see listed as “vintage” when it’s actually a modern-made piece)

A few modern makers also continue to make girdles, long line bras, slips, etc. I’ll try to cover more of them here; but I also recommend A Slip of a Girl, the lingerie blog heavily devoted to vintage lingerie.

So, kids, don’t worry so much about getting a tailor or fear fancy underpants — just go out and explore vintage clothing.  It’s not always easy, but I think that’s part of the fun.  And wearing it, transforming yourself in to those silhouettes of yesteryear, is heavenly.

Shopping Is An Affair To Remember

By , 13 February, 2009, No Comment

Today’s shopping film quote is, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories,” from An Affair to Remember (1957)

Whether or not you have warm memories, whether or not the winter is being kind where you are right now (as it is here), the cold weather will still be hear for a while, so let’s look at a few fabulous vintage coats and jackets.

What woman doesn’t want to wrap herself in a black velvet cape?

Vintage Black Velvet Cape

Vintage Black Velvet Cape

If you like fur, don’t buy new — consider this shiny black coney fur coat?

Vintage Black Coney Fur Coat

Vintage Black Coney Fur Coat

If you’d like something more casual, yet classic, how about this red 1970s coat with eye-popping white contrasting trim? Psst, it has a secret surprise: polka dots inside! (That secret giggle-power will keep you smug-ly snuggled inside, won’t it!)

1970s Red & White Coat

1970s Red & White Coat

Red & White Polka Dot Lined Coat

Red & White Polka Dot Lined Coat

For classic style in an unexpected color, slip into this 1960s Zelinka * Matlick wool coat in pulse-racing pink.

Stay Warm In Hot Pink

Stay Warm In Hot Pink

If you have pretty party frocks, you’re going to need the proper outerwear to cover it up — just until you get inside the party, I promise! This vintage Hattie Carnegie Blue Silk Princess Coat is so gorgeous that if you don’t have pretty vintage party dresses, you’ll get some, just for the excuse to wear this coat.

Vintage Hattie Carnegie Blue Silk Princess Coat

Vintage Hattie Carnegie Blue Silk Princess Coat

Irma La Douce Redux

By , 12 February, 2009, 2 Comments

I’m so excited! Angela of Dorothea’s Closet (she also has a physical vintage clothing store in downtown Des Moines) sent me an email about my The Retro Parisian Street Chic Of Irma La Douce post — here’s a reminder photo from that film:

Irma La Douce Street Chic

Irma La Douce Street Chic

Here’s Angela’s email:

Hey there! I just started an ad campaign locally with a friend/model/artist after a photo shoot we did last week….inspired by seeing your post on your blog w/ pics of Shirley MacLaine in Irma La Douce! Actually, I need to add that to my own blog and link you now that I think of it.

Anyway, the pics are all located on my website www.thenoirboudoir.com (linked from that lingerie page by a pic of Emily at the top), attaching a few to titillate. Just thought you’d like to see what you inspired by sharing those awesome pics of Shirley!!

But before I show you some of them, I should tell you that the photos are of model and artist Emily Svec dressed perfectly Parisian street-chic in pretty vintage lingerie in shades of 1960s aqua! (Angela says the 60s babydoll will soon be added to her Etsy shop, Scarlet Bird — so if you’re drooling over it, keep checking or email Angela at admin@dorotheasclosetvintage.com!)  UPDATE: It’s just been added to her shop here!

And thanks, Angela, for letting me know — I hope the ad in Cityview works wonders for you! (It sure does for me!)

Here are just some of the fabulously new retro-styled photos that you can find from that photo session inspired by my post and Shirley MacLaine as Irma La Douce:

Emily as Shirley as Irma

Emily as Shirley as Irma

Emily in retro aqua lingerie from Dorotheas Closet

Emily in retro aqua lingerie from Dorotheas Closet

Emily in vintage lingerie with feathers

Emily in vintage lingerie with feathers

Another Vintage Roadshow Featuring Fashion

By , 11 February, 2009, No Comment

Glamoursplash looks at Claire McCardell Sportswear and Swimwear .

Freudian Slips Vintage is excited about the return of Pushing Daisies.

Debutante Clothing channels Joan Holloway in this 1950s cherry bombshell dress.

Couture Allure writes a letter to Blumarineabout body image in their advertising.

Throw A Party To Celebrate The Oscars

By , 9 February, 2009, No Comment

Having an Oscar party? Plum Party has lots of cool party supplies with a Hollywood theme, from paper plates and napkins with the iconic searchlights to vintage style pop corn boxes.

Hollywood Paper Party Supplies

Hollywood Paper Party Supplies

I love these chocolates that look like rolls of film!

Film Canister Chocolates

Film Canister Chocolates

And what diva wouldn’t want these fabulous napkin rings that look like giant diamond rings?

Faux Diamond Ring Napkin Rings

Faux Diamond Ring Napkin Rings

Of course, then you’re going to have to go with cloth napkins — but they have those too. Do you prefer gold or silver?

You can even give out your own golden statues.

Star Awards

Star Awards

To give out awards, you’ll need some games. Here’s a couple of party games from a vintage copy of The Cokesbury Party Book (1932).

The first is a game played by couples at a party — it’s pretty silly, and you divas may not like a messy face, but it’s bound to be fun. It’s called The Make-Up Game:

Choose two or more couples. The boys are given a box which contains a red cord, with which to tie the girl’s hands behind her. The box also contains make-up materials — rouge, lip stick, eyebrow pencil, powder, etc. The boys are told to make up the girls like Mary Pickford, Coleen Moore, Nancy Carroll, or some other popular actresses. Judges pick the winners.

Depending upon your guest list, you may need to update your popular actress list a bit. *wink*

This next ideas are from a themed costume party called a “Celebrities Party”.

We all admire famous people, so for one evening let’s each select a famous American person and dress ourselves like that one and come to a party where there will be nothing except celebrities. Have the guests come dressed as some famous American. It would be well to allow a wide range of choice as to character, permitting the characters to delve into past history as well as present history. The screen, stage, sports of all kinds, aviation, religion, politics, and music should all have their representatives at the gathering.

1. Invitation. — A suggested invitation is given below:

If your name is not in Who’s Who,
You can be great just the same.
Come dressed like a celebrity, any will do,
If he’s in American Hall of Fame.
Come out to Smith’s on Friday night
And act the part you dress.
We’ll live in the past and present both,
And have a good time? — Well, I guess!

It is then suggested that a list of possible celebrities should be sent with the invitation. Celebrities of The Past are listed; these are mainly from political history. Then the Celebrities Of The Present are listed, which includes, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Tom Mix, Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore etc. (It is interesting to note that the following: “Inasmuch as there is a shortage of women characters, it might be well to suggest that some of the girls dress as Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, Mrs. Robert E. Lee, Mrs. Abe Lincoln.” For all my “love of vintage,” I am so glad I wasn’t alive in such sexist times!)

An Opening Mixer is suggested, called Who’s Who:

Of course everyone will want to know “Who’s Who.” As each guest enters pin a paper bearing a number on him. Supply each one with a paper and pencil and ask him to write down the numbers and name of the celebrity represented by the guest. After all have had ample time to guess, the leader should read a correct list. As the leader calls the number, the guest should be asked to rise and should be introduced to the others by name of the person represented as well as by the rightful name, so that all will feel that they have been rightfully introduced to each other.

A prize should be given to the person having the longest list of celebrities. A picture of one of our outstanding citizens might be given as a prize.

If the guests do not come in costume, when they have all assembled the leader should seat them and pin on the back of each one the name of a famous American. When all the names have been pinned on, they try to learn who they are by asking questions which must in every case be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” They can ask the question if they like, “Am I president Hoover?” and if answered in the affirmative, they can take off the name and pin it in front, and it is to be worn the rest of the evening.

Next is a game called Impersonation.

Have the impersonation which are given below written on slips of paper and put in a box. The leader draws them out one by one; and if she draws the number seven, she starts counting at the head of the line of guests to seven. The person who is number seven must then do the impersonation indicated. In every case she starts from the same person, counting from that person to the number which is on the slip of paper.

I’ve just selected a few of the 21 listed, to give you an idea.

Betsy Ross making the flag.
Charlie Chaplin making a movie.
Tom Mix on horseback.
Charles Lindbergh making love to Anne Lindbergh.
Clara Bow flirting.

(The Lindbergh one really cracks me up!)

Like the first suggestion, you may need to update as necessary to fit your guests’ knowledge of history & film, and/or to fit the Hollywood theme. But modified or not, it certainly won’t be the same-old Oscar party!

Lovely Vintage Pumps With Acrylic Heels

By , 7 February, 2009, No Comment

A super exciting find: 1950s pumps in a delicate crochet lace with sparkles sitting pretty atop carved acrylic heels inlaid with rhinestones!

1950s Lace Pumps

1950s Lace Pumps

Carved Acrylic Heels On Vintage Pumps

Carved Acrylic Heels On Vintage Pumps

That’s another fabulous thing about buying vintage — you don’t have to wait to find gems for any season!