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