Tag Archive | vintage fashion

The Grecian Formula-How to dress like a goddess

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The mystery and allure of ancient culture has been the inspiration for countless 20th century designers. Consider the Paisley motif that originated over 2000 years ago out of Persia, once a Victorian favorite and still being reinterpreted today. In 1922 the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb sparked a frenzy for Egyptian inspired fashion. The aesthetics of the ancients provide rich design inspiration and none more so than the styles of Classical Greece where typical costume consisted of a sheath style garment, artfully joined and gathered at the shoulders then girdled at the waist. It fell in soft folds and was left open at the sides. Over this was draped some form of mantle or cloak. The only surviving examples we have of these garments are those depicted in the artwork of the day… stone statues, painted pottery and murals.

These works of art intrigued many of the great designers. Paul Poiret, with his gathered column dresses that abandoned the corseted silhouette of his day,  Madeleine Vionnet, Jean Desses and Madame Grès…all design geniuses, spent entire careers engineering their own unique art of the drape, producing signature creations fit for a Goddess.

1930s Vionnet Grecian style gown

1930s Vionnet Grecian style gown

Image source My Stilletos

White jersey Grecian gown by Madame Gres-1963 Vogue

White jersey Grecian gown by Madame Gres-1963 Vogue

Grecian gown Lelong 1935

Grecian gown by LeLong-Harper’s Bazaar 1935

Image source Devodotcom

In the 1950s the Aphrodite look took a more stylized turn since the fashion du jour was more about hourglass curves.  It was a time of unbridled glamour and femininity. Ancient Greek influence remained popular but was reinterpreted to fit the preferred silhouette of structured bodices, nipped in waists and skirts that were full and voluminous or body hugging and narrow. Ancient inspiration manifested in details of controlled folds and strategically placed panels.

The following images are Grecian inspired dresses by Frank Starr Originals in 1956.  Innovative treatments were employed. They used filmy fabrics to create sweeping cowls which added drama to the back of the dress. Bustlines were highlighted with draped pleats and swags were used to adorn narrow skirts. These elements captured the essence of Hellenic times in a thoroughly contemporary way.

Red chiffon Frank Starr gown- Photographer John Engstead

1956 Red chiffon Frank Starr gown- Photographer John Engstead

Frank Starr Originals blue chiffon draped back cocktail dress-1956

Frank Starr Originals blue chiffon draped back cocktail dress-1956

To this day we are still see reinterpretations of the Grecian style. So, what are the key elements to look for when shopping for this ever flattering timeless silhouette?

• Dresses that have  drapes and folds, which are ideal for enhancing feminine curves in a most flattering way.
•Column versions which elongate the body with a slimming effect.
•Strategically placed sashes and swags can hide body imperfections or provide cover without sacrificing sensuality.
•Fabrics like jersey or chiffon that are draped in interesting ways.
•One shoulder bodice styles are also an iconic look attributed to the Greeks, though back then it was men who sported the one shoulder look, as women were not allowed to bare any skin.

Few of us could ever hope to wear a genuine M. Grès or a Vionnet, they are as rare as hens teeth and would cost a kings ransom. However there are many affordable Mid Century and later Grecian style dresses available today.  If you search for terms like vintage goddess dress or vintage Grecian style dress you will find plenty to choose from. So with holiday party time fast approaching, consider celebrating in glamorous goddess style!

Have a glamorous day!

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Is that really an Authentic “Vintage” dress you’re buying?

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Lately I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend.  We have been getting more and more emails from gals who have been searching for  vintage dresses online and discovered an authentic vintage dress of ours that is no longer available ,  then emailing us to ask when we are going to restock it.  Of course this is impossible, since authentic vintage dresses are not replaceable.   This used to be an isolated incident.  Now it is a daily occurrence.  At first I couldn’t figure out why so many people would keep asking us this, even though our product descriptions clearly state whether it’s a  true vintage or vintage STYLE or Inspired piece.  Basically when we call something a  1950s dress it is an honest to goodness, vintage dress from back in that era!  And our new clothing is also clearly described as vintage inspired, retro,  vintage style50s style dress1920s reproduction dress, etc, etc……You get the picture!  We’ve been selling this product mix for years and have never had the amount of inquires like this until recently.

So I started doing some research to try and figure out why.  And it didn’t take very long!

Just do a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo or search any of the social/fashion bookmarking sites for any of the above phrases  and you’ll see gazillions of results, many of which will never take you to authentic vintage clothing of any kind . You know, the one of a  kind,  unique pieces that were actually made back in the day. This is causing a serious amount of confusion for consumers, as more and more women are making purchases and don’t even  know what they are buying!  And, believe me, it is happening a lot. We actually have had customers buy authentic vintage dresses from us who thought they were new!   Then they email us afterwards about how much they like the dress , but wish they could exchange it for another size because it didn’t fit!

Why is this a problem? Because real vintage clothing is a often a collectible commodity that is scarce and potentially increases or at least retains its value over time.  That is not necessarily the case with new vintage looking clothing.   Just like furniture, you can buy a real antique piece or a new reproduction that looks like the old style.   The original is  usually quite different from the modern  in terms of  rarity, construction techniques, textiles used and value.

So you can see what I mean, here are a couple of examples I found on a recent Google search for  50s dress and vintage dresses .  The  first one is described as a 50s dress, but in no way looks anything like one and it is new from a very well known department store.  The second is described as a “vintage dress. ”  Though very cute, it is  obvious from the very short skirt that it is not authentic.  Hmmmmm.  

50s dress?

50s dress?

faux 50s dress

Vintage dress?

And here is one of the main reasons why this is happening.  Because the “vintage look” has become more popular, many companies vying for top search engine results want to optimize their websites for popular search terms to drive customers to their sites.  I mean, heck,  that’s what everyone with an ecommerce site needs to do and there is nothing inherently wrong with that.  But if you’re driving traffic to your site based on misleading search terms that don’t accurately describe your products,  then that just makes the online shopping experience for the consumer more confusing!

And let’s face it, the bigger companies, with bigger  budgets, usually rise to the top of the search results.  Consumers, of course, trust the brand name companies and assume their products are being described accurately. But that’s not necessarily the case.  And the search engines, themselves, certainly can’t distinguish between which terms are being accurately used to describe products.  So this creates a problem when you’re trying to find the right product, in this case,  genuine vintage clothing.  I know I have ended up wading through pages and pages of results, that lead to nothing that was even remotely close to the authentic vintage item I was searching for.  It can get pretty frustrating.

So here are some helpful tips for those ladies who are searching for the real deal!

•If  it available in multiple sizes, then it is NOT an authentic vintage garment.

•If  the description states Made in China, it is NOT authentic vintage, though some would argue China made clothing from the 1990s is now vintage.  But that’s a whole other issue that I won’t get into right now.

•If  the garment has an invisible zipper, it most likely is NOT an authentic vintage piece, especially if you found it through a search for 50s dresses, or 40s dresses. They did not use invisible zippers back then.

•If the skirt is very short, it most likely isn’t a  true vintage dress, unless you’re looking for an authentic 60s minidress!

If searching for flapper dresses, be aware, authentic ones are extremely rare and not form fitting. So most of what you see online listed as a flapper dress or 20s dress is most likely a new “modernized” version of dresses from that era.

•And finally, if you’re looking for real, one of a kind,  vintage clothing, try searching using more specific terms  like authentic, true, one of a kind,  or genuine in front of the item you’re searching for.  You’ll probably have better luck that way, since online search for vintage clothing  these days has become a minefield of misinformation.  It is definitely buyer beware!

Has anyone else had a similar experience when trying to shop online recently for vintage clothes?  Do you even care how companies describe their clothing, as long as you like it?

 

 

 

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Now and Then- Metallic Fashion Trends

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Heavy metal is a huge presence for this fall / winter – and no we’re not talking about another KISS reunion. Glimmery golds, shiny silvers and bold bronzes were all over the 2013 runway.  From glamorous gowns to loungy pantsuits – you can’t help but be beautifully blinded by this season’s take on the trend.

 

Balmain F/W 2014 Ready-To-Wear, Valentin Yudashkin 2014 F/W Ready-To-Wear, Gucci 2014 Resort, Antonio Marras Collections F/W 2014

Balmain F/W 2014 Ready-To-Wear, Valentin Yudashkin 2014 F/W Ready-To-Wear, Gucci 2014 Resort, Antonio Marras Collections F/W 2014

But the metallic look has seen its fair share of popularity throughout fashion history.  Always a popular choice for that all-eyes-on-you evening gown.

Check out the photos below to see some of my favorite glittery garb from the past.

Frances Langford in a silver gown. c. 1930s

Frances Langford in a silver gown. c. 1930s

Lamé was used for many of the evening gowns in the 1930’s, creating a shimmering Old Hollywood Glamour style.

Myrna Loy in a green and gold pleated metallic evening gown in 1938.

Myrna Loy in a green and gold pleated metallic evening gown in 1938.

This coat would be right on trend this season – metallic leather trench coats were seen on the runway for Prada, Burberry and Vivienne Westwood – to name just a few.

 

Ida Lupino in a metallic leather jacker. c. 1940s

Ida Lupino in a metallic leather jacker. c. 1940s

Model wearing a Balmain silver and black leopard gown in the 1950s.

Model wearing a Balmain silver and black leopard gown in the 1950s.

This one shoulder cocktail dress on Anne Francis is totally killer- ruched in all the right places, it looks like it would be a very flattering show-stopper!

 

1950s actress Anne Francis in a bombshell one shoulder dress.

1950s actress Anne Francis in a bombshell one shoulder metallic dress.

Suzy Parker in a drapey gold gown. c. 1950s

Suzy Parker in a glittery gold gown. c. 1950s

Metallics were even incorporated in the fleeting “paper dress” trend of the mid- sixties.  Designer Gene Neil used paper from a party decoration store to create this stunning silver party dress below.

Silver paper dress in Life Magazine November 25, 1966.

Silver paper dress in Life Magazine November 25, 1966.

 

So it just goes to show,  metallic fashions are classic, glamorous and stand the test of time.  Any of the above metallic dresses could certainly be worn today.   As a matter of fact, I tend to like the ones from past eras better than the new.  How about you?

Have a Glamorous Day!

alison

 

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Dashing Design Duo -Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman

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"Just show me the Silverman's, please." Vogue Feb 1967

“Just show me the Silverman’s, please.” Vogue Feb 1967

When businessman/lawyer Jerry Silverman teamed up with Hollywood costume designer Shannon Rodgers they struck gold.  Between Silverman’s business savvy skills and  Rodgers talent for designing , they  created  a very successful ready- to -wear line that was popular throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Emerald green silk printed dress by Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman. Vogue Feb 1967

Emerald green silk printed dress by Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman. Vogue Feb 1967

 

Rodgers had previously designed costumes for movies, including Vogues of 1938, Marie Antoinette and the 1934 version of Cleopatra starring Claudette Colbert.  And according to the Vintage Fashion Guild label resource,  Rodgers joined Silverman at Martini, Inc,  a company known for their adaptations of Paris designs.   After working together there for 10 years, they then decided  to launch their own line.  The result was the Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman label, a classy,  chic,  yet fairly affordable line, whose slogan said it all- “Just show me the Jerry Silverman’s, please.”

Below is a streamlined mod dress with tassel trimmed wrap.   1968.

 

1968 advertisement for Silverman, Inc.

1968 advertisement for Silverman, Inc.

Many of their dresses had sleek, simple  lines with accents that made them pop, whether it be big buttons or polka dots.  Rodgers used a combination of hand and machine sewing to create fashions  geared “to the lifestyle of the woman who travels around a good deal and leads an active social life.”

The dress in the advertisement below is one of my favorites.   I love the trim framing the bust and on the pockets, not to mention the cute little bow! And how about those shortie gloves and turban? Fab finishing touches!

Shannon Rodgers for Jerrys Silverman Vogue Nov 1965

Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman Vogue Nov 1965

And we just happen to have one lovely black organza cocktail dress with this label available at Blue Velvet Vintage.

1960s Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman black organza party dress

1960s Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman black organza party dress

Rodgers was not only known for the clothes he made, but also for the clothes he collected.  He had very impressive and extensive collection of historical costumes that are now on display at Kent State University.  Rodgers and Silverman donated much of their time and money to KSU, hosting fashion shows, organizing fundraisers and developing new ideas.   And their donations funded The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising.  The school opened at KSU in 1983 and is now recognized as one of the top fashion schools in the country. The Kent State University Museum houses the Rodgers/Silverman collection.

Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman

Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman

These two men made some beautiful clothes in their time – but more importantly they helped to create a place where fashion education and history can continue on!

Have a glamorous day!

alison

 

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Designer Spotlight: Pauline Trigère

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Pauline Trigere

Pauline Trigère told friends she wanted to be cremated wearing her trademark red lipstick. When they questioned her – “Why does it matter – who will know?” She replied “I’ll know.”

 

“Fashion is what people tell you to wear,” said Pauline Trigère. “Style is what comes from your own inner thing.” That’s one of my favorite quotes and comes from a woman who definitely had her own style!

 

1972 runway show by Trigère. Photo for Women's Wear Daily.

1972 runway show by Trigère. Photo for Women’s Wear Daily.

 

The French born Pauline Trigère moved to New York City at 25 years old and opened her own fashion house only five years later in 1942.   Abandoned by her husband, she was a single mom raising two small children when she started her design business. Perfect tailoring and precise construction – combined with fantastically innovative ideas – made her one of the industry’s greatest talents.  She brought French couture sewing techniques to American ready to wear fashions.

 

Model Dorian Leah wearing Trigere coat. 1950

Dorian Leigh in a Trigère harlequin check pattern tweed coat. Photo by Gjon Mili  in Life Magazine 1950.

Instead of sketching out her ideas, Trigère would start right at the dress form – freehand cut and drape the fabric until she had her desired look. Her famous clients included Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis,  Grace Kelley and Lena Horne. She also designed Patricia Neal’s sophisticated looks in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which earned praise, despite her co-star’s immensely popular  looks.

Love this plaid check dress from the 1950s, worn with a stunning hat!

 

Plaid Trigère dress in Vogue May 1957

Plaid  Trigère dress in Vogue May 1957

She is also credited with introducing her popular shift coat,  jumpsuits, wool and cotton evening wear, the first rhinestone bra top and detachable collars , which is actually one of this year’s big trends!

Trigère received her first COTY award in 1949 and went on to win two more in 1951 and 1959. Her vivacious and out-spoken personality also earned her a special place in the fashion history. In 1961, she was the first US designer to hire a black model to represent her line on Seventh Avenue .

Beverly Valdes, model for Trigere

Beverly Valdes, model for Trigere

This vintage Pauline Trigère dress on Sarah Jessica Parker  is so feminine and flirty! Truly great designs span the decades – looked great then, looks great now!

 

 Sarah Jessica Parker wore vintage Trigère to the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum Launch Party in 2011.

Sarah Jessica Parker wore vintage Trigère to the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum Launch Party in 2011.

 

We have a couple of lovely vintage Pauline Trigere dresses in the Blue Velvet Vintage shop  right now. The one on the right is a 1960s silk floral sheath dress  left is a 60s chic black and metallic gold cocktail dress.

Both beauties personify Ms. Trigere’s command of understated classic elegance and sophisticated,streamlined silhouettes.

 

1960s Pauline Trigere dresses

1960s Pauline Trigere dresses for sale at Blue Velvet Vintage

 

Hats off to this fierce and fabulous designer!

Have a glamorous day :-)

alison

 

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