I was actually considering giving up real blog posts, and just sticking with The Catch of the Day format, but then I looked through the incredible collection of things I had book-marked to be blogged in a real post, and well... There was no choice to be made. These things are simply too fabulous to not write about them. The only real question is where ever to begin?
This fabulous Little Black Dress before you is a Calbette creation. Made in the 1960's, this elegant gown is made of rich black satin with three quarter length sleeves and underarm gussets for comfort and a good fit. The semi-full skirt has tucks at the left side that fall into graceful folds. There are pleated panels at the left waist and a black flower pin accent for the same area.
If this pin is not to your liking (and frankly, it's not to my taste), an Eisenberg Ice Brooch, or other large rhinestone creation would be stunning. Even a floral brooch of a contrasting color could add an interesting dimension to the dress and the ruching at the left waist. The dress is unlined, and closes at the back with a metal zipper. The skirt has a sewn in red crinoline (which rather reminds me of Mammy in Gone with The Wind), but the dress is photographed with an additional crinoline. It really would be a shame to wear it without one. There's nothing like a crinoline to give you that perfect hourglass figure, and I'm so pleased to see them on Paris Runways again. I would estimate the size of this dress as a small 6 or a generous 4, but you are encouraged to thoroughly read the dimensions of the garment at the website. Offered by Couture Allure Vintage Fashion, the dress is more than reasonably priced at $185.00.
This charming 1940's Eisenberg Originals Linen Top needs only a hot iron and some starch to make it absolute perfection! Found on eBay, the top is more white and less ivory than the photography would lead you to believe (though by no stretch of the imagination is it a hard white). Featuring a lovely notched collar, a well defined and pleated waist, and lovely cuffed short sleeves, this blouse is as timeless as the Eisenberg name. The flower shaped buttons start almost scandalously low, and if you've a mind to arrange the blouse just right, you can show some serious cleavage with this baby.
The blouse is in excellent vintage condition with no spots, tears, holes, or odors; however, there is a missing "eye" or loop of fabric for a hook added at the waist to prevent gaping. This is something even I can fix, and a needle and thread and I have only a nodding acquaintance. Offered by ad for the Buy-It-Now price of $85.00.
At the risk of being accused of bloggishly repeating myself, I offer you this men's trench coat by Burberry* which is currently up for auction at Housing Works, my favorite charitable source of all things vintage. The men's trench, like the woman's (which I described just days ago) has changed little since it's initial release just after the end of the first World War. The D rings were originally designed to hold hand grenades, and now are a stylistic anachronism which we have clung to with the tenacity with which we cling to God and Country. The classic Trench is the ultimate in democratic garments. Belonging equally well on the back of a Rockefeller as it does on a, say, Douglass, the trench is every man, and can take you every where. This particular trench is sized XL and will be up for bid for the next week until 01/24/2011 when it will meet it's fate at 10 pm Eastern Standard Time. Bear in mind that you will need to arrange shipment from New York, but by all means, bid! If not on this, the on some other item at Housing Works which catches your fancy. Your money could not be put to better use.
*It is worth mentioning that the women's trench coat I recently featured was not a Burberry, the first and truest maker of the trench coat, and thus is not as valuable as this one.
While Cameo Brooch's may be a dime a dozen, true shell cameos of the Victorian period are not. And this one is exquisitely rendered. Especially the nose. So often on cameos you get a sharp upturned nose, as those are the easiest type to carve. This nose has been carefully rendered and could easily be the likeness of a young lady of the period. I was delighted to find her. Found on eBay this cameo rests in a bed of sterling silver, and the brooch measures approximately 1 1/2" by 1 3/4" inches.
The cameo also appears to have a bale so that it may be worn as a pendant, but the seller makes no mention of this, so please inquire before you buy it for that purpose. Offered by the CatsPajamasVintage for the Buy-It-Now-Price of $125.00.
CatsPajamasVintage also has some actual late Victorian Era patterned stockings which are just too cool to escape mention.
The right jacket can be the difference between an okay outfit and a smashing outfit. Just grab this jacket from Etsy, and viola! you are transformed! This black acetate and nylon velvet bolero is from the 80's and has just the right touch to turn the mundane into the magical. This bolero is so short as to be somewhere between the bolero and the shrug at fourteen and on half inches (14 1/2") from the collar to the hem in the back. Sporting a simple "v" neck cut and tapered sleeves, this is the perfect transitional piece for the slightly cool evenings of fall and spring. The bolero is fully lined in acetate, and don't you dare even think of hand washing it! Acetate loses it's shape when immersed in water, and you will ruin the garment! Offered from the overflowing stock of cool clothing at funkomavintage, this jacket could be yours for a mere $24.00. Pounce! Kitten, Pounce! Values like this don't come along every day!
Our Book of the Blog (Well, it's not exactly a week, so it's a... blog issue) is Fashion: The 50 Most Influential Fashion Designers of All Time. Oh! How I would love to just immerse myself in this book, go through pages and pages of vintage issues of Vogue, W, and Women's Wear Daily and track each rise and fall of the hemline, each link of chain added to the inside of a woman's jacket, each corset and each crinoline. *Sigh*. This is not yet available for any e-book media that I was able to determine. Amazon has the book new, in hard-cover, for $10.19. Several private sellers who front at Amazon will sell it to you for anywhere between $17.53 to $18.62, or TearDownMedia will sell it to you on eBay, used, but in like new condition, for $7.73 (several copies available). My advice, get it on eBay. Having found that prices at Barnes and Nobles are almost universally higher than those at Amazon, I will confess to having left B&N un-investigated. You are welcome to look their if you like. Perhaps if you are one of their members, it actually works out that it is cheaper for you. I don't know.
I will be delighted when I am able to plug in my IPad and download illustration heavy books like this. I will dissolve into paroxysms of unmitigated joy when I can plug my IPad into the public library, download the book for two weeks, after which time, it will simply disappear from my hard-drive.
Oh the times, my kittens, they are a'changing.
This vintage 60's "Mad Men" suit was found on eBay. A size 44, this 3 button suit with it's thin lapels and the peaking tie is rather thin, but not ribbonish. I can just see Don Draper leaping to his feet and stumbling into his next brilliant idea in it. The suit is made of a classic weave of black and slightly green threads and is a fine, soft, medium weight wool. Apparently custom tailored, the suit bears no labels, only a monogram, which may be the initials of the tailor, or - more likely - the monogram of the gentleman who wore the suit. Equally at home in the office or at a Jazz Club, the opening bid for suit has been placed at $39.99 while the Buy-It-Now price is $49.99. I think the suit would benefit greatly by a better choice of tie. Offered to us by reetpleatsf who also has a burgandyish brocade tuxedo which reminds me terribly of Dean Martin in his show host persona.
Anyone who is an even casual reader of this blog will know what joy the picture above gave me when I ran across it on eBay. This lovely, stunning, magnificent watch was designed by one of the two Goddesses herself, Elsa Schiaparelli (the other, of course, is Coco Chanel). Would you look at the beautiful design of the metal around the bezel?!? Would you pause to admire, as no doubt your breath catches in your throat for a moment, the exquisite panache with which the Roman numerals are presented on the dial?!? The way the font reflects both the end of the Art Nouveau era and the beginning of the Art Deco era to come? Can you imagine wearing it? Casually checking the time several times each day in this, your very own, Elsa Schiaparelli watch? Can you imagine the joy of your daughter when one day, after you have aged gracefully to the point of beginning to divest yourself of your finer belongings, that you set her down and give to her this, your Elsa Schiaparelli watch? "Oh Mother! Can you really bear to part with it? Is it really for me?" Happy tears spill down her cheeks.
Okay, so perhaps I am laying it on a bit thick, but this is one fabulous watch. I truly adore the font used to present the Roman numerals. I marvel at the almost braided quality of the metal around the face. And I think of her, of Elsa, of her daring, her vision, her genius, the struggle she faced to free herself to create, plotting her escape from the convent, and coming to Paris, all in the name of Art. When I think of all of that focused artistic energy, turned - even for the briefest of moments - on this single watch, I would almost die to own it.
The seller says that the band now embracing the watch was there when she received it in the 1980's. Is it original? I don't know. Neither does she. It's certainly lovely, but I would hardly consider it blasphemy if you should chose a different band. Perhaps an alligator band. Perhaps a simple silk cord doubled in such a way as to focus all attention upon the watch itself.
The scratches on the bezel are ever so light. They could probably be polished off in the hands of a good jeweler. One could even replace the bezel if it really bothered you, though I would ask an appraiser the effect such an act would have on it's value.
Offered by MargoLynn for the Buy-It-Now-Price of $350.00.
Actually, I was remarkably restrained during that presentation, thank you. You can't know how I worship her. In that age old game where you get to throw the dinner party of your dreams, where the guests can come from any time in history, include anyone you chose, fictional or real... In my version of that dinner party Schiap (pronounced "Skip") is the Guest of Honor. Elizabeth Bennett Darcy sits at he right hand.
This stunning 1940's black velvet hat sports two positively smashing ostrich plumes that start at the back and sweep around and down the left side. Found on eBay, the hat is labeled "Mme. Huma" I'm not sure who Mademoiselle Huma was, but she was certainly a fine milliner. Offered to us by MaryMuldoon who says the hat is universally sized. Being the owner of a rather small head, I happen to know that this is factually not true. But most of you will know if the average hat fits you or if you are unusually large or small. With mere hours left of bidding, the current price for the hat is $55.00 and rising. If this tickles your fancy, act quickly! There isn't a moment to lose!
I adore dresses that approach the color of bronze, and this one from Couture Allure particularly caught my fancy. Made by Anita Bari, the dress is part a sort of chocolate brown silk organza woven in a pin stripe pattern. This organza then lines a bronze taffeta to give the gown a lovely two-toned effect. The dress has a shirt collar and sleeves which are turned back. I do not know that the buttons are anything special as there is no photograph of them. It would be quite striking if it were possible to replace them with some of the rounded multi-stoned rhinestone buttons of the same period.
And how fortunate that the original belt survives! So often this is not the case. The belt helps to establish the waspish waist, which is further emphasized by the room for ample crinolines. It would be almost criminal to wear a dress such as this without the necessary crinolines. Such an act would destroy the lines of the garment. The dress is silk lined in acetate, and must be dry cleaned. I am pleased to report that Couture Allure is one of the few vintage clothing stores that will see to it a garment arrives to you freshly cleaned, a thing for which I cannot commend them enough. I would estimate the size of this dress as an 8, though naturally you are encouraged to look at the dimensions of the garment. The dress may be purchased for the reasonable price of $185.00.
The Mary Quant stockings shown above from eBay are a find indeed! These Mary Quant vintage flocked poppy stockings could not be more au currant for today's fashions. Vogue, Harpers, Marie Claire, etc. are all full of patterned or deeply colored stockings or even tights. Naturally, the wearing of such stockings will require the possession and use of a garter belt. If one is unused to such a garment, allow me to assure you of it's comfort, and even of it's charms. The world lost something alluring and lovely when we decided to make a pair of stockings all of a piece and bind them about our bellies. The stockings shown are 100% nylon and made in Italy. 10 pairs are available at this time from forcesmagltd for the price of 3.95 British Pounds Sterling, or roughly $6.27 per set.
I must start by confessing that I had to look in Wikipedia to find out what "Steampunk" even meant. I've not read any of the requisite literature, but I believe I could subscribe to the general set of beliefs (having been a “punk” of the old school back in the day) and I certainly share the ascetics. I think these 1950's Flip Sunglasses from eBay are the cat's pajamas. Sort of part clockwork orange, and part Rocky-the-Flying-Squirrel. I also find them strangely sexy, a thing which I will mention, but not explore within the confines of the blog <smile></smile>. Offered by the-art-house for the Buy-It-Now price of $9.99. How can something so utterly cool still be so cheap? Isn't it splendid that the lovely and desirable are not the sole proprietorship of Saks Fifth Avenue or Niemans?
The madly mod maxi coat dress shown above is from the fine collection of vintage garments at Couture Allure where I obviously invested a great deal of time since last I wrote a blog post in earnest. Created by Mendola, an Italian company reported to be on par with Pucci and Leonard in the late 1960's. Their garments are quite rare these days, and the prices I've seen for them reflect this rarity as well as the exquisite craftsmanship which went into their tailoring. This charming op-art coat dress is 100% silk jersey in a print of shocking pink, a limish green bordering on yellow, a grape purple and black.
The coat sports cloth covered buttons and is lined in a fine purple china silk. It has no pockets. There is a wide horse-hair braid under the lining at the hem of the coat to hold the shape of the garment. The dress is a simple A line with a stand up collar and long sleeves; it secures up the back with a metal zipper. The garment was originally sold by Bergdorf Goodman. The dress will be freshly dry-cleaned, but due to the fur content of the coat (the horse-hair) the coat will not. This set is priced at $495.00; an entirely justifiable price for such a period piece, and one which - if well cared for - is certain to grow in value.
The smashing double breasted Valentino jacket above is the chance of a lifetime for the right sized man. Sadly, size is precisely the issue. It's not listed. Offered by Housing Works, the suit measures 18" from shoulder to shoulder and 16" from shoulder to sleeve. Beyond that, I cannot tell you. The blazer was made in Italy under the direction of the House of Valentino. That it is exquisitely tailored can hardly be the subject of debate. On clearance for a mere $29.00, I'm quite tempted to buy it myself and either wear it as a boyfriend jacket or just go in drag! What an incredible bargain!
I admit it: I will flip for just about anything you can put zebra stripes on. In fact, I think zebras are remarkably clever to be so well clad. This simply stunning zebra stripe handbag from Tias was created by Antinio Melani. I must confess though that I do not know that the presence of the handbag in an "Antiques Mall" indicates that it is vintage. I am unable to find anything about Melani from the Vintage Fashion Guild, or indeed, even Wikipedia. A google search indicates that these bags are certainly still in production, and as this one still has it's original tag... well, you draw your own conclusions. I will merely tell you that I think it's fabulous and has great "mod" potential. The bag is 5 inches wide by 9 inches deep by 12 inches long. It has one zippered pocket and two open pockets inside. The leather is reported to be buttery soft and the fob is, as I have said, still attached. Offered for sale by PRZMTZ, Cam and Pete's Treasures, a store which seems more to specialize in vintage jewelry than clothing. The bag is priced at $75.00
And to wear with that stunning Zebra bag? Why, a black and white polka dot lucite bangle, of course! Found on eBay, this dandy little bracelet tickles my lucite fancy. Offered by 77Rula, among my favorite Lucite Dealers. You'll find their shelves replete with splendid little pretties. None of any real value. All rather like carnival glass, pleasing to the eye in a passing fancy, but unlikely to win a lasting place in anyone's heart. They are in possession of two of these bracelets which are available at the Buy-It-Now price of $4.79. Do be patient with them. English is a second language for them at best, so if you correspond use simple words and short sentences. They are quite kind and accommodating.
I am convinced that somewhere under this rumpled bit of fabric is a truly lovely dress, as it bears the label of an early Ceil Chapman. I found this shamefully wrinkled mess on Ruby Lane, as offered by My Vintage Clothes Line. I must admit I feel a certain amount of consternation. This is a Ceil Chapman. This is not some garment fallen off the rack at WalMart. It deserves better treatment than this. And frankly, we, as vintage couture customers, deserve better treatment than this. Why should I be asked to shell out the sort of money true vintage couture demands when the proprietress cannot even be bothered to iron the garment at hand? I stand firm in my belief that any dealer who treats vintage couture as rags should be willing to part with it for the price of rags, and we - who know better - can then rescue it, and lovingly take our steaming irons and needles to the garments and restore them to their proper station in life. What's truly annoying is that the proprietress is quite knowledgeable about vintage clothing. She knows what she has. She even knows the history of how Ceil Chapman came to be Ceil Chapman and the list of celebrities who have been among her clientelle. That she could be so, and still allow this dress to get to this state?!?! Well, I simply do not understand it. Anyway, as Shakespear would have said were he a woman, the gowns the thing, so let's get on with it. The dress appears to have a cowl neckline. The long sleeves are ruched, and the bodice comes to a fine twist at the waist, thereby accenting the hourglass shape such a dress could induce in even the most rectangular of figures. This twist continues as a seam at the natural waist across the back. The dress is secured in the back by a metal zipper which appears to be in fine working order. It does appears that once, at the top of that metal zipper was a hook and eye, and that either or both of these pieces are now missing. This can be easily fixed, but I would not wear the dress without attending to this, as it will leave a tell-tale flap at the top of the back. The dress appears to hang about two to three inches below the knee, but that is only an estimate from viewing it, as there is no information provided about the length of the dress. The proprietress estimates the dress to be a size 6 to 8, but the measurements she quotes are more of an 8-10 than a 6-8 (the dress has a 30" waist). There are some condition issues for the dress: some of the tucks in the fabric folds across the front have begun to become unstitched (an easy fix); and there are some "tiny" light spots along the hem of the dress (not so easily fixable). Perhaps if these light spots are low enough, one could raise the hemline enough to hide them? Or perhaps if the dress is the correct shade of black, one could take a black laundry marker and go over them without calling more attention to them than concealing them (this should always be tried on a hidden part of the fabric first!). The dress may be purchased for $385.00; a fair price for a Ceil Chapman, but not - perhaps - for this Ceil Chapman.
This 1970's YSL Smoking Jacket is one of those garments that captures a social climate and state of flux within it's very seams. Made as women were demanding equality with men, this Yves Saint Laurent provided this equality in granting to women a garment which had been this historic property of men: the smoking jacket. Without this jacket, would women have taken up cigars? And without cigars, would a certain censured and impeached president's legacy be quite different? Who's to say? I don't know if subscribe to the butterfly theory or not, but I can't deny le smoking jacket's place in history. I found this lovely jacket in the great store-houses of eBay. Made in France of velvet which is 70% cotton and 30% rayon and which is the color of dark rich cocoa, the lining of the jacket is 100% rayon. The jacket is offered for bidding by the_material_girl who reports that it is in splendid vintage condition with no issues. It is estimated to be a size 8. The Buy-It-Now price has been set at $209.25, though the seller is accepting offers.
The black men's suspenders shown above are available on Etsy by JaanasVintage. Timeless and classic, they feature dark brass toned adjusters and two black leather button hole fasteners. The perfect accompaniment to any gentlemen's suit, they are reported to be in very good vintage condition.
The seller is unable to date them, and I have insufficient knowledge of menswear to be of any assistance. The suspenders may be purchased for $10.95. I am set to wonder though, why it is that the seller chose to photograph this with a crumpled, rumpled shirt on a less than buff man, when every merchandising instinct in my body says one should have done the exact opposite. Does this bother you? Am I being unreasonably silly?
I am all aflutter at the discovery of this lovely peach silk Damask and Embroidery Nightgown from the 1940's. Presented on Ruby Lane by Alley Cat Vintage this stunning nightgown is cut on the bias to enhance a woman's movements, this gown springs from the last days when Chinese silks were still made with tremendous pride and skills.
I don't know if this "close up" is published in the blog "close up" enough for you to admire the needle work that went into the garments creation. It is simply stunning. My admiration and desire for this garment is only increased by the miracle of the survival of it's self sash. There are some ever-so-tiny condition issues: 1) there is a bleach spot (about the size of a quarter and a dime, it's sort of two circle shaped, like a paramecium in the process of dividing) on the lower right back; and 2) there is a streak of soiling on the upper bodice backside which the proprietress fears she may have caused and which one fervently hopes could be cured by dry cleaning. Were it not for these condition issues, I would recommend this for a bridal trousseau, but as it is, I can only recommend it to someone like myself who loves it's craftsmanship enough to forgive it the misfortunes of it's past. The gown is approximately a size 10, and is made for rather a tall woman at 59" from shoulder to hem. It is priced more than reasonably at $38.00
This is not the first time I've found a pearl of great value at Alley Cat Vintage, and I would not hesitate to recommend them as being among the finest merchants at Ruby Lane.
This lovely modern art lead crystal paperweight is also among the offerings on eBay at present. It caught my eye for it's lovely simplicity coupled with the splendid random distribution of the bubbles caught in the crystal. It is to me, rather, a universe in a grain of sand. Also, my grandmother had one just like it, and I don't know what happened to hers. Offered by MargoLynn for the startling Buy-It-Now Price of $12.89.
Yes, more of the offerings of Couture Allure. I hope the splendid cape above is ample proof of why. Made of no less than twenty-five yards of pink silk chiffon (12 1/2 yards doubled into two layers), this evening cape is the very definition of sumptuousness and elegance. Dating from the 1930's, this cape needs to be paired with exactly the right bias cut gown to appear to its best advantage. I would suggest something in a pale shade of peach with perhaps a tiny touch of floral embroidery. This cape was created - no doubt - by an unknown master seamstress as it bears no label. It is fit for almost any sized woman, though she must be rather a tall woman, as the length of the cape is 57". It should be dry cleaned only by a couture specialist and treated with all the care and love such a stunning garment deserves. The cape is priced at $450.00. I am not one to have sudden flashes of information from the gods about unmarked garments, but this shade of pink is certainly Elsa Schiaparelli's shade of pink. Still, one can hardly trademark a color (Steel Magnolia's aside), and I have no reason to believe Schiaparelli did any work which she failed to sign.
I found this fabulous Whiting Davis gold mesh bag at Tias as offered by Klassic Line. Featuring an Art Deco Revival frame, and a gold chain, this hand bag is classic evening wear which has proven timeless. The inside of the bag is lined in matching gold silk or rayon (or even, perhaps acetate - it's hard to tell from a photograph).
The proprietress says that the only flaw in this almost mint bag is a few light scratches in the frame. I was unable to discern these scratches even in this close up photograph. The bag is 6 inches long by 5 inches wide and is offered for $89.00. The seller is a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild, which I fervently believe in supporting. However, as such, I was surprised at the shortage of information about this accessory provided to potential buyers. Certainly, I do not expect to know the provenance of every second hand item, but to not list the type of fabric which lines the purse? I am perplexed.
As part of the continuation of my exploration into the ascetic principals of steampunk, I found these. I think the clockwork cuff-links shown above from Etsy are just cool beyond belief. While not vintage in their present form, they are certainly comprised of vintage parts, and this is sufficient for me. The cuff-links are matching, though not identical. One is made of the movements of a vintage Lindan watch; whilst the other is made of the movements of similar watch of the Octo Company. Both are 17 rubis jewels non-working movements with silvertone backing. Created and sold by SM Studio, of San Francisco. The cuff-links sell for $58.00. I'll admit I was a bit taken aback by their price, but I can see that they are meticulous works of art, each unique within themselves. As much art as fashion, they are sculptural and oddly beautiful in a mechanical sort of expression of beauty which is a bit foreign to me. I feel a bit like I did when I too discovered the beauty in Warhol's sudden flash of the ascetic of the Campbell's soup can. That moment when I got pop art (And so many still have not got it...) Anyway, staring at these, I got the steampunk mechanical asthetic, and it is truly beautiful. I suspect I may have been lucky enough to have started my inquiries at the feet of one of it's masters, as SM Studios work is prolific and meticulous.
If you will be so kind as to allow me to gush one more time over a garment which I found at Couture Allure, I shall tell you about this stunning 1920's gown, which is so very much like my grandmother's wedding dress. A deep blue velvet wedding gown? Yes, indeed. It seems (or so I'm told) that a member of the British Royal family wed in the 1920's clad in a jewel toned gown. My grandmother and her sisters were all fashionable young ladies, and all married in various jewel tones, my grandmother being clad in Blue Velvet (like the song). But be not deceived. This is not my grandmother's wedding gown. It only makes me terribly nostalgic for it, for I did wear it once, when I was 19, but that's a rather long story, and one which I will not tell here. Here, I will tell the story of the gown pictured above.
I have included the second picture above as it is, according to Couture Allure, the closest to the actual sky blue color of the gown, which had a want to photograph darkly. The gown has the angled seams that are the hallmark of evening gowns of the flapper era. Smocking stitches accent each shoulder and the right hip, where the gown is gathered and decorated with a fabric posy. The gown slips over the head and is meant to be loose fitting. For a brief and shining moment, it was actually fashionable to be small chested, and my grandmother gloried in what has been my curse. Created entirely (save posy) of silk velvet, the gown must be dry cleaned by one trained in the conservation of historic clothing. The loss of such a gown to careless chemical usage would be grievous indeed. The gown may be attained for a remarkably conservative $395.00.
And on that nostalgic note, dear kittens, I shall close.
Until we blog again... Happy shopping!
Second Hand Roze