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britex

There aren’t that many independent stores left … It’s not just about Union Square, but everywhere in the country. If people want specialty, creative businesses to survive, people have to support those businesses. We’re not going to survive unless people come out to support us … It’s amazing how many people will come to the door and say we love that you’re still in business … They’ll say you’re the same people who served my grandmother 30 years ago, my mother 20 years ago.

Gary Angel, San Francisco attorney.

This quote is from an article by Alyssa Pereira in the San Francisco Chronicle, August 12, 2020. Click here for the full article. 

Mr. Angel is married to Sharman Spector, the second generation proprietor of Britex fabric store in downtown San Francisco.

Britex is heaven for those of us who love textiles, sewing, and fashion. The most beautiful of fabrics and notions from around the world are stacked and hung and artfully displayed within the two story Britex store on Post Street. Not only that, but this family-run business has been a part of San Francisco history for 68 years.

When Covid-19 hit and California shut down, the downtown shop shifted to online sales. Now they offer curbside pickup. But for them and all small businesses everywhere, it’s challenging.

I agree with Mr. Angel, that it’s up to us to support small businesses as much as we can. And when it comes to fabrics, we really don’t want to lose one of the few quality fabric stores left in the Bay Area.

Not long after the shutdown I was working on a project and I desperately needed a particular sewing notion to continue. Britex came to the rescue! I shopped online and had the tool in my mailbox within a week. I really appreciate that quick and friendly service.

How about a sewing project? Masks anyone? Britex is selling kits, which includes all you need to make six masks. Visit online: https://www.britexfabrics.com/

Thank you, Britex. You are a San Francisco treasure!

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One of the assignments in the fashion history class I recently completed was to find historical fashion references in current fashion. In magazines I looked for examples covering ancient clothing to the 20th century and matched with historical images from books, plus I had to write a comment.

The late 20th Century: Mini-Dress

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The simple silhouette, high waist and short hem of Michael Kors design revisits (yet again) the mini-skirt fad of the 1960s. (Additionally Kors use of brocade fabric and jeweled embellishment feels a bit 18th century Baroque.)

Of course I love the matching hat! Plus you can’t see very well, but the mules are made of the same dress fabric. Go matchy, matchy!

This is the final installment of Finding Historical Fashion Today. I hope ODFL readers enjoyed the series. If the stats are any indication, you did.

There will be more historical fashion posts in the future. Stay tuned.

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ghgh

Spotted in a local neighborhood window. It’s not a great photo, but it is a great message.

Everyone looks great in a mask because wearing a mask says: I respect myself and my community. I’m doing what I need to do to stay safe and keep those around me safe, too. 

It’s as simple as that.

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Mary Quant. Illustration by Zoe Taylor. From Selvedge magazine.

Miss Mary Quant – how could I have imagined a career in fashion without Mary Quant? She created the miniskirt for heaven’s sake. Forgive me – where would Topshop be without her? She also created the idea of Saturday night dressing, making things ‘upstairs’ that literally came off the machine and into her King’s Road shop that day in order to serve her adoring fans’ weekend characters. 

Luella Bartley, English fashion designer and fashion journalist.

This quote is from the May/June 2011 issue of Selvedge magazine. The theme of this issue is all things Britannia and Ms. Bartley was asked to choose six women who reflect the British unique and quirky sense of style.

Mary Quant was on her list. Check back for some of the others in the weeks to come.

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One of the assignments in the fashion history class I recently completed was to find historical fashion references in current fashion. In magazines I looked for examples covering ancient clothing to the 20th century and matched with historical images from books, plus I had to write a comment.

We’ve reached the 20th century: Blouse and skirt.

 

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Hedi Slimane for Celine is channeling the independent woman of the nineteen-teens. His blouse with high collar, lace, and long sleeves paired with a long simple skirt says college co-ed or suffragette, or both!

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Here’s a little story recounted by French fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879-1944) in his autobiography, King of Fashion.

paulpoiretI passed many times in front of the shop of this English master without daring to cross the threshold. One day, when I was feeling in cavalier mood, and since I needed a suit, I went in and ordered one, not, however, without asking the price, through fear of some unpleasant surprise. I was told one hundred and eighty francs – and I gave my order. 

“When shall I come try it on?” I added. 

“Our clothes are made in London,” I was told. “… and yours will not be ready for seventeen days.” 

… and in seventeen days I returned. Filled with emotion in the fitting room, I saw my coat arrive in the hands of the classic tailor, wearing a measure round his neck. I was astonished that they did not try on the trousers. He called the man who received me: “The trousers, Monsieur? What trousers? You did not order any trousers, nor a waistcoat either.” 

In the 1910s Paul Poiret was known for liberating women from the corset, only to confine their movement with the hobble skirt. Influenced by Asian aesthetics and theater, he was called “King of Fashion” and traveled extensively, including to America where he showed his designs and lectured.

I just finished Poiret’s autobiography, King of Fashion (V&A Publishing) first published in 1931. He led an interesting life and he was a good writer, but I was disappointed that he didn’t discuss his design process, his influences, and perhaps share some of his insights into the fashion industry of the era. I know that he fell out of favor after WWI and I was hoping that he might shed some light on that time of his life. I’m also aware that he met and encouraged designer Elsa Schiaparelli and I would have loved to know what he had to say about that, but no mention.

What he does discuss is his childhood and young adult life working for houses of Douchet and Worth. He goes into detail about opening his first fashion house and the many parties he hosted and attended. There’s lots of name dropping, which meant nothing to me as they were all French and a very long time ago.

Overall The King of Fashion is a good read, if you’re not expecting much about fashion.

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Lady Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay) shockingly sports Harem Pants, in season one of  Downton Abbey, 1913.  I think of  Paul Poiret, who was cutting edge in fashion design at the time. Costumes by Susannah Buxton.

Many people won’t realise that it can take six or seven specialist skills to create a costume, often including millinery, corsetry and tailoring. We might have five or six fittings if it’s a complicated costume and each piece can take at least a week to complete, depending on the intricacy of the design.  

Susannah Buxton – British costume designer. This quote is from an interview with Selvegde magazine. (The Brits spell realize with an s.)

Ms. Buxton has been working in costume design for 30 years having won many awards including a BAFTA and an Emmy. She’s known for her work in television PBS shows such as Downton Abbey and Poldark.

She is also one of the co-founders of Costume Symposium –  three days of lecturers and workshops for costumers and students. Masters in their craft teach workshops on making corsets, embroidery, millinery, gloves and more.  Ms. Buxton says as her generation retires these necessary tools of the trade are dying out and resources for teaching such are limited. She wants to help pass along these skills and techniques to the next generation.

The annual event is new since 2018 and has so far been held during the fall in different locations around the UK. Because of the pandemic, this year has been cancelled but there are plans for spring 2021. Click here for more information. 

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One of the assignments in the fashion history class I recently completed was to find historical fashion references in current fashion. In magazines I looked for examples covering ancient clothing to the 20th century and matched with historical images from books, plus I had to write a comment.

Gotta love those extreme sleeves of the Late 19th Century.

puffsleeves

Over-sized puffy sleeves on this otherwise simple cotton dress is the descendant of the Leg of Mutton Sleeve, which enjoyed a revival in the 1890s after its debut in the early part of the century.

By the 1890s hoops and bustles were out of fashion. As women were becoming more independent, some fighting for the right to vote, they needed to get around more easily. Simpler skirts paired with shirtwaists (blouses) were the look and when the skirts narrowed, the sleeves expanded.

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A tailor-made with leg-of-mutton sleeves. c.1895. Image from Survey of Historic Costume (Fairchild Books).

 

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A few of Anna Sui’s vintage inspired dresses. Part of the 2019 exhibit, The World of Anna Sui at the Museum of Arts & Design in NYC.

Everyone wears t-shirts and jeans. Everyone wears jeans with a little pretty top … that’s the extent of our fashion right now. So, why not give them something a little bit more, but with the same ease. 

Anna Sui – American fashion designer.

Ms. Sui said this in 2006! And I suppose since then jeans have been replaced by leggings.

How about a dress for a change? Dresses can be so easy to wear and cool for hot temps. Plus a dress is an instant elevated look.

 

 

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One of the assignments in the fashion history class I recently completed was to find historical fashion references in current fashion. In magazines I looked for examples covering ancient clothing to the 20th century and matched with historical images from books, plus I had to write a comment.

This week we are up to the Early 19th Century: Marie Sleeves.

mariesleeves

 

Louis Vuitton’s pretty puffed sleeves feel very 1820s Romantic. Called Marie Sleeves back in the day, the puffs were created by using tied ribbons. Today, elastic creates the same effect and LV has added touches of lace for good measure.

Come back next week!

 

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