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Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

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Trashy Diva’s Angie and Shelby.

I noticed a definite vintage look happening in New Orleans: shirtwaist dresses, full skirts paired with tight fitting tops, head scarves and hats. Soon I was hearing the local buzz about a boutique in the French Quarter called Trashy Diva, which offers vintage inspired clothing for women.

Naturally I made a beeline over to Trashy Diva to see for myself. There I met salestaff Angie and Shelby who told me that they like to think of Trashy Diva fashions as “vintage with a hipster twist.”

The silhouettes are mostly 40s and 50s, the fabric prints in cotton and rayon are all designed by Head Diva, Candice Gwinn and in limited editions. So, almost like buying an actual vintage garment you won’t see yourself coming and going. Well, you might a bit in NOLA but that just means you are  a member of the Trashy Diva tribe.

Ms. Gwinn started TD in the 1990s when she moved to NOLA from Atlanta, GA. Initially she sold strictly vintage but after hearing from her customers that fit was often a problem she began making new fashions with the vintage look in larger sizes. Today there are five store locations in NOLA, one in Atlanta, and a vibrant online presence. TD fashions have been featured on the television series Treme, New Girl, and House of Cards. Celebrities like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry count themselves among the Trashy Diva crowd.

The shop itself is located in one of those fabulous old NOLA buildings on Royal Street.  High ceilings and wood floors mixed with kitschy gold gilt mirrors and chandlers make for a charming environment. Retro tunes played in the background as I perused the wide choice of fabric prints. For spring/summer it’s all about color in floral, bicycles, polka dots. This season’s Preservation Hall print features images from NOLA unique music scene in shades of blue. Choose a print and then find it in dresses, skirts, tops, and pants.

Are you thinking – what’s up with the name? I was wondering that too. Here’s what they say on their website:

Trashy Diva was named nearly 20 years ago (before most people ever heard the word DIVA and certainly before it was common). The name was inspired by an article in W magazine about vintage starlets including Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield. We regularly get questioned about “why Trashy”? The Trashy part of the name expresses two different ideas to us. At the start, we sold only vintage, so the idea was that found objects (aka some people’s unwanted items ‘trashy’ ) could be made beautiful and and stylish. Another reason Trashy Diva appealed to us as a name was that it expressed an idea of an irreverent beauty- the girl who doesn’t always follow the rules!!

Name aside, I really enjoyed my experience at Trashy Diva. The clothes, the friendly staff, the vintage vibe … all great fun. Angie says I’m a Trashy Diva, too. Count me in!

 

 

 

 

 

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“What are you going to do with that feather?”

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And this is what I did with my Meyer Hatter feather. Nice, right?

Standing at the counter, I’m thinking that question must be for me since I’m holding a feather. I turn around and address the gentleman in a hat, “Ah, I’m going to use it to embellish one of my hats. I have lots of hats at home.” (The feathers of course are for the men’s hats but why not women’s hats, too?)

“Put it in your pocket,” he orders.

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Me with Mr. Sam Meyer.

I take a second glance at the nice man and notice a name tag pinned to his shirt. It suddenly hits me that it’s Mr. Meyer, the owner of this grand old New Orleans hat shop, Meyer The Hatter located on St. Charles Street.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, the shop is bustling with customers. Many of them regulars served by Mr. Meyer’s grandsons. It’s a three generation business now, having started back in 1894 by Mr. Meyer’s grandfather. Today Sam Meyer, his two sons and two grandsons run the family business keeping customers from around the world happily donning stylish hats. Including Eric Clapton and actor Wendell Pierce from the NOLA television series, Treme.

Mr. Meyer tells me his go-to hat is the pork pie. “That’s what the English call it.” He’s been sporting that style for 40 years with no intention of switching.

I ask about women’s hats and apparently that’s something relatively new to the shop. They added women’s styles five or six years ago and only because “… women kept coming in and asking for hats.”

NOLA residents do like their chapeaux – both men and women. Perhaps it’s the sunny weather, the heat, or just good old fashion southern tradition. Whatever, this hat gal likes it!

A big thank you to Sam Meyer and to all the friendly folks at Meyer The Hatter. It was a pleasure!

 

 

 

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Tracey Thorn in her vintage dress and uber-mod Paul Weller. Circa 1983s. Photo from Tracey Thorn: Besit Disco Queen.

‘What are you gonna be wearing? ‘He asked. 

‘Um well, this,’ we said, pointing at the second-hand clothes we had on. I had chosen another slightly shabby 1950s print dress, and Ben was doing a kind of Jacques Brel look in a white shirt, jeans, and a corduroy cap. 

‘Oh,’ he said. “But, you know, it’s a gig. Maybe you should, like, dress up a bit.’

He himself was wearing a blue cotton short with a razor-sharp crease down the front, white socks, and bowling shoes. His hair was immaculate – spiky on top but sculpted around the ears. Every inch the uber-mod. In the photos I have of the night, I can see he was right, of course. We look a bit rubbish, and he looks fantastic. 

Tracey Thron, British leader singer/songwriter, Everything But the Girl.

Who remembers Everything But the Girl? Pop with a touch of jazz is how I’d (simply) describe the 80s/90s duo, Tracey Thorn and Ben Watts. This little anecdote is from the memoir, Tracey Thorn: Bedsit Disco Queen (Virago Press, 2013.) Ms. Thorn is talking about one of the first gigs she and Ben Watts had in the mid-1980s. The uber-mod is Paul Weller, former member of The Jam.

Clothing and modern music is a fascinating and diverse topic. There is well-clad Motown, showy disco, shabby rock & roll, even shabbier punk, anti-fashion grunge, and all kinds of subcategories in-between. All of which has influenced fashion over the years.

Ms. Thorn musical roots are deep in 70s punk and so her choice of a vintage dress fits. To her at the time that was “dressing up” while still avoiding a mainstream/commercial style.

Actually, I think the three look good together. Click here for a peek. 

And for some EBTG tunes click here.

 

 

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Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom. 

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919), American doctor and surgeon in the Civil War. She was the first (and only) woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

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Women’s military uniforms designed by Mainboucher, 1940s.

Thank you to the women and men who have served for our country.

Happy Memorial Day.

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Sketch of Duchess of Sussex wedding dress by Clare Waight Keller. Image by Clare Waight Keller.

We now have seen Meghan Markel’s (Duchess of Sussex) wedding dress and we know who designed it – British designer Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the French house Givenchy.

I must confess that I did not get up at the crack of dawn to watch it all. Heck, I  like my sleep and I knew I’d catch up in the following days. I watched the BBC coverage of what Ms. Keller had to say about the dress. She went into some detail about the veil and how she suggested including flora and fauna of the Commonwealth. She recounted for the BBC reporter what she had said to the bride: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we took the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and embroidered a flower and some floral and fauna from each one of those and they would go up the aisle, the journey up the aisle with you …”

In wanting to create “a little bit of a wild garden” included in the veil were orchids, forget-me-knots, thistle, and so on.

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Queen Elizabeth II Coronation gown. Designed by Norman Hartnell.

Hmm … this was ringing a bell. British designer Norman Hartnell did something similar for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown in 1953. I wrote about it for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The coronation gown included hand embroidered flowers of each of the Commonwealth – Tudor Rose, Thistle, Shamrock, etc. –  on the bodice and skirt of the dress. Great minds think alike in Great Britain!

Back to Meghan’s dress. For my two cents, I think it was stunning in its simplicity. I love the unusual boat neck and the 3/4 length sleeves were perfection. It was made from a double silk cady fabric, which is very stable and that allowed for the shape of the dress. My only quibble was the choice of white. Perhaps a little color would not have gone amiss. A pale blue or green for spring. There may be royal rules about such things, I don’t know.

The platinum and diamond tiara (on loan from the Queen) originally belonged to Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother. Keeping it minimal, the bride wore diamond earrings and a bracelet by Cartier. Again, some color here would have been a nice touch – rubies or emeralds. The look needed a pop.

It really was all about the veil and the best perspective on that was from above. It took many skilled workers and many hours to create. I read that each embroiderer stopped to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the white fabric white.

But what an honor to be part of such a significant event.

Congratulations to one and all! Now get some sleep.

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The always dashing Tom Wolfe in 1980. Photo from the book Legendary Authors and the Clothes they Wore.

You never realize how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes. 

Tom Wolfe (1930-2018), American author/journalist.

In addition to his writings of fiction (Bonfire of the Vanities) and non-fiction (The Right Stuff) Mr. Wolfe was know for his signature white suits. The story goes that in the early 1960s, he purchased his first white suit to wear in New York during the summer months. But he found that the fabric was too heavy and warm (I wonder what it was). So he sported his white suit in the winter instead and caused some attention because as we all know, white is only for summer! He continued to wear those white suits throughout the rest of his life and he often added details such as a vest, pocket square, and a hat.

RIP, Tom Wolfe. Your sartorial guidance will be missed.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Today is the day that an American divorcee marries Prince Harry and becomes a member of the British royal family. As for her title, we don’t know yet. That is up to the queen.

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Wallis and Edward on their wedding day. Her dress by Mainboucher.

The last American divorcee to marry into the British Royal Family was Wallis Simpson. She married Edward VIII in 1937 after he abdicated the thrown for her. Under such circumstances, their wedding was hardly a royal affair. Instead it was low key including her dress, which was designed by Chicago-born couturier Mainboucher. It was a simple silhouette in silk crepe dyed “Wallis Blue” to match her eyes.

The couple were given the titles Duke and Duchess of Windsor and lived primarily in France. OK, so she didn’t make it to queen as she might have hoped, but for an American commoner duchess of anything is quite something.

She will never be queen either, but generally speaking Meghan Markle is in a much better position. She’s in good favor with the family (perhaps better mannered than Ms. Simpson was). It helps that Harry is way down in line to the throne. I’m pretty sure if William came home with an American divorcee, ah … the queen would not have been too happy. (Don’t forget that she prevented her sister, Princess Margaret, from marrying the divorced Peter Townsend.)

It seems Ms. Markle is a lovely woman – warm and friendly – like many Americans. A reporter recently pointed out that her experience as an actress will be helpful in dealing with all the media attention. I think she will be a positive representative of the United States and given our current oh-so-embarrassing president, we need all the help we can get.

Congratulations to Harry and Meghan. Happy Wedding Day!

 

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