Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category


Andy Warhol Illustration for Harper’s Bazaar, July 1958.

When I used to do shoe drawings for the magazines, I would get a certain amount for each shoe, so then I would count up my shoes to figure out how much I was going to get. I lived by the number of shoe drawings – when I counted them I knew how much money I had. 

Andy Warhol, American Artist.


Shoe and purse c. 1956.

Before Andrew Warhola became Andy Warhol, Pop Artist he was a commercial artist and advertising illustrator. In the 1950s he illustrated for fashion publications Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. He created ads in newspapers for Neiman Marcus and I. Miller, among others.

I have a thing for illustration as an art form and I really like Warhol’s style. It helps that his subject was fashion and done in an artistic era that appeals to me. Beyond all that, I like his sense of whimsy and fun. His illustrations make me smile.

In my collection of fashion books is – Andy Warhol Fashion (Chronicle Books, 2004), which is a little volume of Warhol’s illustrations from the 1950s when he was working in NYC. Every so often I slip this book off the shelf and flip through over 250 images, some in color and some black and white. I pause on various pages to feast my eyes on kitten heels, jaunty hats, and attractive handbags.

It’s a little candy box of visual mid-century treats.



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Note the card – I love the London subway reference. 

As with any other accessory, sunglasses are an important part of every outfit. Over the years,  I have gone through many a pair, many a style. Including back in high school when I sported a pair of ultra Cat Eye frames in purple. (I still have them! See pic below.)

IMG_20171009_164957891A few years ago I was on the hunt for a more moderate Cat Eye look and I happened to pop into Optical Underground in downtown San Francisco. You go down down down a long flight of stairs into a super cool subterranean space.

Oh my, what a selection! I found just what I was looking for and at a discount, plus one more snazzy pair with rhinestones – I call those my Hollywood Shades. (Both pictured above.)

And there’s more. A few times a year I go back to Optical Underground to have my everyday sunglasses tightened and cleaned. They are happy to provide this service and with a great big smile, too.

Optical Underground opened in San Francisco in 1911. A family run business, the shop offers an array of sunglasses as well as eyeglass frames, many at designer overstock and other discount prices. What I appreciate is the selection of both modern and vintage- inspired styles.

Here’s what they say:

Optical Underground is a speakeasy for extraordinary eyewear, a secret find to satisfy your optical addiction. We are a fourth generation family business that’s been helping people see better (and look better) for over 100 years. We are craftsmen and appreciate the talent and toil that goes into designing original hand-made eyewear, and celebrate the people who wear them. We are socially responsible, and take our obligations to our community and our planet seriously.

Need new shades? Need new frames? Check out Optical Underground 280 Sutter St. at Grant, downtown SF. http://www.opticalunderground.com/



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Headpiece by Moschino Couture. Very Isabella Blow

… let’s discuss your crowning glory: a jaunty chapeau. The donning of a batty hat – a tiara, a basket of fruit, a steering wheel!  – is a fail-safe way to signal your strangeness. In the early 20th century, a lady named Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven delighted the denizens of Greenwich Village by wearing the lid of a filthy coal bucket on her head. Come summer, the taboo-busting Elsa would insert her head into a birdcage, complete with live canary. Her signature flourish? She might be the only person in history to have glued postage stamps to her face. 

Simon Doonan –  Creative Ambassador-at-Large, Barney’s.

This quote is taken from Mr. Doonan’s article in Harper’s Bazaar (September 2017) celebrating the virtues of strangeness in fashion.

The steering wheel reminds me of a “jaunty chapeau” I sported back in high school (early 80s). It was a broken vinyl record, painted blue with some of the broken pieces attached on top as decoration. I bought it from a vendor at a summer fair on Polk Street in San Francisco. Meant to be worn at an angle and tied under the chin, the hat was perfect for my New Wave look. I was all about pink baggy pants, vintage snakeskin pumps, and opalescent lipstick. Hello B-52s and Joe Jackson!

Fast forward to today and just wearing a hat is apparently strange, never mind a steering wheel or a bird cage. I sport a hat every day from caps to straw sunhats to felt cloches in the winter and I never fail to get glances and inquiries. Back in high school with my “record hat” I for sure was looking for attention but not so much now. Still there are times when I feel the same curious gaze as if I were once again balancing that broken record on my head.

I happen to like hats and I think they complete an outfit. How strange is that?

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Congratulations to Chris Black who won Best Grand Picnic Site at this year’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon. As the picnic site judge it was my pleasure to recognize Chris’ attention to detail for her Egyptian Revival themed site, aptly named Temple of Hathor after the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Love, Mirth, and Joy.


Chris and her award winning Egyptian Revival Picnic Site.

In addition to how Chris handled her canopy (by nicely covering it up both outside and inside, including the ceiling) as well as adding charming touches like beverage glasses  painted with Egyptian images and papyrus plants, she also tied in her dress to the theme. All of that is what made her a winner!


Photo: Chris Black.

A seamstress, Chris sewed her own 1930s-style dress using a pattern from Decades of Style. On Ebay she found the perfect reproduced vintage print fabric with hieroglyphics and pharaohs. It gets even better … the green buttons she used pick up the green in the dress and are truly vintage. A lucky find for Chris on Etsy.

Hats at Gatsby Summer Afternoon are a must and Chris topped her ensemble with a crushed crown straw chapeau onto which she added one of the dresses’ buttons. Love. It.


Agatha Christie as inspiration. Photo: The Christie Archive.

Chris says that her inspiration came from a photo she saw of Agatha Christie: I’ve been collecting the vintage Egyptian prints for a couple years, but this pic of Agatha Christie in 1922 was thrilling because it’s an example of Egyptian Revival dressmaking that is not evening wear – you’ll see lots of beautiful beaded and embroidered frocks as well as coats on Pinterest, but I haven’t seen many casual prints like this in the 20s and 30s. Demonstrates to me that this trend extended beyond nightclubs and drawing rooms.

Thank you, Chris, for a job well done. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next year!

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Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in Feud: Bette and Joan.

I don’t know what we would have done without fabric painting. Since it was too time-consuming to locate the good vintage fabrics and prints, we relied on CADFab digital printing to replicate the fabrics we needed, From Baby Jane’s floral dress to Bette Davis’ 1978 Oscar caftan. 

Katie Saunders – Costume Supervisor on the television limited series, Feud: Bette and Joan.

Ms. Saunders was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Feud.

Congratulations to the winners in the costume categories last night.

Period Series: Michele Clapton – The Crown 

Contemporary Drama: Alix Friedberg, Big Little Lies

Variety/Non-Fiction/Reality: Zaldy Goco, RuPaul’s Drag Race


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IMG_20170821_171928Your new hat is small … and round … and deep … made of melusine … the silky soft felt that is this year’s fashion sensation … in the subtle shades of a degas painting … flattering and romantic … from a collection … millinery, second floor. 

Agnes Farrell, fashion director & advertising director at Bullocks Wilshire, 1930s-1960s.

Speaking of a Degas painting, there’s a little more time left to catch Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. On now through September 24, 2017.

Click here to read my review.

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Photo: Alexi Lubomirski for Harper’s Bazaar, August 2017. 

I like it when I see people dressed on the street and it looks like Gucci but it’s not. It means you are doing something right. If you want to go to the store, that’s fine. If you want to go to the market that’s much better. Or if you want to buy just a pair of shoes and then you want to go to the market, it’s better than better. 

Alessandro Michele, Italian designer for Gucci.

A great message – mix it up. Expensive with inexpensive – vintage with modern – brand with no-name. Get creative!

Speaking of designers, fashion week is coming up in NYC September 7-13, 2017.

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