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Posts Tagged ‘vintage fashion’

Suit by Vivienne Westwood from the Anglomania Collection, 1993.

It’s the appreciation of the past for me, how she translates that to the now. I’ve always been into history and historical garments – the construction and cut of those clothes is so interesting to dissect and play with. Westwood triumphs at that. Playing with British heritage as she and Andres do is a real turn-on for me. And their appreciation of quality – I’m a sucker for luscious fabric.

Flint J McDonald – British fashion designer.

McDonald is speaking of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her husband Andres (creative director of the Westwood brand) about how the couple influenced his work. I found this quote in the magazine AnOther, Autumn/Winter, 2021.

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Vivienne Westwood on December 29, 2022.

Although she had no formal fashion design training, she had learned to sew at a young age and made all her own clothes. I was greatly impressed with her talent for construction and the ability to turn classic silhouettes and patterns into the unexpected.

Her skill and unique voice in the world will be missed.

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Iris Apfel. Photo: Roger Davies.

I remember Sandy saying to me ‘Oh, you don’t wear your collection’ – like it was a no-no. Maybe we just have different perspectives on collecting. I thought it was rather ridiculous to just buy clothes and put them in a box. I used to wear everything.

Iris Apfel – American fashion icon.

This quote is from an article in Harper’s Bazaar titled The Collector’s Eye, Dec 2022/Jan 2023, by Allison S. Cohn. In the quote Apfel referrers to couture collector Sandy Schreier.

Here here! I agree that clothing is for wearing, not for hiding away in a closet. Although, there are pieces that just can’t be worn – for example I have a 1920s chiffon dress that is too fragile. I also have quite a few articles of clothing that belonged to my mother (vintage pieces that I remember her wearing when I was a child) and I wear many of them, but some are too big, too small, or just not my style. They have a different purpose – they are providing inspiration for my mother/daughter memoir (currently a work in progress).

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Photo by Ulysses Ortega.

I didn’t just want to be someone who bought clothes. I wanted to learn about them. So, I collected them, wrote about them, and have had a life of helping to get exhibitions off the ground.

Christine Suppes – fashion collector and the author of the book Electric Fashion (Skira), which is a photo documentary of her couture collection. Photos by fashion photographer Frederic Aranda.

This quote is from the article, The Collector’s Eye, by Alison S. Cohn, in Harper’s Bazaar, Dec. 2022/Jan. 2023.

Suppes, a resident of Palo Alto, CA recently donated more than 500 pieces of her couture fashion collection to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Her donation includes pieces by Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. (And you heard it here first, in January 2024 the de Young Museum, inspired by Suppes donation, will open a fashion exhibition featuring the legacy of some of the Bay Area’s most fashionable women both past and present.)

As a member of Costume Society of America, I have heard and read discussions about museums accepting fashion donations. Should they? What should they accept? How and where will they preserve the clothing? It goes hand in hand with the general discussion over whether or not fashion belongs in museums at all. The biggest and much debated question – is fashion art?

The truth is fashion exhibits bring in money – especially those that include popular designer names. I would venture so say that a collection of couture clothing would be welcomed at any museum.

When I was in Seattle a few years ago for a fashion history conference, I attended a fashion exhibit at The Museum of History and Industry. This regional-focused exhibit, called Seattle Style: Fashion/Function, highlighted vintage and modern clothing owned by local people mostly purchased from local department stores and boutiques. It was by no means a spectacle exhibit and that’s why I enjoyed it so much. The fashions on display gave us a peek into what the people of Seattle wore in sunny weather and in rain; to the theater; to the 1962 World’s Fair; or just to work and the grocery store. Regional style, dictated by weather, culture, and tradition, is a fascinating subject and as much as I enjoy “big fashion” and the impeccable crafting of couture, I’m also interested in everyday fashion, particularly from past eras.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming de Young fashion exhibit and learning how Bay Area style is perceived.

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(Love the socks!)

ODFL pauses to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Well, we are at the final day of our brooch adventure. I have so many brooches we could continue for another twelve days. But we’ll wrap it up with this lovely embroidered bird brooch.

This unique piece belonged to my mother, but she gave it to me some time ago. I have always loved it and I know that she bought it at a shop called White Duck Workshop on College and Ashby in Berkeley. WDWS was a boutique that sold handmade clothing for women. Known for a certain California aesthetic of the 1970s, WDSH created dresses and skirts in patchwork and appliqué corduroy. As times changed, so did their style. I remember by the 1980s they’d dropped the folk patchwork look for the oversized power look of the day, but still keeping the handmade Berkeley aesthetic.

The bird and flowers are embroidered on silk and I think perhaps the fabric was part of a larger piece – a kimono? – and was made into a brooch. Or it could have been a button. Either way, I suspect the fabric is antique. I think my mother bought the brooch in the 1970s or 1980s. She didn’t wear it often and I don’t either, as it looks delicate. But when I do, I pin it to a rust colored sweater that was also my mother’s and one of my favorite sweaters to wear on cold days.

This brings us to the end of The Twelve Days of Brooches. I hope ODFL readers enjoyed the series. Next year we will do it again with another vintage collection.

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Mid-century copper brooch.

Hello to Day Eight and a copper brooch. I found this at an outdoor antique market in Philadelphia for $5. It’s not marked but I know from the design and the fact that it’s copper that it dates to the 1950s.

Although sparkly chunky pieces with colored rhinestones are the iconic jewelry look of the 1950s, a more subtle Arts & Crafts style was also popular and copper was the perfect metal for that. There were two companies at the time making copper jewelry – Francisco Rebajes of New York and Jerry Fels, founder of both Renoir of California and Matisse Ltd., based in Southern California. Rebajes sold his pieces out of his store in NYC and Fel sold his work to department stores. Some of Fel’s pieces were enameled, the most recognizable is the painter’s palette. After much success, both companies closed in 1964.

I really like the atomic shape of this brooch as well as the texture. It lives permanently on the lapel of my wool blazer.

It’s January 1, 2023. Here’s to a new year with more opportunities for creativity and growth!

The Twelve Days of Brooches continues tomorrow. Day Nine … what will it be?

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Victorian glass brooch.

Today’s brooch feels festive and I often wear it for a New Year’s Eve party or some other special celebration. My mother gave it to me and I think it’s Victorian, perhaps crystal or glass. It reminds me of a icicles or a waterfall and since it’s quite large and slightly heavy, I pin it to a coat. An even better place to wear it is on a handbag.

This Corde handbag (circa 1930s), embellished with a Victorian brooch, is just the thing for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Start the new year off tomorrow with Day Eight of The Twelve Days of Brooches.

Wishing all ODFL readers a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.

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It’s Day Three and today would have been my mother’s birthday. So, it seems fitting to feature a carved jet brooch. (I recently wrote a post about jet and its importance in Victorian England for mourning.)

This brooch is Victorian and is set in gold. I bought it from a fellow jet collector. She is also the accomplished seamstress and she made my 1831 ball gown back when I was attending formal Victorian balls. It was one of those moments where I saw it and had to have it. No hesitation because I hadn’t seen many carved jet pieces – still don’t. It’s not polished and therefore has a matte finish and since it’s small I liked to wear this with other jet brooches on the lapel of a jacket.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We are thinking of you.

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Day Two of The Twelve Days of Brooches is a vintage 1950s rhinestone flower and it has an interesting story.

This brooch ended up with me by mistake.

The year was 1993 and I was working as an extra on the film Golden Gate starring Matt Dillon and Joan Chen. It’s the story of an FBI agent (Dillon) in 1950s San Francisco and a young Chinese woman (Chen). The filming took place in SF and around the Bay Area. I was called in to work as an extra for a nightclub scene in downtown Oakland. What a blast that night was!

We were told to bring our own clothing – anything dressy that would work for the 1950s. Given my vintage collection that was easy for me. I brought a simple column knit dress in black (my mother’s) and a black faux fur coat (luckily, as we worked outside until the wee hours of the morning and it was cold). They gave me shoes, did my makeup and hair, plopped a hat on my head and added this rhinestone brooch to my coat. There were probably thirty or so other extras, mostly men who were cast as FBI agents. The funny part about that was that all the guys had long hair and one by one they got their hair chopped off because whoever heard of an FBI agent with long hippie hair? (Apparently some of the guys, who didn’t have long hair, were found by the film’s producers hanging out at a Frank Sinatra club in the Haight in SF.) It was a lighthearted gathering of extras and we had fun together.

Here are some of us hanging out together waiting for our scene. I am the third from the left wearing my mother’s 1950s knit dress.

My “part” was a woman hanging off the arm of a well-dressed gentleman. We were in a crowd of people finding our way down a dark alley with FBI agents hiding behind every nook and cranny. I decided to play it drunk and that allowed me to make a lot of noise and stumble around a bit. I’m pretty sure you can hear my laugh echoing into the night at the very end of the scene as we went down a few steps and into the nightclub.

There were maybe a half a dozen takes and when we were released at around 3am all of us were eager to go home. No one remembered the brooch on my coat. I discovered it a few days later and even though it’s not something I’d choose to wear, I keep it for the memories of that unique evening.

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There is undeniably an old-fashioned air around brooches, but there are ways of wearing them to look more up-to-date. Wearing with knitwear rather than formal day dress can jazz up a plain jumper, or go big and bold a la Lady Gaga in Schiaparelli at the US inauguration, for a modern take on this most regal of accessories.

Alicia Healey – Former employee of Queen Elizabeth, regular contributor to The Spectator and author of Wardrobe Wisdom From a Royal Lady’s Maid (National Trust).

This quote is from The Art of the Brooch published in The Spectator magazine, July 25, 2022.

A collection of vintage crown brooches from Collectible Costume Jewelry (Collector Books). Wear one of these on a headband or pin it to a fabric handbag.

It does seem that brooches have slipped into obscurity. But not with some of us. I’m a big fan and I like to place my brooches in unexpected places. For example I wear a bee brooch on the cuff of my denim jacket. I have a big black and white butterfly brooch that sits atop a black beret. Any brooch placed on the shoulder of a sweater adds more interest that if worn elsewhere. Also, a collection of small brooches worn together on a lapel will catch the eye. Brooches offer a lot of style and can perk up any outfit. I think the key for a more modern look is to not to take them too seriously and just have fun. Think outside the brooch box.

Collection of whimsical insect brooches pictured in Collectible Costume Jewelry (Collector Books).

Brooches make excellent holiday gifts and interesting vintage brooches can be found at thrift stores for a reasonable price. There’s still time to hit your local thrift store and find a unique gift for some lucky person in your life, or you!

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