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Posts Tagged ‘vintage style’

I Am Coco by Isabel Pin

Award winning illustrator Isabel Pin has just published her latest children’s book, I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel (Prestel Publishing).

Much has been written about the designer/fashion icon Coco Chanel (even for children), however, there’s something quite unique and compelling about Ms. Pin’s addition to the stack. As the author and illustrator, she gives readers an overview of Chanel’s life from young orphan at the turn of the last century to innovative designer to icon, highlighting the big events in her life – short-lived singing career, first shop, love affairs, world wars, daring designs, and her comeback in the late 1950s.

Illustrations From the book I am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel.

Each chapter of the story is concisely written and embellished with colorful illustrations. Although Pin’s depictions bear little resemblance to Chanel, her simple drawings with a swipe of added color grew on me. (Her style actually reminds me of mid-century fashion illustrations, in particular Andy Warhol, who was a fashion illustrator in his early career.) Pin’s images of Chanel, her life, and designs are as delightful to look at as a plate of pink and green French Macarons.

Chanel’s story takes place in the world of fashion, but the message within her story is perseverance. In addition to learning about Chanel’s life and achievements, young readers will find in I Am Coco fashion history, inspiration, and encouragement to follow their ambitions.

I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel by Isabel Pin is targeted for readers aged six to nine, but this its a fun read at any age.

(Thank you Prestel Publishing and Media Masters Publicity for providing a review copy to ODFL.)

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Born in Italy to a wealthy family in 1940, Elsa Peretti became a model while living in Spain in the 1960s where she also started playing with jewelry design inspired by objects she found at flea markets. When she later moved to New York City she met the fashion designer Halston and he included her works in his fashion shows. It was then that she created some of her signature designs such as the bone cuff bracelet and the open heart pendant. Liza Minnelli was among the first celebrities to sport her jewelry and I noticed in a recent interview that she’s still wearing her bone cuff bracelets – one on each wrist!

(Later Ms. Peretti designed the teardrop shape bottle for Halston’s perfume.)

Her unusual sculptural pieces caught the eye of many, including Bloomingdales, who bought her line and in 1972 designated a small corner of the store to her wares and called it “Peretti Boutique.” After winning several awards, Peretti contracted with Tiffany & Co. in 1974 to design exclusively for them. She later told a reporter that it was Halston himself who took her to Tiffany to discuss the contract.

While at Tiffany her designs became iconic – the open heart, the bone cuff, mesh necklace – and these modern, simple designs in silver attracted younger clients.

The Bone Cuff designed by Elsa Peretti.

When Ms. Peretti died in 2021 the jewelry magazine, The Aventurine, said that the designer put Tiffany in touch with what was happening on the street by offering more affordable jewelry. I’m not so sure they are affordable now, but they are still selling. All of the Elsa Peretti designs have become classics, worn today by the likes of Meghan Markle, Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw), and Margot Robbie. It’s been reported that Ms. Peretti’s jewelry represented 10 percent of Tiffany sales between 2009 and 2011, and when her contract was renegotiated in 2012 she was given a one-time payment of close to 50 million dollars.

Image from the Tiffany website. This is the smallest of the open heart earrings and the price tag? $1050.

I remember the open heart design, which I wanted so badly when I was in high school. At the time I did a lot of babysitting and one of my regular jobs was for the family of the owner of a car dealership in San Francisco. The couple had a baby daughter and the mother hired me to sit one afternoon a week. I really liked the mom, who was super chic with short blonde hair. I looked forward to seeing each week what she might be wearing to wherever she was going – a meeting, a luncheon, a photoshoot at her husband’s dealership. She wore silk blouses with midi-length skirts and boots and she always sported a gold pair of Elsa Peretti open heart earrings from Tiffany.

Oh, how I wanted those earrings too. But I wasn’t making so much money babysitting to buy them for myself. (I’m a little surprised that I didn’t say something to my mother or my father, as I think a pair would have appeared under the Christmas tree one year.) The earrings were too much for my bank account, but back then they weren’t as expensive as they are now. I suppose it was a passing whim on my part, but one that I remember to this day.

Ms. Peretti appeared in the 2019 documentary film Halston (if you haven’t see that, you should!). I would say that her designs have certainly stood the test of time.

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Jewelry is not fashion. It has to last, not be discarded as soon as something else comes along.

Elsa Peretti, Italian born jewelry designer (1940-2021).

Ms. Peretti designed for Tiffany & Co. and created the iconic Bone Cuff, Open Heart pendant, and Mesh Necklace.

I can’t agree more with this week’s quote. Jewelry should always be timeless, or at least we should approach it as if it were and mix it up. Certainly all of what Ms. Peretti designed is timeless. Her pieces from nearly fifty years ago are still selling at Tiffany and have become classics.

Come back tomorrow for more on Elsa Peretti.

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Just a reminder for local readers that the Shadelands Ranch Summer Market in Walnut Creek is coming up fast – Sunday, July 31, open from 10am to 3pm.

A few goodies I’ll be selling: This charming summer dress has a 1920s feel and would be a great choice for Gatsby Summer Afternoon! The handbag is a Koret, circa 1960s. One can never have too many summer hats and this straw wide brim is a classic. The colorful scarf on my mannequin is vintage 70s.

Forty vendors will be selling their handmade and vintage wares. The museum will also have for sale items from their archives – vintage and antique clothing, accessories, and home décor items.

I’m offering vintage jewelry, scarves, handkerchiefs, hats, handbags, dolls, collectable perfume bottles, some clothing, and other small goodies. Joining me is Paula Dodd Aiello, costumer and seamstress from Sew Becoming. She will have costumes and accessories, clothing, and items for the home.

There will be food vendors, shade under the trees, and tours of the museum (if you haven’t been inside of the Shadelands mansion, it’s a fun travel back in local history).

Also please note that all the money that I make from sales will go to Brightfocus Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research for cures for Macular Degeneration. As I have mentioned before my mother suffered with MD, an eye disease that slowly robs people of their vision. The last years of her life she was nearly blind. My donation will be in her memory.

So come out for a sunny Sunday afternoon and please stop by our booth (#53) to say hello.

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The Shadelands Ranch Museum Summer Market in Walnut Creek is back for a second year on Sunday, July 31st, 10am to 3pm. The Market offers vintage and antique goodies as well as handmade items from 40 local vendors and this year I am one of those vendors. Also available will be items from the museum’s archives, including clothing, accessories, and home décor pieces. (Last year there was quite a lot of Edwardian and Art Deco dresses.)

Yes, I will be out there too, sharing a booth with Paula Dodd Aiello from Sew Becoming.

These past few months I have been sorting through my collection and my mother’s collection of vintage jewelry and other small items. I will have vintage earrings, brooches, pendants, silver bracelets, and Bakelite bangles. I have a few vintage clothing pieces, hats, handbags, scarves, handkerchiefs, collectable perfume bottles, and dolls. Beads and buttons, too. Paula will have vintage clothing and costume pieces, as well some cool items for the home.

Vintage jewelry from my collection and my mother’s.

There will be a couple of food vendors, lots of shade under the trees, and the Shadelands Museum will be open for tours. What a lovely Sunday afternoon outing. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hello.

Shadelands Ranch Museum Summer Market, Sunday, July 31st, 10-3. 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.

NOTE: Our booth number is 53 and is under the name Mom’s Closet. We take cash only.

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No one loves you like your mom. Pictured: My mother with me and my brothers – Jimmy in the front and Marshall in the back.

Cindy Marshall died on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

My mother lived, as she would say, a multifaceted life. She was a woman of style, good manners, and a quirky sense of humor. An only child, she was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, but grew up in many places, including China, where her father was an officer in the Navy. After her parents divorced when Mom was ten years old, she and her mother moved to San Francisco. I think she was lonely in those early days; she told me she spent that first cold and foggy summer in SF by herself inside their apartment listening to Flash Gordon on the radio and making paper dolls from images in fashion magazines.

Classical music and opera were important to my mother. She learned about both from her father and when she was in high school she studied voice hoping one day to sing opera. She had a lovely voice, good for operettas, but she thought not strong enough for opera so she gave it up (it was the big stuff or nothing). Still, she’d sing to herself up until the very end of her life. (In fact she was singing along with a Michael Feinstein CD while I sat with her just days before she passed.)

A bit of a loner, Mom followed her own sense of style. In the 1950s, Marin County housewives were wearing shirtwaist dresses with full skirts and shoes with heels, but not my mother. She sported slacks and desert boots, and for a diaper bag she used a bowling ball bag. “It was more interesting,” she told me. That was the era of luncheons, cocktail parties, and evenings out for dinner and dancing. Mom loved all that and had the appropriate attire for every occasion, usually purchased from her favorite department store, I. Magnin. Sometimes she made her clothing, although, she said she didn’t like working with sewing machines and preferred to sew by hand. She was also an avid knitter and once knitted an entire dress.

Mom had three children – Marshall, Jimmy, and me. One of the tragedies in Mom’s life was the loss of her two boys, both of whom left us way too young. It weighed her down with sadness, but she had an admirable inner strength and I know that she also took comfort in our small surviving family.

When I started school, Mom went to work, out of necessity as a divorced single mother but I think also to get back into the wider world. She managed a dentist’s office for many years and then switched to jewelry sales, which was her forte. She worked at Shreve & Co. and then Zales, and eventually she started her own antique jewelry business. Around that time she also reclaimed her maiden name, grew her hair long, went blonde, and shifted from structured handbags to the more fashionable shoulder bags.

There is much to say about my mother. (And I say it in a mother/daughter memoir that I am working on – and one day may even finish.) She was an elegant, complex woman who spent much of her life searching for answers to the big questions. Sometimes when she pondered life, she’d say “What’s this all about?” We weren’t always on the same page, but we were close and we spent a lot of time together. I miss that already. She has always been there, always on my side, always backing me up. Life is a little lonelier now.

My father died just before Father’s Day in 1984 and I still have the card I had planned to give to him. Now, my mother has left just before Mother’s Day 2022. Life is strange.

While I sort through this loss, it’s hard for me to focus. Even fashion, my usual place of joy, feels empty to me. For that reason, I am going to take a break from ODFL. I hope that readers will bear with me and still be there when I return. In the meantime there’s ten plus years of archives to revisit. Also, take a peek at Mom’s Closet (tab at the top), which has posts all about my mother, who inspired this blog.

Rest in peace, Mom. We love you!

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Holyday. 1876 James Tissot. The gentleman in this painting is wearing the cap of an amateur cricket club at the time.

Here’s wishing those who celebrate Easter a Happy Day. Enjoy the treats and don’t forget to don your Easter bonnet!

It is Passover and Ramadan as well. A time of reflection for all of us.

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The pleasure that I felt as a young adult when I’d shop for clothes at the mall has been replaced by the pleasure of selecting a pattern, choosing my fabric, and sewing a garment that fits perfectly. And the best thing about this process is that the pleasure is prolonged. I’m not engaging in a quick transaction. Rather, I’m spending days creating my clothing, enjoying the process as much as I enjoy wearing the finished garment.

Jen Hewett, Fabric designer and author of the book, The Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft Community and Connection.

This quote is from the book, Make Mend Thrift by Katrina Rudabaugh.

I completely agree with Ms. Hewett. I take great satisfaction from creating my own clothing and accessories. Every step from choosing the fabric to sewing on the last button is a pleasure. I take my time with every project (sewing only on the weekends as a special treat) and I enjoy looking forward to when and how I’ll wear my new skirt, dress, or what I’m working on now – summer handbag.

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I always enjoy the exhibits at Lacis Museum for the subject matter, but also their unique presentation – charming in its simplicity. Worn to Dance: 1920s Fashion and Beading opened in November 2019 and I was looking forward to seeing it and then … Covid, lockdown, variants. I nearly missed it and that would have been a shame. Don’t let that happen to you! The clock is ticking – Worn to Dance closes March 12.

Lacis Museum is located on the second floor next door to the retail shop at 2982 Adeline St. in Berkeley. Docent Julie Ann ushered us up the stairs to be greeted at the top with two elegantly clad mannequins ready and waiting for us to travel back in time. With jazz tunes playing in the background, we toured the main gallery filled with original 1920s beaded dresses, gowns, handbags, coats, hats, jewelry, even wedding dresses. Each item comes from the Lacis extensive collection. Arranged by type of clothing, every section includes posted images and pictures from magazines and sheet music. What I really appreciate is that there’s plenty of room to get a close-up look at the extraordinary workmanship (every bead is sew on by hand). But no touching!

You’ll notice that most beaded dresses are sheer and require a slip underneath. A handy way to slightly change the look of the dress is to change the slip, perhaps a contrasting color.

Julie Ann led us around the exhibit and offered interesting facts, such as, women of the era could purchase from catalogues or department stores “panels” – precut fully beaded fabric ready to be sewn. That was a less expensive option for middle class women. (See image below.)

Some women beaded their own dresses and there were beaded handbag kits for the crafty types. (See image below.)

One thinks of beaded gowns for evening wear but beading was popular for day dresses, too. Beads for evening would be cut or faceted to reflect light, whereas day dress beads would be uncut.

This day dress is perfect for a summertime garden party.

I’m so pleased I didn’t miss Worn to Dance and I encourage local ODFL readers to make their way over to Lacis before we say goodbye to this wonderful exhibit. It’s a must for anyone interested in fashion history, the Art Deco period (that’s you, ADSC members), and lovers of beading and textiles. Admission is $3 and that includes a docent led tour. And then spend time in the Lacis shop where one can find all kinds of vintage and antique goodies, books on fashion and textiles, sewing notions, ribbon, cards, silk flowers, and much more.

Worn to Dance: 1920s Fashion and Beading on now through March 12th, 2022. Call Lacis to make a reservation 510-843-7290.

Side note: Also on at Lacis is The Bird in Textile Arts: The Extraordinary in Thread. Now through July 9, 2022.

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Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in the film, Spencer.

Last month I attended a virtual talk with FIDM Museum curator Kevin Jones and Ms. Jacqueline Durran, costumer for the film Spencer. She spoke about the challenges of costuming this production during the pandemic. They had one nine hour fitting with Ms. Stewart before she flew to Germany where the film was shot. Ms. Durran stayed in London and worked from there.

The story is set vaguely in the early 1990s over three days during Christmas. The decision was made by both Ms. Durran and the film’s director Pablo Larrain, that the costuming for Diana would not be anything precise, but instead an essence of her style. They didn’t want the story to be pinned to any particular time because ultimately it’s a work of imagination.

Ms. Durran looked over photographs of Diana at official visits from 1988-1992. Most of the costumes in the main story were built for the film, except for some loans from Chanel and costumes for the flashbacks were bought or rented. For the famous wedding dress, they didn’t try to recreate it, but simply bought an 80s dress and added sleeves and a neckline.

The film opens with Diana in a wool plaid jacket and for that Ms. Durran had a hard time finding the right bold plaid, but finally she found just three yards in Cyprus.

I love this jacket! Wouldn’t it be great to see more structured fashions hit the streets?

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