Friday, December 26, 2014
Peterson's ladies magazines were an American staple during the last half of the 19th century when so many women lived in rural or isolated communities. These magazines brought serial stories, crafts, home tips and just about everything else you would expect from a home and life-style blog today. Even fashion illustrations were included, so that women could keep up their appearances, even on the prairie or at a small town wedding.
The magazine issues also recall the romantic Victorian past. These illustrations from the winter of 1888 seem perfect for a dreamy Victorian romance film with a few Christmas holiday scenes where our leading lady is seen wrapped in rich red velvet and fur.
These illustrations are from the first six month volume from 1888. A full list of links to the 1850 through 1888 volumes are available HERE. This goes perfectly with hot chocolate on a rainy winter afternoon.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
And oh my, look what Santa left under the tree last night for his final 1954 Christmas delivery, and aren't you happy about that!
This is the final day of presents from 1954, I hope it either 'takes you back' to a time when your Christmas was like this, or helps you to see how simple gifts were 'back in the day'.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Look what Santa found for Christmas Eve! More wonderful presents from 1954. I bet you never dreamed you might be getting a bed spread for Christmas, but here it is, just waiting to be unwrapped. This is our third day of gifts, so if you missed them, scroll down the page here for more fun!
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Merry Christmas! This illustration is by Tom Tierney, the card he emailed out in 2012 for the holidays.
Tom Tierney virtually changed how people saw historical costume and fashion. Through his wonderful fashion illustrations that he introduced in the 1970's, the general public found a new way to see historical costume. His were colorful illustrations that everyone could identify with and enjoy. It's from these small beginnings that many costume and fashion students got their first glimpse of the world of fashion. Tom passed away this year, and I know we will miss seeing new examples of his work in the future. Thanks Tom for sharing your gift of illustration and your love of fashion with us!
John "Tom" Thomas Tierney
(October 8, 1928 - July 12, 2014)
Read more about Tom Tierney:
INTERVIEW: New York Times
INTERVIEW with Dover Publications, his publisher
INTERVIEW with NPR radio
INTERVIEW: newspaper/online, "My San Antonio"
A very merry vintage Christmas, today's presents under the tree are what women want, at least in 1954 when these ads were created. Look tomorrow for more fab surprises for a vintage present to you.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
This masterpiece was designed by Don Loper who is probably better known now for his appearance on "I Love Lucy" during the mid-1950's, where he presents a showcase of his fashions, and poor Lucy is morose, unable to wear fashion, having a severe sun burn.
This 1950's Kelly green silk suit jacket is worthy of a complete stop in conversation. An open mouth gape at the pure luxury and blatant exhibitionism of the collar. It encircles the neck like a sculptured cape. With dramatic notches far back near the shoulder seam line, it is truly regal in the crown shape of the crescent curved roll line around the shoulders.
Don Loper had a brief career as an actor during the previous decade. His resume reads like a survey of TV and film positions. There was little in Hollywood that Loper didn't give a try to. But it is the glamorous fashions he created that put his name on the map. Working with the best textiles, he demonstrated a skill and understanding far beyond what might be expected from someone with a lack of training or mentorship.
This simple green jacket, with its small bodice and 3/4 length sleeves from the mid-1950's departs from the norm in a way that sets it apart from just about any other jacket of its era. The color, often called "Kelly Green", was very popular during the 50's and was seen in cocktail dresses and evening suits such as this one.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Bonnie Cashin coats like this one in leather on canvas for Sills, have a very simple, easy to draft and sew pattern. To help in understanding this 'Noh' silhouette coat, I prepared a draft to scale that shows all details involved in this coat.
You can see in this photo that many of her 'signature' details are present: simple shape with sleeves cut in one with the body, leather bound edges (rather than hems), and brass twist looks (instead of buttons). This coat is lined in a cotton plaid twill. Usually a Cashin coat will have some sort of large and functional side seam pocket. In this case she applied a whimsical mock shoulder bag for each side of the body.
This draft is drawn to scale with one grid square to equal one inch. The leather trim creates mock shoulder straps that are about 1.5" wide. Rather than being straight, these straps do curve a bit at the shoulder. The big zippered 'purse' pocket is 13" across including the strap pieces. It is shifted slightly towards the front.
In this back view, the rest of the bag details are seen. The collar in center back is about 4.5" wide and 20.5" across from point to point. This collar is nearly straight, having only a slight curve to the neckline edge. There is a center back seamline.
This front view shows how the coat appears when worn and the close up view shows more details there.
The pocket has an industrial brazz zipper that is about 8" long. It is set into a slot to fit that is about 5/8" wide. The lower pocket closes with a twist lock. It is nearly 10" wide and 9.5" deep where it is 'framed' by the strap leather edge.
This pocket is inspiring, and I hope it gives you an idea or two for some custom sewing of your own. Don't overlook sewing with leather because it's not that difficult, especially as it is used here. A good used leather skirt could be savaged for leather, if you want to test this pocket for yourself.
For more on Bonnie Cashin Drawings and Photos--follow my Cashin board on Pinterest: Here
I have also published the following articles on Cashin in this blog, click on any title:
Cashin Coat Illustration from Spring 1966
Mohair Blanket Coat
Cashin Turn Locks and HERE
Knits and Girdles advertisement, 1961
Summer Coat, June 1950
1949 Coat Patent, Illustrated
This wonderful coat was purchased from Chelsea Harris, who curates "Femalehysteria"
Monday, December 8, 2014
This suit jacket by the MGM costumer and fashion designer Irene Lentz was probably sold in 1949. The label lists Bullock's Wilshire, located in Los Angeles, as the high end department store where it was shown. In July 1947, before her career at MGM terminated, Irene began a fashion business designing for a group of 25 department stores who helped to finance her business. With exclusive rights to Irene, Inc. for their stores, located across the country, they would make her fashion designs available to affluent women who patronized them.
She tried for two additional years to work for both MGM and establish her own “Irene, Inc.” business at the same time. After that she left the film industry to devote her creative energy to Irene, Inc, starting her wholesale business with 20 department stores showing her line. By 1951 she would have 37 stores that carried the Irene label.
This close up view of the jacket shows the layered crescent shaped collars that she designed which were accented by buttons. She used nine covered buttons in this design.
Crescent shapes disguised conventional darts and princess seam lines.
The business took off quickly, no doubt boosted by her reputation and well honed design and tailoring skills practiced during the years at MGM. She won the Neiman-Marcus fashion award in 1947 for her excellent work, the other recipient that year was Christian Dior.
A suit advertised for spring of 1949 shows slightly broad, but rounded shoulders on a tightly fitted jacket with long peplum skirt to cover the hips. This silhouette was typical for suits from that era.
By 1951 her business, design and showroom, had moved to a modern design and production facility at 3550 Hayden in Culver City. It had a fabric vault to store her valuable textiles, imported from the best European collections. Her fine suits used English wools and domestic textiles by such notables as Pola Stout (who also produced the graphic wools used by Adrian). She worked with a design staff that had been with her for many years. Her first pattern maker was Nancy Baker, a long time employee. Tailoring was done by John Deverling who had started with her during the Bullock’s Wilshire years.
This line drawing clearly shows the working details of the design with its dramatic crescents and over-lapping collars.
During this era, her light weight worsted wool suits had a slim, molded appearance, fitting close to the body. The shoulder line was softly tailored, not sharp, and the waistline was fitted. Early 1950’s showed face framing collars and turned back cuffs. The suiting textile she often used was all season light weight worsted wool, making it wearable year round.
It was the many couture level details, fine imported textiles, and feminine silhouette that made Irene's designs stand out from others during her era. This post WWII suit is especially dramatic and an excellent example of her fine workmanship.
Irene Lentz: Pinterest collection of images
Monday, December 1, 2014
I recently found a wonderful dress with a "Carl Naftal Originals, California" label. Because this brand was unfamiliar to me, I thought it would be fun to find out what I could about this label. Carl Naftal, owned an apparel firm in Los Angeles under his own name from the late 1940’s through the late 1960’s. I base that date on an advertisement. Records show that someone with his name was born about 1911 in New York and lived in Los Angeles until his passing in 1977. He applied for incorporation under the name “Carl Naftal Originals” in 1954, but this name as a brand was already in use before that date.
As early as 1947, I found an ad for a suit with peplum shirt in a Los Angeles area newspaper, so we know that he was manufacturing by that date.
In the mid-1950’s his fashions were sold in shops that also advertised Jonathan Logan, Berkshire, Peg Palmer, Bobbie Brooks, White Stag and Graff: labels that were in the upper middle price range. The newspaper advertisements also key in regionalism, marketing a California lifestyle, selling this image to customers outside the region.
A holiday ad from 1955 shows a white knit jersey fabric with gold threads, cut in a slender sheath silhouette.
There are other ads that showcase knits, which seem to be a popular item for this label. His “California creations by Carl Naftal” are advertised at $22.95 to $29.95. A spring ad in 1964 reads: “from sunny California come these perfection dresses by Carl Naftal”.
His customers are usually missy, but often there seems to be a junior style, with a spring ad in 1967 listing “Oh Yes! They’re the great pant pretenders…it’s really a culotte, comfortable as a shift…discover the new “pant era” now…$20 linen look rayon and acetate, misses sizes.” In the fall of 1968 an advertisement shows a popular junior style dress of wool jersey ($39.98), so this brand seems to have maintained knits in its collections.
Here are more newspaper advertisements, which market to a young crowd:
Fall 1960: “Gently tailored jersey, key to wardrobe versatility in a deftly fitted sheath, wool jersey, $29.95”
Summer 1962: “Love what Carl Naftal does with Dacron. Checking in for an easy care flight through summer, sizes 10 to 20, $22.98”
Summer 1968: “The romantic look full of feminine appeal, another of our new romantics, cotton polyester and cotton voile, lined, $26.00”
Spring 1969: “Fresh from California, the sun country, comes these fun-loving ‘about town’ dresses of 100% cotton”
The dresses produced by this label appear to be well made (especially if they were sold on the same racks as Jonathan Logan and Bobbie Brooks). Look for the “Carl Naftal” label for a quality vintage dress.
The brown lace dress shown here is now available for sale in my Etsy shops, along with more views of it.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
If you're going to be in southern California over the holidays, you may want to take in the costume exhibit: Hollywood Costume, on now through March 2, 2015 at the Academy Museum in the historic May Company building at the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire. They don't permit photos, so this video will have to say it all, and don't miss the website, which has lots of little tidbits about this show that originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum and now includes over 150 costumes in its final exhibition showing.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
This is the first of several David Crystal magazine advertisements from 1959 for dresses created in knits. They have such gorgeous illustrations in primary colors that I had to share and a Holiday red seems like the best place to start! (more to come)
p.s. The illustration is original, but the graphics are mine.
Monday, November 17, 2014
This Lilli Ann suit jacket dates from 1958. It's signature fur trimmed bodice drape can be found on several jackets from that era. This one is a soft wool crepe in a pastel mauve color. Dyed to match silver fox fur trims a diagonal drape that crossed the jacket hem with a pearl button detail.
I have a few detail photos to share that fill in any gaps that the general full view misses. What is always interesting about a good Lilli Ann suit jacket are the signature details, going beyond what most jackets of the era show. These jackets tend to appeal to a flamboyant, dramatic and self confidant customer who loves feminine and sexy details to her outfits.
Rather than a simple strip of fabric, the wool has been pleated from a wider shoulder down to a narrow hanging "scarf" with a "pom pom" of fur at the end. A narrow band, like a belted edge, encircles the jacket hem. Where the scarf crosses that band it has an overlapping piece that is fastened with a pearl button in a bound buttonhole.
The swag is accented by the diagonal hemline at high hip level. This diagonal hem continues around the back, creating a well integrated design from all angles that is flattering to many body types. This diagonal is seen in several other Lilli Ann jackets, so it must have been a popular silhouette for that label.
How this jacket was accessorized can be seen in the original magazine advertisement from 1958.
In the early 1960's we can find advertisements for for similar styles from Lilli Ann. Like those shown here, this jacket was probably designed as a cocktail suit, to be worn to formal luncheons or semi-formal evening events where pearls and fur were appropriate. The soft pastel color would be a spring look. The label photo shows the texture of the wool crepe and the type of lining typical for a Lilli Ann jacket.
PS, I have more on this Lilli Ann style in the following other blog posts:
Lilli Ann: Vintage Suits from the 1950's and early 1960's: more advertisements showing suit jackets
Lilli Ann: 1950's Jackets that Inspire: more information on this jacket
Pinterest: Follow my board "Lilli Ann of San Francisco" --an ongoing collection of dated advertisements and other Lilli Ann designs for collectors and anyone who loves this label.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Doing some closet cleaning, my loss is your gain with a wide range of vintage dresses only $30 until Black Friday (that's 2 weeks of shopping fun!)
Pintuck Style on Etsy
Monday, November 10, 2014
The Lilli Ann label carries with it an aura of mid-century feminine mystic. While photos of jackets with that label are easy to find, close up details are not often shown. This example is a well fitted short body suit jacket in a silhouette that was popular during the early and mid-1950's. I have seen similar styles with the Lilli Ann label that used the same shades of wool, so it is probably part of a suit collection that was created in the same fabric.
I wanted to share the details of this jacket, showing how the diamond appliques are applied around the hemline and at the lapel of the collar in a unique extension beyond the edge.
This front view shows placement of the diamond details, with some closer views below:
The diamonds were appliqued onto the jacket body after the darts were sewn, covering up those seam lines. The edges are held in place with zig-zag stitching.
This diamond motif is carried across the back hem as well, rather than it being just a front view element.
Finishing the details are self bound buttonholes and covered buttons (rather than rhinestones) and turn back cuffs. While these details are common for the period, the textiles used and subtle fabric arrangement lend an air of quality in the mono-chromatic color scheme of the jacket, relying on graphic design rather than shiny textiles, bright color or bling to complete the jacket's details.
P.S You can find out more about this jacket and Lilli Ann in these other blog posts
1950's Jackets that Inspire: a short intro to this jacket and how I got it.
Vintage Suits from the 1950's and early 1960's: more great suit jackets and advertisements
Lilli Ann of San Francisco: follow my Pinterest board on this label where I include dates and descriptions for the collector or enthusiast.