Thursday, August 27, 2015

Turn Around to See the Back View: early 1930's Fashion

1930 dress

Fashion during the 1930's was cut with diagonal bias seam lines to be smooth and slinky. The back view of a dress was often its best feature.  Let's take a look at some inspiring back views in these wonderful fashion illustrations.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vintage Esprit: 1981 Summer Sarongs and Sun Dresses

Vintage fashion does seem to reoccur in many ways.  In the early 80's, there was a strong trend towards 40's and 50's style revivals. Designed by Susie Tompkins for Esprit, this 1981 group of tropical print summer sarongs and sun dresses is from the summer 1981 collection. Adaptions of sarong skirts, fashion bras, and strappy or strapless Hawaiian style beach dresses like these were wildly popular at that time.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wedding Gowns from the 1940's and 1950's

Vintage wedding gowns from the 1940's WWII era through the late 1950's show a remarkable diversity.  From simple, smooth silhouettes to textured laces and ruffles, wedding during the second half of the 20th century reflected current fashion, the bride's personal style and budget.  The dresses shown here were part of an exhibition in 2013 of gowns worn by local women and shown at the Pasadena Historical Museum, Pasadena, CA.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vintage Summer Fashions from Esprit: 1980's Sportswear from California

In the summer of 1980, Esprit (of San Francisco) designed by Susie Tompkins, launched a summer collection that embodied both American chic and sportwear. Using traditional Levi styling (a nod to the original San Francisco apparel company) this fashion group showcased bright primary colors, sexy 'short shorts', tube tops and skinny belts. A bit of a 1950's influenced design, these outfits captured the leading edge for wearable, young sportswear fashions.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fashion Books: 1940's Fashion Illustrations from the House of Jaques Heim

Full color fashion illustrations of the Jaques Heim French couture collections from the late 1940's are available online through a publication by the Melbourne Fine Art gallery, Sept. 2012, found HERE titled "Fashion Illustrations from the House of Jaques Heim".

Lavish water color illustrations show this French couture designer's genius, and provide a wide range of styles, arranged in chapters. This would be a 'must' for any fashion library, but it is amazing to find it now through, without charge. The exhibit was curated by Mara Sison and Peter Jago, under the direction of Bryan Collie. This e-book is divided in chapters on coats and furs, ball gowns, spring and summer, and suits.

A second e-book, "French Fashion and Design: The Art of Fashion Illustration", found HERE was published in 2011, and curated by Mara Sison, directed by Bryan Collie. This book has more variety. In addition to the Jaques Heim fashion illustrations, it also features fashion photos from the 1930's and late 19th century costume illustrations.

Together, these two e-books provide a valuable resource of Jaques Heim during the late 1940's, also a wide variety of skillfully painted illustrations, along with inspiring fashions from that important era and are worth noting.

Fashion Illustrations from the House of Jaques Heim, published Sept. 2012 by the Melbourne Fine Art gallery

The Art of Fashion Illustration published 2011, by the Melbourne Fine Art gallery

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Flapper Dresses from 1929

Vintage dresses from the late 1920's show details that have been well developed during the decade. At this time the low waistline has sophisticated draping, and the long torso is embellished with trims to create unique and dramatic designs. These illustrations are from a pattern magazine called "Fashionable Dress" from August 1929. The dresses here are mid-summer styles, using cottons, chiffons and other light textiles. The prints tend to be small, with many "Art Deco" designs.

Both by Maggy Rouff
Left- Yellow bodice with brown lace skirt. Brown velvet jacket with ruffled edges
Right-Printed chiffon with fine tucking at hip

Right- Moyneux, pleated tiers on the skirt, with pleated cap sleeves
Other designs by LeComte
Left, white crepe dress with red velvet coat
Second- red and white checked crepe, with bias trims
Third- white crepe with lavender checks and black banding

This last set was illustrated to show current trends in textile prints, and is shown on mature women to give examples of styles suitable for an older figure.

Throwback Thursday: this post in an update originally posted, March 1, 2012

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vintage 1952 Cole of California Swimwear: Heavenly Bodies

Vintage swimsuits by Cole of California have wonderful details and design. This set from 1952 is featured as "Heavenly Bodies". Both show lines of elastic shirring in the back panel (which probably has a center zipper as well). The front is probably darted, lined and has boning to create the corset shaping. The bright print with cuffed sweet heart edge are classic to the era. From the ad details:

Swimsuits designed to make any "body" more heavenly. One conceals, one reveals.
Left, the slim-skirted wonder of the year. Wraps around to adjust to almost any figure and sleek away inches.
Right, molded version to dreamline your curves.
In vibrant fine cottons, elasticized with Matletex.
Each $12.95 at fine stores.

Here's a closer view to show off that great look.  The strapless fitted style has a sheath front for modesty, and there is shirring across the 'tummy' area.  The wrap skirt style has a similar bodice but probably has shorts under that skirt.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fashion Book: Fashion, the Century of the Designer

Fashion Book: "Fashion, the Century of the Designer"

In the first few years of the 2000's, there were many publications that reviewed 20th century fashion.  This is one of those books, however it is well written and illustrated, being more than a pretty coffee table book.

Every fashion library needs an encyclopedia of sorts.  This is a huge volume that spans the 20th century and includes nearly every important trend and designer. Arranged by decades, this book can give an overview of a specific era, or it can be used to look up specific information. Probably every designer of importance in included here, located within the decade chapter where their contributions mattered most. Additionally, there are features that include British, Italian and American fashion.

Having this book on the shelf will ensure that you can find information on 20th century fashion in a concise but well defined way, providing a start for any type of research or general knowledge.  If I have any problem with "Fashion, the Century of the Designer" it might be that it is very heavy and awkward, being larger than most textbooks on the subject.  I guess that's the price you pay to include lots of color photos.

Title: Fashion: the century of the designer, 1900 - 1999
Author: Charlotte Seeling

Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Konemann (2000)
Book size: 11.7 x 10.2 x 1.9 inches

This book may be found in my shop

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dorothy O'hara: Fashion and Costume Designer

“Makes women look nice and men look twice” Magazine advertisement, 1957: crepe in black, taupe, royal blue, $55

Dorothy O’hara was a Hollywood costume and fashion designer whose dresses were popular from the early 1940’s through the early 1960’s. During her career she designed movie costume as well as fashionable dresses that were sold a better stores nationwide.

Dorothy was part of an energetic fashion group calling themselves the “California Fashion Creators”. It included Pat Premo, Addie Masters, James Galanos, Edith Small, Charles Cooper, Tabak, and DeDe Johnson.

She was known as the “Sculptress in Fabric” for her dresses that featured artistic drape and fit. The dress styles were termed “step in”, referring to the fact that they were all-in-one with a zipper up the back, making the dresses easy to wear. She also designed crepe dresses that looked like suits, but were in fact one piece (1954).

Newspaper Advertisement, Fall 1945: crepe in blue, purple, green, sizes 10 – 16, $35

Dorothy began her career as a fashion model, a slim girl with red hair she would spend her life working with fabric and fashion. To learn pattern making, she studied at night while working as a model during the day. This training would gave her a opportunity to design for the company where she modeled.

As a movie costumer between 1945 and 47, she designed for starlets at Paramount, gaining experience in creating dramatic designs. She began her own fashion business in 1941 with her husband Hank Lunney, borrowing $800 using their car as collateral. This first venture was a line of six dresses that were produced on only two sewing machines that they bought and installed in their apartment in Los Angeles. She hoped to create couture style dresses in a production line.

By the end of her career, it was a multi-million dollar business sold internationally, producing between 400 and 600 dresses a day.

During her career she contributed numerous fashion tips that were carried in the local press. This marketing strategy would keep her name in the press and on the mind of her customer. In 1949 she recommended a slim skirt with peplum over the hips to create curves in a thin figure and conceal extra curves in larger sizes. She would produce sizes 12 through 20 to provide fashion for larger women as well as the fashionably petite.

Dorothy married to Lunney in about 1934 at the age of about 22. She lived in Orange County most of her married life and died in 1963 at the young age of 51.

“I like to think my clothes are both timely and timeless” (1960)


Movie costumes (she worked on several films with Alan Ladd): Variety Girl (1947. with Edith Head and Waldo Angelo), The Imperfect Lady (1947, with Gile Steele), Calcutta (1947), The Searching Wind (1946, with Michael Woulfe), Two Years Before the Mast (1946), The Unseen (1945), Salty O’Rourke (1945)

Television: Dick Van Dyke Show (My Husband is a Check Grabber: 1963, fashions by O’hara are seen in this episode)

Throwback Thursday: This article is reprinted from an earlier post, July 17, 2012
The written content and pictures in this article are the sole property of "". Please do not copy or use any part of this article online without prior permission. If including information from this article in an original written document, please give credit by linking back to this article, thank you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Vintage 1950s Swimwear: Surf Togs and Beaunit Fabric

Vintage 1950's swimwear owes it's molded, corset style to great innovations in textiles suitable for beach and pool. One brand, Beaunit Fabric, produced fashionable satins that could stretch by using elastic fibers.

This industry ad from a spring 1951 issue of "California Stylist" also promotes the "Surf Tog" label, showing a princess seam line strapless swimsuit that would have had a zipper down the center back. It has dress maker details including a cuffed sweet heart neckline with bow and a modest sheath skirt to cover the upper leg.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fashion Books: Universe of Fashion, 20th Century Fashion Designers

Creating a fashion library can be essential for both research and inspiration to collectors, designers, costumers and students of fashion. In the 1990's, there were many fashion and costume history books written that reviewed fashion's progress during the 20th century.

A collection of small volumes was published by Universe Publishing and Vendome Press in 1996 and 1997. The titles I show here look at Alaia, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, and Valentino. There are several other designers such as Poiret, Dior, Schiaparelli, Courreges and Chanel, in the "Universe of Fashion" collection. Different authors were sought to profile each designer. The rest of each volume is dedicated to glossy photos of their work.

These small books contribute to any library, providing a quick overview of style and influences that anyone should have on hand.

Universe of Fashion, Universe Publications, a division of Rizzoli, and Vendome Press, 1996, 1997.
Volumes: about 80 pps, size: 8 3/4" High x 6 1/2" Wide

YSL and Alia Book Set available HERE

Versace, Valentino and YSL Book Set available HERE