Tag Archives: vintage



I spotted these two images separately but together this afternoon on GreyHandGang. The dame on the left caught me first, and I thought her so pretty I stared for a moment or two. Her grace and elegance. The way her dress slips to virtually nothing as it careens around her delicate shoulders. The gargantuan sparkling earrings not to be outdone by the broach. And of course, that innocent sort of look and light on her face.

And then  I continued to scroll down and the saw the lass on the right. And I stopped and thought, hmmmmm. And I popped back up to the first. I couldn’t help but notice similarities. The good girl on the left and her naughtier doppelgänger on the right. The high hair that’s come undone. The strap and curve of the overalls mirroring the refined dress but hinting at much more. The large button earrings, and the eyes shut dreamily. And of course, the lollipop. Can’t miss the lollipop.

Oui. They’re one and the same.

(the lamentable fact is that the site from which i nabbed these lovely ladies does not have them attributed, so i don’t really know the true story behind them ((or from where they originate)), but imagining is always fun, indeed)

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Imaginary photoshoot


My brain feels kind of mushy at the moment, allergies and tiredness from wandering around and whatnot. But, I did spot some fun and lovely little things yesterday as I wandered and I couldn’t help but imagine them all together in some fun little photoshoot.

I saw this super rad couch first. It’s such a fabulous color! It would immediately bring heaps of character to any room.

Then I saw this fabulous little show-girl-esque ditty over at Patricia Field where I was hunting (to no avail) for some darling little hair snoods for my growing ‘do. This piece is hilariously wonderful, and I immediately thought of  the burlesque scenes from Gypsy.

We did the play when I was in high school, and though I eagerly did the costumes, I secretly longed to play Louise (aka Gypsy)((unfortunately, I couldn’t even think about auditioning as I was committed to a different sort of performance art and show dates conflicted… so instead, I went to war battling over costumes with some kids who didn’t know 1920’s from the 1950’s. Oy)).

I imagined lounging on the previous couch in this dress like a retro glamazon. What fun!

Then I stumbled past this door. Which is awesome. Posing in front of this in a heavily beading vintage showgirl dress. Curtains up!

Then! I could perch on top of this swoon-worthy Moroccan-y whatever-it-is (that I’d kill to have in my apartment along with that couch, ahem) and sing sing sing. Maybe.

And then. Then! Here. Because I’m really pale. And I’m in a old school burlesque get-up. Maybe I’m just a ghost….. wooooo. Are you scared? I’ll sneak into some room and be a shimmy-ing, bead jangling ghost. You’re shaking in your boots, I know.

(bah. No one who has the video will allow it to be embedded. Apologies. It’s adorable, I recommend watching it anyway.)

What a fun little trip, ey? Mutimedia posts are a grand old time! And if not. Well, blame it on the mushy-head, because allergies suck.

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good words & imaginary conversations.


I’m pretty big on writing things down. I’m not one of those people who hears or reads something nice and says, “Golly, that was interesting!” and then puts that book or magazine down and continue on my way. No sir. I have to write it down. It’s a quirk, what can I say. And so, the other day when I was perusing Clear Magazine (issue 31) and came across an interview with design legends Leila and Massimo Vignelli of Vignelli Associates I found some of the things they had to say so interesting that I had to yank out one of my little spare notebooks and jot them down. Since this is not an uncommon occurrence, I soon find myself looking over some other bon mots I had scribbled out and noticed some similarities. So, I’ve laid them out here for you; I imagine it sort of as though these designers and writers are sitting around having a sort of imaginary conversation (except for Leila and Massimo, who are actually speaking to one another). Maybe we, the reader, are a sort of fly on the wall, or the quiet shy guest content just to listen and we hear bits and pieces of the conversations going around the room:

Massimo Vignelli (M): We believe that history is very important – history of yesterday, history of a thousand years ago, whatever it is. And then to design in such a way that it’s going to last, because we feel a responsibility towards the client and toward the user. Designing something that is going to last rather than be thrown away. We do not belong to the culture of waste… We despise the culture of obsolescence and are in the favor of permanence . However, having said that, we love the fact that there are trends, because trends are the sparks.

Leila Vignelli (L): Yes. Sparks for the fire.

M: Trends are the sparks; permanence is the fire. The sparks make the fire brighter, pleasant to watch… and so there is room for both. There is room for permanence and there is room for trendiness. Then each one decides what fits best for him. For us, permanence is more interesting; for others, trendiness is more fun. As a matter of fact, you could even say there is a certain permanence in trendiness. For example, look back at things done 50 years ago, 70 years ago, or think of people that were in fashion but still valid today – like Coco Chanel, who was innovative then, but still very, very good today

L: There are things which are very trendy, but because of the period, and thus the period element…

M: …They are testimonials of a time.

Emilio Pucci with model, 1953

…The reproductions also include the constricting armholes and narrow shoulders of yesteryear. Indeed, in 2001 when the firm reproduced a Marilyn Monroe look – a blouse and capris – “the pants were so tight around the calves, some clients couldn’t put their feet through,” the designer says. “But if it were different, it wouldn’t have been the real thing. I think that’s one of the reasons girls find it fashionable, because the portions are a little distorted. The idea of having real vintage collections, not only vintage-inspired, makes it really unique. It gives you a taste of what you can’t find today.
-Laudomia Pucci on designing vintage reproductions, in W Magazine. April 2009

L: We are very realistic about our design…We feel that a designer has to give that. When you see a designer do something that costs a lot of money, but you can’t sit on it…you think, okay, that is art, if you want to call it, but it is not design. A designer has a responsibility to the public, to the manufacturer – that he doesn’t do something too expensive or something they cannot sell – so something….

M:…Something very balanced. This doesn’t prevent us from looking for gestures. Beyond the function, it has to have a character. So we take that into consideration. We try to have it, but we don’t like a gesture that is contrived. You can see when it is contrived. We like to see a gesture that belongs to that object in a natural way. It’s like this [with] people, too. You like a certain amount of extravagance here and there, but not too much. You like elegance better than extravagance…. We treasure intellectual elegance much more than intellectual extravagance. That’s why we like permanence rather than trendiness. Trendiness is extravagant by nature, whereas permanence has to be elegant. Otherwise, it doesn’t survive. So elegance is a sublime state of intelligence. It’s not something that you add; it’s something that you get by taking away – by subtraction, not by addition. The moment that you add to things, you can’t get to elegance. You can get to extravagance, because extravagance is the byproduct of addition, and elegance is the byproduct of subtraction.

image by Barbara Kruger

The irony of conspicuous consumption is well past its due date after all. It’s simply not enough to throw evermore exotic materials and precious jewels at a garment. Instead a celebration of individuality and purity of design is back on the agenda. Above all, it has never seemed more apposite to make a statement with one’s wardrobe. Inspiration over aspiration, is fashion’s new holy grail.
– Susannah Frankel, “Power of Invention” Another Magazine.

via The Guardian

Hats are about escapism. Of course, they can keep you warm, or the sun off your face, but they’re predominately about escapism, about being somebody else. When I come to work this morning, there were lots of people in rain hats, and of course they perform a function of some description but they also make people look glamorous, they make them look fun. Especially if people are coming to me, they’re looking for a costume, a way into becoming somebody else. Whether you’re a lady going to Ascot or you’ve got a sort of felt on and you’re becoming Garbo, or you’re putting on a baseball cap and becoming 50 cent but you’re really a nice boy from Winchester. The self expression for the milliner is about creating something that is dynamic and can be an expression of themselves. For the person wearing the hat, it’s about expression too, not necessarily of yourself, but of another self.
-Stephen Jones, in Another Magazine

Alexander McQueen, F/W 2009 from style.com

If people are going to invest in fashion now then they need to know it’s worth it. They’re not going to want to buy a cashmere coat they can wear any season, they’re looking for something more individual than that, and from a more individual designer. Fashion is about fantasy as well as being commercial. We don’t all want to dress like soldiers in the same uniform. There is a viewpoint that people should play safe because they can’t afford to frighten their customer but, in fact, the opposite is true. You have to push forward and realise the power of fantasy and escapism. What’s the point of doing this job if you’re going to stagnate.
-Alexander McQueen, by Susannah Frankel “Power of Invention” Another Magazine

(from the Another Magazine article)((yes, I need a scanner)

That is one of the great things about being a milliner. We exist in our own little tributary, it is incredibly diverse. Fashion designers have to be precise, very clear about the boundaries surrounding their work. As a milliner you can do all sorts of different things. It’s all about instinct, and often the less though that goes into a hat, the better. Because, you see, a baseball cap, worn by the right person, can be the wildest thing on the planet; a simple beret can be Garbo. Hats don’t have to be these incredibly extravagant five-foot constructions.
-Stephen Jones, in Another Magazine


Some things to think about, hmm? But you’re kind of tired of reading and wanting to digest. Oh, alright. Some other time then; in fact, I already have an idea.

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I’ve been noticing a bit of a trend towards taxidermy lately. Artists and designers have been taking creatures out of the traditional super-stiff literal taxidermy traditions and having a little bit of fun. Katie Bode, imminent graduate of the Design and Technology program at Parsons School for Design, jumped into the wearables spectrum and took vintage fox stoles and made them do a little something special:

“FriendlyFox is the take anywhere, no-hassle furry friend for the modern girl. With soft pet-able fur and a pleasing, vibrating ‘purr’ sensation when you stroke its head, FriendlyFox is the perfect pet for those without the time or effort required for a ‘living’ pet that still want the pleasure of furry companionship.”

I’ve seen this critter in real life and it’s definitely a trip. What looks like a regular, albeit mildly creepy, vintage fox stole suddenly springs to purring life when you stroke its fur. No-hassle pet for our super-busy don’t-have-time-to-take-care-of-anyone-but-ourselves lifestyle or a reminder the fur was in fact home to a living creature (not that you can forget what with the eyes)? Imagine if a straight up fur coat (sans animal head) did the same, purring and making happy noises when it was pet. haha!

Regardless of your feelings on taxidermy and fur, you’ve got to admit to being a little tickled from the logo. Mr. Firefox gets a little loving!

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Combat, Baby


I have been needing new boots for some time now, but am annoyingly picky. For some reason I am not quite as shoe obsessed as one might expect seeing as how into style and whatnot I am.  In fact, I have a whole bunch of shoes still hanging out untouched in bags from when I moved from the third floor down to the first while I defer to a select few that I wear nonstop. I’ll happily buy vintage dresses all wily-nilly, but on the whole I tend to think a whole lot more before I buy a pair of shoes. Weird. I know.

I’ve got a certain type of shoe/boot in mind, but unfortunately they seem to be a bit of a pain to track down. From my research, they tend to be either men’s shoes, or vintage. Now, I have no problem with vintage, naturally; the problem is finding them in the correct look AND the correct size, as I seem to find an abundance of larger sizes. Hmph. Also, I’m mildly dubious of buying shoes online. My feet are picky.

So yes, during my research of attempting to figure out what to call the kind of shoe/boot I’ve had  hankering for I seem to have come across a kind of amusing array of descriptions for these shoes that lead me to believe that I must want to be a…

Victorian grunge pixie granny heading off into combat:

Here we have grunge combat, with maybe a teeny dose of granny. Not sure if I *love* the gray, but I like the scuffed up-ness to them. Granted I have a pair of boots I’ve had for 5 or so years that have gotten this ruffed up look the natural way. No need to pay oodles of extra dough for that lived in look. Tough cheese-its for me though, regardless, since they’re men’s. Boo. (Men’s Diesel from Oak)

These are more victorian granny pixie. I love them, but they’re size 9. (Putonthatdress)

Victorian pixie granny. *Love* the little details. (vintage size 6.5 from Santokivintage)

Victorian pixie granny without much combat and little to no grunge. These are sort of my size, but I’m unsure if I can rock the purple-y burgundy shade with everything. Thinking about it though.  (vintage size 6B from Skinny and Bernie)

Grunge combat with a touch of Victorian. I had been thinking that I likely prefer this style in one of the brown-y/caramel-y sorts of shades, with the possible exception of Red. Because for some reason, I can seem to make red work with most everything. And I’ve always had a thing for red shoes. (vintage size 8 from James Rowland Shop)

Veering off onto a tangent!….

I could also really go for some sweet little Repetto ballet flats:

They’re adorable and oh-so-classic. I’d take them in the black (available at Creatures of Comfort) because they’re just *that* awesome, but I’d be oh so thoroughly tickled by a pair in ballet-slipper pink. Because I’ve been tempted to just wear an old pair of ballet shoes out, but I know that the streets of the city probably wouldn’t like them too much. No sir. I know they exist in such color, even if they are hard to track down without going to the Repetto store in Paris (*ahem* not that I’d have a problem with that), where I’ve read about them existing in nearly every color:

(pic from BusinessWeek)

Veering back on sort-of-track…

These Moschino for Repetto darlings (see article here) are an almost meshing of these two desired styles. At least in my twisted little brain.But seriously I really love the surrealist-ish wood-grain fading into leather style. And the sweet little flower! Who can resist? Not I. It’s as though our Victorian pixie granny decided to forgo combat and instead put on some slippers and walked through her little secret red door and into her happy place among the trees (scroll down to my last post or click).

Too bad I can’t buy them. *sniffle*

And so the quest continues.

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That 70’s blouse (what?!)


I’ve long considered myself a bit of a thrift-shop junkie. From way back in high school when a few of my friends and I would pile into my sea-green Corolla and troll the Goodwills, ThinkThrifts, and Salvation Army’s on a stretch of state road 441 in South Florida; from when I’d wander into my college town antique malls so often that the sales people knew me by name and would call me up when something came in they thought I’d be interested in; to now when I pilgrim (well, hop on the L train) to scour Beacon’s Closet and the other vintage shops in Williamsburg. I’ve got clothing, bags, jewelry, etc from all over the place historically… but it honestly rather surprised me when I found myself drawn to the following items:

You may remember my post on how much I’ve had a tendency to abhor a great many breeds of the serious-clothes strata of apparel, yes? Well, button-ups have Always snuck into this category of distaste – pretty much any kind of button-up. Couple that with the fact that I have never had a huge yen for 70’s apparel (outside of a phase in high school)((and some occasional McClintock Gunne Sax fare)) mostly because once I became more into the art of design I became a bit (to a lot) of a fabric snob. And it’s not uncommon for a lot of clothes from the 1970’s in thrift/vintage shops happen to be in that really crude sort of polyester and other synthetic fabrics that just turn me off touch-wise… Which isn’t to say that sometimes that fabric snob sense can be over-ridden by an otherwise fabulous/interesting design. So, at Beacon’s Closet last week I found myself walking around the store holding these items in front of me thinking, really? Really?! Lurex?!!! I have always – and I do mean always – hated Lurex (ok… maybe it would’ve passed muster in the time period when hippie/flowerchild-kid and glitter-fiend meshed a bit…). Anyway. Generally, so very very not my thing..

So, why did I suddenly found myself SO attracted to these items? Why, did I coast out of that store proudly toting a bag filled with two 70’s era blouses, one of them in a polyester (it’s not *too* awful)((I think I really like the 1930’s-type lady waving farewell)), the other in cotton (well, the print *is* adorable)((I’m pretty sure I have both vintage glass cups and some vintage organdy with a similar print/character)), and a neutral-toned sweater with a golden sparkle courtesy of Lurex (I’m still not 100% sure)…..

I’m not uncommonly interested in things anywhere from right before they come into style or a year or more ahead of the game… Which, naturally, isn’t a bad thing as a designer, haha. So……. ?? 70’s? Prints? Lurex? Button-ups?? etc…… I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

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How Do You Like Your Fashion?


Guess how much the above dress costs.

– It was recently worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to a movie premiere. Have a number in your head? Good.


– It sells at Steve and Barry’s . Hmmm.

Well, reader, you may have put two and two together and remembered that Ms. Parker has a line of clothes that sells at Steve and Barry’s and that everything in said line sells for under $20 – an intriguing feat all its own. However, this dress actually sells for a rather surprising $8.98. A price that undercuts even Wal-Mart. And it’s not hideous, and apparently the quality is not too bad (though I’d have to see it for myself to make a personal judgment call on that fact – since I tend to be a bit picky). Regardless, a recent New York Times article queries “Is This the World’s Cheapest Dress?”. As a quasi-expert in cheap (but fabulous) clothes-shopping, I’d have to say that no, it’s not the world’s cheapest dress. But. Maybe the world’s cheapest dress designed by a celebrity who (at least) has style, is being sold new, and is reported as being of reasonable quality. Perhaps.

It’s not news that we all (well, not *all*, but most) love the cheap clothes. Designer wares tends to cost somewhere on the continuum from a lot, to expensive, to a fortune. A lamentable fact to clothes-lovers who happen to not have bundles of money such as myself. And it does make sense, sometimes even to those *with* money to shop at places like Forever21 and H&M, etc. for those super trendy items that will be rendered useless (as in out of style but, uhm, also literally useless – they might/often/always fall apart rather quickly) in a few months – especially when they are nearly identical knock-offs of the original (which raises some questions of its own – speaking as a designer who probably wouldn’t be a huge fan of having my ideas stolen and mass produced). Which is, of course, one reason why big name designers work with retailers such as H&M and Target to create a mini line of their clothes but cheaper (and not like those “cheaper” lines of some designers that are still expensive to the general public); because those designers probably want their clothes to be more accessible to their admirers of more modest funds (in some ways, at least), and working with those retailers permits the lower price point that we all seem to find so gosh darned titillating.

Of course, things are sacrificed for the lower price – such as fabric quality, fit, and detail – which is why I, personally, occasionally tend find myself somewhat disappointed in those lines as compared to the designer’s namesake line. So, as much as I love, love, love some of my clothes from H&M, Forever21, et al I also love holding a piece of really, really well made clothing. Something that I can really live in (I sure love my clothes, but I don’t tend to baby ((most of)) them), toss around, and still be able to hang onto because, hey, maybe some day I’ll have a kid and she’ll want it when she grows up. Or, maybe I’d just want to pull out the original when that style comes back into fashion. Either way.

Ms. Parker champions, “fashion is not a luxury.” And it’s true that maybe sometimes (often) it’s too inaccessible – especially when you’re literally just paying for the name you’re wearing and little else. I suppose it all depends on how you see fashion; where you exist on the continuum of viewing clothes and the industry that surrounds it as simply the things you wear so as to not be naked, as an art-form of its own, or any other number of standpoints on the subject. But, as a whole, I think many of us have lost appreciation for a well made, beautiful piece of clothing that someone put a lot of work into creating. “Fashion” has become so much more about just business lately, leaving out the art of the craft, and the personal expression (of both the creator and the eventual wearer) – not to mention quality.

It’s why you can pick up a one-of-a-kind vintage piece of clothing from 50, 60, and more years ago and still wear it, and sometimes if you know the right places you can get it cheap too.

All I know is that my favorite dress that by the way has gotten me more compliments and taken me to the widest variety of occasions than most everything else I own cost me about $5.00, and came from Goodwill (about 6 or 7 years ago)(( and it’s still in good condition)).

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