Thursday, August 24, 2006

LBDs for you and me

Still swaning on about autumn...You can't stop me...I love the fall...And it's almost here!

For some reason, autumn has put me in mind of the LBD. Now come on, silly, you know what that stands for: Little Black Dress.

Not sure where the autumnal association is coming from--misfiring synapses, probably. But autumn makes me think of luxury, I guess, and luxury makes me think of cocktails, and cocktails make me think of the LBD! Yes! That must be it.

Back to the goods. The dresses down below are available from the wonderful vintage purveyors on the right. Most are from the 1950s/60s--the very era in which Our Fair Lady of Chicness, the Goddess of Good Taste herself, the Much-Imitated But Forever Inimitable one, Audrey Hepburn, single-handedly convinced every woman on Earth she needed an LBD. Right now.

After all, who could argue with elegance this potent?


Here's the great thing about the LBD: regardless of occasion, it is always appropriate. Weddings? Check. Funerals? Check. Graduation? Check. Boss's dinner party? Check. Frolicking in a fountain? Check. It is the chameleon of dresses. An LBD can be sexy, coy, innocent, all business. It truly is the perfect dress.

The most common species of LBD is simply cut, occasionally beaded, often sheath-like. This may be what springs to mind first when you think 'LBD' (as I know you do, often). Examples:

Marilyn, you sexy little thing you. From Posh Girl. How I love this dress.

A cool 60s version with little rhinestones. Great for office Christmas parties!

Va-va-sparkle...would be deeeevine with white satin gloves.

Lace LBDs are as versatile as their more traditional sisters. Consider this 70s Kamali dress from Posh Girl. Consider that I would buy this stunning number in a second if I had anywhere to wear her. Consider that the sexiness of this dress knows no bounds.

But black lace can be sweet and innocent too! See? Versatility.

Another Posh Girl dress whose gorgeousness I choke over. The white ruffle: fabulous. Contrast the impact of a sweet white ruffle...

...with that of a sexy black one. Interesting, no?

Black with pink tulle--a classic combo. A little foumpy to be technically considered an LBD, but I include it here for academic comparison.

I had to include this one, even though it's not an LBD. Isn't this a crazy dress? I can't decide whether it's cool or hideous. I'm leaning to cool. But I have a distinct pro-1940s bias.

I did want to mention the peplum. I predict that peplums will make a comeback over the next few seasons. They did so in the late 80s and the wheels of fashion seem to have come full circle since then. The hostess dresses of the 1950s were interesting, because they came with removable peplums (pepla?) that I guess were sort of meant to simultaneously jazz you up and domesticate you (because they look a little like aprons). Oh, those crazy 1950s.

This is another one of my favourites, from Unique Vintage. Very 60s, very Audrey, and looks very comfy.

And one last thing about the versatility of LBDs...They can even be white!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Old-fashioned scents of style

I've wanted to write a post about perfume for a long time. I have a little perfume fetish, you see, and especially enjoy perfumes of only a few notes that transport me somewhere...Chanel in 1920s Paris, the sandalwood nehru trips of the 60s, the simple roses and lavenders of the 50s. I usually blend my own until I get just the scent I'm looking for, and something that's uniquely my own.

I recently saw an ad for Guerlain's new fragrance, Insolence, in a fashion magazine. My first reaction: dumb name. Targetted at 13 year-olds? But I dug a little deeper (i.e. went to visit Guerlain's Web site) because it's interesting to see how perfumers choose their perfume names.

I couldn't find any info on Insolence, but I did discover that they have a great little site that features a history of the 170-year old French perfumer, which began when its founder created a scent for the Empress Eugenie, whose biography I recently read (but that's *another* post). If you have a few minutes to explore, check out this section about their bottles--beautiful works of art, each one-- throughout the years. If only they would re-issue these fragrances in their original bottles so people who love history could expand their, ahem, *scents* of the past.

The description of Guerlain's perfume-making process is fascinating too. They use an instrument called a perfume organ that allows the perfumer to explore individual notes until he or she finds just the right scent to add to the key note, or resinoid--in essence, creating 'harmonies.'

Through every era of history, a woman's scent has been intrinsic to her personal style. It's her own private, individual signature--sacred ground, really, that blends with her personal chemistry to conjure her image in the mind of anyone who catches her scent or its component notes. Guerlain says it's like an invisible garment--I love that. I have a few friends and relatives who have chosen a signature scent this way, and I find it very cool that I think of them when I pick up "their" scent at the perfume counter. In spite of my perfume fetish, I studiously and respectfully avoid buying the same scent, no matter how much I love it...don't want to step on anyone's "nose".

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Comment moderation challenges

Sorry to anyone trying to make comments on here--there will be a delay. I had to start comment moderation because of bots, and now Blogger's moderation tool has me all confused. (Easily achieved by dangling shiny, preferrably vintage, objects in front of my face). I will get your comments up as soon as I can either A) figure out blogger's system or B) split the atom, whichever comes first. (I'm banking on B).

Here is a gratuitous Art Nouveau pendant (1920s).

Shiiiigh-neeeeeeey....Whyioughtta liiiiike.....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Note to self: open eBay account, file for bankruptcy

Writing from the eBay borderlands.

I have never even lightly browsed the merchandise on eBay, for fear of the inevitable destitution that would ensue.

B-b-b-but. This red patent leather 1950s clutch with gold-tone details? Starting bid is $9.99 (U.S.).

Come to mama.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Newage trends for fall

Ahhhhh... the rich splendor of autumn. The cool air fragrant with the scent of fallen leaves. All that crackly, chilly, grey-gold goodness. Snappy walks in the park followed by the gentle heat of a toasty fire. Earthy ponchos and warm gloves....Wait, scratch that--ponchos are so 2004.

It's the same thing every year: I smile my way through the first few weeks of Indian summer, telling myself I should enjoy the heat while it lasts; in a few months, I'll forget what the sun looks like. But by mid-September, I'm frustrated. When will I get to crack open the winter storage and pull on those cozy woolens? Dang global warming.

This year's fall fashions offer a lot to look forward to--a lot that is, in fact, of a very vintage bent. Think flowy 40s oversized trousers, mod 60s bubble coats and dresses, studiously layered looks that call to mind both the 60s and the 80s, and even a fun nod to Napoleon. These, we are told, are some of the key looks of Fall 06. Let's go through some of the most vintagey:

60s Bubbles

Some bubble looks can't be pulled off by anyone--even models. But these bubbles are heavenly, gay, ecstatic. They float, they bounce.

This zingy chartreuse coat by Aquascutum is so fresh it makes me feel giddy.

Here's a bubble skirt that almost any woman could pull off -- whether you're a pear, apple, hourglass, or a stick like me.

40s Oversized

It's true that there was a definite oversize esthetic to the 80s and early 90s. In fact, it got ridiculous. When I was in junior high and high school, though, I was right in there wearing my big oversized vests with leggings and big belted sweaters with stovepipe jeans you had to zip up with a coat hanger. Some designers went there this year. But I prefer the relaxed masculine styles that give a nod to the ladies' menswear looks of the 40s.

This sweater and pants combo from Stella McCartney--I adore, love, covet, want, need, desiiiiire.

Sure, it's a little bit on the jazzy zoot suit side, but this Vuitton look is music to my eyes. Puts me in mind of Coco Chanel in her early (and most rebellious) years (a woman in pants!? zee world, she is ending...)

This look from Chloe combines the oversize trend with the layering trend. I love the individual pieces, and I think the combo works for the runway. But I'm not holding my breath for the shorts-over-pants look to take off. The only people we'll see doing this in Canada this fall are hockey players.

Again, when I think layering, I think mid to late 80s. You know, the Flashdance years. But this is layering with a nod to the 60s, which I love.

I really dig this cropped and slightly oversize jacket paired with flowy blouse and loose trousers. It looks comfortable yet chic and original. Not loving the designer birkenstocks, but that's down to mental scarring from a 6-week trek across Europe when I was 21.

Here is another example of layering done right, from Ports. I. Love. This. Look. Of all the looks here, this one and the loose sweater/oversized trousers above are the most 'me.' But I digress. I adore these cropped 60s-pseudo-military style jackets.

I find myself strangely drawn to this, well, kind of 'ecumenical' look. I'm not sure why. It's very clean and minimalist. I like that.

This model lost 50 lbs in the course of this jaunt down the runway and had to be treated for heat exhaustion. No need to worry, though--she had a sip of champagne and an olive and she was just fine (burp!).

Dahling, would you be so kind as to prop me up against the subway door? It's just that I can't lift my arms, you see. No thank you, I don't need a seat. I can't, in fact, bend. But I would appreciate it if someone could open a window.


I really do love the military touch this fall. It is reminiscent of both the 1960s and 1790s. Both good decades, style-wise. But it can be overdone. Hand inserted in lapel: too much.

This model reminds me of that woman who represents liberty to the French...what's her name? Myrtle? No...Marianne. Yes, that's it. She is the embodiment of the embodiment of liberty. I love this coat. It's too long to be practical, but gorgeous nevertheless.

As this and the next image suggest, this look really does work best when applied to coats. Both are beautiful. I love the unique bell sleeves on this one. And red tweed is always a winner in my book.

Snaps for the ankle boots too--must get some.

I like this look from St. John. Quite dashing.

Napoleon called. He says you're not allowed to wear his hat to the gym. So either the hat goes, or the track suit goes. And for God's sake, lose the white weight belt.