Thursday, September 28, 2006

Peignoirs and petticoats and girdles and gussets!

This is my first post on vintage lawn-jer-ray. Except, of course, for these vintage-inspired fabulous Gentry Lane cashmere panties.



Cashmere panties.

Panties that are made of cashmere.


...Whu? Oh, sorry...Back to the goods.

Well, it turns out that vintage lingerie shopping is a mixed 1956 Hermes Kelly bag.

On the one hand, there are petticoats. I adore petticoats and crinolines, and since early childhood have been a tad obsessed with them. It is was a little-known secret that I own several, which I sometimes sport around the house just for fun. One of them I will probably wear next spring with a wraparound 70s denim skirt I recently acquired in NYC. The petticoat is bright yellow. It looks so cute peeking out from the back slit of the skirt. A little too hot for summer, of course, but perfect for those spring days when you can just feel summer coming...

On the other hand, although I love antique panties and girdles and those amazing little tap-pants they wore in the 20s and 30s, the thought of wearing my grandmother's best friend's used gitch? Un peut gag. Owning a few nice ones as collectibles or even art is cool, though. If you can't wear it, frame it.

On yet another hand (we're getting into Shiva territory, here), there are plenty of utterly gorgeous lingerie items out there, from any decade you like, whose ick factor is minimal. These include such deliciously retro items as peignoirs, petticoats, girdles, teddies, slips, nighties, silk pyjamas, garter belts, and more...Enjoy this fine sampling from Posh Girl and others. There are many, many fine samples available from the fine purveyors in my links bar to the right:

This is a to-die-for teddy from the 1920s. Very rare, so beautiful. I'm not normally a pink-and-black girl, but the lace and the silk straps/rosette work so perfectly together. Hawt.

A 70s babydoll. This I would love to own, but not wear, because 70s = man-made fibres + lots of raunchy sex = blechh. But isn't it just so perfectly 70s? I'm sure some good times were had/began with this teddy.

The kind of sexiness a nun would approve of, courtesy of the 50s. The Jackie O of gitch. Again, with panties involved, I might hesitate to actually wear it...but you can always replace them with some of your own.

This is my absolute favourite era of lingerie: the 1920s. The lace-work is usually in a class all its own, and I love how they were experimenting with primitivist designs (see my previous post on Art Deco design). The 'juxtaposition' (Lord forgive me) of the designs and the fact that they're made using lace, which we expect to be flowery and feminine, makes them really interesting. Also, this is pre-polyester, people. And you know what that means: silk, silk, silk.

I would sport this silky specimen with skinny jeans and a funky little cropped cardigan or jacket.

While we're on the subject of lingerie as clothing, rather than as underwear, the 50s full slip is an ideal candidate for dresshood. This hot pink one would make a great little evening number with the right underthings and accessories.

Wouldn't this slip from the 1920s make a gorgeous little summer dress? Drooling my way to bankruptcy...

This is a perfect little 50s half-slip. That frothy fringe on the bottom should be seen and never hidden, though. I just adore the idea of a little flippy thing flowing out from under a pencil skirt.

You've been a bad. Bad. Boy.

I bet with stockings and the right little pink silk 20s bra, and of course some heels, this 20s corset is Superhawt.

And now we arrive at the 30s nighties. Good God, but these are fine. Silk, satin--always cut on the bias because of satin's weft and weave--so flattering. I believe that many 30s underthings were still hand-made. Isn't this white satin nightie beautiful? It's floor-length.

And the piece de resistance: this baby blue silk floor-length nightie with Art Deco fawn-coloured lace trim. Oh, what sweet dreams you'd have in this. Stunning.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spring 07 RTW: Newage Highlights

My eyes are on fire cap'n! On fire I tell ya!

I've been systematically scanning the footage of the Spring 07 fashion week shows in NYC and London. I'd be lying if I said I've gone through everything, but I have checked out a goodly chunk of them.

Clothes: Beautiful: So Many.
There were lots and lots of things I loved that are kind of fresh and new, and thus don't really fall under the auspices of Stylaholic: Jonesin' for Vintage. But the 'vintage look' remains strong, so there are are a number of lovely newage pieces to enjoy. Here are some of my favourites:

From Anna Sui:

I'm loving Anna Sui's George-V-goes-punk esthetic. This lace dress is beautiful...but I prefer the outfit from the shins up. I've seen a close-up of this dress, and the details of the choker, the neckline, and the pendant are all really special.

The real value of this outfit happens from the waist up. The skirt is un peut de trop. But I'd happily sport the amAYzing jacket, bien sure, as well as the cool black ribbon detail. I'd like to add that this model is absolutely stunning. (Big surprise there.)

(Not fancying the superchunk sandals.)

I'm not really a skull-sporter--that's more my sister's department--but I love this silk skull necktie and sweater. It's both a little Oliver Twist and a little twisted.

From Zac Posen:
Zac Posen's collection was probably my favourite.

This. Oh my. Sweet, sweet heaven and all the choirs of angels. Never before have I loved in quite this way.

Whitey-satiny loveliness. Some weird optical illusion going on in her belly area though. Note to self: don't wear white satin dresses on bloaty days.

Redy-ribbonish perfection. Puts me in mind of Marilyn's Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend number.

This is so 40s fab. I've seen other snaps of this heavenly dress and this one doesn't do justice to the fabulous green. It's actually much brighter and richer: gorgeous.

I'd wear this in a nano-second, if I had anywhere to wear it. (Sniff.) I know puffy sleeves are controversial, but I don't care what you say, I think it's fab--Jerry Seinfeld be damned. Love it. Dietrich agrees.

Something more practical, perhaps? Voila.

I like this because it blends a little shirt-dress with a pinch of wiggle dress (50s) and a dab of 60s Sgt Pepper something. Sort of a shirt-jacket-dress with a cool "display" collar. Loving the skinny belt too--have picked up many for myself this year.

As an aside, if you're short-waisted like me, try a skinny belt--they work wonders, honey. If you're long-waisted, I steer you firmly yet gently away from them in the same way that I steer us short-waisted girls from wrapping big wide belts around our 'natural' waists and thus looking like large rectangles. (Wearing them lower down works, though.)

Okay, back to the goods:

Really like this look. Love the 70s-ish navy ruffle-collar "office girl" blouse. I like how the ruffles are understated rather than poet-like. I'm not a big fan of poet-like ruffles down the front of a shirt. Shudder.

Love the 40s-ish shorts, love the cool little 60s-ish jacket.

And I love that the shoes are delicate rather than chunky--very flattering and leg-lengthening.

From Biba:

This is one of my all-time favourite colours ever. I've seen it in satin this year, and it got me very very excited.

The neckline is glorious, the colour is wonderful. I love the hippiness of it (as in hippie, not hippy), the high waist--one of my favourite trends--the simplicity and ease of it. It's just a fantastic dress all around. Unless it's gauchos. I can't tell.

Either way, loving it.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on shirt dresses. This one from Biba is very 70s--isn't it cool? Doesn't it just look so easy to wear? Ease and chic go hand-in-hand, mes petites.

Thanks for dropping in!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

That ol' early-century magic...

I was a weird kid. I remember walking to Mac's Milk with my grandmother once, sometime around 1981; she was dressed like a normal person in a skirt and blouse while I sported a dramatic cape-like coat from her old tickle trunk, a purple plaid jumper-dress, white knee socks, and wine-coloured penny loafers. With pennies inserted, of course. And I insisted on walking arm-in-arm with her the entire half-kilometre or so to the store.

It was an overcast autumn day, and I felt--as I always have--that the veil between past and present is very thin for some of us. Cue creepy windchimes.

Seriously, though, somehow wearing her 1930s clothing (a feat only possible when I was 9--the last year before I got too tall and gawky to fit into nearly anything belonging to my teeny grandmother), walking with her arm-in-arm, I was pushing myself through that veil and touching the past. How can a 9-year-old have such nostalgia for bygone days? Maybe it's an argument for reincarnation.

My appreciation for mid-century design and decor (1950s and 60s) is fairly recent and fed largely by my obsession with movies from that era.Check out this cool bakelite box and sewing chair (you store your sewing notions in the seat--so nuclear-age cool).

Before I fully appreciated the charms of mid-century modernism, my fixation remained squarely focused on Art Nouveau from the oughts and noughts, Art Deco and modernist styles from the 20s, and the exciting material innovations of the 30s.

Everything about that part of the 20th century is exciting. Designers and artists were pushing every envelope they could find, and then making new envelopes just to have something more to push. For the West, the world became an entirely different planet from what it had been only a few years earlier.

Consider the impact of innovators like Coco Chanel. In one decade, she helped eliminate the boned corset—a wardrobe staple for centuries--and change the face of feminine beauty. Early photos of Coco show the woman herself corseted in typical Belle-Epoque style, with the hourglass silhouette; the long, curtain-like gown that probably weighed nearly as much as she did; and the high neck and big hair, like a watermelon balanced on a salt-shaker.

But as the years progress, we see her distinctive style take hold:

Step 1: eliminate frippery, like ridiculous hats and hairstyles that could nest entire flocks of birds.

Step 2: eliminate impractical fabrics and replace with the tried-and-true jerseys and wools used by French fishermen and Scottish hunters.

Step 3: why the heck should our bodies be so restricted? Get rid of the voluminous floor-length skirts, corsets, pinched waists, and throttling necklines.

Step 4: cut off all that damn hair, flapper style.

Step 5: make things beautiful, with astonishing craftswomanship, but without non-functioning embellishments; every button and pocket should serve some real purpose.

Chanel wasn’t entirely unique in this way—she caught and fed the larger aesthetic fever of her era. But as one of the most dogged modernists, and a woman, she’s an icon and an emblem. The same philosophies of trying new shapes, balancing beauty and function, and setting things free applied to art, literature, drama, and décor as well as fashion. What could be more exciting? Can you imagine what it was like to be part of it?

…In this post are a few choice items of this era I’ve found from online antique décor purveyors,, and others. Enjoy some of the best from the early 20th century: one of the places I’ve always felt most at home.

(P.S. The brooch at the top of this post is Art Nouveau, circa 1900, yours from J-Z Rose for the small price of $35,000.00, plus tax and shipping. Isn't it the most gorgeous thing ever?)

Art Nouveau--New Art for a New Century

Early 20th c
entury Lamartine vase--stunning. Click for more detail.

This exceptional etched glass and wrought iron Daum lamp--yes, lamp--is like nothing I've ever seen before. Very 'War of the Worlds Stops In for Tea.' JZ Rose.

This glorious Art Nouveau chair showcases the experimentation that was going on in household design.

Screens were big in the early part of the century. Screens are big now, too, but now we're talking LCD and then we were talking Morris and Co., Lamartine, and others. Arts and Crafts designs, and Art Nouveau beauties like this azure lovely to our left, renewed the obsession of the craftsman and drove cool innovations like the curvy butterfliety of this screen. I vote for the re-emergence of the screen. So handy for hanging your silky nothings upon...

Art Deco--1924 Paris World Fair Marries Modernity and Primitivism. Also Provides Pretty Things to Hang on Wall.

Lalique Art Deco glasswear, like this glorious mirror and the clock beneath it, came out of Paris in the 1920s--JZ Rose sells some fine items. But be warned: these collectibles are pricey.

Galle was another Art Deco glass artisan. This is one of his lovely
perfume bottles.

The 30s: Doing More With Less

Post-Depression artisans were forced to look for less expensive materials with which to produce their wares. Mass production became popular. From what I can tell, it was all about boys and their toys. Housewares became strong and handsome as the impact of WWI and the big stock market crash hardened us a little. And I'm sure socialism and communism and the rise of despots like Hitler played a role there too, but that's just a guess. Steel became popular--as we see with this manly steel clock.

But that's not to say femininity disappeared altogether. In Hollywood, Garbo and Dietrich and Davis and the gang made all women want to be gorgeous and glamourous. And of course, the French never lost their glamour in the first place--not even during the ravages of war. These dreamy, ubergirly French chairs prove it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Favourite retro fashion red-carpet moment this year

I was recently introduced to GoFugYourself...(I know, I'll never be accused of being an early adopter in the blogosphere.)

To GFY I credit this stylin eye-candy to our left.

I ask you, have we witnessed a more gorgeous star moment in the last year? Wait: I'm not finished. Have we witnessed a more gorgeous star moment featuring a retro/vintage look in the last year? I don't think so, friends.

I find this dress dream-gorge-ulous to the Nth degree. Its vintageosity is off the charts, yet something about the cut is also fresh and current. More importantly, it suits little Scarlett to a t--first and most important rule of style, of course. Beautiful.

The only part of the look I have an issue with is the hair thingy. I find it a bit too...literal. But that's strictly a personal vintage style preference, purely subjective.