Friday, April 30, 2010

Frock of the Week: Serene in Green

My eyes popped when I saw Christina Ricci in this vibrant green evening gown, and that was before I found out it's a vintage Galanos. A classic sheath dress, I've included a close-up so you can admire the details around the neckline and sleeves.
Christina was photographed at the 150 Years of Chopard event held at the Frick Collection in New York, so I can only presume her pretty earrings are Chopard. Cute haircut too.
Thanks to Confessions of Christina Ricci for the pics.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Prints to Cherish

Miuccia Prada apparently has a textile library that is the envy of fashion types the world over. I fantasise that it is housed in a gilt edged dungeon hidden behind multiple heavy oak doors.
The gifted Miuccia has drawn on this library for a new limited edition Print Collection. Comprised of a 50s inspired sun-dress, a shoulder bag and ballet flats, each item is identical apart from the pretty prints. Lovely, right?

Grazia Daily is ecstatic that the frocks are all priced under 500GBP, which is mighty cheap for Prada, but at around 800 Aussie dollars, is still a tad too expensive for me. And it is possible to find unique vintage prints on quality fabric for a fraction of that cost.
I found all these cotton frocks over at Clever Vintage on Etsy. Priced between $80 and $150, I reckon these pieces are mighty collectible too. The half Dutch in me loves the tulip prints on the first two.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A great way to spend an afternoon ...

My friend Liana and I spent much of the holiday afternoon - after we'd consumed a bucket load of blue cheese, followed by ice cream - perusing her collection of fashion and photography books. Our beloved partners where otherwise engaged with a bottle of red wine and talk of star constellations and the PH balance of grass.

Lucky Liana has a copy of of Performance: Richard Avedon, which offers a feast of stunning black and white shots from the photographer great, many of them notable for evocation of movement. I was particularly struck by this shoot from a 1962 issue of Harper's Bazaar. Styled to look like paparazzi shots, the series was inspired by the brouhaha surrounding Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and featured Suzy Parker as the actress figure and comedian and soon to be director Mike Nichols as the stand-in for Burton.

Aren't they fabulous?

And here is a little reminder of the real thing. Liz and Richard were the Brad and Angelina of their day, only better dressed and more debauched.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Frock of the Week: Turquoise Pretty

I didn't find a frock to steal my fancy last week, but Dress of the Week returns today with a vintage turquoise Scaasi. Cameron Silver from Decades said, in the H&M video I posted earlier, that his favourite people to dress are chic women who aren't household names. Here Susan Sherman, who is a mover and shaker in the St Louis (US) art world, wears vintage care of Cameron at a fashion event hosted by him. You can read more about the event - and see pics of
other gorgeous new and vintage frocks - over at Cameron's blog.
Scaasi began his career working for Charles James and from the 50s through the 80s created made-to-order gowns for many best dressed Americans. He started a ready-to-wear label in 1984. Can anyone guess the era of this dress (keeping in mind I have no idea)?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And speaking of lifestyles of the rich and famous ...

Who among us doesn't fancy the idea of being holed up in a French castle (provided you don't have to clean it, that is) and waltzing down the sweeping staircase in Givenchy haute couture. Well, if you are a hop, skip and jump from the Chateau Haroue outside of Paris - perhaps stranded in Europe by volcanic ash - you can now get a taste of what that life might be like.

Hubert de Givenchy has curated an exhibition of forty classic haute couture evening gowns from Cristobal Balenciaga, Phillipe Venet and his own famous label and they'll be available for the public to swoon over from 7th May at the Chateau.

You will be able to examine up close the iconic black evening dress that Holly Golightly wore as she breakfasted at Tiffany's.

And apparently Queen Fabiola of Belgium's Balenciaga designed wedding dress (1960) will also be on display, including the luxe, long and bejewelled veil.
Check out Chateau Haroue's website for more details on its architectural and historical significance. It sounds like the perfect meeting of French architecture and French fashion to me. Now all I need is an air ticket.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Welcome to the Fair

The bi-annual Love Vintage Fair was on this weekend. It hardly feels like six months since the last one and even though I am on a very tight budget post-wedding, I figured I could hardly not go.
Even just to window shop (as though that was ever likely to happen).
I basked in the friendly atmosphere and marveled at the many wonderfully turned out ladies (plus a few gentlemen too). It seems every year the Fair becomes more popular, as people of all ages discover the globe friendly and thoroughly addictive world of vintage.
Charlotte Smith, author of Dreaming of Dior (check out her blog here), gave a fab talk which included a parade of some of the frocks from her Darnell Collection. There was also an exhibit of stunning Lilli Ann suits & coats from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s which I couldn't help but reach out and touch. Adolph Schumann, the label's creator, was well known for his use of high quality fabrics, particularly from France. Feeling the divine wools on these pieces I could understand why they have stood the test of the time. They seem like brand new, only the kind of brand new that would cost thousands of dollars now.
Most of them were from 20th Century Froxx in the Manly Antiques Centre.

I fell in love with this dress; the fine printed silk and the sash had me in paroxysms of delight. Because I already have a wardrobe full of dressy frocks, I resisted trying it on, and took a photo for posterity instead. And yes, I am wearing plaid again, but this time it is daytime plaid, courtesy of the 70s.

Some gorgeous former stage costumes that Garden Street Bazaar sourced from London.

A pretty, pastel prom dress from Emma Domb.

And lucky for me (and the Fair), my Mum is down in Sydney for six weeks, and it was great to be able to spend the whole day with her ferreting out our little pieces of gold. Here Mum is trying on some hats, but she found a winter skirt and some gorgeous beads to take home. I ended up buying two skirts and a frock, with more details to come on those soonish.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rare Photos

My friend Michael sent me this link through to some supposedly rare celebrity photos. I'm sharing with you some of my favourites of films brightest and most gorgeous ladies, including Vivien Leigh looking regal above.

The beautiful but tragic Romy Schneider.

The equally as beautiful but tragic Marilyn Monroe.

I heart Meryl.

Grace Kelly: elegant wherever she went.

Cheeky Elizabeth Taylor.

Audrey (and Dovima). No surnames required.

Sexy Barbra Steisand.

Ava demonstrating why she broke Mickey and Frank's hearts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


More stunning taffeta plaid, this time from Fabgabs over at Etsy, via Paris circa 1951. This is deadstock, meaning this one-of-a-kind dress has never been worn. Click through, if you dare.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Prom-tastic Plaid

The lovely Pia from Vintage All Sorts had a very special birthday on the weekend and celebrated with a vintage prom themed party. Funnily enough, even though prom is often a theme here in Oz, we don't actually call our high school dances proms. In New South Wales they are known as formals, and in Western Australia, where I finished high school, we were very Jane Austen and called them "school balls." Even stranger was that Western Australian schools held them in the middle of the year, before school had even come close to finishing, and when our skin was all pasty and white. Lucky for me, I guess, I finished school in 1995, before fake tan really took off.
Pia's prom theme got me a little nostalgic (even though high school is a largely awful experience), and I dug out this yearbook pic of me and my friend Marina at our Year 12 Ball. Note that the reason we are featured prominently on the glossy pages of the yearbook was because we edited it, and not because we were in any way shape or form popular. If there was a high school popularity rating system out of 5, I'd put myself at a 4. That means I wasn't quite a social outcast who people jeered at, but I was nowhere near the realms of the athletic and confident types that hovered around 1.
Anyway, it was the mid 1990s, everyone wore black or deep rich colours like dark green and burgundy, and wearing your hair half up half down was all the rage. I remember buying my black dress, with the very 90s cut-out lace midriff (I think this look is making a comeback??) at a boutique in Perth's Murray Street mall, and I accessorised with a lovely antique necklace courtesy of my grandmother and the first professional make-up job I ever had. My hair now looks incredibly dated.

By contrast my prom look on Saturday night was pulled together in a matter of hours. I had all of twenty minutes to do my hair and make-up (hence the hastily arranged ponytail) and picked this dress up, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, the morning of the do. What a pity I didn't have time to press it.
But regular readers would remember me gushing over taffeta plaid recently, and now I have my very own item of 1950s plaid gorgeousness, care of the lovely Sandie at Sandie Bizy's in Annandale.
Thank you Sandy for the pretty pink gloves you threw in too!
My friend Louisa was my date for the night and as usual she looked flawless in floral.

Blonde bombshell Annette told me this dress has been in her closet for about six years and she managed to give it a new lease on life on Saturday courtesy of a pink petticoat and a very Brigitte Bardot like hairstyle.

And finally here is the gorgeous birthday girl herself, who had two outfit changes for the evening. This showstopper was pulled out when Pia jumped on-stage to sing with the big band (yes, there was an amazing band ... just like the proms in the movies), but she also wore a phenomenal ballgown earlier on. Pia is off to New York now to continue the birthday fun, but when she gets back I'll ask her for a photo of this amazing dress.
Don't you love the cake too? Very matchy matchy.
PS As an interesting aside my friend Marina disappeared from my life some years ago after I received a card from her telling me she was moving to Greece to join a nunnery and that I would never hear from her again. If this was a ploy to break-up our friendship, it was certainly a dramatic one, but alas I fear her note was completely true. There might be a book in that for someone.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Books to Gush Over

I've had a crazy busy weekend, so hence the lack of blogging. Stay tuned for a post about a gorgeous new purchase and a vintage themed prom, but meanwhile bear with me while I gush about a few books I've read lately.

My favourite of the books I've read so far in 2010, Brooklyn came out last year from celebrated Irish writer Colm Toibin. Set in the 1950s, the story starts out with a young woman moving from Ireland to Brooklyn, New York, for a job and new life. The book is full of quiet insights into family, identity and home and the central character of Eilis is so authentically and beautifully realised, it is hard to believe that this young woman's voice has been created by a much older man. I often find that a books ending more doesn't live up to the promise of its beginning and middle, but Brooklyn has one of the most touching finales I've read in a long time. I couldn't get this book out of my head for days.

The Group was a US bestseller in the 1960s, is set in the 1930s, and was recently reissued as a Virago Modern Classic with a new intro from Candace Bushnell. I loved, loved, loved this darkly funny and sometimes tragic novel about a group of eight Vassar graduates trying to make their way in depression era New York. Characters grapple with sex, marriage, work, family, politics and parenthood. The insights into 1930s child rearing are particularly alarming, and most of the male characters, apart from one or two expectations, are irredeemably vile. And some of the female characters aren't much chop either ... in fact The Group reads a whole lot like real life, transplanted to a time and place before WWII and the Cold War ever happened. I couldn't put this book down; it's not called a modern classic for nothing.
As I was reading it I thought that this book would make a fantastic ensemble film, with so many meaty parts for women. I then discovered that it was already adapted in 1966 by Sidney Lumet. Has anyone seen the film? By all reports it is good, but I'm often amused by 1960s era period pieces which sees actresses sporting anachronistic bouffant hair dos and false eyelashes. And it can completely take me out of the experience.

And finally Australian author and Miles Franklin winner Steven Carroll's latest The Lost Life reads almost like an epic poem. The prose is sparse but rhythmical, which is somewhat fitting considering TS Eliot is one of the main characters. A lovely meditation on first love lost and found.
Brooklyn is published by Picador, The Group by Virago and The Lost Life by Fourth Estate.