Vintage Couture

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Actress Gong Li arrives for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2015

“They are unique garments with an unmatched quality of construction,” says William Banks-Blaney, explaining the lure of vintage couture. “And they give women freedom to shop for what suits them rather than being tied into a designer’s latest collection.”

Banks-Blaney, who runs the by-appointment-only WilliamVintage boutique in Marylebone, London, has played a major role in lifting beautiful old dresses away from any connotations of shabbiness – or even shabby-chicness – and onto a new, elevated, beyond-luxury plane.

His book 25 Dresses: Iconic Moments in 20th-Century Fashion, immortalises in print the very best of the pieces that have passed through his shop. They are all incredible garments, whether a Chanel “ribbon dress” from 1924 (a flapper fantasy of black silk georgette ribbons heavy with black glass bugle beads) or a timeless Thierry Mugler ballgown in pale pink Duchesse satin from 1999.

Although the book’s subtitle makes it sound like a history – and it is, full of fascinating insights into who designed what and whom they influenced – many of the dresses look astonishingly modern, like the strapless scarlet chiffon dress from the largely forgotten designer Jean Dessès. It may be haute couture from 1953, but its neat ruched bodice and pleated knee-length skirt would fit perfectly today, too.

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Designer and stylist Rachel Zoe in a 1967 Jean Patou dress

“Ten years ago, people thought vintage clothing rather bohemian,” says Banks-Blaney. “It was an unusual choice. Now, women can see that a fantastic vintage dress has its place in the wardrobe. Vintage has gone from something that’s less expensive but esoteric to something that’s mainstream. With the book I really wanted to show how vintage is the lifeblood of contemporary fashion; it’s fashion DNA.”

The phenomenon translates differently into different countries. “Vintage clothing is very popular in France, but tends to be about designer pieces and is mostly Paris-centric,” says Lynnette Peck, who runs online boutique Lovely’s Vintage and finds that the internet brings her a Europe-wide audience. “When I sell pieces to France, they are always designer pieces such as Chanel, Dior and Hermès.” Scandinavians go for vintage boho or hippy garments from the 1970s, while she has never sold anything to Spain or Italy.

And Germany? “It can’t be categorised as one place,” says Esma Dil, a contributing editor to Vogue Germany who divides her time between Germany and Hollywood. “Our history as a federal republic and divide into East and West is reflected in our style. Lifestyle-wise, Berlin and LA have more in common than Berlin and other big German cities. People in Berlin are more into offbeat labels and vintage fashion. The wealthier Western cities such as Munich, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt have a more traditional vibe: fitting in socially, status and quality are valued higher than individuality.”

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MIA decked out in Vintage Gianni Versace

While it is generally true that the further east you go across Europe, the more likely old clothes are to be seen as undesirable, whoever’s name is on the label, attitudes everywhere are changing rapidly. “The demographic is shifting,” says Banks-Blaney. “England and France have a long history of beautiful fashion and have understood the appeal of vintage for much longer, but now Japan and China are huge markets for vintage haute couture as personal wealth increases. Even the Russian oligarchy is looking at what the opinion-formers in Europe are wearing and Arab clients often want spectacular evening wear at haute couture level, not because of their value but just because they are extraordinary dresses.”

Perhaps the clearest marker of high-end acceptance for vintage is the increasing number of appearances it is making on the red carpet. When Julia Roberts chose a vintage Valentino dress for the 2001 Oscars, it was a curiosity, but vintage is now seen as an intelligent choice, with the Olsen twins wearing vintage Dior to the recent Met gala in New York. “The red carpet has become increasingly commercialised,” explains Banks-Blaney. “Celebrities are finding that vintage is a great way of saying, ‘I look knockout, but I still look like me’.”

Old, but not that old

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Reese Witherspoon in a vintage Christian Dior dress from the 1950s

The other big trend in old clothes is “pre-loved” – designer labels that are not yet old enough to be vintage, but no longer new enough to excite their high-maintenance owners, who off-load them in order to free up wardrobe space. Shops like The Dresser in central London, or online boutiques like Covetique or vestiairecollective usually take a substantial cut from the seller but offer the buyer a guarantee of authenticity and the luxury of designer fashion at a fraction of the price – a win-win for all involved.

Source: Europe Newsweek

Vintage Valentines

valentine1They don’t make valentines like they used to.  The love notes given in the early 20th century were much more interesting than the cookie-cutter pop culture cards kids hand out today—in fact, some of them were deliciously strange.  Take a look back at the past of printed love, thanks to Page of Bats.
valentine5Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a little cannibalism!
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Send a suicidal skunk for when being creepy just isn’t enough…
val2Let your valentine know that they kill ya with cancer ‘n’ diabetes.
valentine4Why wear your heart on your sleeve when you can put it on a platter?
val3This nightmare kitten expresses his love with casual staking and furballs.
val4For your submissive Stockholm love kitten.
fliesHmm.  This shitty little Valentine makes me wonder, what is on her toast?
Val6Perhaps he’s dreaming of the little girl with the flies…
val7The dance of the sardine and leek, is this to say love stinks?
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Sweet harassment and intimidation…
val8Nothing says love like a suggestive banana!
Val10Oh radiator stop, you’re making me sticky and steamy.
val15That crazy face is driving me batty!

How did you like Rebena’s collection of vintage Valentine’s?  Let Rebena know in the comments below.  For more vintage valentines, be sure to check out the source – Page Of Bats.  May your Valentine’s day be full of chocolate, flowers, cheesy cards and heaps of love.  For sweet, sugary swag, check out cupid’s closet here.

Winter Skirts

Our shop is bursting at the seams with wooly winter skirts.  Wearing the wrong type of skirt during the cold winter months can leave you feeling more cold than chic. Choosing the right skirt and accompanying accessories will leave you feeling both warm and fashion forward.  Below are three great choices for the winter.

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Winter Blues Skirt – $28.00 – 1970’s -Extra Small

Pick a skirt made of a heavier material. Sheer, lightweight fabrics look out of place and will only make you colder.  Opt for heavier materials like wool, velvet and leather.  A maxi-skirt in Winter will give you the least amount of hassle.  Many maxi-skirts can even be worn with minimal to no leg protection.  Pick out a skirt that extends somewhere between your mid-calf and the top of your foot, a few inches above your ankle. The longer the skirt, the warmer you’ll be.

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Beige Wrap Skirt – $28.00 – 1970’s – Small

A midi-length (knee-length) skirt will give you the greatest amount of flexibility. Midi skirts can be made to look professional, trendy, or flirty, depending on how you accessorize them. You will need additional leg protection to keep your calves warm, however. Knee-high socks, legging and tall boots are cozy choices for a midi-skirt.  You can really be playful with your leg-wear while wearing a midi-skirt.

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Wool Pencil Skirt – $29.00 – 1960’s – Small

Although the narrow shape of a pencil skirt can restrict the movement of the wearer, the pencil skirt will give you the greatest amount warmth due to reduced ventilation.    Pencil skirts are made to look professional as they fall to the knee and are super tailored for a close fit.  Pencil skirts in the winter look cute and will keep you warm with tucked in long-sleeve tops, textured scarves and nylons.  Don’t forget a long winter coat for extra warmth.
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How will your wardrobe be keeping warm this winter?  Let us know in the comments below!

Aladdin’s Shoe Cave

ShoeCaveAn American family have unearthed an Aladdin’s cave of mint-condition vintage shoes in an old building they inherited from their grandparents.  The building operated as a shoe store from the 1940s until the 1960s, but the doors had been locked for decades. Until now.  One of the family members posted the rare find to online noticeboard Reddit recently, but stopped short of revealing the location, so as to prevent any break-ins.
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The historic collection is likely worth a small fortune.  All the shoes appear to be completely untouched and are at least 50 years old.  Despite some dust they are practically good as new.  The store closed when the grandmother fell ill and the family, too busy to manage it themselves, decided to close it, the blog Messy Nessy Chic reported.  ‘I have no idea how profitable (the business) was, perhaps that was a factor (in it closing),’ the user, Oktober75, posted on Reddit.

ShoeCave3My grandparents were known for hoarding. My guess is they went with the mentality ”it will be worth something some day”.  ‘That day came and went.’  However the user reiterated that the location will remain a secret, for security reasons, until the family is ready.  ‘When we’re ready to draw attention, I’d be happy to share more details,’ the user wrote.

For more information and tons of more photographs of this honey hole, check out the source, DailyMail.co.uk.