Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Age Old Dispute

There have been conversations -- some quite animated -- over the years about whether or not it's ok to alter vintage clothing.  Long gowns cut top shorter lengths, sleeves cut, and the like have upset lovers of vintage style, who cry out at the inappropriateness of it all.  These same people say that these are pieces that should be saved for posterity, despite the fact that most textiles are not stored properly to protect them.  Most of the time, these are the same people who wear vintage --- and that's the worst way to preserve these precious textiles.

Mind you, I am not against people wearing vintage.  Quite the contrary:  I LOVE vintage clothing, and the more people wear it, the better in my book.  Yes, there are some true museum pieces, like a Charles James gown, a vintage Dior, or even some Ceil Chapmans.  I'd love to see the fun novelty prints saved, like Alex Colman and Vested Gentress, and the daily wear styles like Anne Fogarty and Jonathan Logan.  Au contraire -- I love it when vintage is saved intact.  There's nothing worse than seeing some poorly (and completely inappropriately) inserted corset, put into a 50s gown where it doesn't belong.  And a ball gown trimmed to a mini just isn't right, if for nothing other than the fact that the proportions are altered so as to look wrong, most of the time.  One does need to use judgement in these things.

That being said, I came across this article in the November, 1950 Woman's Day magazine, and it is just perfect for proving the point that people have been renovating their clothing for years, so we are really no different.  This gown was originally worn in 1900.  It is constructed of pure satin.  When her grandson's wife prepared to marry, they used the train and skirt to create a fashionable dress for the wedding 50 years later.  The bottom half of the train was used to create the bodice, complete with a tucked border that was part of the original trimming.   The collar was cut from one long side of the train, tucked at the shoulders, and then attached to the bodice.  The ends were then crosed over the front, creating a surplice effect.  Facings were made from bias strips.  The original skirt's waistband was removed.  The skirt then became an underskirt in the new gown.  The underskirt was stitched to the bodice, and a side zipper was added.  

4 1/4 yards of oyster white lace and 1 1/4 yards of veiling was purchased.  The overskirt was made by cutting the lace crosswise into four equal pieces.  These were seamed together, gathered at the top, then attached to Grandma's waistband and hemmed.  The headband was made from a piece of the train, then lined with taffeta from the original train lining, then the two ends were joined.  The veiling was tacked to the back of the headband, so the veil could be worn either over the face or folded back, as shown.  The veiling and gloves were soaked in tea about an hour, to create a tint that matched the dress and overskirt.

All in all, an excellent use of vintage clothing to create another stylish garment.  The original dress may have been fortunate to survive the years, given the calling for fabric during World War II.  That means that there may have been those in 1950 who cried out to save the original dress.  I could totally understand their concerns, but when it was used to create a beautiful heirloom garment, who could argue?  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  What do you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Giving It Up for the War Effort

When fabric began being rationed in 1942 -- everything was saved for the war effort -- designers had to be especially creative.  Clothing of this era usually lacked buttons, lace, or embellishments, and were shorter in length than prior to the war. Sleeves were shorter, and hem and belt width was limited to 2 inches.  (If you were a bride, or were pregnant, the rules were different.)

I like this 1943 dress because it shows the creativity used to create a fashionable day look while not having all the frippery.  The bow could be made from a remnant, and although Style A (on the left) looks like the cutouts may have lace to fill them, the instructions do not mention it.  Notice, there are no pockets, which were also considered unnecessary in most garments.

I don't know that we will ever see another time where people come together for a single effort like we did during World War II.  Bless all those soldiers for whom the sacrifices were made, and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Devil's Fiance

Jacques Fath was a genius of fashion, whose life was cut short by leukemia in 1954.  The dress, an example of his genius, is from the Fall/Winter collection he showed in February, 1951.  It was termed "fiance du diable", or "devil's fiance."  I guess it's pretty obvious why, yes?