On the street where I lived…

banner_image.phpI try to stay away from getting too personal here, but this is hard to keep to myself: I found out  my childhood home, where I lived from 1961 to 1972, just sold for over a million dollars!

876 Canyon Blvd. North Vancouver, spring 1961

876 Canyon Blvd. North Vancouver, spring 1961

Although I look back fondly at the 1958 west coast modern post and beam home now, at the time, it was not ideal for raising a family.

My sisters were in semi-basement bedrooms with cold, terrazzo floors, and the front door was at the back of the carport and opened onto a dark hall with a flight of stairs to go up to the living area. The panoramic view of the Vancouver skyline was already mostly hidden by trees when we sold and left in 1972.

Lance LayoutThe siding was originally dark chocolate brown (almost black) with white trim; my parents repainted the siding olive green in the late 1960s. The lower floor, which is now a separate apartment, was originally my sisters’ bedrooms and the family room where we watched Saturday morning TV on the big, old 50s set with rabbit ears that you had to turn on early to warm up the tubes. There was a portable black and white TV upstairs where the family watched Star Trek, Dick Van Dyke, the Jackie Gleason Show, Ed Sullivan, and Twilight Zone (the episode with the gremlin on the wing is probably the reason I hate flying today!)

CHristmas 62 living room

Vertical panelling in the living room, Christmas 1962


horizontal panelling was added in the 1970s, but the fireplace remains the same

Upstairs, the pegboard cabinet kitchen with peninsula table and laundry is now a family room. Some owner along the way has transformed what used to be the dining room into the kitchen, making the living space a little squishy. I’m not a fan of open concept kitchens – I don’t want bacon grease spitting across the room onto my sofa, and if I drop the roast on the floor I don’t want anyone to see because I am still going to serve it. Besides, I can’t drink and visit while I cook – unless you want something burnt.

The only other major change to the interior of the house is the panelling, which used to be wide and vertical, typical of the 1950s, but is now narrow and horizontal, typical of the 1970s. I like both but prefer the 1950s for its originality.

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In front of the fireplace, December 31, 1964

IMGP0120It’s great to see the original fireplace in situ, with its floating hearth – and that brings a fashion angle into this reminiscence. In December 1964 my father photographed my mother and me on New Year’s Eve, 1964/65. My mother was wearing a gold thread embroidered black silk top that was already a couple of years old in 1964. That top, by Charles Dumas, remains in the collection.

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Back to the Eighties…

Satin suit by Cache, c. 1984

Satin suit by Cache, c. 1984

linen jodhpurs and blouse, by Bern Conrad, c. 1981

Jodhpurs and blouse, by Bern Conrad, c. 1981

The Fashion History Museum’s inaugural exhibition at our new gallery in the former Hespeler post office (74 Queen Street East) in Cambridge, will be all about the 1980s. This show will explore 80s fashion in a thematic survey under topics such as: glamour; power; shock; innovation; and romance. The show opens June 27 and runs until the end of the year.

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Please don’t buy me one…

wood-pocket-square-cedar-suit-jacket-woodchuckThe wooden pocket square – for the hankie-less Don Draper wannabe. Sorry, but I don’t get this latest fashion, and I don’t think most other men will either. It’s a useless object that takes the place of the barely-there revival of wearing a carefully folded handkerchief or silk pocket square in a breast pocket. This is akin to the clip-on tie and the smoking cap… Would Cary Grant wear one?

Sorry, but this is just not man-cool.

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As Seen In – Spring 1948 Dior

IMGP8774I acquired this Christian Dior dress for the FHM a couple of years ago from Past Perfect Vintage. It is from the spring 1948 ‘Envol’ (take-off or fly away) collection and is in a pretty petrol blue coloured silk. The style includes a wide collar, open neckline, blousy bodice and skirt drawn up at the sides to sit tight across the hips at front, sweeping the fullness of the skirt to the back. The dress is one of several from the FHM collection being considered by the House of Dior for a publication about the company’s history on the occasion of it’s 70th anniversary in 2017. Dior has asked fifty collections around the world for contributions for their commemorative book.



6A green version of this dress was illustrated in L’Officiel (issue 315-316) with the suggestion for wearing the dress for the five o’clock hour (cocktails). The illustration shows the bodice fitting tighter and the skirt fuller – the result of a bit of artistic license by the illustrator. LIFE magazine featured Christian Dior in their March 1948 issue with many photographs of that season’s fashion show – click here for LIFE article.

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Mad Men Fashions on show

The Museum of the Moving Image in New York opened an exhibition about Mad Men on March 14. The show features a couple of sets and many of the costumes worn during the  last seven seasons. Click here for more info about the exhibition.


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Off the Rack – Donnybrook


Rihanna wearing a vintage faux fur coat, by Donnybrook

Shortly after Rihanna was photographed wearing this coat a few weeks back, all  similar Donnybrook coats that were being offered for sale online disappeared – presumably bought up by admirers of Rihanna’s style. The last time I recall seeing such an instant rage for anything vintage was ten years ago when Britney Spears donned a pair of Capezio butterfly motif cowboy boots.

Donnybrook coat, late 1980s from the collection of the FHM

Donnybrook coat with similar Art Deco face print, late 1980s from the collection of the FHM

Donnybrook isn’t a rare label, however, although the name is still active, there doesn’t appear to be a current collection offered under the Donnybrook label.  Donnybrook was created as a line of faux fur coats by Donald Levy in 1980. Levy is the grandson of Levy Witkoff, who founded the Levy Group in New York in 1946. This family-owned firm designs, manufactures, imports, markets and distributes various licensed brands and private labels including: Laundry by Shelli Segal, Betsey Johnson, Nautica, Liz Claiborne, Perry Ellis, Esprit, Buffalo, Hilary Radley, Vera Wang, Moose Knuckles… and Donnybrook.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Creeds 1916 – 1991


Creeds front window on Bloor Street, c.mid 1980s

Creeds was a Toronto family-owned high-end women’s clothier founded as a furrier in 1916. During the 1930s Creeds branched into coats and suits and by the 1950s, fashions were being made under their own label by top European manufacturers. In 1974 Creeds moved to the new Manu-Life centre on Bloor Street. Throughout the 70s and 80s they became known for the specialty boutiques within their store including: Missoni, Chanel, Jil Sander, Krizia, YSL,  Lacroix, Ungaro, and Sonia Rykiel.

The store was regarded highly for its luxurious interior as much as it was for its quality fashions and furs. Creeds was just one of many Canadian retailers that succumbed to the recession of the early 1990s. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990 and closed the following year.

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Old Hat…

o-PHARRELL-HAT-570I guess I am the last to know…  I was just doing some research on Vivienne Westwood’s FW 1982/83 Buffalo collection and noticed a familiar look in the 1983 video ‘Buffalo Gal’ by Malcolm McLaren. Dosey-doing ’round the outside’ is a Pharrell Williams look alike, complete with Adidas three stripe red top and oversized ten-gallon hat.

Apparently Williams has been wearing Westwood ‘Mountain’ hats (which debuted at the 1982 Buffalo collection) since 2009. The hats are available from Westwood’s shop for 95 pounds and come in a variety of colours, although black and caramel are the two most popular shades.

Stills from 1983 video ‘Buffalo Gals’ by Malcolm McLaren, showing a familiar look… If you want to see the whole video here it is:

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Vintage Sartorialist – August 24, 1918

August 24, 1918In the late summer of 1918 the U.S. government launched a campaign to gather as many peach pits as possible to be used in the production of charcoal for gas masks. American chemist James Bert Garner found that charcoal made from coconut shell, nut shells, and fruit pits produced the best quality charcoal for subduing the potency of chlorine gas being used on WWI battlefields.

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Title Role…

I’m not sure if Zach Galifianakis is the right choice as an actor to play the part, but he sure looks like French luggage manufacturer Louis Vuitton:


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