As Seen In – Spring 1948 Dior

IMGP8774I acquired this 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.

Posted in As Seen In | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in film costuming | Tagged | Leave a comment

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, Claiborne, Buffalo, Hilary Radley, Vera Wang, Moose Knuckles… and Donnybrook.

Posted in Off the Rack | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Canadian dress | Tagged | 2 Comments

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:

Posted in millinery | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Photos | Tagged | Leave a comment

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:


Posted in Designers/Couturiers | Tagged | 1 Comment

Fashion Myths – Bridal Fingerless mittens

UnknownI have read and heard it repeated that fingerless mittens were invented for brides so they would be able to put their ring on during the ceremony. While it is true that many brides did wear fingerless mitts for this reason, the style was originally developed for keeping the hands warm while doing work that required the fingers to be free. Delicate versions were worn for writing or needlework, while sturdy wool or leather mitts were worn by both men and women for various other jobs.

Posted in Fashion myths | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Old Habits are hard to break…

Princess Elizabeth 1_reuters_1892181a

Posted in Clothing customs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Canadian Fashion Connection – Tundra sweaters


The Standard Knitting Co. building on Dufferin Street in Winnipeg, c. 1930 – 1967

In 1904, twenty-one year old Moishe Halparin fled to Winnipeg with his father and younger brother from the pogroms of Russia. In 1909 he married Clara Fiskin and after his first business venture in wholesale meat failed, Halparin bought a small knitting company that had been established in 1923. Knowing nothing of the knitting business Halparin hired a Mr. Penny from Scotland to successfully manage the factory. By 1930 the Standard Knitting Company Limited was operating from a small factory next to Halparin’s house at 387 Dufferin street in Winnipeg. The company prospered and its sweaters were carried nationwide by the T. Eaton and Hudson’s Bay companies.

Moishe Halparin died in 1947 but the company continued to be operated by the family until 1967 when it was sold to partners Lou Kliman and Hugh Lowery who moved the factory to a modern plant on Inkster Blvd. Under the ownership of Kliman and Lowery Standard Knitting became famous for their Tundra line of sweaters. According to Halparin’s granddaughter, Morri Mostow, ‘Tundra’ was a brand name originally created by her father for a line of men’s sweaters in the 1950s.


Tundra Sweater c. 1990

By the late 1980s, Tundra sweaters were being made that resembled the colourful Coogi sweaters from Australia, Tundra sweaters used a bright array of colours in a patchwork of knitting techniques. Crazy patterned sweaters became an iconic style in the late 1980s and early 1990s due in part to their popularization by Bill Cosby’s character Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby show (1984-1992.) Early episodes featured Dr. Huxtable in tastefully patterned sweaters by Perry Ellis and Missoni, but then a Koos Van den Akker sweater debuted in the opening credits of season 3 (1986) and the sweaters became more colourful and featured various textures. Ironically, although the Cosby show fueled the crazy sweater craze, Coogi and Tundra sweaters were never worn by Bill Cosby because they were too busy on film.

With their growing popularity, a special division called ‘Tundra Knitwear’ was created in 1989 to handle production and distribution in the American market, however, despite the sweater’s popularity, Standard Knitting was in trouble due to competition from Asian manufacturers. Kliman and Lowery sold the company in the early 1990s but the new owners could not save the company. Tundra knitwear was closed in 2002 and Standard knitting went into receivership in 2006.

Posted in Canadian dress | Tagged , , | 5 Comments