Oldest extant clothing…

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Fashion Faux Pas – Jeans into dresses

Cute idea or fashion disaster? A pair of high-waisted jeans turned upside down and contoured to fit the figure may look like a cute idea in this c. 1980 fashion illustration, but even with the fly undone, it is going to make walking difficult with that tight opening.

When the idea was revived in 2017, two pairs of oversized men’s jeans were used instead of the one pair of high waisted mom jeans – solving the hobbled hemline issue, but is it pretty?


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Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Jules Parker

The museum was recently offered a hammered brass breast plate from the 1970s with the designer’s name ‘Jules Parker’ stamped onto the pig suede lining. It was an interesting piece, but the price was too steep.

Looking for some information about Jules Parker, I could find only a few references: He was a black designer working out of a studio in Soho; photos of his feathered swimwear from the Ebony Fashion Fair appear in the September 18, 1974 edition of Jet Magazine; and it seems he passed away sometime in the 1980s.  That is about all I can find regarding Jules Parker — any further info would be gratefully received!

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Nettles for Textiles

In Germany during World War 1, nettles were used for creating textiles for making underwear and bandages. This film shows the process of how this plant is transformed from a stinging weed into a useful textile fibre.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Master John

Although ‘Master John’ sounds like some kind of fetish shop, it was actually Toronto’s glam-rock boot shop in the 1970s. Stocked with styles that rivalled Vancouver’s Fox & Fluevog, London’s Terry de Havilland or Los Angeles’ Fred Slatten, John Master opened his first shop at 611 Yonge Street in c. 1971. The shoemaking was done at a small factory at 2752 Danforth Avenue near Main Street. His shop was as its height of success in 1974 – around the time he opened another shop at 513 Yonge Street. However, a declining interest in platform shoes forced him to close his first shop by the end of 1975, and the the second shop in 1979. 

His boots were not the best quality in terms of construction, but they never lacked pizazz. Silver leather platforms trimmed with snakeskin were common features of his showiest thigh-high pieces. Master claimed to have sold 300 pairs of handmade shoes a week to his clients which included: Black Sabbath, KISS, and British actor Christopher Lee.

Little is known about this elusive bootmaker – any further info would be gratefully received…

Image top: John Master holding one of his prized thigh-high boots

Image right: A shot of the front window, June 4, 1975, images courtesy Vintage Toronto

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Fashion in Song – The Sweater (1992)

(lyrics are spoken)
I know you will understand this
and feel the intrinsic incredible emotion
You have just pulled over your head the worn,
warm sweater belonging to a boy
Now, you haven’t had a passionate kissing session or anything,
but you got to go on a camping trip with him
and eight other people from school
And you practically slept together,
your sleeping bag right next to his
And you woke in the night to watch him as he slept
but you couldn’t see anything ’cause it was dark
so you just laid there and listened to his breathing
and wondered if your heart might burst
The sweater has that slightly goat-like smell
which all teenage boys possess,
and that smell will lovingly transfer
to all your other clothes
If you get to keep it for a few days you can sleep with it
but don’t let your mom see, because she’ll say,
“what is that filthy thing, and who does it belong to
besides the trash man?”
So you have to keep it under the covers with you
You can kind of lie it beside you,
or wrap it around your waist,
or touch it on your legs, or whatever
That’s your business
Now if the sweater has, like, reindeer on it
or is a funny color like yellow… I’m sorry,
you can’t get away with a sweater like that
Look for brown, or grey, or blue
Anything other than that, and you know you’re dealing with
someone who’s different
And different is NOT what you’re looking for
You’re looking for those teenage Alpine ski-chiseled features
and that sort of blank look which passes for deep thought
or at least the notion that someone’s home
You’re looking for the boy of your dreams
who is the same boy in the dreams of all your friends
Now the sweater isn’t going to fit you, of course,
So you have to kind of roll up the sleeves in a jaunty way that says ‘this is the sweater belonging to a boy, and the boy is a genuine hunk-a-hunk of burnin’ love, and this is not just some hand me down from your brother or your father’
Monday, wear the sweater, to school
Be calm, look cute
Don’t tell him about the dream you had
about the place the two of you would share
when you get older
Just be yourself
The best, cutest, quietest version of yourself
Definitely wear lip gloss
He looks at you, and then he looks away
And then he walks away
and the smell of the sweater hits you again suddenly
like ape-scent gloriola
and you get a note passed to you
by a girl in History that says
“He needs that sweater back.
He forgot you put it on in the tent on Saturday
and he’s been looking for it.”
And you don’t have to die of humiliation, you know
You are a strong person
and this is a learning experience
You can still hold your head up high as you run from the classroom
tearing the stinking sweater from your body
You look at that sweater, carefully
And you realize that love made you temporarily blind
You’ve got a secret now, honey,
and though you’d never sink as low as him,
you could blab it all over the school if you wanted
The label in that sweater said “100% Acrylic”

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Kenneth Jay Lane, 1932 – 2017

Kenneth Jay Lane took costume jewellery to a new level in the 1960s when his fake gems graced a new swath of sophisticated women, including the Duchess of Windsor.

Lane was born April 22, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan, and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. Lane had worked in Vogue‘s art department and designed shoes for Arnold Scaasi when he began experimenting with jewellery design.

He launched his own line of costume jewellery in 1963 and was soon noticed by Diana Vreeland, who promoted his work. Tasseled earrings, animal theme bangles, and huge dinner rings all came from Kenneth Jay Lane. In 1966 he won a special Coty Award and in 1968 the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.

Lane wrote his memoir Faking It, in 1996, and a documentary about his life is in the works by an English film maker. He died in his sleep, during the night of July 19/20.

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Fashion in Song – I wear Speedos (2017)

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Smallman & Ingram

Brown wool suit, c. 1920-21, and hat, c. 1918 – 1921: Smallman & Ingram, London, Ontario

On September 8, 1877, John Smallman and Lemuel Ingram opened a dry goods business with six employees at 147 Dundas Street in London, Ontario. Aiming to serve the higher-end market with goods imported from Europe,  Smallman and Ingram found success. Many additions of departments and building expansions were made to their premises between 1892 and 1908.

Smallman and Ingram Catalogue, Fall/winter 1920-21








The Robert Simpson Company of Toronto purchased Smallman & Ingram, Ltd. in December 1944, and the store was changed to Simpson’s on July 3, 1945.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – C. J. Grenier Ltd.

Jerome Grenier established his corset company in Montreal in 1860. Over the years the company grew to include bras and girdles, stockings, and swimwear – one of their most popular product lines was the Caresse bra. Since the 1990s, it became increasingly difficult for the company to compete with cheaper offshore production and after four generations of family ownership, Grenier closed in 2016.

Image courtesy of James Fowler’s  Clothingcanadafashion

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