Real to Reel – Costume design in Bridge of Spies

bridge-of-spies05We just saw Bridge of Spies last night and I was very impressed by the period realism of the costume design. The film takes place between 1957 and 1962, and although the film doesn’t promote the five year time frame (the children of the main character never age), there is a subtle shift in the costuming that reflects the real timeline while retaining an authentic aesthetic for the entire era. These subtle period films rarely get award nominations when they are well done because the costuming isn’t obvious, it’s just there — like Fred Astaire’s dancing – he makes it look easy.

bridge-of-spies-image02The costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone, who also did exceptional period costuming for the films Capote and Amelia, and more whimsical period styling of the films Moonrise Kingdom and the Adjustment Bureau, was asked about her work on Bridge of Spies, and its an interesting interview:

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Swastikas in fashion before 1933…

I have seen many garments and accessories sporting swastikas that have nothing to do with Nazism, from embroidery on Edwardian underwear to hat pins and buttons. The symbol was poisoned in 1933 when the Nazis came to power and its association spread well outside Germany. The Toronto Telegram reported on August 1, 1933 that 150 members of the Toronto Swastika Club, an anti-semitic association, marched to protest Jewish immigration and the use of public beaches by Jews — many members of the club wore shirts emblazoned with swastikas. Two weeks later this same group instigated a riot that has been remembered as the Christie Pits Riot, which lead to the banning of the Nazi flag in Toronto.

There is now a movement to reclaim the swastika symbol — maybe some day.

Interesting footnote sent in by a reader about the town of Swastika, Ontario.

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What surprises me…

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was in Germany two days ago wearing this grey coat. Many noticed that some of the star designs on her coat resembled swastikas, which lead to criticism of the Queen. What I find surprising about this whole brouhaha is that:

  1. The crosses are largely made up from cheap hardware hooks and screws
  2. Judging by the picture that shows the edge of the coat sleeve, the coat is badly finished or shows considerable wear
  3. That a Dutch queen would wear something by a Danish designer (Claes Iversen) rather than something by one of the many talented Dutch designers
  4. That there are enough people in Germany to create a stink over an obviously unintentional oversight
  5. That there was an oversight – Come on! someone didn’t notice the resemblance?
  6. That people still confuse the Nazi swastika with the Buddhist symbol of rebirth/eternity
Posted in Myth Information, Style shakers | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Barbie’s Boyfriend Ken – The Vintage Years

Opening June 4 will be a special exhibition at the FHM. Ken collector James Fowler is curating an exhibition of Ken’s clothes from 1961 – 1967, presented in ‘tableau vivant’ themes. To whet the appetite, here’s Toy Story’s take on vintage Ken (and yes, all the clothes he models are based on his clothes made by Mattel):

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Lots of GREAT films about fashion

Maybe this is old news, but I have just run across two sources for fashion films. The first is a series of films done by the New York Times entitled Fashion Week: In the Studio Video Channel with three minute visits to the workplaces of contemporary designers like Thom Browne, Dries Van Noten, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Giambattista Valli, Vera Wang and more…

The other is the British Film Institute with a catalogue of historical films about textiles and fashions dating mostly from the 1940s – 1970s. Unfortunately, it is not available in Canada. I know there is a way of getting an ISP so you can view things restricted by location. I can’t figure out what’s the bloody point of putting stuff up on the net for free and then locking out certain locations. It’s like they don’t get the the whole point of the internet!

Here’s a clip from the 5 minute film about paper fashions (un)available on the BFI site.

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Myth Information – Queen Victoria was the first bride to wear white

English illustration of wedding dress from Ackermann's Repository, June 1816

English illustration of white wedding dress from Ackermann’s Repository, June 1816

Weddings didn’t used to be a big thing. In the 18th century, weddings were usually held in the morning. They consisted of a solemn religious ceremony followed by a wedding breakfast for everyone in attendance at the church – maybe a dozen people. Brides wore their best dress and although white wedding dresses have survived from the 1700’s, they are rare. Most Georgian wedding gowns  are made of anything but white silk: yellow taffeta, brocade green twill, cotton calico…

By the early 19th century the white dress was in fashion – they were the ‘little black dress’ of their day and could be found on the ballroom floor as easily as at the breakfast table. A woman’s best white dress, in cotton or silk, was often used as her wedding dress. Royal brides however, wore gowns that more closely resembled court wear – ornately embroidered in silver thread and having long trains.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day, February 10, 1840

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day, February 10, 1840

When Victoria married Albert in 1840, it was expected she would wear something regal. Instead, Victoria wore an elegantly simple dress of English-made cream silk with a honiton lace flounce, trim, and veil. Instead of a tiara, she donned a wreath of orange blossoms. The hand-made lace would have cost a fortune even in 1840, and there was a train 18 feet long, but with these exceptions, any middle class bride might otherwise aspire to wearing a silk wedding gown just like Victoria’s.

The white dress went from ‘probable choice’ to ‘mandatory wedding garment’ and the colour given significance. By 1849 the American publication Godey’s Lady’s Book was proselytizing: “Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”

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Fashion Comedy

For some old fashion-themed funnies, try:

UnknownI Love Lucy: 28 Feb, 1955 –  The Fashion Show
Lucy is asked to model in Don Loper’s celebrity wives fashion show but she ends up with a bad sunburn and has to wear a tweed suit for the show:

Unknown-1I Love Lucy: March 19, 1956 –  Lucy Gets a Paris Gown
Lucy is determined to get a new designer dress while in Paris and pretends to go on a starvation diet. Ricky and Fred find out and cook up a plan to have couture gowns made for Lucy and Ethel – from burlap:

d22aaec899e20b6042503a2768d7c962The Beverly Hillbillies: April 22, 1964 – The Dress Shop
Mr. Drysdale has the Clampetts buy a Beverly Hills dress shop as an investment. But the Clampetts show up to help the poor widow designer and her starving models:

Unknown-2Bewitched: Feb 24, 1966 – Samantha the Dressmaker
Sam zaps up dresses for her neighbours that are copies of designer originals she saw in Paris – until the designer shows up: list=PLdPXIQsb7f_28JkXMgb7RKyYK3IgZ0nCz

Unknown-3Mary Tyler Moore: Feb 8, 1975 – You Try to Be a Nice Guy
Mary helps a street girl she met in prison go straight – straight into fashion:

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Fashion Drama

If you are looking for some fashion-themed vintage TV to watch, here are four great episodes worth checking out:

UnknownFrom January 1953, Mr. and Mrs. North solve a crime of illegal couture copying and murder in The Third Eye



From April 1960, Perry Mason solves a fashion designer’s murder by poison in The Case of the Madcap Modiste

Anne_Francis_Honey_West_1965From November 1965 Honey West in A Stitch in Crime, recovers a van load of designer originals held for ransom:





From January 1975 Kolchak gets involved in the fashion, modelling, and world of witchcraft in The Trevi Collection

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Ingledew’s

Ingledew's Shoe Store, late 1930s

Ingledew’s Shoe Store, late 1930s

In today’s world of conglomerates and fast fashion it is surprising to learn that there is a Canadian shoe store that has been in business for over a century and is still a family-owned business – that store is Ingledew’s, founded in Vancouver in 1915 by William Wright Ingledew and currently consisting of five locations operated by the founder’s grandson, Bill Ingledew.

Founder William Wright Ingledew, a native of Bronte, Ontario, immigrated to Vancouver in the 1890s and worked at different jobs including another long-running family owned shoe business founded by James Rae (later known as Rae-Son), which operated from 1898 to 1982.

In 1915 Ingledew partnered with Charles McKeen, and opened the McKeen-Ingledew Shoe Co. on March 25, 1915, although Ingledew and McKeen split within a year. In 1921 William’s eldest son Gar joined the business – Gar would eventually become president of the company for more than 50 years.

Ingledew's shoes, late 1960s

Ingledew’s shoes, late 1960s

Over the years, the main store’s location changed from 666 Granville street (1915 – 1925), to 623 Granville street (1925 – 1971) to 577 Granville street (1971 – 1987), to 535  Granville street  (1987 – 2014), and is now located at 900 West Hastings. Other locations were added across Vancouver over the years, mostly at malls, as well as into Victoria (in 1964), but an attempt to expand into Seattle in the late 1950s didn’t last when a piling for the Seattle World’s Fair monorail was situated directly in front of their store.

Aside from that one misstep, Ingledew’s has survived the years by adapting to changes in the shoe industry. Although the store now includes a large selection of casual footwear in its stock, the company was famous in the 1950s-80s for its fashionable dress shoes sold under the store label but made by Italian and Spanish companies.

Posted in Canadian dress, Shoes | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Fashion in Song – Now That the Girls are Wearing Long Dresses – 1930

Eddie Cantor performs “Now That the Girls Are Wearing Long Dresses” in Insurance (1930). I couldn’t find the lyrics online but I can’t understand what he is saying in one line:

Women are debating; some claim it’s a shame
To wear any skirts that are long.
Others say it’s wonderful to wear them again,
Those bathing suit dresses were wrong.
But the men cry Paris so right and how
For bringing back the old style now.

For now that the girls are wearing long dresses,
men will keep their minds on their work.
You know, a guy can’t work in an office you know
And have two things distracting him so.
Now you can bet that wifey won’t worry,
Who hubby hires in his place.
A well built baby will like it, but then
The bow legged girl is in her glory again.
For now that the girls are wearing long dresses
We look ‘em straight in the face.

Now that the girls are wearing long dresses
Men will throw their glasses away.
Why we wore glasses, the reason is plain
Our eyes were under a terrible strain,
And musical plays will do a big business
An eyeglass —(can’t figure out what he’s saying)—
For instance, why should men pay $4.40 a seat,
When they got a free show every day on the street.
Now that the girls are wearing long dresses, we look them straight in the face

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