Judy Travels Abroad – 1958

I recently read through an interesting travel journal from 1958 that has been published online. The original journal was discovered at an estate auction in Michigan and was written by Judy ‘B’, a college graduate who went on a two month holiday to Europe with a student tour group. Although her entries are brief, they provide some interesting glimpses into 1958, daily life in Europe, and a youngs American girl’s perspective. There are several fashion references – here are some of the more interesting:

Saturday, July 19, 1958 – Lucerne, Switzerland

…After breakfast, Sue and I hurried to the stores to spend our money…went to Gubelin’s where I got one of those Rainbow watches. It has a gold base and leather straps you can change. …at 3:00 John took us swimming at Lido Beach. We soaked up some sun, and gazed at the people in their bikinis who looked at us as if we were over-dressed.

The sack dress - Most women considered it the Edsel of fashion, but some thought they were fun and sexy.

Sack dresses – Most women considered them the Edsels of fashion, but some thought they were fun and sexy.

Sunday, July 20, 1958 – Bregenz, Austria

Decided to get dressed up for dinner (we are staying at the Krone Hotel), so wore my new sack dress. As I was leaving the table John was right behind me, and gave me a poke saying, “See you’re wearing your sexy sax”. We went to a light opera, The Bartered Bride. When I got in after the opera, Donna wasn’t back so I had to go down to get the key, and this real cute blond bus boy said he had a room and I could come down there! Good Luck!

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Fashion in Song – The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat – 1943

I wonder why does ev’rybody look at me
And then begin to talk about a Christmas tree?
I hope that means that ev’ryone is glad to see
The lady in the tutti-frutti hat.
The gentlemen, they want to make me say, “Si, si,”
But I don’t tell them that, I tell them, “Yes, sir-ee!”
And maybe that is why they come for dates to me,
The lady in the tutti-frutti hat.
Some people say I dress too gay,
But ev’ry day, I feel so gay;
And when I’m gay, I dress that way,
Is something wrong with that?
Americanos tell me that my hat is high,
Because I will not take it off to kiss a guy;
But if I ever start to take it off, ay, ay!
I do that once for Johnny Smith
And he is very happy with
The lady in the tutti-frutti hat!
Americanos tell me that my hat is high,
Because I will not take it off to kiss a guy;
But if I ever start to take it off, ay, ay!
I do that once for Johnny Smith
And he is very happy with
The lady in the tutti-frutti hat!

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Canadian Fashion Connection – False Eyelashes

Actress Lillian Gish claimed that DW Griffith had invented false eyelashes in 1916 when he had a pair made of human hair glued to a strip of gauze for actress Seena Owen to wear in his film Intolerance. That would be a nice story if it wasn’t for a Canadian woman from Ottawa by the name of Anna Taylor who received a U.S. patent in 1911 for artificial eyelashes. However, her patent for ‘improvements’ to artificial eyelashes suggests invention rights may have to be given to German-born Charles Nestle (Karl Nessler) who reportedly first made false eyelashes around the turn of the century.  Nestle is better know for inventing the permanent hair waving machine.

tiff:timestamp: 2000: 5:26 12:06:45

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Fashion Hall of Obscurity AND Canadian Fashion Connection – Jacqueline Familiant

May 8, 1967 - Version 2

Modacles – sold through Familiant’s boutique, spring 1967

Jacqueline Familiant labelJacqueline Familiant opened an eponymously named boutique in old Montreal in November 1966. Like many Montrealers, she was anticipating the upcoming World Expo of 1967 which transformed the city into a cosmopolitan centre of busy street cafes, chic discotheques, and trendy boutiques. Her shop soon became known for offering “shimmering minis to undulate under discotheque lights” and in May 1967, Women’s Wear Daily reported that her shop carried ‘Modacles’ – monocles in a variety of materials with colourful pendant ribbons intended for the avant-garde Mod.

Jacqueline Familiant dress

Navy wool dress with red stitching, by Familiant, probably fall 1969

Familiant was an early proponent of the midi and maxi skirt lengths, promoting longer hemlines as early as spring 1968, although she continued to offer mini lengths as well. By 1970 she was advocating midi skirts, pant suits, jumpsuits, and knickers and gaucho pants with peasant blouses.

In 1969 Jacqueline filed her blot trademark and in 1971 incorporated her business into a Limited Company. Mentions of her company sharply decline after this, and the trademark was expunged in 1986.

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When Leggings were a New Idea…

Eve magazine, 9 March 1927These two interesting illustrations came up in a discussion on the Fashion Designers 1800 – 1950 board this morning. Gary Chapman posted this coloured photograph of a woman in a gold lame tea gown with matching leggings from Eve magazine, March 9, 1927 and Daniel Milford-Cottam cited another example of leggings in a sketch by Worth, now residing in the V&A collection dated summer 1926. Worth fashion sketch, summer 1926

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1913 Fashion Humour

I am stealing this cartoon from the Fashion Designers 1800 – 1950 discussion board on Facebook, posted by John Culme.


”’You know we shan’t buy anything in this expensive shop, why do you want to sit looking at these mannequins?”
”’Well, dear, one can learn such good manners from them.”’
London Opinion, Saturday, 20 September 1913. London Opinion was a weekly, published between 26 December 1903 and April 1954.

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2015 Academy Award Costume Nominations

Oscar nominations are in and I have seen only two of the nominated costume films so I have to judge by stills. I have to admit I was a bit surprised by some of the nominations this year, especially as I expected to see Brooklyn and Trumbo in the mix, and not the Revenant. Although the Academy and I don’t always agree, I pick correctly more often than not, so here are my predictions for this year:

the-revenant-trailer-screencaps-dicaprio-hardy35Snowball’s Chance in Hell: The Revenant

Jacqueline West did a good job but this isn’t a costume extravaganza and there isn’t that much that could have been done with the setting. The period clothing is not especially intricate and it’s difficult to see as its covered with mud most of the time.


KQnzRUCHonorable Mention: Mad Max Fury Road

Jenny Beavan is a great costumer but for this latest incarnation of Mad Max I see more interesting make-up and props than innovative costuming. Again a lot of dust and dirt obscures details. Maybe when I see the film it will be more impressive.


cinderella03Dark Horse: Cinderella

I actually did see this film and the costuming by Sandy Powell was clever with her mixing periods to express different characters. Kate Blanchett looked fabulous in her mid-century couture against the early Victorian sweet Cinderella, but was it clever enough for an Oscar?


042Runner Up: Carol

This is Sandy Powell’s other nominated film. It is also the only other film I have seen and it is beautiful to look at with its warm colour palette and romanticized but realistic view of 1950s New York chic. I would say this is a very close race…


tumblr_nx1gr0bU671roci9qo1_1280Best in Show: The Danish Girl

Paco Delgado deserves a lot of the credit for making Eddie Redmayne look believable as a woman. Delgado also did a fantastic job of creating an aesthetic of European Bohemian elegance, typical of wealthy, liberal artists of the 1920s.

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As Seen In – Claire McCardell, 1952

Couture Allure recently had a Claire McCardell and positively dated it to a January 1952 Vogue photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe:

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André Courrèges (1923 – 2016)

This week we lost two individuals who shaped modern fashion: David Bowie was not a designer but had a unique style that looked as if it may have come from outer space at times, while André Courrèges was a designer who created a fashion that at the time looked like it was intended for wearing in outer space.

Courrèges, 1963

Courrèges, 1963

Courrèges shook up the fashion world in 1964-1965 when he created sleek, precisely tailored suits for the modern woman. These were not opulent, frou-frou styles – these were fashions for tomorrow. He was often erroneously credited with inventing the miniskirt. While he was only one of many designers who pioneered the visible knee, what he did spearhead was a modern attitude in dress that featured the leg – highlighted by ankle boots, close-fitting trousers, or clingy ribbed bodysuits.

André Courrèges was born March 9 1923 in Pau, the Basque region of France. At his parents urging he trained in civil engineering but his love of art and design caused him to change his studies to architecture and textile design. After learning men’s tailoring, he moved to Paris in 1945 where he worked with couturier Jeanne Lafaurie. In 1950 he obtained a position at Balenciaga where he stayed for 11 years, mastering the art of tailoring.

Courreges, 1965

Courrèges, 1965

In 1961 Courrèges opened his own salon at 48 Avenue Kleber and hired Coqueline Barrière as an assistant whom he married six years later. His  collections were well received, but his 1964 and spring 1965 collections were revolutionary: Stovepipe trouser legs, above the knee hemlines, flat soled boots, backless tops, snow-glare glasses, square hats with chin straps… everything he created was admired, and widely copied. However, he didn’t see imitation as the sincerest form of flattery, and didn’t show a fall 1965 collection out of frustration. He had decided the best way to avoid the problem of others profiting from his designs was to create his own ready-to-wear clothing line, which he debuted in 1966.

Courrèges, 1964

Courrèges, 1964

In 1967, he began to experiment with transparent fabrics, using organza with strategically placed appliqués of circles or flowers. However, as fashion veered towards hippy chic by the 1970s, Courrèges’ space age modernism fell out of style. The fashion house had some modestly successful collections in the 1980s and 1990s, but the brand lived on primarily through accessories, fragrances and licensed products.

Courrèges was a modest man but not a pushover. He made sure his couture clients always paid their bills – regardless of who they were.

After suffering from Parkinsons for several years Courrèges passed away January 7.

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Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Edgar C. Hyman – Echo Scarves

Alphabet print, mid 1970s

Alphabet print foulard, mid 1970s

After working for two veiling companies, Edgar C. Hyman started his own company in New York around the same time he married his wife Theresa in September, 1923. Inspired by his monogram, he called his company Echo, and produced print scarves, becoming a leading manufacturer of the accessory during its heyday (late 1920s – late 1970s). With stiff competition from other firms in the 1950s (Hermes, Vera…) the company shifted manufacturing off shore to keep costs down. Dorothy, Edgar and Theresa’s only child, joined the company along with her husband, Paul Roberts, in 1950. After her parents and husband died, ownership passed to Dorothy in 1978. With scarf sales shrinking, Dorothy diversified the company into clothing and belts, but soon dropped all but a profitable line of leather belts. The company also found success through licensing, starting with Ralph Lauren in 1986, adding Sarah Coventry in 1987.

Op Art print, late 1960s

Op Art print silk foulard, late 1960s

In 1993, Dorothy stepped away from the company, leaving the next generation in charge. Although private label and licensing agreements helped, the company needed to expand into new product lines to remain profitable. A men’s tie division had been added in 1992, but by the end of the decade men’s ties were also on the decline. In 1993 Echo entered into home products, producing bed and bath textiles, upholstery fabrics and coordinated wallcovering and fabric prints for various companies. In 1996 paper products were added, including stationery, photography albums, napkins, and giftwrap. In 1997, the company also began growing through acquisition when it acquired Schertz Umbrellas: Monsac Corp, a handbag company, was added in 2000.

Traditional paisley print silk chiffon, early 1960s

Paisley print silk chiffon, mid 1960s

Today, the Echo Design Group Inc. produces women’s scarves under the Echo name and through licensing agreements: the company also makes gloves, umbrellas, and ties, and home products manufactured under license. In its 93rd year of business, Echo is still privately owned and operated by descendants of the founder Edgar C. Hyman.

For more information about the company see this article.

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