As Seen In – Period film Costume appropriation…

I just came across this image of Judy Garland in this peculiar looking costume from the 1948 film The Pirate. Although strange, there was something about the tartan tam that seemed familiar. Sure enough the design was borrowed from this c. 1830 French illustration of a Parisian ‘modiste’ (stylist) trimming a bonnet (a copy of this illustration is in the archives of the Fashion History Museum.) Although the bodice is not sitting on her shoulders correctly, and the print is too bold (and fights with the tartan tam for attention), it is otherwise quite a faithful reproduction of the original image.

Looking up the film on IMDB I discovered the costumes were done by the American born fashion illustrator Tom Keogh (1922 – 1980). His illustrations of Paris couture frequently appeared on the covers of French Vogue magazine in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Around that same time Keogh was also designing the annual Christmas windows for Galeries Lafayette in Paris. He designed costumes for the ballet in Paris, but The Pirate is the only film for which he is solely credited with designing the costumes…

I found a clip that shows her singing in the outfit (it looks a lot better than in the black and white image):

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Karyn Gingras, Lilliput Hats

Karyn Gingras – Lilliput Hats

The Fashion History Museum’s second annual fundraiser Chapeaux et Champagne has been scheduled for February 11 – tickets are available through Eventbrite. We will be once again featuring an array of vintage hats as well as the work of one contemporary Canadian milliner — this year it is Karen Gingras, the creative energy and founder behind Lillput Hats.

Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Karyn’s interest in historic fashion led to a personal collection of vintage hats but her profession as a milliner happened more by chance. When a night school class in tap dancing she was signing up for became full, Karyn switched to a millinery course instead. Soon Karyn was steaming and stretching straws and felts into hats for her friends. In 1988 she founded Lilliput Hats – the name was chosen to suggest a cottage industry of handmade whimsical and quaint hat sculptures.

Hat made in April 2011 in honour of Kate Middleton’s wedding

In 1990, Holt Renfrew began carrying her hats and, as her fame as a Toronto milliner grew, Karyn was kept busy making customized hats from her College Street shop.  Her client list has included Whoopi Goldberg, Celine Dion, and former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson. Most recently, the hats worn by Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie were custom made by Karyn for the band’s farewell tour during the summer of 2016.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Imran Amed

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Imran Amed attended McGill University and Harvard Business School. Upon graduation in 2002 Amed moved to London to work for a management consulting firm.

Amed started writing his blog, The Business of Fashion in 2007 from his London home, while consulting for various fashion brands during the day. The blog quickly attracted a following and is now considered a leading voice of the global fashion industry.

In 2011, Amed was named one of the 100 most influential men in Britain by British GQ (Gentleman’s Quarterly), and has just received an appointment to the Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 New Year Honours list for services to fashion.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Harry Miyasaki

About 15 years ago I acquired a collection of clothes from the son of a Japanese-Canadian family. His father was of Japanese descent but had been born in B.C.; his mother had been born in Japan. The clothes dated from the time his parents married in Vancouver in 1936 until after they moved to Revelstoke, B.C. in 1942.  A War Measures Act required all Japanese-Canadians, regardless of whether they were born in Canada or Japan, to move 100 miles inland from the west coast by February 1942. Those who had not relocated by that time were removed to government camps for the duration of the war. Although I wish I had kept this collection for the museum now, at the time the FHM didn’t exist and I felt it was better suited for the Nikkei National Museum and Japanese Cultural Centre in Vancouver, where it now resides.

I retained images of some of the clothes for future research. One woman’s jacket, in a serviceable grey wool, has a maker’s tag from ‘Harry’s Clothes – Harry Miyasaki’ and a tailor’s tag dating it to October 1944. I have been researching Harry Miyasaki and now have what I think is the basic story, but I don’t have co-oberation that positively links everything. I am hoping someone who knows more will confirm my research, one way or the other.

What I do know is that this jacket is the earliest reference I have for the Toronto tailor Harry Miyasaki. However, I have found advertisements for him dating from the late 1940s – early 1950s in The New Canadian newspaper, an English and Japanese language newspaper aimed at the Nisei (Canadians born to Japanese parents.) It was the only newspaper publishing in Japanese after 1942 until after the war, and served to keep Japanese Canadians in touch during their displacement.

The last advertisement I can find for Harry Miyasaki dates from March, 1952. 

I found a Harry Miyasaki listed on He was born in Hilo, Hawaii on August 15, 1894 and passed away on 14 February, 1954, in Toronto, Ontario. He married a Nobu Tanaka, and they had a child in 1931, born in Vancouver (who passed away in 1989). The dates and places fit into this being the same Harry Miyasaki as the tailor.

Harry Miyasaki, baseball player and maybe tailor?



Furthermore, and this may be a stretch, but there was a Harry Miyasaki who started the Asahi Japanese baseball club in 1914 in Vancouver and was well known for his management skills. His name disappears from online searches after his baseball league was disbanded in 1942 with the internment. This may not be the same Harry Miyasaki, but  there is no evidence it’s not!

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De-installing Wild and Rare

Today we struck Wild and Rare – here’s a peak at how it went down:

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A Hundred Years Ago – The World and Fashion in 1917

Mata Hari in her ‘hoochie-koochie’ costume

The biggest headlines of 1917 continued to be about the Great War: Dutch dancer Mata Hari was arrested in Paris as a German spy and executed by firing squad; Mustard Gas was used for the first time by Germany at the battle of Ypres; and Canadian troops distinguished themselves with victories at the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.

Anti-German sentiment lead the U.K. Kennel Club to officially rename the German Shepherd breed as Alsatian Wolf Dogs. In a similar anti-German gesture, King George V officially changed the last name of the British Royal Family from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, to the more English sounding Windsor.

Brazil, Greece, China, and the U.S. entered the war on the side of the Allies. Support in the U.S. to enter the War soared after the decoded contents of an intercepted telegram from the German Foreign Secretary to the German ambassador to Mexico were made known. The telegram proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico that offered Mexico the return of part of the Southwestern United States it had owned before 1845.

Women’s wartime occupational dress

Despite popular support to enter the war, U.S. volunteers were not forthcoming, and voluntary enlistment was also falling in Canada. Both countries introduced conscription – an unpopular wartime measure.

Rebellion was rife in 1917: The Green Corn Rebellion by Oklahoma farmers against conscription; race riots in St. Louis, Missouri; anti-war anarchists in Milan; a general strike in Spain, 30,000 French troops refusing to go to the trenches at Missy-aux-Bois. These were small compared to the Russian Revolution. It began as a strike by Industrial workers over food shortages in Moscow, and escalated into riots that lead to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas and the overthrow of the provisional government by Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik-lead October Revolution.

After seizing power, Bolsheviks leaked the content of the Sykes–Picot Agreement that outlined how Britain, France, and Russia had pre-determined how they would divide up territory from a defeated Ottoman Empire. After Britain’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force defeated the Ottoman Empire at decisive battles in Palestine, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared British support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Although the state of Israel would not exist until 1948, Finland seceded from the former Russian Empire, and Denmark sold its islands in the West Indies for $25 million to the U.S., who renamed them the Virgin Islands.

Sept 10, 1917

The year was plagued by massive explosions. Munition accidents levelled factories in the U.S. at Kingsland, New Jersey and Chester, Pennsylvania, and in the U.K. at Silvertown, Essex. The Battle of Messines opened with the British Army detonating nineteen mines in subterranean tunnels behind German lines, killing 10,000 soldiers. However, the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons, occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A freighter carrying munitions exploded, after colliding with another freighter in the city’s harbor, levelling 325 acres of downtown Halifax, killing 2,000 and injuring 9,000 – many blinded by flying glass. The cities of Atlanta, Georgia and Thessaloniki, Greece were also devastated by massive fires that left thousands homeless.

Faeries in the bottom of the garden, 1917

Endless news of war and death caused many to search for hope through the supernatural. Spiritualism grew as more attended seances in search of contacting departed loved ones. Three Portuguese children claiming to have monthly visitations by an angel was called the miracle of Fátima; and photographs taken in Cottingley, Yorkshire purportedly caught faeries on film – a hoax eventually admitted by the child creators in 1981.

Women’s rights made advancements in 1917. Russia’s Provisional government extended the vote to women, and Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman member of the United States House of Representatives. In Canada, women who were wives, widows, mothers, sisters or daughters of men in service got the federal vote franchise.

1917 firsts include: the invention of the toggle light switch, Marshmallow Fluff and Vichyssoise soup; the introduction of the Dobermann Pinscher breed, the founding of the Lions Club, the creation of the National Hockey League in Montreal; the opening of the Quebec Bridge in Montreal (still the longest cantilever bridge in the world); The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded; Cartier introduced the ‘tank’ wrist watch; Converse produced its first ‘All-Stars’ sneaker, and sanitary napkins made from surgical wadding, were first used by field nurses (not made commercially available until 1920 under the brand name Kotex).

New Words for 2017 came from the theatre of war: flame-thrower, aircraft carrier, camouflage (from French for disguise), the contractions ammo and sub, the phrase a.w.o.l. (pronounced as four letters), a dove (referring to a person who advocates peace), and duffel bag (named for the town of Duffel, Belgium). From soldier’s slang came: cooties (lice), Aussie (Australian), s.o.l. (shit out of luck), umpteenth (indefinite number of times), Flea Market (translated from Paris’ marche aux puces), the phrase toot sweet (coined from the mangled French of American soldiers trying to say tout de suite (right away)), and the word French used as a verb to refer to oral sexual activity. From the world of politics we got: Soviet, Bolshevik, and red (referring to a radical communist). From the world of psychology we added: dysfunctional, introvert, and persona. And from popular slang came: cuties (pretty women), lounge lizard (early term for gigolo), punk (hoodlum), hokum (melodramatic nonsense), and cocktail party – the latest social event.

Theda Bara from the film ‘Cleopatra’, 1917

Top songs of 1917 included: Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here, Livery Stable Blues, Tiger Rag, Darktown Strutters Ball, For Me and My Gal, Over There, I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, Mad’moiselle From Armentieres, ‘Til the Clouds Roll By, and Poor Butterfly. Top Films of 2017 were Cleopatra with Theda Bara, and two films starring Mary Pickford: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and The Poor Little Rich Girl.

With most young men in uniform, men’s civilian fashion looked much the same in 1917 as it had in 1916, although casual styles were gaining popularity – sweaters were replacing jackets, and cloth caps were popular for informal daytime wear. For women, hemlines hovered between the ankle and calf – being a little longer for formal wear. Dresses were looser fitting, with fuller cut arms and bloused or surplice (wrap-over) bodices. Loose-fitting sash belts instead of tight cummerbund waists, and knitted wool or jersey silk or rayon sweater-coats were gaining popularity. You could say this was the year sportswear began, although it was not yet called that. The following film shows American fashions from spring 1917 – the tighter ankle-length hemline is only fashionable in the U.S. by this time. Canadian and European fashions have wider, and usually shorter for daywear, hemlines to allow freer movement.

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Film Costume Historian – Debbie Reynolds (1932 – 2016)

I know most people will be remembering Debbie Reynolds as a singer, dancer, actress, and famous dysfunctional mom to Carrie Fisher, but I prefer to remember her for her work as a collector and film costume historian.

When MGM decided to sell off some of their backlots and warehouses in 1970, Debbie Reynolds emptied her bank account of $600,000 to purchase the most important costumes from MGM’s prop and costume stock. She went on to collect more pieces from living stars who had kept mementos from their films. Eventually the collection would contain such treasures as a bowler hat worn by Charlie Chaplin, a dress worn by Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, the ‘subway’ dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch, and Judy Garland’s blue gingham dress and ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz.

She tried to start a museum of Hollywood history, but even Debbie Reynolds, who couldn’t build the museum herself as she had been bankrupted by her second husband’s gambling addiction, couldn’t get enough Hollywood funding together for the project. She eventually did set up a small museum in a Las Vegas hotel in the early 1990s but it went bankrupt in 1997. She then hoped her collection would find a home at the soon to open Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, but once again, there was not enough interest in funding the purchase of her 3,500 costumes and props.

In the end, Reynolds sold her collection at three auctions between 2011 and 2014. She made all the money back from her 1970 investment when the pair of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz sold for $690,000. The entire collection brought over 25 million dollars.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – John Artibello

John and Lena Artibello, 1946

Toronto born John Artibello operated a long-running but not well known (outside of his repeat clients) dressmaking business. Although he usually refused to divulge the names of his prominent clients, they included the late Toronto socialite Cathy Bratty, and Olympic skating star Barbara Ann Scott. For Scott, Artibello made her 1955 strapless wedding gown as well as a powder blue dress to wear to John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball in 1961.

Born in 1926, John was the youngest in his family by seven years. He grew up in the 1930s picking up sewing skills and a designing eye from his older sisters who made their own clothes.

John Artibello gown, c. 1954, from the collection of the Fashion History Museum

His wife Lena worked as a seamstress, but that didn’t stop John from having some opinions on how her 1946 wedding dress should be designed. After they married, John enrolled in the Galasso School of Design (A Toronto operation run by Italian-trained Mr. Galasso that was in business from the 1940s to the 1980s.) He finished the course in record time and John and Lena soon afterwards opened a dressmaking business that operated out of different locations over the years including Yonge Street, Lytton Boulevard, and MacPherson Avenue.

Cathy Bratty wearing an Artibello gala gown, late 1980s

Throughout decades of operation, Artibello never advertised, relying on word of mouth for a client base that kept him busy making primarily wedding and gala gowns from the finest materials John and Lena could find on their regular fabric-buying trips to Switzerland, France and Italy. As the family grew, John and Lena’s daughters came into the business, with daughter Teresa taking on the helm in later years.

The business was officially closed in 2008, and Lena passed away in 2013, but John, who is now 90, refuses to completely retire, and even designed his grand daughter’s wedding dress in 2013.

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Fashion in Song – Too Funky (1992)

Although the lyrics for ‘Too Funky’ are not about fashion, the concept for the video was inspired by a Thierry Mugler benefit fashion show. The costumes for ‘Too Funky’ were created by Thierry Mugler and George Michael donated the song, and all its royalties, to the project Red Hot + Dance, which raised money for AIDS awareness.

The video features George Michael in short shots as a director filming supermodels walking the catwalk. The models featured in this video include Eva Herzigova, Linda Evangelista, Nadja Auermann, Emma Sjöberg, Estelle Hallyday, Shana Zadrick, Tyra Banks, Beverly Peele, and Emma Balfour. As well, actresses Julie Newmar and Rossy de Palma, and performance artists Joey Arias and Lypsinka are also featured.

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WHAM, Slogan T-shirts, and Katherine Hamnett

Although George Michael (1963 – 2016) was not a fashion designer, he was influential in bringing success to English designer Katharine Hamnett. The 32-year-old English born Hamnett was a graduate of London’s Saint Martin’s School of Art when she founded her label in 1979.

In 1983 Hamnett launched a collection of oversized t-shirts with large block letter slogans. When George Michael and Andrew Ridgely of WHAM wore Hamnett’s ‘Choose Life’ shirts in their Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go video in May 1984, Hamnett’s shirts became not only successful political statement fashions, but also internationally-recognized iconic images of the 1980s. After the Choose Life slogan, intended as an anti-suicide message, was appropriated by the anti-abortion movement, the slogan was dropped from Hamnett’s production.

In 1996 Hamnett won the first ever British Fashion Award as Britain’s favourite designer, and in 2011, Hamnett was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her service to the British fashion industry.

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