As Seen In – Luis Estevez 1956

This feather brocaded black taffeta dress by American designer Luis Estevez was purchased in the autumn of 1956 from ‘The Room’ at Simpsons by Thelma Murray Whitehead for a function at the Granite Club in Toronto. The dress now resides in the collection of Joseph Hisey, a fashion history teacher who also hosts tours to museums around the world. The Fashion History Museum will be working with Joseph to create a tour of English fashion museums in 2017. If you are interested in hearing more about this tour contact us at

As Seen In – Italian Mules, 1957

White leather and painted wood mule with wire cage heel with glass birds on swing. Labelled Creazioni Moriarty Anacapa, Italian, c. 1957

Mule by Moriarty Anacapa, Italian, c. 1957

I acquired the cage-heeled painted-wood and white leather Italian mule (one of a pair) for the Bata Shoe Museum while I was the curator at Bata in the 1990s. Inside the heel is a pair of glass lovebirds on a swing.

I had forgotten about them until Milo and Irma of The Historialist found a  similar pair being modelled in 1957 in a British Pathe newsreel entitled Shoes of Tomorrow.

As Seen In – Eleanor of Toledo’s 1562 burial gown

Eleanor of Toledo, c. 1560

Eleanor of Toledo, c. 1560

There may be a new contender for the oldest extant illustrated garment. Until now I thought it was the c. 1610 jacket of Margaret Layton, but Daniel Milford-Cottam alerted me to a possible earlier garment worn by Eleanor of Toledo in one of her last portraits that was also possibly  her burial gown.

Spanish aristocrat Eleanor of Toledo married into the Tuscan Medici family at the age of 16. The union brought blue blood into the Medici clan, money into Eleanor’s family, and produced 11 children. Ill health plagued Eleanor most of her life and in 1562 she died from Malaria at about age 40.

The recovered bodice from her tomb looking like a very possible match to the dress in her portrait

The recovered bodice from her tomb looking like a very possible match to the dress in her portrait

In the 19th century her tomb was opened and body exhumed. The funereal dress she had been buried in was removed and is now kept in the Pitti Palace in Florence (the home bought by Eleanor and Cosimo Medici in 1549 that became the residence of the ruling families of Tuscany.) The sleeveless dress has metallic embroidery that seems to resemble what can be seen of the same bodice in one of her last portraits.

There is an interesting article that talks more about Eleanor of Toledo’s portraits, gowns and makes the initial supposition that the burial garment may be the one shown in her portrait.

As Seen In – Catalina Gingerbread Man Swimsuit

I had this bookmarked too long on Etsy – it sold before I could buy it, but I still have the pics. Gingerbread man print cotton swimsuit from Catalina, 1955:

As Seen In – Spring 1948 Dior

IMGP8774I acquired this Christian Dior 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.

As Seen In – Fishnet undies, c. 1970s

As Seen In — 1940 Perugia shoe?

Cotton braid gimp summer shoe with composite sole, French, c. 1940

Cotton braid gimp summer shoe with composite sole, French, c. 1940

This shoe has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It is one of a pair I bought off eBay 10 years or more ago for cheap – I  think they were $30.00. What intrigued me at the time is that they were most likely made during the war because of the lack of leather used in their construction. The upper is cotton gimp braid, the sock liners are cardboard, and the soles are some unusual composite that resembles oiled cork with coloured flecks. There is a slight stickiness to the sole material and it reeks of an oily chemically smell — it’s probably something  carcinogenic…

Advertisement for similar high-top summer shoe by Perugia, dated 1940

Advertisement for similar high-top summer shoe by Perugia, dated 1940.

I knew they looked familiar and although I have known of Perugia’s shoes for years I didn’t make the connection until today. My shoe is not labelled and is not identical in style to the 1940 Perugia shoe, but I think the connection is undeniable and it must be inspired by the Perugia design.

Perugia shoe from the collection of Melissa Leventon

Perugia shoe from the collection of Melissa Leventon