Fashion in Song: The Revolutionary Costume for Today – 2007

Oh, hi. Thank heaven you’re here.
You look absolutely terrific, honestly.
(Mother wanted me to come out in a kimono so we had quite a fight…)

The best kind of clothes for a protest pose
Is this ensemble of pantyhose
Pulled over the shorts, worn under the skirt
That doubles as a cape.

To reveal you in capri pants
You fashion out of ski pants,
In a jersey knit designed to fit
The contour of your shape.
Then cinch it with a cord from the drape.

And that’s the revolutionary costume for today.
To show the polo riders, in khakis and topsiders,
Just what a revolutionary costume has to say.
It can’t be ordered from L.L. Bean.
There’s more to living than kelly green.
And that’s the revolution, I mean.

Da da da da dum…

Just listen to this: The Hamptons Bee, July, 1972:
“The elderly bed-ridden aunt of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy,
Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale…”

My very own mother, can you imagine?

“…and her adult daughter, Miss Edie Beale,
a former debutante once known as Body Beautiful Beale…”

They called me Body Beautiul Beale, it’s true –
that was my whaddyacallit, my uh … sobriquet.

“…are living on Long Island in a garbage-ridden, filthy 28-room house with 52 cats,
fleas, cobwebs, and virtually no plumbing.
After vociferous complaints from neighbors,
the Board of Health took legal action against the reclusive pair.”

Why, it’s the most disgusting, atrocious thing ever to happen in America!

You fight City Hall with a Persian shawl
That used to hang on the bedroom wall,
Pinned under the chin, adorned with a pin
And pulled into a twist.

Reinvent the objet trouve,
Make a poncho from a duvet,
Then you can be with cousin Lee
On Mr. Blackwell’s list.
The full-length velvet glove hides the fist.

And that’s the revolutionary costume for today.
Subvert the CrisCraft boaters, those Nixon-Agnew voters.
Armies of conformity are headed right your way.
To make a statement you need not be
In Boston Harbor upending tea.
And that’s a Revolution, to me.

There’s nothin’ worse, I tell ya,
Staunch women, we just don’t weaken.
A little known fact to the fascist pack
Who comes here for antiquin’.

Da da da da dum…

Honestly, they can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday ?
and all that sort of thing.
I don’t know whether you know that ? I mean, do you know that?
They can get you for almost anything ? it’s a mean, nasty, Republican town.

The best kind of shoes to express bold views
Are strapless mules in assertive hues
Like fuscia or peach, except on the beach,
In which case you wear flats.

When I stood before the nation
At Jack’s inauguration,
In a high-heeled pump, I got the jump
on Jackie’s pillbox hat.
Just watch it where you step with the cat!

And that’s the revolutionary costume pour du jour.
You mix ‘n’ match and, Presto!
A fashion manifesto.
That’s why a revolutionary costume’s de rigeur.
The rhododendrons are hiding spies,
The pussy willows have beady eyes.
Binoculars through the privet hedge,
They peek at you through the window ledge with guile!

We’re in a Revolution!
So win the Revolution with style!

Da da da da dum.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Bonnie Stuart

Bonnie Stuart shoes began as the Galt Shoe Manufacturing Company in 1910. Founded by E.C. Getty in Galt, Ontario, the company was sold or taken over by Dr. Joseph Radford and his son-in-law Andrew M. Stuart. Radford was a prominent physician, the city of Galt’s medical officer of health, a school board chair, and Galt’s mayor from 1895 to 1899.

The company began to specialize in children’s shoes but after a fire destroyed the Galt plant in 1922, the company moved to Kitchener, Ontario. The Bonnie Stuart brand was introduced in the 1940s, and in 1961 the company was renamed Bonnie Stuart Shoes Ltd. The company went out of business in the late 1990s.

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Fashion Humour

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Beauty school drop out – the Lamoureaux Mannequin

Often mis-identified as a store window mannequin head or dating much older than they are, the Lamoureaux mannequin head was produced, with no change in design, from about the late 1930s to the mid 1960s. Made in a small factory in New York by Gloria and Leon Lamoureaux, the heads had real human hair, set in place with shellac insider the head. Purchased by beauty-school students to practice hairstyles, the heads went through “shampooing, curling, waving, combing, brushing, permanent waving, blocking and drying.” By the time the student had graduated, most of the hair was dried and fried on these poor old heads. The originals were made of latex, which hardens and cracks with age, causing paint to flake from the surface. By the late 1960s cutting and teasing was more important than setting and waving, and plastic rubber heads became more useful for teaching hairstylists than these Lamoureaux versions.

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I have this file where I throw in pictures that aren’t about fashion but that amuse or amaze me. It’s time to clean out that file, so here are some my OT images:

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Kuspuk – The Arctic Muumuu

When the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 the Western Arctic opened up for contact and trade. Christian missions were soon bringing salvation and modesty to the locals, who reportedly walked about dressed in either the skins of animals, or nothing at all (as this 1860 etching of the interior of an Eskimo dwelling depicts.)

The wrapper, a style of house dress made of printed cotton, usually with a flounced hemline and optional belt, were being mass produced by the 1890s. Missionaries gave Native women these unfitted frocks to cover their nakedness and they became popular throughout the South Pacific where the style was called a holoku or muumuu.
In Alaska, wrappers were worn as indoor dresses, but the brightly coloured cotton prints were also worn outdoors as covers over fur parkas. The style became a part of the traditional Alaskan Eskimo costume and slowly morphed over the years to include short versions with hoods and pockets.

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Patent Fashions – spring clasp Patent #1852188

This 1932 patent is for the addition of a spring to the clasp, so that the brooch or dress clip attaches firmly to whatever it has been put on. In this case the clasps are used to create a transformative brooch that can be broken up into a smaller brooch with two dress clips.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Army & Navy (1919 – 2020)

In March 1919 Sam Cohen, a native of San Francisco, and his brothers Joe and Harry opened a store at 44 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, B.C. to sell surplus army boots. Originally known as the Liberty store, the name was changed to Army & Navy in 1922, probably to leverage the marketing from the long-established English Army & Navy stores. The store sold military surplus as well as goods from other stores closing down and even advertised its own closing in 1927 as a publicity gimmick, reopening as ‘new and improved’ months later.

The original location

Sam bought out his brothers and, in 1938, bought a five-storey building at 27 West Hastings St., turning the original location into a shoe annex. In 1948 he opened a new store on Cordova street and in 1959 bought the adjacent Rex Theatre to tear down the 1913 movie palace for a nondescript expansion. Over the years the business expanded across Western Canada to include stores in New Westminster, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. The original location became famous for its annual shoe sale, first held in 1949.

Management of the business passed to his son Jack, but a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, necessitated bringing in Garth Kennedy, a non-family member, to help Jack manage the company for three decades. Jack’s son died of a drug overdose in 1978 and his eldest daughter died in a car crash in 1982, leaving his youngest daughter Jacqui to take over the family business, which she did after Jack died in 1995, and Kennedy died in 1998.

The Army and Navy became the longest running department store in Vancouver. However, department stores have been struggling with low profit margins since the 1980s, and even more so since the turn-of-the-century with online shopping. COVID-19 was too much for the business and the Army & Navy stores did not reopen after the quarantine shutdown in March.

The recently renovated Army & Navy department store, Vancouver
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DeMario jewellery 1945 – 1965

Robert De Mario founded his jewellery business in New York in 1945. The company quickly received a reputation for quality hand-made costume jewellery, however, their success was short lived, and they ceased to exist in 1965.

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SCP hallmarked silver brooch, c. 1930, by CIRO, England

CIRO Jewelry began as a mail order company in London, England in 1917. Their ads and order forms were printed in daily newspapers. In 1920 CIRO opened its first store in Bond Street, London. In the 1920s they became especially known for their cultured pearls. Real pearls were expensive and fake pearls before the 1920s were wax or glass and not very convincing, but cultured pearls were good facsimiles of the real thing and CIRO lead the way in their popularity. Fifty years later CIRO also lead the way in popularizing zircons as realistic diamond substitutes. The company is still in business.

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