Canadian Fashion Connection – Givenchy

Eight years ago a picture of a brocade suit with a Givenchy label from the early 60s was posted on the Vintage Fashion Guild by Kelly-Anne. I was sure her suit couldn’t be a Givenchy because, although the brocade fabric was nice, the construction was standard factory work typical of the era. As well, the skirt had a Canadian union manufacturer’s tag. 

At the time Kelly-Anne posted her pictures in 2013, there had been more than a few incidents of less-than-reputable online sellers removing designer labels from men’s ties and sewing them into dresses and suits. I myself was once duped into buying a suit with an added designer label. In my case, the dealer, who rarely dealt in vintage clothing, took the suit back without an argument, and she may have bought it that way herself. However, there were a few well-known sellers who were regularly making these alterations on purpose, concocting fake stories to accompany the label about how they got the garment from the original owner who had worn it for her going away outfit, or graduation ceremony, or bought it on her first trip to Paris… One dealer in Israel was notorious for this, but despite being regularly reported to Etsy she sold her fakes for years without repercussion. 

After vociferously declaring that the Givenchy suit must be a fake, and suggesting Kelly-Anne confront the seller (who had a story about the original owner), the discussion petered out and the thread slowly slipped away into the backlog of Vintage Fashion Guild archived conversations. But then, three weeks ago, Modamuzesi, a collector from Lebanon who owned the same suit in a different colourway but with the same label, showed up with evidence that the suit was, in fact, a licensed copy of a Givenchy design.

He posted a snippet from the August 30, 1960 issue of Women’s Wear Daily, that noted Marvin Warsh, vice-president of the Toronto clothing manufacturing firm J.H. Warsh & Co. Ltd., signed a contract with Givenchy to reproduce clothes under Givenchy’s boutique label for the Canadian market. The line would become available that October through better stores across Canada and retail between $50 and $100 (the equivalent of $450 – $900 today).

Film and Fashion – The Sack of Rome…

I finally watched Fellini’s 1960 film La Dolce Vita the other day. Everybody knows parts of the film – its ingrained in our culture, but I felt it was time to know all of it. It’s a bit long but I find I am still thinking about it, and that’s a good sign. There are plenty of  reviews about what the film means so I won’t go into that, but what I did find particularly interesting is that the inspiration for this film was the sack dress!

In various interviews, Fellini claims La dolce Vita was inspired by the sack dress style. Balenciaga is usually credited with its invention, however, many designers had versions of the style in 1957 including Givenchy and Norman Norell. The sack style looked glamorous but hid the female form.

Commenting on the style, Fellini said: “I saw women walking along dressed in a fantastic and extraordinary way, so fascinating that it set light to my imagination.” Brunello Rondi, Fellini’s co-screenwriter and collaborator, confirmed the story explaining that “the fashion of women’s sack dresses… struck Fellini because they rendered a woman very gorgeous who could, instead, be a skeleton of squalor and solitude inside.”