Tag Archives 1940s fashion

Faux fur from Helen Moore

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Faux fur from Helen Moore is the best Winter (and beyond) accessory for a vintage girl. And if you wonder who would wear faux fur in the Summer, wonder no more because I definitely would wear it regardless of the season. Their sumptuous and very 1930s looking Slim Vixen scarf being the perfect example, as it would make for an ideal addition to a vintage floor length evening gown. It would also look divine paired with a couture blouse with short sleeves and a longer 1940s skirt.

 

I have already mentioned this British brand, synonymous with luxury faux fur, in my article ‘Winter essentials for the vintage girl’. If you haven’t read it as yet, perhaps take a look at it, as it has a lot of tips on how to stay warm during the Winter season without compromising the vintage look! But I wanted to return to reviewing them again now, as winter is still with us and it’s so refreshing to finally find a contemporary brand, that creates beautiful, vintage-inspired faux fur accessories without compromising on the quality of their products. Everything is designed and hand-made in Devon, the Helen Moore brand being a family run business, which explains perhaps why so much attention is paid to every detail, resulting in very happy costumers and devoted fans, who, like me, will always return for more!

 

Even though there are many contemporary pieces in Helen Moore’s collections, perfect for the modern woman, as a vintage girl I’m obviously drawn to vintage-inspired accessories. I’m told that my favourite Slim Vixen Scarf, was based on a fox fur that Helen’s mother wore. Same as the lovely Tippet scarf, obviously at that time made of a real fur. As I am someone who chooses not to wear real fur, to find a real purveyor of faux fur is a sheer delight and I love that the brand produces breathtaking, warm pieces that are without a doubt the perfect alternative for those opposed to wearing real fur.

luxury faux fur Helen Moore

Luxury faux fur from Helen Moore.

luxury faux fur from Helen Moore

In the picture by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing a faux fur Pillbox hat and Jet Faux Fur Vintage collar from my beloved  Helen Moore brand.

luxury faux fur Helen Moore

Faux fur cape and hat from Helen Moore are the perfect alternative to real fur!

For my latest look, I chose;

Ocelot Faux Fur Pillbox hat from Helen Moore

Jet Faux Fur Slim Vixen Scarf from Helen Moore

Truffle Faux Fur Vintage Muff, from the wedding collection, from Helen Moore

Couture blouse from Veroni Deco

Original 1940s skirt

Vintage velvet cape

Lea tights from Wolford

Photography, Gregory Michael King

Faux fur from Helen Moore

In the picture by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing; a 1940s skirt and velvet cape, paired with Couture top from Veroni Deco, faux fur hat, scarf and muff from Helen Moore, Wolford tights and 1950s gloves.

vintage fashion blog

Faux fur from Helen Moore is the perfect choice for a vintage vixen.

faux fur from Helen Moore. Vintage fashion.

As you can see, the faux fur scarf works great with clothes that can be worn also in the Summer!

vintage fashion in Winter

Mixing vintage fashion with contemporary designers. 1940s skirt, velvet cape, paired with faux fur hat from Helen Moore and Wolford Lea tights.

faux fur from Helen Moore. Vintage fashion in Winter.

faux fur from Helen Moore. Vintage fashion in Winter.

faux fur from Helen Moore. Vintage fashion blog

What I think about shooting in the mud.       

“Nigel: If she doesn’t like it she shakes her head. Then, of course, there’s the pursing of the lips.
Andy Sachs: Which means?
Nigel: Catastrophe.” Devil Wears Prada

 

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All black vintage look. How to wear all black!

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An all black vintage look might be just the right idea for those of you who are as fond of the colour black as I am.

It is also the perfect colour for anyone who is new to the world of vintage and at the stage of now contemplating the purchase of their very first vintage piece of clothing.

“You can wear black at any time. You can wear it at any age. You may wear it for almost any occasion; a ‘little black frock’ is essential to a woman’s wardrobe. “Christian Dior

Even though black is often used as a symbol of death, mourning as well as witches and magic, for me, it represents elegance, power and individuality. Also, as an old-school Goth, I’m rather thrilled that it’s associated with darkness and Victorian mourning attire. That also explains my fascination with XIX century funeral capes which I have in abundance. It’s the prefered attire colour of a Femme Fatale and if you are curious about her history in the 19th Century paintings, Film Noir and 1930s-1040s Fashion, I suggest you read my article on that very topic.

Black clothes in paintings

Carolus-Duran “The Lady with the Glove” 1869, John Singer Sargent “Madame X” 1883-84, Giovanni Boldini “Dutches of Marlborough” 1906.

Regardless of the colour’s meaning, first and foremost remember that it’s flattering to the figure and easily styled. You can find out from my article about the little black dress, how I can turn one simple black dress from a day to an evening ensemble.

1940s fashion - femme fatale (9)

All black vintage look. True 1940s jacket, a 1950s skirt and Wolford tights.

1940s fashion - femme fatale (8)

All black vintage look

All black vintage look.1940s fashion - femme fatale (7)

All black vintage look

1940s fashion - femme fatale (6)

All black vintage look

1940s fashion - femme fatale (5)

Wolford Luna tights

1940s fashion - femme fatale (3)

1940s fashion - femme fatale (2)

Photography by Gregory Michael King 

 

For my all black vintage look I opted for;

A 1940s jacket

A 1950s Handmacher skirt

A 1950s Garay purse

Luna Wolford tights

An antique cameo

 

Do you like wearing an all black vintage look as much as I do?

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The Starlet’s Stylist vintage shop

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As part of the  vintage shop of the week segment of my blog, I’m very excited to present you with The Starlet’s Stylist, a shop that has been on my radar ever since I discovered it on Instagram. Run by Sylvia, a person with extraordinary taste in vintage garments, who used to test the vintage market by teasing us all with little previews of what was to come, before finally opening  her Etsy shop, where you now can find the most exquisite 1930s and 1940s evening gowns worthy of Joan Crawford.

 

Starlets Stylist

Breathtaking 1950s orange gown available at The Starlet’s Stylist Vintage Etsy shop.

1950s swing coat

1950s swing coat

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?
The Starlet’s Stylist:  I have degrees in anthropology, history and international studies with various specializations within each field so the past has always been an interest to me. In high school I collected reproductions of ancient artwork and jewellery and I wore them or incorporated them into my school work in whatever way I could. I had big stacks of history books that I read from cover to cover and as I grew up I often found myself in places or at events that were somehow related to history. It was inevitable that I would discover vintage jewellery, hats, clothing and purses and of course once I put them on, I was forever in love. It wasn’t until recently that I realised I had access to good vintage fashion in one hand and due to social media, I had access to vintage enthusiasts from around the world in the other hand. It just made sense to try to unite the two and I am so glad I did.
1940s Japanese hostess gown
Dominique de Merteuil: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?
The Starlet’s Stylist: I focus on pieces from the first seventy years of the previous century. I think it’s the sweet spot in terms of wearability and aesthetic appeal. I sell jewellery, hats, purses, and lingerie in addition to clothing. I tend to gravitate toward evening gowns for some reason, especially those from the 1930’s and 1940’s. They’re just so feminine and regal and unlike anything you can get in stores these days. I’ve sold quite a few, still have quite a few and there are quite a few more on their way to the shop!
1940s evening gown

1940s evening gown

1950s hostess gown

1950s Suzy Perette dress

1950s Suzy Perette dress

Dominique de Merteuil: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

The Starlet’s Stylist: You know what? I love “the hunt” for vintage. I swear I tend to belly flop through life like I don’t know what I’m doing (because I don’t) but when it comes to hunting good vintage, I’m as graceful as a ballet dancer. Some sources can be very hectic, competitive and like a mad dash but I don’t sweat it in the slightest. I move slow, take my time, observe my surroundings, chat to people, have a snack, get stuck in a porta potty (why does that happen so much?) make friends, contemplate lunch, and before I know it I’ve had the time of my life and I’ve got bags of really good stuff! So my process for selecting stock really doesn’t extend much beyond: “ooooh this is pretty!” and “wheeeeee this is fun.” It’s not the most business savvy approach but it seems to work for me.
1950s dress
Dominique de Merteuil: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)  
The Starlets Stylist: Sources can be three things: places, events or people. I spend a lot of time independently sourcing stock but it would be unfair to omit the fact that the most important of the three is the people. I have met so many wonderful, warm and generous people and without them, I don’t think I would be as successful as I have been so far. This industry in my experience, like anything in life, is all about the relationships you foster with people. If you want to have a vintage shop of your own it really is about who you know. You have to talk to people and you have to charm the pants off them! Not literally of course, not unless you could sell them… haha!
Dominique de Merteuil:  What is your favourite period in time and why?
The Starlet’s Stylist: Right now my favourite period in time is the late 1700’s. Political movements were taking place that were enormous and colonialism began to impact people in ways the world hadn’t contended with before. If not then, then the early 1900’s when medical advancements were taking place that catapulted humanity into health and longevity. I always say I want to be a World War One field nurse when I grow up because the things they were doing then were incredible. Did you know if you broke your leg back then you had an incredibly high chance of dying within six months? The Great War changed all of that! Anyway, in terms of fashion and what I sell, I adore the 1920’s. I love the opulence and the sensuality of it all. I love how the dresses were shapeless but the fabric and the beading are more suggestive and racier than anything today! I also think quality in general has been on a steady decline ever since. There is a reason why 50’s reproduction clothing is passable for some vintage enthusiasts but 20’s reproduction almost never makes the grade. It’s easy to find pretty cotton novelty prints but not so easy to find sequins and beads that don’t look cheap and juvenile. Don’t get me started on modern silk or lame fabrics!
1940s velvet dress

1940s velvet dress from The Stylists Starlet vintage shop of the week.

1960s Ruth Claridge dress

1960s Ruth Claridge dress

1940s Louella Ballerino dress

1940s Louella Ballerino dress can be found in The Starlet’s Stylist Etsy shop!

Dominique de Merteuil:  What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?
The Starlet’s Stylist: After knowing your measurements and any additional fit concerns that are particular to your body like wide hips (me!), broad shoulders or long torso, my advice is to buy what you like. Is that too simple? It really is that simple. In my experience, people who are interested in trying vintage fashion for the first time, often over-complicate it. I think this is due to two things; one is this strange obsession with having the perfect body and the other is the casual approach to fashion these days. As a result, people think in order to wear what they like they need to be perfect or they need an occasion to “dress up.” It’s a bit of cognitive dissonance because we must be creatures of perfection and yet we need to be muted and casual to fit in. A flow of silly thinking happens as a result and we either end up just admiring from afar or we wet our toes with one or two vintage pieces that blend well with modern life for a look that we didn’t really want. But why do that? In my mind it’s much better to buy what inspires you. Wear what you like, do what you like, and if you need help contact the seller with your questions. If she is anything like me she wouldn’t mind helping you out! The last thing I want to sell is disappointment so I really try my best to help people figure out if an item will work for them.
Dominique de Merteuil: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?
The Starlet’s Stylist: My favourite shop item was a dress that belonged to Miss Canada 1954. The only reason why I sold it was because it was too big for me but it was one of the most well made dresses I have ever found. It was the perfect little black wiggle dress with just the right about of elegance and sex appeal. The fabric was soft and figure hugging but with great movement and the arms and shoulders were sheer black. Her name was Barbara Joan Markham and she once said she didn’t know why she won and that she had only entered so she could showcase her fine art skills. Whatever Barbara, you were a total babe and whoever bought your dress is babe-lier for it!
1954 dress

Miss Canada dress from 1954

Another of my favourite finds is a couture 1930’s gown by Germaine Monteil. It’s so iconic to the era with the vibrant pink, the black lace and the bias cut! It’s currently available as it only hit the shop not too long ago!
The Starlets Stylist

1930’s couture gown by Germaine Monteil

I also have to say that whenever I sell a piece of 40’s lingerie I cry a little inside. I can’t keep it all but I don’t think anything out there makes me feel womanly and glamorous more so than a 40’s peignoir, dressing gown or slip. This one has sold but I do have a charmeuse peignoir set available in the shop!
1940s peignoir

1940s peignoir

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find? 
The Starlet’s Stylist: As exciting as it can be to find certain clothing labels, I don’t really search for any in particular but I do when it comes to jewellery! I think jewellery companies tend to differ in creative flare and manufacture much more than clothing brands in any given era. For example, a 1940’s suit is more or less always going to be a 1940’s suit no matter who made it. Sure some are better than others but generally they all stick to the same fashion formula. Jewellery on the other hand, often differs stylistically within the same era from one company to another. I absolutely love Ostby and Barton rings from the 1910’s and 1920’s. They stand out with their delicate metal work and large glass/gemstones. Fun fact: Ostby himself went down with the Titanic. I also love Miriam Haskell sets from the 30’s and 40’s as well as Mazer and McClelland Barclay. Fun fact: Barclay went down with a ship that was torpedoed in the Pacific during World War Two. What is it with jewellery makers and ships?
vintage jewellery

Beautiful selection of vintage jewellery from The Starlets Stylist.

vintage hats
Dominique de Merteuil: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?
The Starlet’s Stylist: I spend 85% of my time in tired yoga pants (ain’t no yoga happening) and t-shirts that smell like pizza. I just cracked myself up because I shouldn’t be so honest but it’s just the truth. I am a mother to two little girls and wife to a career man and while “mother” and “wife” are the last two things I would say to describe myself, I have responsibilities to these people I share my life with. These responsibilities are the natural born nemesis of vintage and since the preservation of my historical artefacts and vintage clothing is the only thing I take seriously in life, I am in slob mode 85% of the time. However, I am naturally a very feminine person and I have always been very particular about what I wear outside of the house. In fact, I decided to give birth at home in the middle of being in labour because I didn’t want to get dressed to go the hospital. Haha! Before I get in trouble for saying that I just want to add that in Canada midwives are educated and regulated healthcare professionals that have medical and legal license to deliver babies at home or at hospitals. It’s a very different health care system compared to some parts of the world! It was a very safe decision after a very long (oh god it was so long) and healthy pregnancy. So “tired yoga pants lady” very much exists but so does the woman who wears 50’s Mexican circle skirts to the grocery store, 40s day dresses when out with friends, 60’s mod dresses when shopping, and 20’s and 30’s gowns or coats when at a function with the husband. I haven’t managed to attempt vintage hair styling and I love modern makeup (hello bronzer!) so I never really look like I’ve stepped out of the past. I’m not entirely sure what I look like to the modern eye or even to the eye of the vintage purist but it doesn’t really matter because it’s all just clothing. It’s all “just clothing” says the woman who took over the walk-in closet and put her husband’s clothes on a rolling rack somewhere, haha!

Joan Crawford inspired look

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Joan Crawford inspired look

Partaking in my pleasure for being a dissolute designer of lists, if I was to name only five of my favourite movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s, it would have to be without doubt or hesitation; Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich and of course the Queen Bee herself, Joan Crawford who I’ve taken ample inspiration from for my latest look which should not be confused with me trying to be a copycat but rather seen as an Ode to an actresses who I’ve been fascinated with since the age of seven.

The queen of the silver screen once famously said “I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.” Always glamorous, known on and off the movie set for being a true perfectionist, with a distinctive style adorned and copied by fans all over the world. How powerful her influence on the public really was we learn from the August edition of Click magazine printed in 1938 “The greatest fashion influence in America, stylists now sadly admit, it the much-glamourized, much-imitated movie queen. What she wears is news, eagerly copied by girls all over country who want to look like Crawford or Loy. The most widely imitated star, Joan Crawford, started more girls wearing kerchiefs for hats.” Which almost ruined the $250,000,000 millinery business.

Joan knew from the early days of her career that there was more to being a movie star than just having a talent. She understood that creating a strong persona, an image if you like, could be achieved with the help of a costumier and who better to help her with achieving the goal than one of the biggest costume designers of the 1930s-1940s, known as Adrian, whom she later described as the greatest costume designer among all designers. And who could disagree with her statement, after all, the creative genius was not only responsible for designing costumes for some of Joan’s iconic films such as; Dancing Lady, Our Blushing Brides, Mannequin, The Bride Wore Red, Letty Lynton (The Letty Lynton white organdy dress was the most copied dress in the world in the 1930s!) to name just a few but he is also credited for the  famous wide-shoulder look, synonymous with Crawford even today. 

It’s a look that suits me really well (in fact the bigger the shoulder pads the better) and one of the main reasons why my wardrobe consists mainly of garments from the 1930s and 1940s.

Without further ado I present you with my Joan Crawford inspired look which consists of;

  • True 1940s cocktail dress, which I bought from XTABAY vintage shop on Etsy
  • Acne shoes
  • costume ring bought many moons ago in Paris

 

 

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford photographed by George Hurrell in 1936

 

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford inspired look

Joan Crawford inspired hair.

Joan Crawford in Adrian

Joan Crawford

vintage fashion blog

My Joan Crawford inspired look consists of true 1940s dress and Acne shoes. “You have to be self-reliant and strong to survive in this town. Otherwise you will be destroyed.”

Joan Crawford inspired look

I think that the most important thing a woman can have – next to talent, of course – is her hairdresser.” Joan Crawford

Vintage fashion blog

“I have always known what I wanted, and that was beauty… in every form.” Joan Crawford

1940s dress

Joan Crawford inspired look. “Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.” Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford look

Channeling my inner Joan Crawford in a beautiful 1930s inspired gown from 1683 Atelier.

 

 

Sultry Vintage shop of the week!

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Sultry Vintage shop of the week is one of those magical places where you will always find something that will be the perfect addition to your vintage wardrobe. Even if you already have two dozen 1940s day dresses or in my case velvet boleros, Lauren, the lady behind Sultry Vintage, constantly adds irresistible new pieces to her Etsy shop and you will struggle to leave empty handed!

It’s Beyond My Control: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Sultry Vintage:  The beginnings of my adventure in selling vintage was a light bulb moment and a calculated risk. My husband has a job that moves him around quite often and so when we met I was established as an artist and floral designer and enjoying what steady employment brings to one’s life. That quickly changed once we decided we couldn’t live without one another and each move meant I had to reintroduce myself to a new community and find new work – not often was it a quick process and so I kept lamenting the fact that I wanted to be working but it would take so long to find a good job with each move. I needed something I could do anywhere, anytime that kept me gainfully employed and busy. I wasn’t a stranger to owning my own business, I was a business major in college, my work as a professional artist is a business in its own right, so I was familiar with what it took – I also had/have an insane passion for vintage everything, specifically clothing, and I noticed there was a community built up around that same passion. After hours of internet window shopping (and buying) through some amazing vintage lady’s shops I turned to my husband and told him I thought I could do this. I knew vintage as I’d been collecting since I was a teen, I could sew as I grew up with my mother owning her own seamstress business – so buttons and thread everywhere – I knew the logistics of business from all angles, and I bet on myself. I gave myself a timeline and a set amount in investment in the startup of my plan and insanely enough, it all worked out better than I could have hoped. I work vey hard, I learned all I could about everything clothing from prehistory to modern (which is a never ending learning process), I put all my focus on quality pieces and treating the customer with the upmost care and consideration, and three years on (through some starts, stalls, and pauses) Sultry Vintage is still a thing – which makes me really happy.

 

sultry vintage shop of the week

Breathtaking 1970s dress does 1940s!

Sultry vintage shop of the week

Breathtaking 1970s dress does 1930s-1940s!

1940s lounge set

1940s lounge set from Sultry vintage shop of the week!

It’s Beyond My Control: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc? Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

Sultry Vintage: In my shop you’ll find clothing that makes me stop dead in my tracks. When I’m out on the hunt I tend to push through piles and piles of clothing quickly and it almost becomes an instinctual process. One time I wasn’t even looking at a rack I was walking by but my hand fell on silk velvet and I had to stop, step back, and there was a 20s cocoon collar coat buried between a mess of modern clothes. I tend to source pieces that speak to me personally, but I’m also tuned in to what people are asking for – this includes outstanding gowns as well as daily wear dresses and staples like separates. I focus on the Edwardian era up through the 50s/60s with some 70s pieces. The reasoning behind it is as practical as it is an aesthetic choice – pieces older than the 1900s tend to be difficult to wear and care for, and my goal is to have all these pieces worn again, and I think the quality of garments really starts to fall off towards the late 60s into the 70s – but above all that I focus more on cut and materials. The date of a garment matters less to me than how beautifully it’s made and if the materials are second to none. (With the exception of some poly in the loud, psychedelic 60s, I can’t keep away from that era!) I don’t often pick up accessories (hats, shoes, bags, etc) but you can be sure when I do, they’re truly stunning standouts. My process is that of first being able to locate where vintage clothing may be found (not such an easy task anymore and a lot of research in its own right), then assessing condition before I even begin to think about anything else. Sadly, for each piece I find in wearable condition I probably pass over about a hundred that are not – and this is no exaggeration. My heart breaks constantly when I have to make the tough decision say, on a silk 20s gown, that is so beyond normal (or even expert) repair that the time it would take to restore it would be an unwise business decision. Only the most special pieces do I take on to save when I can. So once I’ve found them and the condition question is out of the way it comes down to what I said before, did the piece stop me in my tracks. It’s that simple for me, it either makes my heart pound or it doesn’t, and that determines if it comes home with me.

1930s sunglasses

1930s sunglasses

sultry vintage shop of the week

Late 1930s, early 1940s velvet bolero, that I wish I had seen first in Sultry Vintage shop but beautiful vintage pieces wait for nobody!

1940s dress

This unbelievable 1940s dress is yet another example of what you can find in Sultry Vintage shop of the week!

It’s Beyond My Control: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

Sultry Vintage: This is a tough one because I think currently there are “open secrets” – i.e obvious places – to find vintage, but the specifics I think every seller is trying to keep close to the vest. With vintage becoming more scarce and the demand going up (which is a good thing in light of fast fashion!) it becomes more taxing on our time and wallets to find and source quality vintage, so with this question I’ll simply say that if you’re familiar with hunting out vintage then you already know where to look, but as to my own personal spots, that knowledge goes down with this ship.

It’s Beyond My Control: What is your favourite period in time and why?

Sultry Vintage: This changes so often it’s really hard for me to consistently have a favorite – mostly too that could be because I think each era has it’s points where it really shines and I love to mix. For me, the accessories/jewelry of the Edwardian/20s are beyond a doubt my favorite, the lingerie of the 20s is an obsession of mine (seriously, if your collection has no 20s silk step-ins you have no idea what you’re missing), 30s evening wear and their finer day wear / loungewear are everything, the 40s pretty much knocks it out on all fronts, the bombshell glam of the 50s is startling powerful and beautiful, and the era that holds a personal spot in my heart is the mod/psychedelic 60s. It was the first era I became obsessed with as a young teen and I would spend hours searching out dresses I could never afford at the time, and the irreverent fun of of it all – I’ll always love it.

1920s day dress

Beautiful 1920s day dress.

1940s swing dress

Gorgeous 1940s swing dress from Sultry Vintage shop of the week!!

Edwardian blouse

It’s Beyond My Control: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

Sultry Vintage: Best advice – Know your measurements, know your body – this is key! Perhaps swing into a local vintage shop and try on some pieces from different eras (but please! Know your measurements and don’t squeeze into a piece you may tear – that’s always a tragedy!) You may love the 50s/20s but have a figure for the 40s (as is the case with me. Dear 50s/20s I love you, I wish we worked better together) and taking the time to see these garments in person will build your vintage and fashion vocabulary so you know what to shop for online where a broader selection of pieces in a range of sizes can be searched out. It’s just my feeling but I think you can really start with whatever pieces you’d like when starting buying vintage. Go with what brings you joy and is comfortable. If you happen to love shoes or bags or dresses or jewelry, start with what you like best and build out your collection from there. Trust me when I say that one passion leads to another and your collection will evolve naturally with plenty of people along the way to connect and share with. Soon you’ll find yourself adding pieces to your wardrobe you’d never have considered at first – and that’s the thrill of collecting! My advice about purchasing vintage? Know who you’re buying from. Vintage is an investment and if you want to be sure you’re getting the best, authentic pieces, accurately represented, then check out how the shop presents and details their pieces as well as what others have to say. Vintage shop owners are exceptionally passionate people, this is more than just a business for most of us and we want you to be nothing short of thrilled with collecting vintage yourself, so search out the people who are as passionate as you are and trust that you’ll always be treating yourself to the best vintage.

It’s Beyond My Control: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?

Sultry Vintage: My three favourite pieces I’ve ever sold (tough choices!) would have to be an absolutely impeccable Edwardian blouse that was as fresh as the day it was made and looks like it could have stepped off a McQueen runway, a 1930s surrealist inspired evening gown in iridescent liquid satin, and the dress that started it all for my little shop – a (probably designer) French 1920s sheer net sequinned art deco gown that was bought by the founder of Ripley’s Believe it or Not for his mistress, who lived near my hometown. Each of these pieces were really holy grail pieces to find that just to have held them in my hands at one time was such a thrill. These are the pieces that I think totally justify fashion’s elevation to an art form and I hope they’re living their best life with their new owners! haha. One more I have to throw in to balance out these three decadent stunners is this 20s silk day dress that I wouldn’t have ever let go of if it fit me. The sheer simplicity, made with such a sumptuous fabric, it will always stand out as this piece being the one that got away for me!

Sultry vintage shop of the week

Beautiful Edwardian blouse from Sultry Vintage shop of the week!

Sultry vintage shop of the week

1930s surrealist style evening gown

Very dreamy 1930s surrealist style evening gown. Sultry Vintage shop of the week!

It’s Beyond My Control: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

Sultry Vintage: Favourite vintage brands that are difficult to find, I think I need to rephrase that to designers & impossible! As far as brands go in vintage I tend to have expensive taste and love decadence. I blame the pochoir illustrations I fell in love with as a teen from 20s magazines for my obsession with designer fashion. Poiret and Vionnet, and because of the silver screen (my first love, old film) Orry-Kelly. What can I say, I adore glamour.

It’s Beyond My Control: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

 Sultry Vintage: In my wardrobe are more 20s-40s evening gowns than I’ll ever have a chance to wear unless I become a socialite! I love silks, satins, and velvets. My collection includes silk velvet day and evening dresses, a prized liquid satin 30s gown (a la Carloe Lombard), a lamé 20s dress, lots of 30s/40s daywear, and a healthy amount of 20s lingerie – just to name a few, forgetting all the skirts, separates, and accessories. I try to wear vintage every chance I get. With my work as a painter and floral designer unfortunately I can’t often wear my pieces on the job but I’ve no shame in over dressing (like there is such a thing, pah!) to go out, because, why not?! While I adore the gals who go for the full on authentic era look that requires more work than I can put in so my look is usually a mix of vintage and carefully considered, quality modern pieces. It may just be the sunglasses and a bag, or even an art nouveau hair clip, but everyday I try to incorporate vintage into my look.

Crush Vintage shop of the week!

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Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentleman! For my weekly Q&A in the Vintage Shop Of The Week section, which you can read more about  HERE! I present you with Crush Vintage, run by two friends whose mutual passion for vintage fashion led to the creation of a a shop filled with real treasures for savvy vintage shoppers like myself and where you can find garments dating to as early as 1800! With such an exquisite selection of coats from the 1930s-1980s it’s a real struggle to leave their Etsy shop without clicking the “add to cart” button.

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Crush Vintage: I started out first on Ebay (during the Sophia Amoruso/Nasty Gal days!) just wanting to sell some of my unworn items, and quickly progressed into building a real customer base. I moved over to Etsy a few years later and haven’t looked back!

Dominique de Merteuil: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

Crush Vintage: You can find all eras and clothing types from the 1970’s and older in the shop. We specialize in wearable vintage that will blend into any modern wardrobe.

1930s dress

1970s dress Stephen Burrows

Rare Stephen Burrows dress from the 70s in dusky pink rayon. You can buy this beauty from Crush Vintage  via their Etsy shop!

1930s silk gown from Crush Vintage

Breathtaking 1930s silk gown from Crush Vintage! 

Beautiful 1940s Dorothy O’Hara dress can be purchased from Crush Vintage Etsy shop but hurry up because It’s not going to stay there long!

 

Dominique de Merteuil: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

Crush Vintage: When purchasing an item, I run through many questions in my head: Is it in good condition? Can you picture a modern day girl wearing it? Would I wear it? Is it too costume-y or just the right amount of bonkers one of a kind amazing?

Dominique de Merteuil: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

Crush Vintage: It is getting really hard finding good vintage nowadays that I have to search high and low for it! I also have great relationships with several estate sales companies and vendors. And also keeping in touch with those with big vintage collections. I have been cultivating one lead for three years! But she is getting close to selling me her collection…..very soon hopefully.

 

1940s Princess coat from Crush Vintage

One of the most beautiful 1940s coats I’ve ever seen! Available at Crush Vintage Etsy shop!

1940s tilt hat

Beautiful 1940s tilt hat from Crush Vintage!

1930s velvet coat from Crush Vintage

1930s velvet coat by I.Magnin & Co Importers from Crush Vintage.

1950s skirt suit in sapphire blue from Crush Vintage

Dominique de Merteuil: What is your favourite period in time and why?

Crush Vintage: My favorite period in time is right now! I love fashion’s inclusiveness and the fact that you can wear anything and everything and still look chic!

Dominique de Merteuil:  What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

Crush Vintage: The advice I would give someone who is starting their vintage collection is: Buy What You Love and Buy It Right Away. Don’t hesitate. It something speaks to you, get it. Vintage right now is so hot, and the good things get snapped up quickly. You can start with coats, jewelry, handbags, whatever you need to enhance your wardrobe. Oh…and keep your measurements handy!

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?

Crush Vintage: Some of my favorite items are priceless things we unearthed. We have had several Adrian items (one gown and some suits!) and an amazing Poiret cape that was sold to a collector. That thrill of finding that hidden tag never gets old!

Poiret cape from Crush Vintage

Skirt suit by Adrian from Crush Vintage

Dress by Adrian from Crush Vintage

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

Crush Vintage: My favorite vintage brands are so wide and varied! I love Dorothy O’Hara, Lilli Ann, Ceil Chapman…. but there are so many wonderful items with no labels too, we don’t discriminate. I think we have become too label conscious when really, it should be all about construction and quality.

Dominique de Merteuil: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

Crush Vintage: I collect coats! Although, living in California I don’t get a chance to wear them too much! But I love that you can wear jeans and a t-shirt and throw a good jacket/coat on top and look completely chic! I get so many compliments on my vintage leopard coats.

 

NEWSLETTER

La Belle Vintage – shop of the week!

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If I was to describe Sascha, the owner of La Belle Vintage, in just a word or two, Vintage-Fairy is what springs immediately to mind. The reason being, is that Sascha makes vintage dreams come true by finding exactly what I’m looking for and in great condition so, that I don’t have to stress out about the possibility of having to mend, which I’m truly awful at.  Apart from being very knowledgeable on the topic of vintage fashion, as well as costume restoration, Sascha is also incredibly kind and generous, making the whole process of buying vintage clothes a delightful experience and making me always want to come back for more! You can see my breathtaking 1940s dress from La Belle Vintage here!

la belle vintage

Beautifully wrapped dress from La Belle Vintage!

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

1930s Henri Bendel Lace Evening Gown

Incredible 1930s Henri Bendel Lace Evening Gown Bolero L Vintage Black & Gold Alencon Lace Art Deco Dress Set. Available at La Belle Vintage Etsy shop!

LA BELLE VINTAGE: Well, I started selling vintage out of necessity rather than choice. When I first came to New York in the 1990’s and wanted to start my Master’s degree in costume history, I found it difficult to find a job that would accept English (UK) qualifications as an equivalent to US qualifications. I remember having two Bachelor degrees back then and potential employers asking me if I had a GED.

Eventually, I got a job working part time at a New York museum. I learned a tremendous lot in the costume department which has shaped my vintage and restoration knowledge. I was then able to start my Master’s at FIT.

In order to supplement my income as I was the sole breadwinner for my family, I started selling the pieces that I worked on in class. The pieces that were used for the practical part of the courses were eventually sold for much more that I had anticipated. These pieces were usually found at flea markets, swap meets etc and were in deplorable condition. However, I was able to restore them to wearable standards and thus a business was born!

I sold at a few flea markets in Manhattan (yes, I am the girl who used to be on the “A” train with a dress form and a suitcase every Saturday morning J) and eventually started selling on eBay in 1999. Back then, there were no photos on ebay. You had to manually take photos with a camera, get them developed and send them to potential customers! It was a long process and then you mostly got paid with checks/money order via snail mail. When Paypal came around, I launched my website and have sold on Etsy since 2007. I have been doing costume designing on the side, so I have a full plate.

This adventure has overtaken every aspect of my life, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing 🙂

Dominique de Merteuil:What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: I sell clothing, shoes, and accessories from all eras. I don’t specialize in any particular time period as each decade has had something special to offer in terms of style.

You will however find the most crazy vintage novelty purses ever at my shop. I love novelty handbags, especially animal shaped ones and the ones that I don’t keep, usually end up in the shop 🙂

wicker frog purse

HUGE Wicker Frog Purse Vintage Convertible Shoulder Bag ~ Custom Creation

vintage beach playsuit

Tribal Tiki Print 40s Beach Playsuit Vintage Sarong Shorts Bra Top Cover-up Set. Available at La Belle Vintage Etsy shop!

Dominique de Merteuil: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: Everything MUST be wearable! Under-arm stains, tears, holes are a huge no-no at my shops. I spend hours a day working on restoring damaged vintage before listing them. When my customers receive an item from me, it must be ready to wear out of the box. A customer shouldn’t have to spend $300 on a dress and then think about how much to spend on cleaning…it’s not acceptable in my books.  I tend to stick to purchasing quality items in excellent condition, but I am a sucker for wounded birds…especially from the 1920’s/1930’s. Art Deco aficionados like me usually don’t mind vintage from these two eras in less than perfect condition.

Dominique de Merteuil: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

LA BELLE VINTAGE: It is a secret 🙂 but I will tell you that it involves a lot of time and energy. I work 16-18 hour days just in finding, restoring and listing my vintage garments.

1960s suit

Shannon Rodgers Brocade Suit S Vintage 60s Jerry Silverman Yellow Silver Jacket Dress Gloves Purse Set. Available at La Belle Vintage Etsy shop!

Dominique de Merteuil: What is your favourite period in time and why?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: I love all decades and time periods! I love fashion, no matter what era. I could hang out with Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette and Twiggy at the same time…they all had style 🙂

I do love the 1920’s/1930’s as I said above, but I love fashion from any decade.

1930s jumpsuit

30s Ruffled Jumpsuit Set S Vintage Art Deco Lace Over Dress & Lounge Pajamas. Available at La Belle Vintage Etsy shop!

1970s princess coat

Full Skirt Hooded Princess Coat M L Vintage Mohawk Mink Fur Details. Available at La Belle Vintage Etsy shop!

Dominique de Merteuil: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: I usually advise on jewelry or accessories like a scarf, belt, handbag or a maybe a hat. Fashion is all about details and what better detail for an outfit than to accessorize it?  After you’ve done that, invest in a measuring tape and use it…know your measurements. A measuring tape is essential before you even think about purchasing a vintage garment as vintage sizes do not correspond with sizes of today. The best way to buy vintage is to know what fits you.

1950s wedges

50s Sculptured Wedge Shoes US 7 UK 5 Vintage Allures Jewel Sandals. Available at La Belle Vintage Etsy shop!

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: There are so many favorites…what to choose, what to choose?

1)      My first favorite sale was my first sale. It was an 1800’s green silk bodice with amazing lace and ruffles. However, I don’t have a photo as that was 1998.

2)      Second was 1920’s silk wedding dress with a scalloped hem and train. The original owner of the gown said that it took 17 days to cut and sew on the scallops on the hemline. That alone is worthy of praise. But the gown itself was magnificent. I’ve attached a photo of the dress as it was worn by it’s present owner. The customer who purchased  this was incredible to work with and she also started a blog on her 1920’s themed wedding featuring the dress.

1920's wedding dress.

1920’s wedding dress.

3)      Thirdly was an incredible ensemble that was used on set at Universal studios in 1962. I had gotten several garments from a costuming gig that I had worked on. It is a pink silk chiffon catsuit with several matching skirts. Oh my goodness! This thing was incredible. That, I do have a picture of! 

1960s cat-suit

Ensemble that was used on set at Universal studios in 1962.

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: I don’t have a favorite vintage brand really. I love all vintage equally…ha ha! I do love designs by Elsa Schiaparelli, Paul Poiret and Peter Minshall who is an incredible Carnival costume designer.  Google Tan Tan & Saga Boy and just watch that magic 🙂

But I have a soft spot for catalog fashions like Lana Lobell, Skylark, Florida Fashions, Bellas Hess, Lane Bryant (circa 1940’s), Roaman’s, Fashion Frocks, Maisonette Frocks, Montgomery Wards, etc.

It reminds me of what the everyday woman wore back then. Not everyone could have afforded couture like Dior and Chanel. The majority of women wore what they could afford and that’s close to my heart 🙂

Dominique de Merteuil: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

LA BELLE VINTAGE: I wear vintage jewelry and accessories everyday. I use the same Coach purse that I’ve owned since 1992. I wear old school Reeboks, the bright candy colored ones from the 1980’s 🙂

I really appreciate the quality of vintage items and I tend to gravitate to wearing or using something older.

La Belle Vintage

The lovely Sascha, founder of La Belle Vintage captured by J Knight Photography.

Ruby Faye’s Vintage – shop of the week!

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Ruby Faye’s Vintage  based in Denver, Co is an online vintage shop, where it’s not difficult to find a real treasure amongst a vast selection of garments dating from the 1900s-1960s. However, be warned, it’s easy to miss out on the actual purchase of your dream vintage piece, as  first dibs are always offered on Amanda’s Instagram account, before being listed on her Etsy shop. Based on my observations, it’s on IG where the truly savvy shoppers with excellent taste, snap the real treasures and it all happens within few minutes from being posted. So a lot of the times they won’t even make it to Etsy. My advice is to follow Amanda’s Instagram account and check daily for new items being listed!

Here are just few examples of some extraordinary pieces from Ruby Faye’s Vintage I sadly missed out on and a proof that great vintage clothes wait for no one!

vintage shop

Some of my favourite vintage garments I missed out on!

Without any further ado, I present you the vintage shop of the week!

Dominique de MerteuilHow did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: I had been collecting vintage pieces for my personal wardrobe for several years and at one point I was a little short on money so I decided to sell a few pieces from my collection in order to raise the funds I needed. Around the same time, one of my best friends from college, came to visit me from Los Angeles. She had recently started selling clothing from the 1980’s and 1990’s on Etsy so when she was in town we ended up going to a few estate sales and it kind of just clicked. I realized it was a great way to fund my own vintage clothing buying habit and grew from there. 

Dominique de MerteuilWhat can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: In my vintage shop you will find a collection of vintage clothing pieces from the 1900’s to the early 1960’s. On rare occasion I might stray a little later than that if I find an exceptional late 1960’s, or 1970’s but later than the 1960’s is really not my expertise. All the pieces I sell must be wearable and I am pretty particular when vintage hunting to try to only choose fashion forward garments, but I am also a huge sucker for the drama of old Hollywood glamour.

Ruby Faye's Vintage

Gorgeous 1950s chiffon cocktail dress by L’Aiglon is available on Ruby Faye’s Vintage Etsy shop.

Floral 50s dress

Very sweet 1950s floral sundress made of polished cotton available through Ruby Faye’s Vintage Etsy shop.

1950s Shirtwaist dress by Saks Fifth Avenue

Breathtaking 1950s shirtwaist dress with matching sash belt by Saks Fifth Avenue. You can purchase the garment through Ruby Faye’s Vintage INSTAGRAM page!

Dominique de MerteuilIs there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: There are many factors that play a role when I am selecting garments for the shop. Era, and condition are the main ones but after that it comes down to style, fabric, wear-ability, as well as looking at it from the buyers perspective. I always ask myself, would I buy this for myself and if so how much would I want to spend on it. There are also many times when I come across something that I know certain customer will like.

1950s silk couture gown

Stunning 1950s silk gown with lace applique and boning in the bodice. This fantastic piece is available for purchase through Ruby Faye’s Vintage Instagram page.

1950s yellow cotton print dress

How fantastic is this yellow 1950s print dress! You can find it (if it hasn’t been sold yet!) through Ruby Faye’s Vintage Instagram page!

Dominique de Merteuil: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: I wish there was an easy answer to this. The reality is that it just takes a lot of time and effort to find beautiful vintage pieces. So many hours are just spent waiting in line at an estate sale. There are a lot of early weekend mornings driving from garage sales, flea markets, antique shops, thrift stores etc. just hoping to come across something. There are some really great days where I come across some amazing finds, but in between that, the majority of time it is chasing leads that don’t pan out.

Dominique de Merteuil: What is your favourite period in time and why?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: My favorite period of time fashion wise would have to be the 1930’s. The clothing and accessories were just so glamorous and swoon worthy.

Dominique de Merteuil: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: The first thing I would say is the key is to make sure you know your correct measurements. This can make the world of difference in finding a vintage piece that you will love. Besides just knowing your bust, waist, and hips, it is important to know if you are more long waisted or short waisted because it can really change the way a garment fits. Other than that I would say make sure to check the condition of the vintage piece you are thinking about buying or ask the seller questions about condition if it is not stated. Most sellers will welcome questions because they want you to be happy with your purchase.

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones? 

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: This is probably to the toughest question on the whole questionnaire to answer. I fall in love with all of the vintage pieces in my shop. I originally picked about 15 favorite ones and then tried to narrow it down from there. I was stuck at around six… and now I can’t narrow it down to less than four, however two of them are a pair that came from the same estate.

The first one that popped in my mind was a purple 1930’s bias cut floor length gown with rhinestone button clasps in the front and a matching rhinestone belt. The back is almost caged. It’s just a show stopper. I have never been able to get the dress out of my head.

1930s gown

The second one is a 1940’s pink wool dress with music notes throughout it. It is just a really unique and fun dress and it sold within about 30 seconds when I listed it which is a good thing because any longer would have made me keep it for myself despite the fact that it wasn’t my size.

1940s dress

The last one, or pair is two 1950’s silk Hawaiian dresses with gold metallic designs. I held on to these dresses for about 4 years before I sold them even though I knew I would never fit into a 24″ waist. I just kept hoping. There were just really breathtaking, even more so in person.

Ruby Faye's Vintage

Dominique de Merteuil: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: I have several on my list of wish list designer finds but I will list my favorites that I have actually had the honor of finding:

Ceil Chapman – I have never come across a Ceil Chapman dress that wasn’t impeccably made and completely flattering.

1950s Ceil Chapman Dress

You can find this beautiful 1950s Ceil Chapman dress on Ruby Faye’s Vintage Instagram page but something tells me, that it won’t stay there for long!

Alfred Shaheen – I love cotton dresses so much and Alfred Shaheen was the king of constructing comfortable and stunning Hawaiian dresses

Lilli Ann – Every Lilli Ann coat or suit I have ever come across is just drool worthy.

These brands are harder to find but they aren’t impossible.

Dominique de Merteuil: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

Ruby Faye’s Vintage: My style is eclectic. I wear vintage clothing regularly but tend to mix and match vintage with new pieces daily and save my good vintage for going out. This is mainly due to the fact that I work from home the majority of the time as well as the fact that when I am out vintage hunting I usually get up really early and I don’t want to ruin my vintage while I am digging through boxes or in dusty basements. However, I am almost always wearing vintage jewelry.

Femme Fatale -19th Century, Film Noir, Fashion

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Femme Fatale in 19th  century art and beyond.

“If you loved me ever so little,

I could bear the bonds that gall,

I could dream the bonds were brittle;

You do not love me at al. (…)

You are crueller, you that we love,

Than hatred, hunger, or death;

You have eyes and breasts like a dove,

And you kill men’s hearts with a breath.”

Satia Te Sanguine by Algernon Charles Swinburne

In the second half of the 19th century, Femme Fatales began to appear more frequently in European art, literature, poetry, plays and even operas, than in previous centuries. So much so that by the end of the same century, the image of the evil, destructive yet enticingly alluring woman had found her way into every aspect of mainstream culture from advertisements to appearing as a design on porcelain, and even in jewellery.

The sources of inspiration to these potentially misogynistic male artists catering to their mainly male conservatively Victorian audience were, perhaps not surprisingly most often taken from characters in the bible. Oh Jezebel! You wearer of makeup! Judith, the beheader of men! And of course Salome, who put on one hell of a good dance! They were all favourites, chosen for their personification of the dangerous, deceitful women who tempted men to befall disastrous fates. In fact, the bible, its cup floweth over so much with Femme Fatales that while I’m at it, I may as well throw in Delilah who had the audacity to prove what I’ve always believed, a man’s strength really does lay in his hair! And my personal favourite, Lilith, the first “wife” of Adam, who refused to obey her man and thus was transformed into a daemon. Way to go Lilith!

Heinrich Heine, Oscar Wilde, Gustave Flaubert and my beloved Baudelaire, they all took inspiration from the bible but when flogging a dead religious horse became too tiresome, artists turned to more hedonistic sources, particularly those found in the shadow of Mount Olympus. Greek mythology not only provided justification for scantily clad ladies but also served as a great literary source for such fun fatales as those seductresses to beat all seductresses, the Sirens. Come on, luring sailors with song and smashing their boats on rocks for fun is a tough act to better. However, if mythic was too incredulous for your audience, not a problem, simply flick through the pages of history and pick out some Femme Fatale classic such as Cleopatra. What. You think bringing an entire empire into chaos using only your feminine charm would have gone without mention here?

Though the sources may have been varied, what’s fascinating is how similarly artists described Femme Fatales, be it through words or though an image on a canvas. Be it a half woman half beast or a figure from the sea such as a mermaid, these women were more often than not pale, mysterious, strong, destructive with stone cold hearts and yet absolutely fascinating. (Worth dying for…)  

“Beautiful always beyond desire and cruel beyond words: fairer than heaven and more terrible than hell: pale withered and weary with wrong-doing; a silent anger against God and man burns white and repressed, through her clear features… Her eyes are full of proud and passionless lust after gold and blood: her hair close and curled seems ready to shudder asunder and divide into snakes. Her throat, full and fresh, round and hard to the eye as her bosom and arms, is erect and stately, the head set firm on it without any drop or lift of the chin: her mouth crueller than a tiger’s, colder than a snake’s and beautiful beyond a woman’s. She is the deadlier Venus incarnate.” – Algernon Swinburne, whom I personally would put on the pedestal of artists best describing what a Femme Fatale is by this, his description of a drawing of a women’s head by Michelangelo.

As the 19th century drew to a close, so Femme Fatales had seemingly reached their pinnacle, in painting at least. Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who died in 1882, had given us his visions of Lucrezia Borgia, Lilith, Helen of Troy and my favourite painting of his, Pandora (Knowing his obsession with red hair, I wonder if his obsession would have included me, had we met). Meanwhile, Gustav Klimt was arguably the last major painter to choose a Femme Fatale theme as the centre point of his paintings, “Judith and the Head of Holofernes” from 1901 being his most recognisable.

With the start of the 20th century the painting world had moved on. 1905 possibly marking the date of its end to a fascination with Femme Fatales with a painting by Kees van Dongen, creatively entitled… “Femme Fatale”. This wasn’t however the last we see of these wicked women. No, not at all! Like shifting sands, they had merely migrated to a new medium, who’s way was paved by the likes of real life Femme Fatales, Cora Pearl, La Paiva and Lillie Langtry, women with reputations that were measured by the numbers of men who’s lives they had ruined!

This new medium of which I speak is of course film and here is where the Femme Fatale flourished. She became a creature of beauty, her powers of seductions now so seemingly apparent. Gone were the shackles of the stiff Victorian age, heretofore we had a real woman!

My top 9 Femme Fatales in film:

1). Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932)

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.”

Marlene Dietrich Femme Fatale

My beloved Marlene Dietrich as Shanghai Lily, the ultimate Femme Fatale, in Shanghai Express. (1932) Beautiful gowns by Travis Benton.

 

2). Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946)

“Didn’t you hear about me, Gabe? If I’d been a ranch, they would’ve named me the BR Nothing.”

Femme Fatale

Rita Hayworth as Gilda.

3). Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

“ I told you, you know nothing about wickedness.”

Rita Hayworth Femme Fatale

Rita Hayworth as Elsa Bannister in The Lady from Shanghai. (1946)

4)  Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946 )

Femme Fatale

Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

5) Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce (1945)

“ He never loved you. It’s always been me.I’ve got what I wanted. Monte’s going to divorce you and marry me.”

Femme Fatale

Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce

6) Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity (1944)

Femme Fatale

Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity.

 

7) Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street (1944 )

“How can a man be so dumb…I wanted to laugh in your face ever since  the moment I met you. You’re old and ugly and I’m sick of you. Sick, sick, sick!

Femme Fatale

Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street

 

8) Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

femme fatale vintage fashion

Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven

9) Jean Gillie in Decoy (1946 )

Femme Fatale

Jean Gillie in Decoy

My Femme Fatale inspired look consisting of true vintage clothes and accessories.

In the pictures taken by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing:

Beautiful 1940s suit purchased from Advantage In Vintage on Etsy. You can read about some of my favourite vintage shops on Etsy here.

1940s hat I bought in London many moons ago

A vintage brooch I found in my mom’s jewellery box. 🙂

Wolford tights

Vivienne Westwood Melissa shoes

1950s gloves

Femme Fatale look

Femme Fatale vintage fashion.Photography Gregory Michael King

Femme Fatale

Femme Fatale vintage fashion

Femme Fatale vintage fashion

Femme Fatale

 

 

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Victory Girl Vintage -Shop Of The Week

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Victory Girl Vintage  – the Canadian vintage shop of the week is filled with a big selection of dazzling, romantic dresses from 1930s- 1950s but thats not the only thing you will find there. Gorgeous coats, skirts and sweater tops will help you build an entire vintage wardrobe!

Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

Victory Girl Vintage: I started working at vintage stores when I was 16 and all through university. I was living in an area of Toronto called Kensington Market that is really well known for vintage. I was literally surrounded by dozens of vintage shops and amazing clothing! After I graduated I was working in the fashion industry as a buyer, but I really needed a more creative outlet and started selling vintage as a side hustle. It was hard juggling a really demanding day job and a side business but it was rewarding and I couldn’t stop. Things were steadily picking up so about a year and a half ago I thought why not take the plunge and do this full time. It was the best decision I ever made!

DDM: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?

VGV: You will mainly find women’s dresses, separates and lingerie from the 1930’s to 1950’s, and a few items from the 1960’s and 1970’s fixed in. I’ll be adding a men’s section soon so stay tuned!

vintage shop

Lovely 1940s novelty print dress, which can be purchased from the Victory Girl Vintage shop by clicking on the image!

Beautiful 1950s floral dress, which can be purchased from Victory Girl Vintage Etsy shop. Simply click on the image!

Vintage Shop

Stunning 1950s gold and black dress with a big butterfly applique, that can be purchased by clicking on the image.

vintage shop

Lovely 1950s pale pink organza dress, that can be purchased by clicking on the image.

DDM: Is there a process you go through when selecting  garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?

VGV: I personally love the 1930’s and 1940’s so when I’m looking for items for the shop I do gravitate towards that time frame. I think most of my customers are interested in that era as well, so finding those pieces are always top priority. However, I’m open to most decades as long as it’s an interesting piece. I always look at an item and think about how it can be styled. It might look like nothing special on the hanger, but if you add the right shoes, a belt or a hat, it can be completely transformed. That’s also why I like showing an item on a model. It helps customers visualize the styling and how it might look on them.

DDM: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)

VGV: I get asked this question almost every day! But it’s find of a secret. I do frequent local flea markets, antique shows and auctions. I’m always on the look out for something interesting!

DDM: What is your favourite period in time and why?

VGV: My favourite time period is the 1930’s and 1940’s. Even before I started wearing clothing from this time, I was very interested in what was happening in the world both socially and politically. I loved that in both decades fashion had to be very innovative due to material shortages and rationing. Designers and home sewers had to be creative with often limited resources but were still able to make some of the most beautiful garments. The prints were also so fun! I’m also very interested in how women participated in WWII and that’s how I came up with the name of my shop, Victory Girl Vintage. 

vintage shop

This BEAUTIFUL 1940s black rayon peplum dress is an utter PERFECTION and had it not been for the fact that it’s a little bit too small for me, it would be now hanging in my closet!You can buy it by clicking on the image. Hurry up it’s not going to stay there for long!

Late 1940s to early 1950s pink “bad girl” sweater blouse, that can be purchased from Victory Girl Vintage Etsy shop by clicking on the image!

DDM: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?

VGV: My advice is to build on the wardrobe you already have. Wearing head to toe vintage isn’t for everyone, but mixing vintage and modern is a great way to create a unique look. For example wearing a vintage kimono or robe with a modern t-shirt and jeans can actually look very fashion forward. Coats are also a great first time vintage buy because when you wear them with a modern look it doesn’t scream vintage. I always say don’t be afraid to stand out! You might feel a bit self conscious stepping out of your comfort zone but people will admire you for being unique. 

DDM: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones? 

I have many “why did I ever sell that?” items! Here are my top three:

A stunning 1940’s blue rayon gabardine Rain Master trench coat. It fit me perfectly! But I have so many coats that I talked myself into selling it. Immediate regret!

vintage shop

An amazing 1940’s Kamehameha Hawaiian rayon dress. The colours in this dress are gorgeous! I saved the photos I took so I can go back an admire it often.

vintage shop

A 1940’s full length rayon coral gown with teal beads on the bodice. I didn’t want to take this one off after taking photos! I love the vibrant coral colour and zip front style.

Vintage Shop

DDM:  What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?

VGV: I actually don’t pay much attention to brands. Of course it’s amazing to find a sought after brand like Catalina, Elsa Schiaparelli or Dior (some of my favourites) and I am looking for labels when hunting for vintage, but I am always happier to find something really special and beautiful even if it doesn’t have a label. It’s more about the piece for me.

DDM: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?

VGV: The only time you will find me out of vintage is when I’m walking my dog (don’t want to risk muddy paws on a beautiful dress) or going to yoga. I mainly wear clothing from the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s because the cuts and styles suit my body shape the best and it’s a time in twentieth century history that I find very interesting. I love high waisted trousers with a patterned blouse, anything floral and a black dress in a simple silhouette that has some type of embellishments (studs, embroidery, or a decorative trim). I don’t often wear 1950’s but I do have a weakness for a great novelty print and they look so pretty in the summer.

Cult Of Chiffon-Vintage Shop Of The Week

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Madame Chiffon is an extraordinary lady with an exquisite taste reflected in all the vintage gems, that can be found in her shop Cult Of Chiffon. She finds and sells some of the most beautiful pieces of vintage lingerie I’ve ever seen, which is why Cult Of Chiffon is the vintage shop of the week.

1. How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?

I got into vintage clothing by accident, while studying antique furniture to furnish a 1930’s house in Louisiana.  I would be shopping for antiques when suddenly a vintage handbag or jewelry of unusual quality and beauty would catch my eye.  I’d always be shocked at what good value these items were when compared to the prices of their modern day equivalents.  So I started collecting vintage accessories for personal use, which eventually led to vintage clothing and entire outfits.  Once I noticed how much my knowledge in this area had grown in such a short time, I decided in 2013 to turn a passionate hobby into a small business that I could grow over time at my own pace.  So it’s been a labor of love from the very beginning.

vintage jewellery

A pair of gold wire cuff bracelets by Ugo Correani, which are available from Cult Of Chiffon shop. Click on the image to purchase this incredible piece of art!

2.  What can we find in your vintage shop?

Elegant clothing & accessories from the Victorian era through the 1990’s.  Nothing kitsch and no “ironic” fashions.  I carry all eras, because there is elegance and beauty to be found in every decade if you know where to look.  The items I stock are all very wearable and can easily be incorporated into a modern wardrobe.  My specialty would be loungewear, sleepwear, and lingerie, because these are the items of clothing (besides accessories) that I have been collecting the longest and have the greatest knowledge base in.

Vintage lingerie

Gorgeous 1940’s daffodil yellow satin brassiere. Click on the image to be directed to the shop.

vintage lingerie

1940’s peach rayon crepe & lace hostess coat with attached capelet.

3.  Is there a process you go through when selecting garments?  A list of criteria…?

I look for items that are elegant, glamorous, feminine, and timeless.  Quality fabrics and materials, and condition is of utmost importance.  I love to dress women like goddesses, because I am inspired by strong women with a sense of their own power, and especially those with larger than life personalities.  I would define a goddess as someone who is very comfortable in her own skin, has nothing to prove, doesn’t care what others think, and isn’t afraid to express herself.  She knows her body and wears her clothes well, they never wear her.  She wears things that take self-confidence and self-awareness to wear, and wears them effortlessly.  This is my ideal muse.

vintage riding jacket

My personal favourite antique Victorian black velvet & jet bead riding jacket, which can be purchased from Cult Of Chiffon shop by clicking on the image.

vintage hat

Beautiful Oscar de la Renta black velvet & feather hat, which can be purchased by clicking on the image.

4.  Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes…?

If I told you, I would have to kill you!  Just kidding, I wouldn’t kill you.  I would pay someone else to do it.

5.   What is your favorite time period and why?

If I had to choose a favorite era, it would be the 1960’s.  Part of the reason being a combination of femininity yet ease of wear for the styles of that decade.  And the huge baubles, huge hair, and dramatic makeup of that time really appeal to the former showgirl in me.  I want my eyelashes to be seen all the way up in the nosebleed seats!  The 60’s were simultaneously a freewheeling time of newfound freedoms for women but also innocence, optimism, and decorum.  I believe you can be wild and decadent but still have good manners and not become too jaded.

Lovely 1960’s chiffon nightdress!

6.  What messages/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothing before?

Invest in a soft measuring tape.  It is indispensable for buying vintage clothing online.  Measure yourself, then memorize your body measurements like you memorize your driver’s license number & social security number, because it will make life easier if you do.  If you want to start building a vintage look, the easiest way is to begin with accessories.  Buy the best quality you can afford.  Start with a quality leather handbag for instance.  It’s a great investment, and you will get much more use out of that than you would a special occasion dress.  Accessories always fit!  If you live in a cold climate, maybe start with a vintage coat.  For instant gratification, nothing is better than vintage lingerie, sleepwear, or loungewear.  You can wear it at home any day of the week, and don’t have to wait for a special occasion.  I wear vintage in the evenings at home and to bed probably 6 days a week.  Everyday, simple luxuries are my favorite as I think they have the greatest impact on your sense of well-being, and therefore your health.

Very stylish 1970’s tapestry coat from England, which can be purchased from Cult Of Chiffon shop by clicking on the image.

vintage poncho

1970’s wool & mohair poncho by Kay Cosseratcan be purchased from Cult Of Chiffon shop by clicking on the image.

7.  What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why?

My three favorite items sold are: an exceptional Edwardian cotton batiste dressing gown with very witchy sleeves; a 1950’s Vanity Fair loungewear set; and a 1980’s James Galanos fox fur jacket.  I don’t expect to encounter these stunning, ultra glamorous items ever again in my lifetime, and that is part of what makes them so special.

Antique lingerie

Breathtaking Edwardian dressing gown.

vintage lingerie. Vintage shop of the week

Stunning 1950’s Vanity Fair loungewear set.

Victorian mourning cape

Beautiful Victorian feather mourning cape.

8.  What are your favourite vintage brands and are they are very difficult to find?

Lucie Ann, Heavenly Lingerie by Fischer, and Vanity Fair.  Pieces from these labels are not hard to find, but the best examples are, and they come with price tags to match.

9.  What’s in your wardrobe?  Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis.

Yes, I can honestly say I wear vintage almost 365 days out of the year.  The reason why may seem a little eccentric to you.  My hands never see the light of day, because I wear vintage gloves whenever I leave the house during daylight hours.  I even wear fingerless gloves while shooting inventory for the shop, because I photograph in natural sunlight.  My hands are like Dorian Grey.  They have made a pact with the devil to never age.

1940s-1950s Skirt Suit

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Five reasons why I love 1940s -1950s skirt suit:

1)A vintage skirt suit from the 1940s or 1950s is one of the key pieces in the wardrobe of any vintage aficionado and is a perfect acquisition choice for those just starting their adventure in building that dream vintage wardrobe.   

2)1940s fashion was all about the hourglass silhouette; broad shoulders, small waist and full hips, creating a very feminine and sexy, without being vulgar, look. The two-piece suit known as a Victory or Utility suit was born of this tumultuous decade, a now-forgotten casualty of war when raw materials were scarce and clothing factories were turned over to military purposes. It was incredibly popular; a simple design that utilised available fabrics and so was limited to cotton, wool, linen and some synthetics. Read more about  clothing restrictions.!

3)The very flattering A-line skirt suit of this era, allowed women to mix and match skirts, jackets and blouses the way they wanted to; I often mix original vintage skirts with tops and blouses from modern designers, always favouring Wheels & Dollbaby along with Vivienne Westwood. This is precisely the reason why the skirt suit is my top-most contender when searching for vintage clothes. 

4)An even more feminine look, was brought to the world in 1947 by Christian Dior, who started the trend of using luxurious fabrics, in the vast amounts needed to make a full skirt hang just below the calves, mixing it with fitted jackets, thus making the waist appear to be extremely thin and, albeit with the help of a girdle, in all creating what is known as ‘The New Look’. It’s not the full skirt that I want to focus on here but rather the pencil skirt, which I’m incredibly fond of because it’s very comfortable, can be worn to every occasion, is easily dressed up or down with the help of right accessories and again is incredibly sensual, yet elegant. My favourite brand of the 1940s and 1950s that created the most mind-blowing skirt suits is Lilli Ann which, to those already passionate about vintage needs no introduction, for newbies I recommend an article written on the subject matter by the fabulous Jessica Parker of No Accounting For Taste!

5)The real beauty of 1940s and 1950s skirt suits is that, regardless of the season or current trends, which are of no importance to me but are still relevant to those who are in the process of finding their ‘look’, help to create a very sophisticated, sexy or reserved look, depending on what your aim is and they look great on everyone no matter what height or body shape you are!

Lilli Ann Ads

My dream Lilli Ann skirt suits.

1940s-1950s skirt suit- The Look

In the pictures taken by Gregory Michael King I’m wearing:

late 1940s, early 1950s grey suit from Savvy Spinter Vintage.

1930s brooch

1950s dark blue/navy bag

Wittchen brogues

Knee- high socks from Sock Shop UK

Make-Up:

Red YSL lipstick

YSL eyeshadow

Bobbi Brown natural brow shaper & hair touch up in auburn

1940s-1950s skirt suit

I’m a proud owner of this beautiful late 1940s -1950s skirt suit purchased from Melissa’s Etsy shop; Savvy Vintage Spinster. I pared it with a dark blue 1950s bag and Wittchen brogues. Photography: Gregory Michael King

1940s-1950s skirt suit

1940s-1950s skirt suit

1940s-1950s skirt suit

Wittchen shoes

Blue and white brogues by Wittchen.

1940s-1950s skirt suit

1940s-1950s skirt suit

You can find amazing 1940s-1950s  skirt suits from shops on Etsy listed here but word of advise, if you see something you like and it’s in your size don’t spend to much time thinking “should I or should I not click the add to basket button” because I can tell you from experience, that beautiful vintage suits sell really fast!

Here are few examples of what is still available to purchase or at least that was the case when I was writing this article!

1950s skirt suit

Beautiful 1950s skirt suit with four pockets and shoulder pads. If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s not in my size you would not have the chance of buying it now. It’s worth mentioning that the suit is currently on sale! Click on the image to be directed to the shop.

 

1950s skirt suit

Lovely 1950s checkered skirt suit, which you can purchase from Canary Club Vintage shop by clicking on the image!

 

1950s skirt suit

Breathtaking 1940s beaded mauve jacket and skirt by Kline’s Amarillo, medium size. Click the image to be directed to the RagnBone806 vintage  shop!

 

1940s skirt suit

Beyond beautiful, purple 1940s skirt suit with silver studs on the skirt and jacket. It’s very Old Hollywood Glamour and whoever buys it will be one lucky lady! Click on the image to be directed to the Wear It Again Vintage shop!

 

 

1940s skirt suit

Gorgeous 1940s skirt suit in black wool and build up neck-hugging collar. Click on the image to be directed to Vera Mode Vintage shop!