|Pure Silk Flapper Dress of the 1920's - made by Martha Battaglia & Louise M. Battaglia|
in their factory in New York City. Sold at auction in 2000
When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s it was easy to come by the vintage treasures of the 20s/30s and 40s and even farther back to the Victorian era ethereal lace blouses with impossibly tiny mother of pearl buttons. Beaded embroidered dresses, velvet opera capes, oriental satin kimonos and fur coats could be picked up at flea markets for very little money. The items our Grandmothers wore were a far cry from the modern attire of the current day, and some of it was a little Hammer Horrorish, but fascinating. I remember the crocodile handbags with heads on the catches, and the fox fur stoles with heads and tails attached. I was tiny in those days and often wore unimaginably fine cotton children's smock dresses which were adorned with hand made lace and embroidery with my jeans and boots. Over the years and the many moves they were lost in time.
|Victorian child's dressvictorian elegance|
|Hammer Horrorish - Fox shawl|
|Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac rocks the top hat|
with her own design clothes and vintage mix.
Many people wore vintage items, especially celebrities. The look for women was very feminine with a touch of Hollywood starlet. Although some were more restrained than others it was also okay to pile it all on together making for a real vintage queen bohemian look. Janis Joplin wore her vintage clothes all the time, not just onstage. Later this look would become known as 'Rock Chick' or even 'Groupie Couture' a term the infamous Los Angeles groupie Pamela Des Barres used for a label she came out with 30 years later.
Janis Joplin, the cover shot "Pearl" album cover,
Hollywood, California, 1970
|The Who shot by Jim Marshall. Roger is pretty in vintage pink. Pete is a Pearly King.|
Victorian embroidered shawls and diamond patterned patchwork quilts were draped over sofas, hung at windows and piled high on beds with cushions. Sadly some were cut up to make clothes which perished with wear or were discarded as fashion moved on. (Yes, even I was guilty of this ....) But how bright they blazed while they lasted!
|Vintage embroidered 'piano' shawl|
|Jimmy Page wearing a coat made from a vintage shawl and in his peacock chair adorned with one.|
|Victoria Vanderbuilt so rocked the Victorian patchwork blanket coat.|
|1920s lariat rope necklace|
From Suzanne Duffy's Maisonette de Madness on Etsy
When I was a teenager I inherited jewellery from one of my Grandmothers which included several 1920's beaded necklaces like the one above from Suzanne Duffy's lovely Etsy shop, Maisonette de Madness. They were good quality glass bead, all hand strung. Intricately put together necklaces, many strands twisted into plaited strings, long with tassles at the end. Brightly coloured with copper and silver beads woven in, they were definitely evening wear but I remember wearing them all of the time. Once while dancing a strand broke and the floor of the old Fillmore West dance hall was covered with tiny glistening beads. Some quite good looking boys helped me pick up some of the beads but as we were all immortal then it never occurred to me that it would be hard to find another necklace like that one. Or that one of the precious links with my Grandmother was gone forever.
|Kate Middleton and the tiara|
Of course the vintage look comes most naturally to those from old families. On her wedding day Catherine Middleton kept to the tradition of 'something borrowed' by wearing a tasteful but stunning tiara from the royal collection. The Cartier 'Halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen was made in 1936 and purchased by King George VI for his wife, Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) just three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Elizabeth II by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday. As the tiara is part of the Crown Jewels, it can only be lent to Catherine, and will return there when she dies, or when the Queen requests. I always liked the way that the truly very wealthy, especially of the landed gentry variety, tend to hand things down rather than buy new and think nothing of wearing clothes and items which are from their relatives.
THE VINTAGE LOOK TODAY
Over the years the vintage look peaked and was replaced by the power dressing of the 90s with the horribly large shoulder pads and the tight short skirts. I kept as many of my old items as my gypsy lifestyle allowed. After much searching for a wedding dress I decided to wear a 1960s Chanel style little black wool and lace dress I'd bought at Antiquarius in the King's Road for £6.00 many years before. I have always preferred vintage to modern. It's better made, the fabric is higher quality and it fits better. Unless you can afford couture the high street shops just do not compare to vintage. Of course vintage couture is the ultimate! Sadly Antiquarius is no more and now another fashion emporium is located there and does carry on the vision, Anthropologie.
|Jo Wood wears a vintage green |
Many modern celebrities have kept the vintage look alive for a new generation of fans, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and still all of those rock stars and their ladies who rocked the vintage look so well that they remain icons 40 years later.
Television and film wield a mighty influence on fashion - or is it the other around? The Victorian look has been in for sometime on television with Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes and films continue to showcase vintage costume. I love the Dickens meets Vivienne Westwood look. Today the clothes which we wore in the 80's are making a comeback, but I will always prefer something older and more elegant.
|Helena Bonham-Carter wears vintage costume|
for a photo shoot in North London in February 2013
|Matt Smith as Doctor Who in the Tardis with the HG Wells Victorian time machine look|
in a frock coat, bow tie, waistcoat and pocket watch.
And those victorian shawls? Some did survive and are still enthralling beautiful creative people (and cats!) today.
|Jane Aldridge of Seaofshoes |