Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wide Wild n' Wonderful! 1940s Vintage Ties

It's the holidays season and we all know what THAT means. Time to find the perfect gifts for our family and friends even if we have no idea what that might be.

Guys can be the hardest to buy for. Unless you can afford a Porsche or Ferrari they aren't usually very impressed. Don't get me wrong they are grateful for the shirts, sweaters, socks and boxers.... but impressed? Not so much.

I was leafing through a Dec. issue 1948 Esquire Magazine the other day, checking out their gift ideas and this fabulous necktie ad caught my eye.

Esquire Magazine December 1948

It got me to thinking about how wild and wonderful ties were from that era and how out of character that was for the "ideal-male image" of the day. Men were supposed to be serious and stoic and tough as nails. They wore stiff suits and dress shirts or rugged work clothes all week and plaid shirts on the weekend. Why then, were neckties being designed with surreal forest themes, giant polka dots n' paisleys and crazy abstracts? Why indeed.

The first half of the 1940s were a VERY somber time. WW11 overshadowed every aspect of life and most able bodied men had served in the armed services, many for the duration. At home, war time restrictions did not allow for frivolities, life was tempered. When the war ended people were filled with relief and looked forward to a more care free life. Women's fashion celebrated with an explosion of ultra feminine style with an emphasis on luxury. Men's fashion, (I'm talking mainstream mens fashion), remained fairly conservative. Sure lapels and pant widths changed and plaids may have gotten a bit brighter but not a lot else....EXCEPT of course, neck ties. Holy Cow did neck ties ever change. Artists were commissioned to design ever more creative motifs and ties got wider, I'm sure to accommodate the bold new prints. It was a chance for men to get a little silly without raising eyebrows.

Post War 1940s Neck Ties. Look for them soon in Men's accessories on my website

I love the ties from this era... so much so, I find ways to wear them myself from time to time. So now, when you can't think of the perfect gift for that special guy (or creative gal) perhaps you should consider a wide, wild n' wonderful 1940s neck tie!

Til next time, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to all!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Those Crazy 80s!

Pile of pictures from 1980s Elle magazines

It's official (has been for a while)...80s fashions are now considered vintage. Love it or hate it, it's a fact and it's time to embrace the carnival. The 80s represented SO many different styles and a lot of it was over the top. Colors and patterns out did themselves, it was a cartoon world...Crayola and neon...animal prints... optical effects... bold graphics.

Classics turned surreal with exaggerated bows and nautical collars, miniature top hats and monstrous ruffles. Even the "back to the country" looks of Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley were sometimes more costume than fashion (I mean that in a good way, I think...). There were spikes and corsets from the punk movement. Killer high heels accompanied school girl skirts and avant guard layers, swathed the arty crowd.

For evening...beads, embroidery and sequins galore, women wore mini cocktail dresses to black tie events and sometimes even modified menswear. Oh yeah.... androgynous was totally hip. The power suit with it's ever dramatic shoulder pads are now considered iconic...designers like Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana did tailored with a twist.

...and accessories, if you can believe it were even more wild and wonderful, especially costume jewelry. Earrings were huge and so were necklaces, plasic was often the material of choice. Wild patchwork handbags were the rage.

Patchwork PLEATHER handbag

The 80s had a viral love affair with vintage and designers looked to just about every era for inspiration from sweet Victorian to ultra Mod. With such strong interest in vintage, hats made a comeback which made me a very happy camper (that's when I did my millinery training).

80s fashions aren't everyones cup of tea but you must admit they are fun and certainly interesting and mind you it's not all ugly prom dresses and giant shoulders. Like any other era there are some real gems, keep an open mind and apply the "little goes a long way" rule you might be surprised :)

Til next time, best to all


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The magic of Missoni

Hi all,

Today I posted a Missoni dress to my site that I have been holding on to for a year. It took me that long to let it go. I had to hold on to it for a while...because I really love Missoni and very seldom do I find it and I just liked having it in my possession.

Compared to the rest of what we know as "status fashion", the Missoni label has a unique history, not your typical haute couture story. It's roots are in the world of sports wear and knitting mills. Husband and wife design team Ottavio Missoni and Rosita Jelmini Missoni are the founders and while I was researching I read some interesting tidbits about the history of the company. I'll share a couple of the highlights...

Before Ottavio met Rosita he was was an accomplished athlete as well as a partner in a small sports, knit wear company. In 1948, the same year he went to London to compete in the 400 meter hurdles, his company designed the Italian Olympic teams track suits. Rosita had a textile background as well, along with an eye for design and skill in the sewing arts. They married in 1953 and set up a small knitwear workshop.

In the beginning they sold their pieces to other designers. In 1958 they presented their first collection in Milan which they called Milano-Simpathy. Since it's heyday in the 20s and 30s, fine knitwear had fallen out of favor and the public was not accustomed to associating it with high fashion. The Missoni's colorful designs and unique patterns were not immediately embraced and it took a while but in 1966 Italian journalist, Anna Piaggi began celebrating their work in her articles. By 1967 they were well on their way when an incident of "scandal" catapulted them into the limelight. At a showing in Florence, Rosita was unhappy with the way her models bras interfered with look of her creations, so she had them walk the runway bra less....bright lights and filmy fabric....well you know, and being the 1960s the response was total shock. Whats that old saying...any press is good press? and in this case it was very good.

Missoni has seen the ups and downs of any great name but one thing no one can argue is the eternal appeal of their designs. Very few designers can boast that their garments never go out of style and I honestly believe this to be true of iconic Missoni. Their knits borrow from tradition but transform into unique fabric creations. The colors they use transcend trend and their silhouettes are simple exercises in flattering drape. Although some Missoni pieces have been and continue to be dramatic, most are easy to combine with most any wardrobe. On the Fashion Encyclopedia website I read a quote by Rosita Missoni as told to Elsa Klensch, writing for the New York Post (24 May 1978), "Our philosophy since we went into business has been that a piece of clothing should be like a work of art. It should not be bought for a special occasion or because it's in fashion, but because a woman likes it…and feels she could wear it forever."

What a wonderful philosophy.

Till next time, take care and best to you all.