Monday, June 4, 2012

The SOWA Vintage Market

 We are back!! This weekend we opened our booth at the SOWA Vintage Market in Boston and I couldn't be more happy! This will be our third Spring/Summer (the market runs year round) and I swear it just keeps getting better! It was so nice to see old friends and to meet new dealers. There was a lovely big crowd all day long and everyone seemed to be having a great time. SOWA is an eclectic market offering a little of everything, INCLUDING the occasional vintage sink ;) Although my main business is vintage clothing and accessories I do dabble in antique/vintage decor as well and SOWA is the perfect venue for both. That's one of the things I like best about this place... the great balance of merchandise, literally, something for everyone (and every wallet).

Stephanie and John are the managers and they work tirelessly to keep things fresh and exciting and dealers replenish with scads of new items each week. I made the rounds yesterday to see what treasures were to be found and I was so impressed by the selection I just had to take pictures and share. I focused more on the decorative as opposed to the wearable, but don't be fooled there are racks and racks of vintage clothing to choose from as well. Just to let you know, during the summer SOWA Vintage is not alone, there is also a farmers/craft/artists market that takes place in the parking lot right outside the door, AND great food trucks (I'm talking everything from gourmet cupcakes to Thai food to gigantic hot dogs). VERY dangerous for a gal like me who is trying to watch her waistline....although, it IS just once a week so maybe not too dangerous...... Anyway, if you are in the Boston area on a Sunday, SOWA is a "must visit" event. If you are local it just might become a regular haunt! For info visit their website. Now, enjoy the pictures!

One of my favorite booths, a team of two dealers offer painted refinished vintage furniture along with lovely crystal and exotic live plants

Endless selection of vintage clothing and accessories, I did not photograph any of the racks of pretty dresses but rest assured there are plenty!

LOTS of beautiful and unique items for the home!

Grownup Kids Stuff!

Wiley (left) and his brother/assistant (AKA the Atari Guys) win the prize for cutest dealers plus they specialize in old original video games, how cool is that!

And of course no vintage market, worth it's salt, would be complete without the strange and surreal!

Hope you can make it, toodles for now!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Beauty is in the Details

The other day I posted a wonderful 1950s novelty skirt to my website. It has this huge appliqued pocket watch on it which got me to thinking about the fabulous detail work I come across in the vintage market. Embroidery, bead work, trapunto, hand painting, applique... today's fashion market is nearly devoid of these wonderful methods. I grant you there is still a penchant, in modern ready-to-wear, for beads and sequins but as a rule you have have to go to couture level (or at the very least a very high end market) to find decorative detail that is equal to much of what is easily found in Vintage.

Some of the older details were done by hand... others by machine but either way they added time to the construction of the garment and time adds cost. In the past it was common for even the budget labels to attempt some kind of unique textile adornment. Today the industry relies heavily on print rather than intricate surface detail for added design interest. This blog is a pictorial tribute to the treasure trove of embellishment that is yet one more reason to be in love with Vintage!


Pocket watch, appliqued felt skirt from the 1950s

Gorgeous beaded details on an early 1970s alaskine evening coat.

Quirky top from a 1970s pant suit with machine embroidery.

1970s double knit wool dress with brass studs.

Jute detail on the hem of a 1960s wool crepe dress.

Whimsical 1960s hand painted dress from Greece, signed Pepi.

Ribbon embroidery and applied rhinestones make this simple alaskine dress special.

A late 50s - early 60s confection in shirred chiffon and inset lace.

Painstaking, hand done Tambour embroidery with beads and rhinestones on a red wool vest. Most likely made in India in the 1960s-70s for the western market. It came with a matching maxi skirt.

Koos van den akker, wool challis dress with marvelous applique work.

Slipper satin dress from the 1950s with trapunto work at the hem.

Felt applique with embroidered highlights on a bright yellow linen maxi dress from the late 1960s.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Color of Vintage

One of my most prized pieces of fashion ephemera is an early 1930s brochure, put out by the Holeproof Hosiery Co. of New York. The brochure is entitled Hosiery and Costume Colors, Spring and Summer 1932. The purpose of the booklet was promotional, serving to instruct merchants, sales personnel and customers in the “correct use of hosiery colors”. Given that most hosiery colors from the 1930s were less than exciting (generally some shade of tan or beige) the Holeproof Hosiery, marketing team really out did themselves with this one. Instead of focusing on the hose itself they filled the book with gorgeous fashion illustrations and coordinated textile swatches featuring the color trends of the day. Every aspect of an ensemble was featured including, of course, the proper stocking choice.

Material swatches above, illustrations below, from a Spring/Summer 1932 Hosiery Brochure, featuring the seasons color trends

As I perused the booklet it struck me how very important color trend is and has been, to the world of fashion so I began looking through some old fashion periodicals for references. I have the good fortune to posses a handful of original issues of L’art de la Mode (a monthly fashion journal, published from 1882-1896) and in the beginning of each there is a page devoted to the latest fashion sightings complete with detailed color descriptions. The February 1888 issue reports that “among new shades of color are Cordova, a lovely pale golden shade of terra cotta, deerskin, old oak, antique blue with a tinge of green in it, a peculiar pink for evening called heart of the tea rose, a dark blue gray called osage, and malatesta, a warm russet brown” for evening there were wraps of “watered velvet in dark Indian red or the favorite gobelin blue shades” and for the more conservative woman “Ladylike and elegant costumes…in neutral shades of dove, old silver beige and also in pale olive and heliotrope.”
I could just envision this lovely palette…done in elegant woolens, promenading a snowy city park …. or rustling silk taffeta bathed in the glow of a towering candle arbor or rich velvets at the opera.

Color Fashion Plates L'art de la Mode Feb.1888

Descriptions of fashion shades have always been concocted with poetic license, but in my opinion, nothing rivals the whimsical heights of color wordsmithing like the mid 20th century. Some of my favorite examples come from textile and fashion ads from the 1940s and 50s. Although I’m not always exactly sure what colors the magazine copy is describing they certainly sound pretty. Petunia blue, coffee frost, star pink, jazz red, horizon green, moonbeam beige, licorice black…. and the list goes on.

Often a magazine itself will take the lead and rather than merely report what is being shown they will declare their own picks for the season. In 1955 Glamour themed their March issue around a choice of five colors for the Spring season… Amber, Hyacinth, Red, Yellow and Blue. They deemed these shades “Glamour Colors” explaining that “These five Glamour Colors, from pale tints to deep tones cover fashion…and are abundantly explained on page after page in this issue” Readers were instructed on how to wear them and mix them, and encouraged to seek them out at their favorite stores. Many of the issues advertisers keyed their ads to Glamour’s chosen palette. I have no idea if their campaign had much influence on what was worn that Spring but it was an interesting angle for sure.

Glamour Magazine's choice for Spring Colors, March 1955

Today the garment industry is just as focused on color trends and forecasts as they ever were. I sell to a number of textile and fashion designers and I love hearing them converse over a piece of vintage that catches their interest. Often times the discussion will be around color and I’ve sold many an item just because it was an unusual shade or had an interesting combination of colors in the print. One of the most important reasons people wear vintage is because they can find something that stands out from the ready to wear, du jour and a big part of that uniqueness has to do with the signature colors from the many eras and genres represented. Before this latest obsession of mine, I think I underestimated how integral color is to the appeal of vintage fashion. Not any more :)

From my own collection, a favorite Rayon print dress from the 1940s, note the electric play of vibrant pink against the green, just beautiful!