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Years of Fashion


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Welcome to Vintage Fashion and Art's Blog. Here you will learn the latest news and information about vintage fashion and art. We will alert you to vintage fashion and art news, recent additions to museum collections and trends in the world of collecting vintage fashion and art. Stay tuned for the latest! 

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Posted by Wanda Pepin on February 15, 2017 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)
Check out our newest blog with all your favorite vintage fashion stories and vintage fashion news. Vintage Fashion and Art Blog at https://wandapepin.wixsite.com/vintagefashionandart

1920 Clioche Hats

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 14, 2016 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

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Christian Dior: Designer in Focus Exhibit in Manchester

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Wednesday 12 June 2013 - Sunday 12 January 2014, Gallery of Costume, FREE Admission


 Christian Dior's brief but supremely influential career began with his iconic 'New Look' in 1947. He reigned supreme in Parisian fashion for ten years until his untimely death in 1957. This unique exhibition features Paris and London couture, many outfits recently acquired by the Gallery of Costume. Stunning displays include day, cocktail and evening wear, and represent many of Dior's seminal collections.


Display highlights include a ‘New Look’ outfit from Dior’s first celebrated ‘Corolle’ collection (spring/summer 1947) and a 1949 black ribbed silk cocktail dress, commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson. Other significant items on display include the first Dior outfit donated to the Gallery of Costume in 1984. The dress, a 1956 black silk cocktail dress, was retailed by the famous Manchester fashion store, Samuels. (Samuels was one of the region’s most important high-end fashion shops until it closed in 1968.)




 The show also features a printed lilac silk cocktail dress designed by the young Yves Saint Laurent, who joined the Dior fashion house in 1955 aged only 19, before replacing Christian Dior as Chief Designer after his untimely death in 1957. In addition, the exhibition provides the chance to see a green/silver ballgown on loan from the Harris Museum and Art Gallery and a slate blue cocktail dress, spotted in black, on loan from National Museums on Merseyside.



 Photo from The Fabulous Times.


This exhibition takes place at Manchester Art Gallery’s sister venue, the Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall in Platt Fields Park, Rusholme. Just two miles south of the city centre, this lovely Georgian house showcases six centuries of British fashion from our extensive costume collection. Exhibits range from exquisite 17th and 18th century embroidered clothes and accessories to contemporary couture and high street trends, via Victorian opulence and wartime austerity.


 To read more about this exhibit go to The Fabulous Times which has published an amazing article about the exhibit.

1909 through 1920 Delphos Dress

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 10, 2013 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The Stories Behind the Dress, Dress 8

1909 through 1920 Delphos Dress

Designed and made by Mariano Fortuny, born 1871 - died 1949, in Italy from 1909 through 1920.

Materials and Techniques: Silk, glass beads, silk ribbon, hand-sewn

The multi-talented Mariano Fortuny was a painter, theatre designer, photographer, inventor and scientist. He is, however, best known as a creator of extraordinary fabrics and clothes. In 1909, he registered his design for the 'Delphos' dress. It was based on the Ionic version of the Greek classical garment the chiton. Actresses such as Isadora Duncan and Sarah Bernhardt were among the first to wear them. Other women began to adopt them as informal tea gowns but later they became more acceptable for evening wear outside the home.

The photo above is Miss Emilie Grigsby (1876-1964) wearing the Delphos dress. She was a wealthy independent American who came to England from New York. She established a salon which was frequented by writers and the military. She was considered to be one of the great international beauties, with extremely pale, almost transparent skin and golden hair. She was frequently the subject of articles in the New York Times during the early 20th century. Her clothes were purchased from couturiers in London, Paris, and New York, and demonstrated an elegantly avant-garde approach to style.

The dress is a blue pleated silk Delphos dress with a silk girdle cord with Venetian glass beads. The dress has a V-neck and short sleeves cut in one with the bodice. The waist is high, defined inside by a cord drawstring and outside by stitched slots for the cord belt. The shirt is long and trained. The dress fastens with small oval buttons at the shoulders and is trimmed at the centre back neck with an amber glass button through which the belt passes. A grey silk ribbon is stitched from the shoulder to the waist at the front and the right is marked with the maker's name.

The girdle belt is made from blue silk cord knotted at intervals with brown glass beads. It is double and shapes the dress by having one length threaded through the inside with the ends emerging at the centre front and the other emerging at the centre back, and the other length emerging at the centre back and going through loops to fasten with the other at the centre front.

In a letter dated 25 June 1923, the sculptor Hamo Thorneycroft described his daughter in a pure white Delphos dress: 'Elfrida...looking lovely in her silk Greek clinging dress - white, against the light of the Jap lanterns outside'. She gave her dress to the Victoria &Albert Museum in 1982.

Photo above is showing Clarrise Coudert in a Fortuny Dress. Caption to photo: "Mrs. Condé Nast wearing one of the famous Fortuny tea gowns. This one has no tunic but is finely pleated, in the Fortuny manner, and falls in long lines, closely following the figure, to the floor. Observe the decorative value of the long string of beads." c. 1917.

The dress consists of narrow widths of pleated silk hand-sewn into a tube. Fortuny pleats make the fabric elastic so that the simple, flowing gown clings to the contours of the body. He used Venetian glass beads at the hem and sleeves as decoration and also to weight the fine silk so that it draped elegantly. All the gowns were hand-made and adjusted to the body with concealed drawstrings on the shoulder and bodice. The silk was dyed in a vivid range of colours including olive green, apricot, pale blue, and black stencilled with gold fleur-de-lis.

The design of the Delphos dress has remained a classic and timeless silhouette as shown by the photo of Lauren Bacall wearing the dress to the Oscars.


Carolina Schermerhorn Astor Wilson, 1903 and 1907 to 1908 Dresses

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 10, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Story Behind the Dress, Dress 6 and 7

Carolina Schermerhorn Astor Wilson, 1903 and 1907 to 1908 Dresses

The afternoon dress shown here was designed and made by Jacques Doucet (French, Paris 1853–1929 Paris) sometime in 1903. It is made of cotton and silk. The sheer pink fabric, accented with lace and black and pink ribbon trim, is a dress to be displayed at garden parties and the races. Doucet added interest to his work with his use of unusual trims, illustrating his inventiveness and artistic taste. The length of the dress at Center back is 54 in. (137.2 cm) This dress is part of the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; It was originally gifted by Orme and R. Thornton Wilson in memory of Caroline Schermerhorn Astor Wilson in 1949.

Caroline Schermerhorn Astor Wilson , known to her friends as Carrie came from high society and was born in the Gilded Age. She was the daughter of William Backhouse Astor, and even more importantly the daughter of THE NY socialite, Mrs. Astor, the original Caroline Schermerhorn Astor.

Her wedding to Marshall Orme Wilson was in her parent’s mansion on the afternoon of November 18, 1884. The New York Times called it “the principal social event of the season” and insisted that “the ceremony was witnessed by nearly a thousand guests” in the art gallery. The NY Times elaborated on the event describing the lavish floral arrangements, expensive gifts and prominent guest list.

The Wilsons moved into their new home at No. 414 Fifth Avenue and entertained in the style expected from the alliance of two of the city’s most prominent families. In 1896, Marshall purchased a large plot of ground just around the corner on East 64th Street. “He will build a fine dwelling there for his own use, covering the entire plot,” the NY Times reported. The site for the Wilsons’ new home stretched 65-feet wide, covering the plots of Nos. 3 through 5.

Construction began in 1900 and would not be completed for a full three years. The new Wilson house was five stories tall, clad in limestone, and fulfilled society’s every expectation. A grandiose centered entrance supported a balcony at the second floor where restrained French-style windows provided understated elegance.

The Gold Jacques Doucet Evening dress shown here is dated 1907–8. It is made of silk and it’s length is 52 in. (132.1 cm) at center front. The waist is 24 in. (61 cm) Width at Bottom is 180 in. (457.2 cm) Bust is 32 in. (81.3 cm) This was a gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Orme Wilson and R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of their mother, Mrs. Caroline Schermerhorn Astor Wilson in 1949.

Carrie's lavish entertainments were often for charitable purposes. With the country’s entrance into World War I, Carrie turned her focus to war causes. In February of 1916, the Wilsons hosted “a most successful entertainment…for the benefit of the students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts of Paris who are at the front and also for the benefit of their families,” reported The Sun. A stage was constructed in the Wilson’s ballroom to accommodate musical performances and a one-act comedy. The newspaper reported that “the demand for tickets was so great that the sale had to be stopped.”

After the war, Carrie became interested in the construction of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The construction project became one of Carrie Wilson’s favored causes. Unlike her mother who had been vocal about mixing with those beneath one’s social station, Carrie’s philanthropy was wide-flung. Among her later interests was the New York Women’s League for Animals which met regularly in the Wilson mansion.

In April of 1926, Marshall Orme Wilson died in the house on East 64th Street. Carrie lived on in the house, alone with her staff, and eventually resumed her regimen of charity teas and entertainments. Carrie passed away on September 13, 1948 at the age of 87. Three months later, on December 12, the NY Times reported “The big town house of the late Mrs. Orme Wilson at 3 East 64th Street has been purchased by the Government of India as headquarters for its diplomatic representatives in New York.”


The mansion, once the scene of glittering musical entertainments for New York’s wealthiest citizens, became home to the offices of the Consulate General of India along with residential suites for the Ambassador to the United States and members of its United Nations delegation and it has remained so. The exterior has changed very little over the years.


1905 House of Redfern Evening Dress

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 9, 2013 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The Story Behind the Dress, Dress 5

1905 House of Redfern Evening Dress

Made in Paris about 1905 and designed by John Redfern, English, 1853–1929 for the House of Redfern, Paris, France

An evening dress, foundation of pale blue taffeta covered with pale blue chiffon with outer sheathe of ivory net, bodice with wide roughly square cut neck, very short draped sleeves, hooked down center back, rather high waisted, draped sash of cloth of silver, bell shaped skirt, longer in back to form short train, bottom of net trimmed with very short ruffles of cloth of silver, skirt embroidered with silver bugle beads, silver sequins, rhinestones, cloth of silver appliqué, and silver relief ornaments in elaborate large-scale design of blossoms and wheat, bodice trimmed with machine embroidered net ruffles and drapery, with small silver edged medallions, of blue brocaded sheer silk appliqué, some of same embroidery as that on skirt around upper bodice, edges of bodice finished with pale blue chiffon velvet folds. 130 cm (51 3/16 in.) Woven label inside waistband of bodice: BREVETE REDFERN PARIS By special appointment HRH Queen Alexandra 1901 (on right,) on left: By special appointment to HIM Empress of Russia, 1899.

John Redfern started out as a tailor in Cowes in 1855. By 1871, Redfern had expanded his tailoring business to include the design and sale of silk dresses and mourning dress. During that decade Redfern & Sons began offering clothing specifically for sport, with tailored garments for women who rode, played tennis, went yachting, and did archery. Although intended for specific sporting pursuits, these clothes were adopted as everyday wear by their clients, making Redfern probably the first sportswear designer. In 1879, the house created a dress in jersey which was worn by Lillie Langtry who became known as the 'Jersey lily' (from her birthplace in Jersey). In 1888, Redfern became Dressmaker By Royal Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen and H.R.H. The Princess of Wales.

Redfern Ltd. is one of the designers credited with helping popularize the high-waisted so-called Grecian style of 1908. At this time, and into the early 1910s, the house's designs were often illustrated in La Gazette du Bon Ton with six leading Paris designers of the day – Madeleine Chéruit, Georges Doeuillet, Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, and the House of Charles Worth. In 1916 Redfern created the first women's uniform for the Red Cross

Gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston by Mrs. W. Y. Peters


Mrs. Frederick Augustus Constable 1903 Evening Dress

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The Story Behind the Dress, Dress 4

Mrs. Frederick Augustus Constable 1903 Evening Dress

Designed by Jacques Doucet (French, Paris 1853–1929 Paris) Made in 1902.

Owned by the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Robert G. Olmsted, 1965

This evening dress is an exquisite example of the surface embellishment of the Belle Époque era. The multiple layers of silk, net and lace, accented with satin ribbon, beads, sequins and embroidery show how carefully each piece of couture was constructed. Dimensions: Length at Center Back 41 in. (104.1 cm)


This dress is especially interesting, for it was worn by Mrs. Frederick Augustus Constable, wife of the manager of the high-end New York store Arnold Constable & Co. The establishment imported European dresses, some being Doucet's, as illustrated by both names being included on the petersham. Sewn to petersham, stamped in gold on silk faille: "Doucet/21. Rue de la Paix/Paris" Woven into petersham in gold: "Arnold/Constable & Co."

Jane Norton Morgan, wife of J. P. Morgan 1902 Dress

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The Story Behind the Dress Series, Dress 3


Designed by Jean-Philippe Worth, French, 1856–1926 for the House of Worth, Paris, France

This dress was worn by donor's grandmother, Jane Norton Morgan, wife of J. P. Morgan; Gift from Jane Norton Nichols (donor's mother) to Henrietta N. Meyer, 1974; Gift to the MFA, June 25, 2003

Bodice and skirt of this woman's two piece dress of ivory silk taffeta faille brocaded with polychrome silk flowers accented with gold and silver-metallic thread in the Louis XV style. Bodice has ivory silk "stomacher" that was originally trimmed, possibly with a large jewel (remaining stitching thread is thick and indicates this use). Blue satin ribbon trim at bodice front neck, evidence of lace filler as neck; puffed tulle sleeves trimmed with blue silk satin ribbon. Other (bodice): 55.9 cm (22 in.) Other (skirt): 177.8 cm (70 in.) Labeled "C Worth" on Petersham band, tagged with label, "61194." Skirt originally trimmed at bottom .


Jacques Doucet Afternoon dress

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 7, 2013 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The Story Behind the Dress Series, Dress 2

Designer: Jacques Doucet (French, Paris 1853–1929 Paris)

Date: 1900–1903

The dress is owned by Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Designated Purchase Fund, 1990

The designer, Jacques Doucet was first, and foremost, a connoisseur of art. Additionally, his passion for the refined and exquisite overflowed into his dealings with fashion, making him one of the finest French couturiers during the Belle Époque. The House of Doucet began as a family business, specializing in women's lingerie and laces, as well as articles of clothing for men. Founded in 1817, the company rose to fame under the hand of Jacques. The house was known for its luxurious offerings, which were worn and coveted by royalty, members of the elite society in both Europe and America, and actresses of the stage.

This is an elegant afternoon dress that would be suitable for afternoon events, such as the races and other promenade activities. The dress is an excellent example of Doucet's penchant for lingerie-like garments, which is represented by the delicate ruffles and rose printed chiffon. Dress is made of silk, linen, and rhinestones. It’s length at center back is 19 in. (48.3 cm) The color combination of blues accented with turquoise is a favorite of the designer. Stamped in gold on petersham: "Doucet/21. Rue de la Paix" Handwritten in ink on reverse of petersham: "78814"


Princess Alexandra of Denmark 1900 Evening dress

Posted by Wanda Pepin on September 7, 2013 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The Story Behind the Dress Series, Dress 1

Princess Alexandra of Denmark 1900 Evening dress

Place of origin: Paris, France (made)

Date: ca. 1900 (made)

Artist/Maker: Madeleine Laferrière, born 1847 - died 1912 (designer)

Materials and Techniques: Figured satin, decorated with imitation pearls, diamantes and spangles, mounted on boned silk foundation, padded, cotton gauze and lace

Credit Line: Given by Lady Lloyd to the Victoria & Albert Museum . It was given to the Museum by Lady Lloyd and forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection. This Collection was brought together by the society photographer Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980). With great energy and determination, Beaton contacted the well-dressed elite of Europe and North America to help create this lasting monument to the art of dress. The Collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.

This elegant evening dress was designed by the famous Paris fashion house Maison Laferrière, located at 28 rue Taitbout in Paris. Maison Laferrière was frequented by aristocrats and others of great wealth, who admired its exquisite designs and fine workmanship. Madame Laferrière's creations were among those shown by the Collectivité de la Couture at the Universal Exhibition of 1900 held in Paris. This dress was worn by Princess Alexandra of Denmark (the future Queen Alexandra), who was considered to dress with exemplary taste.

This is a silk satin evening dress consisting of bodice and skirt, designed by Maison Laferriere, Paris, ca. 1900. The tight-fitting bodice is mounted on a boned silk foundation. It fastens at the centre back with original hooks and eyes (with positions reversed alternately to take the tension). A draped panel conceals the centre back and fastens at the right-hand side with hooks and eyes. The gored skirt has seven flares panels, the two longer at the back are gathered into the waistband and form the train. Its hem is padded to maintain the flared line and the train has a frilled petticoat of cotton gauzes and lace.