Friday, February 25, 2011

Cocktails, Anyone?

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Continental Holiday Silkstone Barbie doll is ready for the cocktail hour in Mattel's vintage "Red Flare" velveteen coat with matching pillbox hat and envelope purse (1962-65).  It is the perfect compliment to "Silken Flame" reproduction dress by Mattel.  White gloves and pearls complete this classic ensemble. 

From Reproduction Booklet
"Luscious red velvet ensemble.  Flared coat with bell sleeves and white satin lining. Matching pillbox hat, handbag; long white gloves and red shoes. $3.00."

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Christian Dior was the first to name the early evening frock a "cocktail" dress in the late 1940's and thus began a thriving market for cocktail specific fashions.  Here is Dior's "Pisanelle" cocktail ensemble from his fall/winter 1949-50 collection. The ensemble is navy and blue silk satin with navy silk velvet. Perhaps this was the inspiration for Mattel's "Red Flare" coat design a decade later?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Get Yourself a Halo!

In the 1940's women's hat styles were varied, from berets to turbans to tilt hats.  One popular style was the off-the-face or "halo" hat.  They were young, fresh and a perfect compliment for hairstyles with a center-part or pompadour ("Victory") rolls.  Sears advertised the "Hollywood Halo Hat" worn by Movie stars such as Loretta Young.  They proclaimed, "Yes!  You Can Wear These!", "Different, but definitely flattering!", and "Every New Dress Deserves a New Hat!".

The Chicago Mail Order Company, in their Fall/Winter 1941-42 catalog, declared:  "It's big hats for Fall ----not just for Summer!  Women love their Drama!" 

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Here are 2 Halo hats geared for Juniors.  The left hat is a kettle-style brim that can be worn either up or down.  It was available in a variety of colors such as Flag red, Black, Santos brown, Royal blue, and Chilean wine.  In 1941, the cost was .95 cents!  The hat on the right is a wool felt accented with a glitter-like gold star-spangled ribbon band that frames the face.  It came in Kelly green with luggage tan, Bright red with black, Black with red, Brown with kelly green, and Royal blue with navy.  The cost was $1.59.

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This Charmcraft, wool felt, kettle brim hat is accented with dramatic veiling and a big ribbon bow in the back.  In addition to all Black and all Brown, it was available in Flag red with a Black veil, Soldier Blue with Navy veil, and Chilean (dark) Wine with Navy veil.  The cost was $1.98.

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Genuine Mink tails highlight a wide V-cut through this unusual Halo brim.   Veiling bands tie the head-hugging crown and floats off in streamers in the back.  This dramatic wool felt hat was available in Black, Dark Brown, Soldier blue, Chilean wine, or Timber (dark) green; all with brown mink fur.  The cost was just $1.69.

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Halo hats are also a great way to update an old dress!  Case in point, a Couture Touch OOAK tweed halo hat and matching gauntlet gloves give a new look to Ashton Drake's "Dark Desire" black crepe dress.  I also added the lace jabot from "The Little Black Dress" ensemble. Fur from PD Root. Purse from Robert Tonner. My model is Ashton Drake's "Love at First Sight" Gene Marshall doll. 

So the next time you are in the market for a new hat, just Get Yourself a Halo!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1948 "Fashion Plate"

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This Rawling's photo for Revlon was featured in a November 1948 issue of Vogue.  The ad was for Revlon's "Fashion Plate" cream wafer face makeup.  Jewels by Milton Schepps.  Hat and coat by Lilly Dache.  Don't you wish we dressed like this today?  I know I do!

Friday, February 11, 2011


With Valentine's Day fast approaching, what better than to talk about sweethearts.  Sweetheart necklines, that is!
Barbara Stanwyck & Henry Fonda
"The Lady Eve", 1941

The sweetheart neckline gets its name from the cut and shape of the neckline.  The sweetheart design features two curves over the bust line which drop and meet at a point in the middle of the bust area.  The graceful curves are very flattering and draw attention to the figure while still offering modest coverage.  The origins of the sweetheart neckline are unclear.  Some date it to the Renaissance age in Italy or to the Court of Isabella in 15th Century Spain.  Some credit 18th Century French designers for creating the neckline shape.  Whatever the origins, it has made a strong impact particularly on women's formal fashions.
I love this still from "The Lady Eve", a 1941 screwball romantic comedy starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.  Edith Head designed the wonderful costumes.  This iconic evening gown is actually 2 pieces exposing a bare midriff.  The short beaded top has a sweetheart neckline. 

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Ashton Drake's "That Certain Blue Gown" Madra Lord looking fabulous in Violet Water's "Out of the Blue" 1940's inspired evening gown.  This rich blue velvet gown is accented with a turquoise blue shantung gathered bodice, 3/4 length sleeves, and features a sweetheart neckline.  Circa 1944.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Inspirations: OOAK Artists

Thanks to local doll shows and publications such as Barbie Bazaar and Millers, I discovered a whole new world of doll collecting via the OOAK Artist.  In 1993, my Dad picked up a copy of the March/April issue of Barbie Bazaar magazine that featured an article about the OOAK creations of Chiemi Nakagawa.  I was excited to learn that there were other collectors doing what I was doing: designing, sewing, and creating for our Barbie dolls. Here are 3 of my favorite OOAK Artists:

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"Joshard Originals" is the combined talent of Joe Seminerio and Jeff Bouchard.  They specialize in retro 40's, 50's, and early 60's.  All of their timeless ensembles are masterfully accessorized with coordinating hats, purses, and jewelry.  Click here for Joshard Originals website  Photo Credits: Mattel's Holiday Hostess Barbie doll is wearing a suit and bracelet from "Joshard Originals". Hat from Ashton Drake, gloves and purse from Mattel.

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Inspired by vintage films and fashion designers such as Charles James and Edith Head, James Bogue of "Bogue's Vogues" creates 1950's glamour ensembles that are simple yet classic.  His elegant daywear and evening looks utilize beautiful fabrics, impeccable fit and workmanship.  Click here for Bogue's Vogues at Etsy  Photo Credits: Mattel's Fashion Editor Silkstone Barbie wears an iconic taffeta shirtwaist dress from "Bogue's Vogues". Hat from Mattel, purse from Integrity.

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Bradford Samuel pays homage to the classic 20th Century Haute Couture with his ensembles inspired by fashion greats such as Dior, Fath, and Balenciaga. His one-of-a-kind dolls capture the sophisticated and stylized look of iconic 50's models such as Dovima and Sunny Harnett. He shows a remarkable attention to historical detail and scale right down to the smallest accessory.  Photo Credits: OOAK dressed doll by Bradford Samuel.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wool Revue of 1946

Wool.....It's warm, soft, and luxurious.  It comes in a variety of rich colors and textures.  It's a perfect choice for coats and suits as it tailors perfectly.  And depending on the weight, it can span the seasons.  For your viewing enjoyment, I am featuring some wonderful 1946 textile advertisements from vintage Vogue magazines.  Textile mills often partnered with apparel designers to showcase the latest in colors and styles. 

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This beautifully designed suit by The House of Swansdown is in pure wool Milliken fabric with melon-style sleeves and a sweep of silvery buttons. 

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This striking yellow wool tunic is made from Bur-Mil rayon faille wool crepe from Burlington Mills Corp.   I love it paired with the fabulous black gloves and halo hat.  The tunic is layered over a black skirt.  Photo by Paul D'Ome.

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A simple wool suit accented with the perfect accessories: a delightful floral straw hat, handbag, gloves, and umbrella.  Cy Monette suit made from worsted wool by Pacific.

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Isn't this a sensational look?  I love the color of the gloves with this jacket from Carmel.  It's made from Miron's needlepoint gabardine of pure 100% imported virgin wool.