With a career that spans 6 decades Pierre Cardin has to be considered one of the most inventive and influential fashion designers of the 20th century.
In 1945 he was working at the house of Madame Paquin, later leaving it to join Marcelle Chaumont, who was Madame Vionnet’s assistant. In the following years he worked with Schiaparelli, and Jean Cocteau.
Then, starting in 1947, he spent 3 years with Christian Dior.
What a rich and wonderful start to a career that would eventually lead to the opening of his own couture house in 1950.
My favorite period of Cardin’s design has to be the 1960’s – 1970’s. His fresh designs embraced the themes of science-fiction and travel to outer space. The space age 3-D shift, the astronaut men’s look and the “white breasts” dress. Materials never before used in fashion such as vinyl and metal rings were adorned with brooches made of carpenters nails, and diamonds. Tight leather trousers, knit cat suits, close-fitting helmets and bat wing jumpsuits were all part of his collections.
For decades he has amazed the world with his innovations. As a fashion designer, he has been continually experimenting with the ideas of abstraction, exaggeration and technology.
One could call him an architect designer.
The merging of fashion and architecture is fully evident in the following video where the 2008-2009 collection is revealed.
You have to check out the Pierre Cardin official website. As innovative as his clothing designs this site is a visual masterpiece while also displaying his oeuvre of past and present projects and designs.
American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity is the first Costume Institute exhibition drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met. It explores developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition reveals how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. “Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” “Flappers” and “Screen Sirens,” among others, helped lay the foundation for today’s American woman.
The lavish garments are presented on mannequins in imaginative period vignettes.
This beautiful exhibit runs from May 5, 2010 to August 15, 2010. If you are in New York it’s well worth a visit and if not then please take a few minutes to enjoy this wonderful video presentation.
I came across this fantastic little book the other day while shopping at my favorite antiques mall. In this book, entitled – “Fashion’s Folly”, the authors intent was to mock and poke fun at fashion, fashion magazines and fashion photography of the time. The time was 1954 and I’ll let the authors explain their motivations –
Vanity, vanity, thy name is fashion. And fashion’s favorite vanity fare is the fashion magazine – that exotic catchall for the contorted pose, the bored expression, the Victorian objet d’art, the plazas, palaces and pomp of the old world, the geometric shapes of the new, the Jaquars, the tiaras, and the diamonds, and all other fancies of a very, very never never land. How high fashion has flown!
The authors of this book have devoted themselves modestly to the gentle pricking of the pearl – encrusted balloon of high fashion – this in the hope of bringing it somewhat closer to earth. It is also their hope that the ground observer – and even the balloon passengers – will find it fun.
Well, this book is great fun. The authors have selected specific magazine fashion shots and paired them with hilarious and irreverent captions.
Here are a few examples [click on image to enlarge] –
I’m still laughing and I’ve read this book 10 times already.
So fashionistas, let’s not take ourselves too seriously or we might end up in a book like this one day.
Check out this newsreel from the 1930’s depicting imagined fashions for the year 2000. Aside from being a campy trip into the future, it seems to me that, most of the predictions are off the mark with only a few alluding to things actually going on today. Many of the fashions depicted are obviously rooted in the 1930’s aesthetic with only some minor tweaks here and there. I did like the futuristic man and his personal telephone [later to be known as a cell phone], but he basically looks like he stepped off the set of a 30’s Buck Rogers movie and forgot to take the salad bowl off his head.
I remember going to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The most exciting exhibit was the GM Futurama ride. The exhibit transported fair visitors through dioramas of space, under water scapes, tree killing machines in the Amazon and highways that spanned the globe. Everything looked as though it came out of the Star Trek series. This was to be the future. Massive cities, snaking highways and no mention whatsoever of ecology. Most of the predictions were also rooted in that time period and precious few actually came to be. Looking back they seem like quaint visions with of a not very realistic future.
I guess it’s not easy for designers to divorce themselves from contemporary designs and styles and truly imagine a revolutionary new clothing design or a new future world. When a designer does come up with a new revolutionary idea …… then that’s true genius.
Let me tell you about the best kept secret in New Jersey.
Have you ever been to Elizabeth’s Vintage Shop at the flea market on rt. 29 about a mile south of Lambertville? If not then you’ve missed a delightful treasure trove of pure vintage. Go up the small hill at the top of the market and enter a shop like no other. You’ll find racks bursting with vintage clothing from the Victorian era to the 1980’s. Each garment is presented in pristine condition – washed and neatly pressed.
Her selection includes vintage gloves, purses, lace trims, appliques, millinery details and her specialty – vintage hats. It’s spring now and the shop is filled to the brim with floral hats in bright summer colors. White Victorian blouses, floral summer dresses, neat linen frocks, cool silk and rayon lingerie, light spring sweaters, really so much to take in and so many wonderful choices.
Elizabeth also carries a large collection of vintage perfume related items along side showcases packed with vintage holiday memorabilia. If you’re looking for that special 1950’s stuffed rabbit for your Easter celebration you’re sure to find it here. Are you still searching for that Santa Claus ornament you remember since childhood? Elizabeth probably has it tucked away in a corner shelf.
There aren’t many shops like Elizabeth’s left and entering it is really like taking a trip back in time.
Shop is open Wed/ Sat and Sunday.
Here are some very recent pictures of the shop. Hope you enjoy.
Easter is just around the corner and I’m reminded of this great montage scene from the 1948 MGM picture “Easter Parade“. Music by Irving Berlin starring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Ann Miller. This film represents the height of the Hollywood musical and one of the best of its time. This short segment depicts the height of fashion looking back from 1948. The song, “The Girl On The Magazine Cover”, features an ingenious stage act, in which women appear against backdrops that look like the covers of magazines.
High fashion, Hollywood glamour, wonderful music – take a look.
This film details the haute – couture of American fashion [c. 1917] for the well heeled one percent of women who might be able to afford it.
I’ve always been very interested in the historical aspects of fashion. How interesting it is to observe this from afar and ponder the modes and mores of this earlier day. It was definitely a time when the concept of following fashion, was a woman’s only avenue to succeed. It was largely through her fashion statements that she was able to climb the social ladder.
As an aside notice the elaborate stockings. Stockings then were either silk, or lisle, the cotton weave we know today as t-shirt cloth. Nylons will not be introduced until 1939.
The fabrics then, including the silks, cottons, serges and all textiles really were of a variety and richness not seen today.
Christian Dior turned the fashion world on its head on February 12, 1947 when he introduced his first line which came to be known as the “New Look” featuring rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and very full skirt. The “New Look ” celebrated femininity and opulence in women’s fashion. Dior created a sumptuous and lavish look that broke away from the spare and masculine styles of the war years. This was a totally new direction for fashion and helped return Paris to its place as fashion capital of the world.
I’ve scoured Etsy and have found some beautiful garments from that time and style. How wonderful that we can still experience first hand these gorgeous and historical works of art.
1950s Vintage Traina – Norell Silk Print Womens Dress and Skirt from marvita13
CEIL CHAPMAN black bombshell wiggle cocktail dress The ultimate little black dress from Xtabayvintage
Circle Skirt Pin Up Bomb Shell Sundress Cocktail Party Prom Dress 32 Bust from Badgirlvintage
Last weekend I took a trip down to Philadelphia to visit some friends and stop by the Antiques Center at 615 south 6th street. It’s always fun shopping there. Vintage clothing, vintage jewelry and a wide variety of collectibles abound.
I especially enjoy shopping at MOD GIRL. It’s the first booth you see as you enter the building. There’s Jill, seated behind her jewelry counters chock full of bakelite bracelets, rhinestones necklaces, marcasite brooches, sterling, copper, glitz and so much more. A staple in this center, as Jill says, she’s been there forever. And she has been there for a long time indeed filling her customer’s needs for fine vintage clothing and jewelry.
People come from New York, California and even a few Philadelphians stop by. Many New Yorkers now have second homes in Philadelphia finding it very cosmopolitan and much more affordable than the big apple.
This past summer Jack Nicholson was in town shooting scenes for a film by James L. Brooks and the director himself stopped by and bought two bakelite bracelets.
Searching through the clothing racks I spotted dresses of many different styles and periods. There were a lot of nice wearable dresses from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. I also found a good variety of classic formal numbers, along with a lot of fun kicky pieces. Coats, sweaters, scarfs, bags, shoes…….…it’s all there. I even noted some designer items as well. Pauline Trigere, Pucci, Adele Simpson, YSL, Schiaparelli, Valentino and many others. It’s definitely worth the trip. I know I’ll be back again soon.
The Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show takes place in New York City this Friday and Saturday and we’re going to take it in. Always an interesting show it draws more than 80 dealers featuring vintage clothing and accessories for almost everyone – from the aficionado of the Victorian cinched waist to the high style fashionista hoping to emulate the big shouldered look of the1980’s and 90’s. It’s all there. We’ll be speaking with some dealers about collecting trends and their merchandise and will also be taking tons of pictures. It should be a great series of posts starting next Monday or Tuesday.
See you then.
Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show
125 W. 18th Street
New York City
Friday February 5 1pm – 6pm
Saturday February 6 11am – 6pm
Oh well, it seems That Mother Nature had other plans. We’ll just have to wait until the spring edition of the show.