Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1920s (100)

Wednesday
Jun262019

Reach for the Stars!

Here is a re-cap of my starry sequinned 1920s wool felt cap, teamed this time with the blue starry knit I bought more recently, and the same mother-of-pearl star earrings. The star shape or polygon is a not only a great graphic, but holds significance in many instances of art and culture, and regardless of how many arms the star has, impressions of astronomical stars provide the term.

I was amused to learn that in heraldry a mullet is a straight-sided five-pointed star – it seems to bear no relation to the favourite men’s hairstyle of the 1980s. Nor the fish. (The dictionary does not even include the hairstyle so I can’t ascertain its etymology.) Sometimes the mullet it is referred to as a ‘golden five-pointed star’ … On the other hand, a star with wavy rays is called an estoile, which is a much prettier word. More regally however, the mullet is an ensign of knightly rank, and the symbol is incorporated in some way by every order of knighthood, which raises it above its other more unpleasant associations.

Above all though, the star – especially employed en masse – conjures up the heavenly sphere, bejewelled and twinkling; Cecil Beaton’s celestial visions in the 1920s; and delightful paper moon photographic backdrops. Irresistible!

Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star for the Galaxy Ball, by Cecil Beaton, 1929Unknown sitter, by Cecil Beaton, 1920sPaper moon in the Victorian eraPaper moon in the 1920sPhoto: June 2019
Other images found on Pinterest

Sunday
Jun022019

Bewitched and Bedazzled

Today I bring you another kind of cap: a 1920s wool felt made from stars. How cute is this?! I saw it on Etsy last year and was instantly smitten. The base is white felt, with cut-out stars as well as the large appliqués and tiny sequinned stars bedazzling it. It’s stamped on the inside with the Merrimac Co mark. I own a few other 1920s hats, but this one is really a show-stopper – it may even have once been part of a costume.

I found the star earrings, which are made from shell in a thrift store, and sometime after taking this picture I also found a blue jumper (sweater) patterned with rows of white stars. The label is New Feeling, which I’ve never heard of – it’s made from a viscose/acrylic blend, the little which I forgave because of the stars. The wool dress by Arthur Galan that I am wearing here is also from a thrift store. I’m looking forward to making heads turn wearing all these starry motifs together this winter! 

Photo: September 2018

Monday
May132019

Pretty Parisian Gowns

Day suit of linen and cotton, spring-summer 1947, Paquin, Paris couture house; Colette Massignac designer, active 1945–49A few weekends ago I visited the Krystyna Campbell-Pretty Fashion Gift exhibition currently on at the NGV International. I had not known what to expect from the exhibition, and was excited to discover it featured garments spanning over a century, and included a remarkable number of illustrations and photography from fashion journals and periodicals from the early nineteenth century onwards.

Dress and cape of silk, c. 1938, Maisons Agnès-Drecoll, Paris couture house 1931–63It would be hard to pick a favourite, but as always the 30s and 40s are my favourite eras. There was a 1930s yellow gown that delighted me, and a cream 1947 day suit by Paquin that made me gasp and exclaim to my friend, “Now, I would wear that!” We approached one mermaid gown by Maggy Rouff and wondered at the odd angle of the mannequin – until we saw the beribboned back of the dress – amazing!

Evening dress of silk velvet and satin, autumn-winter 1937–38, Maggy Rouff, Paris couture house, Maggy Besançon de Wagner, designer 1896–1971

The exhibition wound throughout several rooms, with garments occasionally intermixed with paintings and industrial design pieces from the gallery’s permanent collection. The only disappointment in this was that quite a few gowns were far above eye level, so one could not examine them closely. There was certainly a lot to take in, and happily it runs for another couple of months, and as entry is free, I shall be returning for another tour.

Click here to see the full gallery.

Detail of a lavishly appliquéd 1920s robe de styleA special issue of winter fashion, 1940s

Tuesday
Apr232019

The History of the Easter Bonnet

1940sIn Australia there is no tradition of wearing Easter Bonnets, except for young school children making their own hats in the classroom and parading them for the benefit of their local community.

As you could imagine, these chapeaux were generally a horribly kitsch conglomeration of brightly coloured eggs, bunnies, and chicks that are rendered charming only by the knowledge that someone’s cute offspring had earnestly and excitedly stapled it together.

So I was most amused to discover that adults were equally adept at assembling hideous Easter bonnets – albeit with more skill and imagination – to parade at Eastertime in America.

1940sMorecambe UK, 1959

The famous Easter Parades had their origin in the 1870s, when people would stream out of churches following the Easter Sunday service, dressed, of course, in their very best. Naturally a magnificent hat topped their ensembles. The very first parade along Fifth Avenue seems to have been an impromptu event, as the upper echelons of New York society poured out of St Patricks Cathedral and strolled up the street. With each successive year, the Parade became more popular and drew hundreds and thousands of spectators.

Easter Parade New York, 1922Easter Parade New York, 1922Prince George and Jane Erdmann, Easter Parade New York, 1933Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1948Early on, people simply showed off their most stylish and newest spring garments, but as the parade grew in popularity, grandiose themed pastiches began to appear – similar to the kind of hideous hats sensation-hunting women sport at various racing carnivals around the world.

1920sOn the other hand, Easter was an opportunity for more aesthetically-pleasing fun: Easter bunny hats or complete outfits. Personally I would prefer to don a pair of rabbit ears than crates of eggs precariously balanced on my head!

For a more detailed history of the Easter Bonnet, visit The Eternal Hedonist; and visit Today for a slideshow of more vintage images of the Easters of Yesteryear.

1920s (my favourite)1940sActress Ruth Roman, 1940sA modern bunny ears rendition

(Imgages from The Eternal Hedonist, Today, Daily Mail UK and Pinterest)

Monday
Apr222019

Easter Plum

Out of my archives comes this 1920s style beaded turban, from the 1960s. This was a very early thrift store vintage hat purchase which unfortunately I no longer own – I culled it in a fit of ruthlessness as it was a size too small for my head. It ought to have sat much lower, but in fact it took a ruthless tug to pull it down, and resulted in temporary deafness as my ears were squashed!

Turbans did not really fit in with my style back then however, so I donated it back to the thrift store with not much regret. It’s only now that it seems a shame: such a rich colour with the fabric swathed just so, and the beading going all the way around … What a pity, as it was pretty.

Photo: November 2012