Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1940s (96)

Wednesday
Dec262018

Three Christmas Kings

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts, we traverse far
Field and fountain
Moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Oh, star of wonder, star of might
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading
Still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light …

Boxing Day is traditionally – I’m talking about medieval traditions that is – the day the ruling lords rewarded their serfs with boxes of presents. In places of worship, alms boxes collected donations for the poor. I wonder if this tradition could have been inspired by the three kings (or wise men) who followed a star and traversed a vast distance to present their gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby in the manger?

More recently of course, Boxing Day traditions have us all rushing to the shops to buy discounted presents for our well-deserving selves!

The carol tells the story of the three wise men in the Bible who had seen a star in the east and travelled to Bethlehem in search of the baby born King of the Jews. The song – both words and music – was penned in 1857 by the American John Henry Hopkins Jr, and the opening verses are beautifully lyrical. Sung in rounds it sounds both solemn and joyous.

I hope you all enjoyed both giving and receiving gifts yesterday … excuse me now, I’m off shopping!

~

Fashion Notes

Amazingly I actually already owned all these vintage maxi dresses, hats and wigs which were perfect to illustrate three wise (wo)men. On the left, I am wearing a 60s silk dress, with a vintage 40s black and white turban, and beaded slippers by Mollini; in the centre, is a green 70s lurex gown, with a vintage 60s velvet turban decorated with a vintage rhinestone bird brooch, and the slippers are by Sarti; on the right is a vintage 60s striped empire line dress, with a vintage 40s pink jacket, 60s silk petal hat and beaded slippers which were a souvenir from Vietnam. I am standing in front of the entrance to the King's palace, in Fes, Morocco, where I visited in 2011.

Photo: December 2018

Monday
Dec102018

The Sweeter Side of Yellow

What’s in a name? I declare, a yellow by any other name is still distilled with sunshine. Some might argue that, more properly, this shade of acid yellow would be described as chartreuse, a shade of green with a yellowish tinge that takes its name from the aromatic French liqueur. Chartreuse is distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants and flowers, and varies in colour from green to yellow, with the latter variety being milder and sweeter. This hat is definitely on the sweeter side of chartreuse.

This was a hat I spotted on Etsy and drooled over for quite some time before I finally succumbed to temptation and bought it from the shop Mel’s Vanity. It is vintage 1940s, and is a kind of elongated boater, trimmed in sumptuous silk ribbon, with roses above and below the brims. Yes, brims plural. I love that it has four layers! I have never seen such an extravagant feature in any hat before.

There is also the remnants of a very beautiful taupe-coloured, patterned silk veil which is unfortunately very deteriorated. This is the main reason I have not yet worn the hat out – that, and the fact the hat arrived in the winter, which clearly meant it had to await warm weather. But I haven’t yet discovered any replacement netting of equal beauty, and I can’t bring myself to snip off the existing remnants. Maybe I will just wear it tucked up.

The hat has two small combs inside which are obviously meant to fix it to an up-do, and in the 40s it was probably worn atop a victory roll, and tilted forward. Unfortunately achieving that effect is impossible with my short hair. Regardless, it looks so pretty, and different from every angle, which you can see in the pictures below – I particularly love the bow under the brim at the back. Bring on the sunshine!

Click image for larger version

Photos: October 2018

Friday
Nov302018

My Spectacular Sunglasses

I have often talked about accessories, and how they add the finishing touch to an outfit. What is even better, is a vintage accessory. You just can’t beat it for uniqueness, whether hat, glove, scarf or sunglasses – they add a certain je ne sais quoi to a look – or authenticity. You can tell the real deal a mile off. It’s in the quality of the materials and manufacturing; it’s an old adage but true: they just don’t make them the way they used to. And for something like a pair of sunglasses that you will likely wear every day, you want to really love it.

I am a bit of a fiend for sunglasses (and here you thought it was just hats) and have quite a collection, a few designer and lots of cheapies. Over the last year I determined that it was past time I ventured into the vintage sunglasses game.

Quite quickly, I stumbled across my first pair: 1930s tortoiseshell celluloid (above), with lenses that had an olive tinge. I found those in an op shop, and miraculously they came with their original leather case. Gold text on the front flap, partially scratched off, proclaims in swooping script the name of J. B. R. Burgess, with the tail of the final ‘s’ forming a swoosh underlining the name. In a small serif font underneath it is inscribed ‘Culwulla CHBR’ Castlereagh St, Sydney. Presumably it belonged to someone living in this building, Culwulla Chambers, which was built in 1912 and hailed as Sydney’s first ‘skyscraper’ standing 50 metres high.

The next pair of sunglasses I bought were 1940s wire-framed shades (below), with dark lenses and flexible arms. I found these on eBay, from a seller who had boxes of deadstock. Donning them took a bit of getting used used to – I was quite clumsy at first with slipping them around my ears. What a classic pair of sunglasses! I’ve always loved aviators, but these are even better.

The third pair took a little longer to land in my lap. I knew I wanted a pair of light-coloured celluloid frames, but these are extremely rare in Melbourne. I had been keeping my eye on a 40s pair with pale peachy pink round frames (my holy grail of sunglasses) on Etsy, but they were very expensive; I kept on putting my money towards vintage hats, my true love. Then one day I found another pair of deadstock 40s sunnies (top), these ones cream-coloured. The Dutch seller had two pairs, and I snaffled one of them at half the price of the pink ones, and was very pleased. (Tragically, a short time later, someone else snatched the pink ones out from under me, and the second pair of cream ones also sold.)

I call my reading glasses ‘my spectaculars’, but this trio really are. I adore them all. Though three is plenty to keep me going for now, I don’t think my adventures in vintage sunglasses has ended just yet – I still want my rose-coloured glasses!

Fashion Notes:

The dress is vintage 1940s, bought from Birthday Life Vintage earlier this year, the beret is by Australian brand Mimco, bought in a thrift store, and the earrings are vintage 50s, also bought in a thrift store.

Photos: November 2018

Tuesday
Nov202018

Apple of My Eye

Anyone ever watched the slow disintegration and decay of an apple core? It slowly turns brown, and eventually withers up into a bit of detritus. That’s kinda what happened to my old iMac, finally. The other week I tried to post a story, and I couldn’t even access the writing pane (what a pain). And today I was eating a Pink Lady apple and looked down at it to find half a wormhole. True story; not a metaphor.

Anyway, fortunately I already had a new iMac sitting in a box on my loungeroom floor, waiting for me to get off my lazy ass and set it up. Circumstance forced me into action last week, and I’ve spent days downloading new software, transferring data from the old dinosaur, deleting monstrously ugly fonts (the worms in this Garden of Eden) and the like. And oh how I love my new iMac! It connects to the internet and does stuff.

It just so happens that I can combine this love of Apples with my love of hats – this is what I call some kind of serendipitous happenstance! – and give you in homage a velvet and satin 1940s doll hat featuring an APPLE. Yes indeed. (I just pulled that one out of my hat!)

It just so happens that I can combine this love of Apples with my love of hats …

Ahem. I spotted this darling topper on eBay a couple months ago and found it too irresistible not to pluck it out of cyberspace. This type of hat is called either a “doll” or “toy” hat, the main feature being that it is miniature. These little hats were a popular style in the 1940s, and ranged from simple to very decorative, made from many different materials and featuring all kinds of trimmings, with or without half or full face veils.

Toy hats were often worn on a fun, jaunty angle, particularly tilting forward over the forehead, and were attached usually with hatpins. This hat has two tiny combs inside, but I don’t have enough hair to attach them to, so I’m waiting for some wig clips to arrive in the mail and I will sew them inside the crown. And then, she’ll be apples!

Thus, the only logical conclusion we can arrive at is that there are both good apples, and bad apples!

Photo: November 2018

Wednesday
Oct312018

Helloween!

While I don’t – along with many of my compatriots – actually celebrate Halloween, I am getting into the ‘spirit’ of things with this little spooky series of photos taken in the installation 1000 Doors, by Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney, at the 2018 Melbourne International Arts Festival.

The ticket for entry was a tiny and quaint brass key, which made me feel a bit like Alice. Laid out like a maze of doors in a house of horrors, the installation was complete with dilapidated walls, crumbling wallpaper, vintage furniture and Bakelite telephones, the smelly carpet of a seedy hotel, and a myriad mysterious vintage photographs littering every surface.

It was a lot of fun to traipse through, and the only thing that would have made it better and spookier was if we had been able to go late at night without the crowds of people – but this was a popular installation and there was no hope of that. For the occasion, I am wearing a vintage 1940s hat, and a Diane von Furstenberg dress bought in a thrift store.

I enjoyed hamming it up a little for these photos, and must confess in the last frame I had in mind Freddy’s tongue from one of the Elm Street nightmares. I was pretty young when I saw that scene, and ran away from the tv shuddering. Answering a telephone is akin to opening the door to the creepy cellar!

Happy Halloween.

Photos: October 2018. With thanks to my friend Rapunzel for taking them.