Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in feathers (47)

Tuesday
May212019

Feathered Fantasies

Models at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, showing off scandalous new gowns showcasing the S-line (and their figures), and enormous hats of course, Paris 1908During the Edwardian period, the ideal image of womanhood was to look fragile and delicate, and the fashion was for the flattering S-line, with long luxurious hair piled high to show off slim necks. Enormous hats fantastically trimmed were the crown of these ensembles, designed to complement and set off the feminine silhouette.

The years of the Edwardian British period covers the short reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, although sometimes it includes the years up to WWI. At this time, hats were a crucial part of the dress code for people from all walks of life, young or old, rich or poor. There were different hats acceptable for each strata of society – but all wore hats, all the time. Women changed their hats with their outfits several times a day and would never step out tête-nue (with a bare head) – that was considered a huge social solecism. It was acceptable only for beggars to be hatless.

1909A lady and an assistant settle down to the pleasures of selecting and decorating a stylishly large hat from the befeathered and beribboned collection available at the Paquin couture house millinery rooms, 1909. From ‘The Golden Age of Style’ by Julian Robinson, Orbis Publishing 1976Milliners could and did go to town, extravagantly decorating these wide picture hats with silks and velvets, ribbons and artificial flowers, and after the death of Queen Victoria, bright colours becamse hugely fashionable. The most popular millinery trim of all were feathers, for throughout history, plumes on hats have been a sign of status and wealth. The rich of this time were no exception – some of the hats were insanely huge, even obscenely ostentatious.

Feathers of all kinds were fashioned by the 800 plumassiers in Paris that employed around 7000 people. Anything from little spiky trimmings to boas, tufts and sprays of feathers called aigrettes were cut, dyed and arranged from a wide variety of feathers: cockerel, pheasant, marabou, ostrich, ospreys, herons or birds of paradise. Sometimes even whole stuffed birds perched atop these monstrosities.

Bird of paradiseSuch decorations were extremely expensive; a hat trimmed with natural bird of paradise plumes could fetch a price of $100, a fortune in those days – that is over AU$4,400 or US$3,045 in today’s values. (For comparison I spotted a YSL black rabbit fur felt hat on Farfetch for over $3000 – it does have an elegant shape and details, for example tasselled ties, but that seems laughably overpriced for a comparatively unexciting hat made of inexpensive materials.)

The feathers of the Roseate spoonbill are so gorgeous they almost lead them to extinctionAnother bird that was hunted almost to extinction is the roseate spoonbill – in the late nineteenth century its feathers were literally worth more than gold – $32 per ounce, compared with $20 for gold. [al.com] Their almost total disappearance was one of the factors that lead to the formation of the Audobon Society, dedicated to conservation, eventually leading to the banning of the usage of feathers from endangered species.

Fashions at LongchampFashion from Paris – Les Modes February 1907c. 1912 Jane Renouardtc. 1900 The Bonita Hat – Huge oblong circle shape made of black plush with flamboyant turquoise lining that shows. It is trimmed with black and turquoise ostrich plumes. There is a turquoise and purple ribbon and velour 'grapes' on the ribbon. Originally sold on Ruby Lane.Three out of four hats featured feathers or whole birds, such was the popularity of plumage in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Today, feathers are still popular of course, but milliners have become more creative with the feathers from farmed ostriches, pheasants, ducks and cockerels.

During the militant phase of the Suffragettes and Blue Stockings around 1908, fashion began to simplify, and while hats were still de rigeur, they too fell in line with Reform fashions, for not even Suffragettes would cease wearing hats entirely – they were reluctant to outrage the establishment so utterly. Huge bows in sumptuous fabrics became more favoured for trimming, with the first cloches appearing in 1917, heralding the way for a vastly different style of hat in the 1920s.

Simpler hats of the latter Edwardian years, top right 1910, all others 1912Hat featuring a fabulously huge bow, Ladies Home Journal, 1910

Photos: Vintage images found on Pinterest; I have tried to include information and original links where available.

Additional reference: The Century of Hats, Susie Hopkins, Chartwell Books 1999

Monday
Nov192018

What I Actually Wore #0144

Serial #: 0144
Date: 01/09/2013
Weather: 24°C / 75°F
Time Allowed: 8 minutes

I don’t remember this occasion at all, unsurprisingly, as it was just another work day, albeit Father’s Day, and the first day of spring. However, I can report that I still own all these items, except for the ikat print skirt and the dark taupe (or donkey brown if you prefer) pumps. The latter simply wore out, but I lament culling that skirt – looking at it now, I really like it and wonder why I deemed it should go. I love ikat prints in general, and am always keeping an eye out for them, although I prefer ones with limited colour palettes.

The feather headband, fashioned into a bird, is vintage 50s, and I bought it many years ago on Etsy when I was on a headband/bandeau hat kick. I love the concept of a bird perched on the head – much more interesting and quirkier than a plain band. I have not worn it for a long time, mainly because I have so many hats to choose from; this archival photo is a nice reminder to bring out some of my simpler hats on occasion.

Items:

Blouse: Veronika Maine
Skirt: Veronika Maine
Belt: David Lawrence
Headband:
Joseph Horne Co, vintage 50s
Earrings: handmade by me
Ring: Autore
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Bag: vintage 60s
Shoes: Zu (now defunct)

Photos: October 2013

Tuesday
Oct302018

Shopping for Robin’s Eggs

It’s no secret to regular readers of this style blog that robin’s egg blue is one of my favourite colours – if not the favourite. It’s a colour I am always drawn to whenever I see it, and so when I saw this necklace in a sale on Facebook from Rosebud Vintage Bazaar that is evocative of actual birds’ eggs, I knew that I absolutely had to have it.

The vintage 1950s feathered hat is an absolute marvel as well – I bought it many years ago on Etsy, and have worn it a few times on special occasions, such as Christmas Day celebrations and going to the theatre. I love it paired with this necklace though!

The only thing that would make this outfit more amazing would be a silk dress featuring a bird’s egg print …

A tall order, you think?

I actually came across such a dress in a thrift store just over a month ago, and was bowled over by the print. I was not, however, bowled over by the price of $80 attached to it. Come on, I thought. Especially when they had not even bothered to present it nicely. It was as wrinkled as though it had just been withdrawn from a bag in which it had been screwed up into a ball and jammed with many other items. No, no, no.

However, I might have accepted the price for the print if it had been cut into anything other than an ugly shirt-dress. I loathe and abominate shirts. Always have. And shirt-dresses are even worse; I don’t find them flattering at all, at least on me. I look like I have just crawled out of bed wearing a man’s shirt. Hideous!

I look like I have just crawled out of bed wearing a man’s shirt. Hideous!

I thought about having the hem tailored to get rid of the shirt slits, but I was too annoyed at the prospect of spending another $30 or so on top of the $80 purchase price. $20 okay, or $30 even, but $80 is just too much in a thrift store for a modern dress that looks like a rag, in my view. I was recently chatting to a thrifting diva from the US, and she was shocked when I quoted her some average prices from Aussie op shops. Many of them are not really ‘opportunity shops’ any longer, unfortunately.

That being said, I am quite willing to pay much more for unique or rare vintage items such as the necklace, or feathered hat, even when I find them in an ‘op shop’.

Photos: September 2018

Wednesday
Jul252018

Head in the Clouds

I often go about with my head in the clouds because I am usually daydreaming as I gaze about the world around me. But this morning I really had my head in the clouds because I was wearing a new 1930s marabou headscarf that had just arrived the day before. It is very fluffy, and light blue, and made me literally think of fluffy clouds.

Then as I walked out into the glorious sunshine of a crisp winter’s day, the beauty of the blue sky – covered all over with feathery white clouds, stunned me! How perfectly perfect, I thought. Here I am in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens on my commute to work – the gardens as well as the sky make a lovely backdrop.

The scarf came from the aptly named shop A Flair for Drama on Etsy, and looks every better in real life than in photos. It is a delightful thing to wear (and very warm as well), and it’s just as pleasing to put a smile on other people’s faces too.

Life’s too short to wear a baseball cap! (Unless you’re going to the baseball.)

Photos: Today

Saturday
Jul142018

À La Mode

In honour of the French national holiday today, I bring you a Paris-inspired fashion editorial from the April 1994 issue of Australian Vogue, shot by the French photographer Pascal Chevalier.  

The Belle Époque-inspired fashion (some of it French) was photographed around famous sights of Paris, including Maxim’s Restaurant, the famous Art Nouveau entrance to the Metro and the Bois du Boulogne, a park in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

Bonne fête to my French readership!

[Click on the images for larger versions]