Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in fur (32)

Monday
Jul082019

What I Actually Wore #0154

Serial #: 0154
Date: 26/10/2013
Weather: 14°C / 57°F
Time Allowed: 15 minutes

I remember nothing about putting this outfit together, but I do recall an amusing incident at the end of this evening – but I’ll get to that later. I was going out to dinner and the theatre with a friend, and dressed up accordingly.

I really liked this black wool dress. I bought it in a thrift store, and had never (nor have since) heard of the designer, Charlotte Eskildon. It had some pretty ruching on the cuffs and around the waist – I say had because it didn’t take me long to admit that the dress was simply too big for me, and it returned to the op shop whence it came.

It’s pleasing to note though that I still own almost all the other items, although the polka dot tights inevitably became holey and ran. They have been replaced however with an identical pair that I confess I am reluctant to wear for fear of ruining them also! The op-shopped shoes died as well, but I fortuitously was able to replace them with an identical pair that were also from the op-shop and unworn. (How lucky am I?!)

The cashmere coat is a marvel, and I will never get rid of that – I am often likened to Red Riding Hood when I wear it. Parts of the label are very worn, and I have only now bothered to examine it closely with the aid of a magnifying glass, and have managed to make out it says ‘Weil der Stadt’, in addition to the fibre content and the ‘Made in Germany’, which I had read previously. Weil der Stadt is a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and is often called the ‘Gate to the Black Forest’, which is a very evocative origin for my fairytale coat. I bought the coat in a vintage store in Melbourne many years ago, in celebration of winning a pitch for a freelance job. I suspect the coat is not that old at all however, for some time after I bought it, I came across a Vogue magazine ad for designer coats in which there was one almost identical.

What does make me chuckle however, is the memory of travelling home by tram that evening: the tram driver – a regular bloke – had to stop the tram and access some interior maintenance panel. It was late at night, and there were few passengers on board; on his way through the tram, he saw me and exclaimed loudly, “It’s Miss Fisher!” That was at the height of Miss Phryne Fisher’s fame, and a few people nearby smiled, while I imagined his wife inveigling him to watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries with her, and him feigning disinterest. Although I am sure I had not thought of her when I dressed, I knew Phryne indeed had a coat very similar to mine – the tram driver was clearly paying attention to the show!

Items:

Dress: Charlotte Eskilden for Designer Remix Collection
Coat: vintage
Headband: Morgan & Taylor
Bag: vintage 60s
Tights:
Basque
Shoes: Scooter
Earrings: self-made
Necklace: souvenirs
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Ring:
souvenir

Photos: January 2014

Saturday
Jul062019

The Luxury Hat

Felt is an ancient fabric, and perhaps the first made by man: it is made rather easily as it is not woven and does not require a loom. According to legend, in the Middle Ages a wandering monk named St Clement – destined to become the fourth bishop of Rome – happened upon the process of felt-making quite by accident. It is said that to make his shoes more comfortable, he stuffed them with tow (short flax or linen fibres). Walking in them on damp ground, he discovered that his own weight and sweaty feet had matted the tow fibres together into a kind of cloth. After being made bishop (with the power to indulge his whimsy), he set up a workshop to develop felting production … and thus he became the patron saint for hatmakers, who of course use felt to this day.

Parisian costume, 1826Men and women’s beaver top hats, Gentleman’s Magazine of Fashion, 1876Today most felt is made of wool, but in the past, animal fur was used to make a high-quality felt. Animal fur has tiny, microscopic spines which lock together much like Velcro when heat and moisture are applied. Beaver was the superior fur because its spines were prominent and helped produce a high-quality felt; hats made from it date back to at least the sixteenth century, and they were a staggeringly expensive luxury item. Naturally, to reduce the cost of fur felt, other furs were used such as rabbit or hare, camel, and angora (mohair).

Men wearing beaver hats, 1886But it was another type of hat altogether that toppled the beaver from its luxury perch at last: the silk top hat. First invented in 1797 and scandalising the general public with its fearsome appearance, by the mid nineteenth century, the silk top hat cost half the price of beaver, and overtook it in popularity owing to changes in lifestyle which meant the hardy fur felt hats were not needed.

50s hat of angora fur felt; authorised reproduction of a Claude Saint-Cyr designI was initially attracted to this red 1950s pixie hat because of its dramatic shape, and the pearls (which I love) sewn all over it. It is made with Melusine, a felt made from rabbit fur. Melusine has long, fine fibres that are brushed to create a silky long-haired finish. In the past I had presumed ‘fur felt’ was a misnomer, and that such fabric was actually made from wool to look like fur. I was a bit sad when I realised this hat was real rabbit fur; however, at least it is vintage and recycled.

An amazing pink fur felt reproduction Regency hat, by Jane Walton, 2019I have a few other vintage hats also made from melusine, all from the 50s and 60s. While wool felt is certainly more common these days, you can still buy new fur felt hats (some sources nebulously state the fur is a ‘by-product’) – even top hats made from beaver that are worn by top cats at Ascot – and they are still quite expensive.

Photo: June 2019

Monday
Jun102019

What I Actually Wore #0153

Serial #: 0153
Date: 23/10/2013
Weather: 16°C / 61°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

I wore this outfit to work, and to Cinematheque, a club for cinephiles in the evening. I was glad of the coat and scarf going home, for it was freezing.

I like to sometimes dress in almost all monochrome – as long as it’s not all black, which is very un-Melburnian of me. If you’re not confident about mixing colours, going monochrome is a nice easy way to put an outfit together, with perhaps one or two other complementary colours in your accessories, such as the red I have used here. Black and white are of course non-colours, and they go with everything.

Whenever I do a story on these archival outfits, I amuse myself discovering how many of the items are still in my closet. (I am photographing current outfits, but I am running years behind!) In this case, some of these items are still in my closet, and the others have replacements.

I still mourn the loss of this vintage 70s white leather trench coat that I won for a song maybe a decade ago on eBay ($40) – I wore it out until it looked more grey than white, not from dirt but from actual wear. I still sort of regret culling that, although I would not wear it even if I still owned it, so that’s silly. (Call me sentimental.)

The red wool beret was a gift, but it was actually too small for my head; maybe it was a child’s hat. I have replaced it with another from the thrift store. The shoes, which I originally bought in an op shop, wore out, but I found a pair by the same brand that were almost exactly the same except for having a punctured brogue pattern – also from the thrift store, and never worn. Such a bonus because this Aussie shoe brand no longer exists: some kind of fashion miracle! These socks were a favourite cashmere blend; while I darned the toes several times, they eventually wore out beyond repair.

All the other items I still own, although the cardigan (note the Juliet sleeves) has been in a darning basket for some time, with moth holes in the tie belt that need repair. Emptying that basket out is one of my winter resolutions, so this picture is a timely reminder.

Items:

Top: Kookaï
Cardigan: Nanette Lepore
Skirt: Celia Vela
Coat: vintage 70s
Hat:
vintage 80s
Scarf: souvenir
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Shoes: Scooter
Earrings: self-made
Necklace: souvenirs
Ring: Roun

Photos: January 2014

Wednesday
Jun052019

Spot the Difference

Every now and then I come across an item of clothing which inspires me to make a homage to a vintage fashion photograph or illustration. This vintage 60s leopard-printed fur jacket and matching pillbox hat reminded me of a vintage Vogue magazine – from November 1939, as it turned out.

The coat and hat came from a Melbourne thrift store, and my corsage is actually a wool felt hair-tie that I bought in Vietnam many years ago. It was a lot of fun creating the look of the cover; the original Vogue cover is here below for comparison.

You can see all my Vintage Homages in the gallery.

Tuesday
Dec112018

Size Matters

Cherries are a delicious fruit, one of my favourites since childhood when I would go cherry-picking in the orchards of the Victorian hills with my family. Who didn’t, as a child (if not an adult as well!) dangle multiple cherries from their ears? The fruit is a popular motif in fashion as well – I have a few accessories featuring cherries, including two quite different necklaces, and these very playful fluffy cherries dangling from my keyring.

While they are certainly fun, and I adore pom-poms, I bought them primarily for their practicality. You may laugh, but because they are so enormous, they are easy to find in my capacious tote bag!

I did discover though, the first time I went to put my keys in an evening bag, that they suddenly are not quite so practical! It took me a while to work that out, as I often go out in the evening straight from work, when I have my tote bag with me and it is not an issue. What I need is a second set of housekeys on a tiny little keyring, which is a perfectly reasonable excuse buy another accessory, right?

Photo: November 2018