Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in fur (28)

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

Saturday
Nov242018

Impressed!

A few years ago, my friend Rapunzel bought this vintage 60s suede coat at a vintage warehouse sale for a fairly modest sum. The clothing, I believe, was purchased unseen by the container-load from America. While all the other clothing at the sale seemed to have suffered no lasting damage, this coat looked like it had been drenched in the brink. It was so wrinkled, and strangely textured as though it was encrusted with salt.

My friend, however, never wore it, saying she had never got round to taking it to a drycleaner, and didn’t like wearing coats for commuting anyway, as she tended to overheat, and so she was reluctant to spend a large amount on professional cleaning. She donated it to me.

I was pleased to accept the coat, but it couldn’t be worn in the state it was. I forgot to photograph it in its original state, but I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball, then poorly smoothed out.

I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball …

I took the coat to my regular drycleaner and asked his advice. With very serious face he examined the coat and remarked that it did look like it had fallen into the ocean. That seemed unlikely, but perhaps it had been splashed at some point in its life. He did not think cleaning it would improve its appearance – the two apparent stains visible on the right side (near the collar and the middle button) were actually abrasions of the leather, so cleaning would have no effect on those. He suggested pressing it instead.

Ironing leather! I have talked before about the importance of ironing, but it never would have occurred to me that it was appropriate to press leather. For a modest sum of $15, I agreed to see if that improved the look of the coat. When I returned to pick the coat up, I was very impressed (pardon the pun) to see the improvement.

This suede, mink-trimmed coat transmogrified from a sozzled 60-year-old harridan into a gently-used dignified dame. Disfigurements became faint scars proudly marking the stately passage of time, and the coat was eminently wearable. Amongst so many coats I already own, I still managed to wear it a few times this past winter, an excellent result.

Photo: August 2018

Tuesday
Aug072018

The Truth About Persian Lamb

I am not sure how I feel about this vintage 50s tall toque, which is made from astrakhan, also commonly known as Persian lamb, with a ring of mink on top. The label states it is ‘created by I. J. Ellemor, Furrier Melbourne’.

When I bought it in a thrift store (and when I photographed it), I knew the mink on top was genuine, and assumed the lamb fur was faux, but on closer examination – and with better light to read the label – I realised the astrakhan was genuine. Black is the most desirable colour too.

Generally I am ok with fur when it is a vintage item, especially when I am recycling a garment and giving it a second life, but knowledge of the realities of the astrakhan fur industry taints this hat somewhat.

Astrakhan is the curly fleece of Karakul lambs, a breed originating from Uzbekistan. Wool is not so bad, you might think for a moment, but it is in the manner that these beautifully and tightly curled fleeces are produced that is particularly horrifying: ‘the pelts come from Karakul sheep that are either fetal or killed and skinned before they reach three days old when their pelt remains tightly coiled and luxuriously soft’. [thecostumerag.com]

On the other hand, I’m not vegetarian, and I do eat lamb; however, astrakhan that is produced today is unregulated and not a by-product of the meat industry (read more if you dare at the above link). The Victorians and Edwardians were particularly fond of the fur, and it continued to be popular in the 1920s and 30s through to the mid-century. Were they less ruthless then; did they at the very least utilise the whole animal? It’s some consolation this hat is vintage, but if I wear it, it will be with a little sadness.

~

Read more on the history of astrakhan in this excellent article at the The Dreamstress.

Photo: July 2018

Monday
Aug062018

What I Actually Wore #0141

Serial #: 0141
Date:
21/08/2013
Weather:
14°C / 57°F
Time Allowed:
10 minutes

It is a sunny but chilly day, and I build my outfit around my over-the-knee socks this morning! I could not bear the thought of wearing tights again. Horrid things. Tights that have lost their tightness and fall down are the worst, aren’t they? Usually I choose my outfit rapidly, often deciding what I’ll wear while I’m showering.

The super-soft cashmere blend socks were a pair by French label Philippe Matignon that I bought on a sale on the website Ozsale. I always wished I had bought more than one pair, for one of them I wore completely to death over the years. These dark browns I still own, and since my sock collection has grown vastly, I wear them sparingly now. I have to purchase most of my socks and tights online, as the socks available in retail stores in Australia are utter, utter rubbish. I cannot emphasise that enough. The selection is really poor, mostly black and navy, with the odd bright fashion colour making a brief appearance. I don’t know why this is so. I know our market is smaller, but our buyers, I believe, suffer from extreme lack of imagination. (Yes, I’m passionate on the subject, but onwards!)

The other driver of this outfit is the vintage 1940s hat, which I purchased on eBay because I fell in love with the magnificent bow. The cool grey and mauve I match with a softer mauve knit, and a warm grey asymmetrical skirt by now-defunct Melbourne designer label Ammo. I bought that knit on sale years ago because I fell in love with the epaulets; I’ve since stopped wearing it, mainly because I dislike the ribbon trim on the shoulders, and am contemplating butchering the epaulets and attaching them to some other knit.

The suede heels by ZU – another vanished brand; it closed in 2015  – in what I’m flatteringly calling donkey brown have since been donated to the charity store, but the jewellery I still own and wear.

I do still very much like this colour combination – I like to mix varying warm and cool shades of one or two tones. It’s more interesting than exact matches, and an elegant change from contrasting hues.

Items:

Tee: Kookaï
Jumper:
Sabatini
Skirt:
Ammo
Hat:
vintage 40s
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Earrings:
Etsy
Ring:
NGV museum shop
Shoes:
ZU

Photos: October 2013

Sunday
Mar042018

What I Actually Wore #0137

Serial #: 0137
Date: 25/03/2013
Weather: 14°C / 58°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

It was a cold and very windy day, with gale force winds forecast for the afternoon. I had a hair appointment after work too, so I knew I had to dress warmly as I would be making my way home in the evening.

My old favourite Sonia Rykiel wool sweater! I loved how the stripes on the attached scarf tie were narrower than the body of the top. Sadly by this time the sweater was quite worn, and had a couple of holes in it that I had darned – one of the reasons I layered the cotton tee over it; the other was for extra warmth. And how I adore this vintage suede and rabbit fur coat, the ‘Zhivago’ as it was called in the 1970s – one of my all-time favourites.

I pulled my outfit together quite quickly, but as I had just written the accessories story for the Ten Commandments the night before, I deliberately thought about how I matched my accessories. I originally wanted neutral socks, but my favourite French brown ones were in the laundry basket, so I went with the red. A bit more lurid than desired, but only a little of them would be glimpsed (and you can’t see them at all in the photos). They annoy me all day as they’re supposed stay-ups that don’t stay up! The earrings are striped ceramic (they are not visible either, sadly in this case) and the ring turquoise – they were both souvenirs from Barcelona.

The tan leather lace-up boots are old favourites. My oldest sister has told me that in the 70s, lace-up boots really were lace-ups: there were no cheating zips up the sides like today. They took forever to take on and off, so you didn’t remove them until you had to.

At my hairdresser, the receptionist raved about my outfit – she said I looked gorgeous, like a little doll, and so creative. Hmm, not so sure about the doll part, but gorgeous and creative I’ll take! I still have all these items except for the two tops, but I actually still like this outfit.

Items:

Tee: Oxford
Jumper:
Sonia Rykiel
Skirt:
Ojay
Stockings:
The Sock Shop
Hat:
boutique
Coat:
vintage 70s, Stephen Dattner
Scarf:
souvenir
Earrings:
souvenir
Ring:
souvenir
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Boots:
Joanne Mercer

Photos: October 2013