Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in fur (32)

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

Tuesday
Aug152017

Animal Prints Through the Decades

Model in leopard-print bikini featuring lacing on the sides, 1955Animal prints have been perennially popular through the last century or so, as you can see scrolling through these images, taken from Style Book – Fashionable Inspirations, by Elizabeth Walker (Flammarion 2010). Real pelts, a symbol of wealth and luxury, were once insouciently worn without any consideration for animal conservation; now prints are worn purely for fashion’s sake – from the beach in Wilma Flintstone style togs, to stepping out in Cannes in glittering sequins.

Most of these fashion images show animal prints only, and mostly faux fur, although there are a very few showing genuine fur, including one eye-opening and rather grim archival image of two women casually shopping for pelts in the 1940s in Africa.

Cheetah and leopard are reminiscent of spots, and although I love graphic stripes too, not even Lauren Bacall (my favourite actress of her era) in a zebra print can reconcile me to the look of it.

(Click on the images for larger versions.)

Actress Ava Gardner in leopard print costume, surrounded by swathes of fabric in the same pattern, 1952Woman in zebra-print bikini, 1955Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor draped in leopard fur shawl, at the London Palladium in 1956Model in leopard-print waistcoat with matching muff and cap all in faux fur, London 1951Actress Lauren Bacall sports a zebra print blouse, 1944Model Jackie Collins mixes zebra and leopard prints matching the car interior; outfit by Car Robes, at the Motor Show, London 1956 Model in zebra tabard by furrier Calman Links, Bond Street, London 1965Men's street style in 1956: a dandy accessorises his three-piece suit complete with pocket-square with a cheetah print flat-crowned hatPhotographer Norman Parkinson wearing an extravagant leopard print scarf, 1970Model wearing sequinned leopard-print gown, Christian Dior A/W 1953A woman in a sequinned gown that owes much to the 80s fashion of Dynasty, at the Hotel Carlton during the Cannes Film Festival, France 1998Flapper style with a circular theme in 1925: leopard-skin coat trimmed with fox furA stewardess in the 1971 uniform of National Airlines: faux fur accessorised with a real baby Bengal tiger In Africa in 1947, women shop for leopard pelts