Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in pink (5)

Monday
Dec312018

Shine On, Magpie!

If it glitters, you can guarantee my fingers will get itchy and I’ll be drawn to it like the magpie of yore, which explains why I have so many sequinned garments feathering my nest. I can at least justify this excess by the fact that I actually wear them – working at a theatre allows me to indulge in my, ahem, theatrical sense of style.

… sequins are the quintessential party wear, and an excellent choice to ring in the new year …

In the nineteenth century, sequins were made of shiny metal – I have a late 1920s or early 1930s hat trimmed in tiny metal sequins (they need replacing and will be difficult to source), and also an antique Berber rug, originally worn as a cloak (incredibly heavy), that is interwoven with silver metal sequins. In the early twentieth century, flat or faceted to catch more light, they were made of celluloid, meaning they were dangerous to wear as they are flammable. But by some accounts of vintage sellers I have read, they have a special extra-shiny quality not found in their modern plastic counterparts. In the 1930s, there were even electroplated gelatin sequins. Obviously not very durable, these did not stay in fashion for long!

60s pink and white wool tank, silver velvet skirt by Top Shop, 1980s sequin beret; 1960s red 1960s red sequin wool top, modern skirt by Ojay and red sequin bag (era uncertain); 60s white sequin and red bead wool top, modern skirt by OjaySequins have been used in decoration for much longer than this however: the first evidence for them is in the Indus Valley around 2500BC, when gold sequins were used to trim clothing and other ‘paraphernalia’ – possibly for ceremonial or royal use. [Wikipedia] Note that ‘spangles’ are actually made from coiled wire that is hammered flat, though today the term is used interchangeably with sequins, while ‘paillettes’ usually refers to large, flat sequins.

Black sequins two ways: modern sequin dress worn as top with Bettina Liano puff shorts, Victorian miniature velvet top hat, 60s pearl earrings and modern heeled sandals by Wittner; modern sequin dress worn with rhinestone earrings by Aldo and modern red satin pumps by BarkinsThe modern name for these shiny decorative disks comes from the zecchino, a Venetian ducat coin, by way of the French translation, sequin. After Napoleon’s invasion of Italy in 1797, the coin ceased being minted, but the Conqueror carried the name back to France in triumph (okay, I’m romanticising here), and the term sequin came into use in France for the decorative trim shortly after.

Modern Australian flag sequin souvenir dress, 1980s straw beret, modern plaited white heels by Stefano Stefani. This dress made me laugh when I spotted it in a thrift store – a pity it is not a French flag, to match my story better! It was obviously a cheap souvenir dress, and I paid $6 for it, although I haven't found an occasion to wear it to yet!I have been hoarding this shiny story literally for years, but as sequins are the quintessential party wear, and an excellent choice to ring in the new year, this New Year’s Eve seems an appropriate time of year to finally release them into the world.

In fact, I haven’t even included everything in this collection – I also have a miniskirt of giant iridescent green paillettes, a grey tee of matt sequins, another modern sequin tank trimmed in silk chiffon, and a few sundry accessories. Out of this set, I think either the red sequin top, or the cropped robin’s egg blue tasselled top are my first vintage sequinned purchases. They were both purchased online, the former on Etsy, and the latter at eBay auction. I remember I was on a picnic with friends when I excitedly received the notification my bid had won the top! All the other items were found in thrift stores, except for the black Bettina Liano shorts, an indulgent Australian designer purchase.

Whatever old thing you slip off for this evening’s party dress, shiny or not, I hope you bling in a bright and shiny new year! Here’s to a happy 2019.

50s robin's egg blue sequin and bead tassel wool top, modern skirt by Ojay, vintage jewellery; 60s turquoise sequin and star-beaded wool top, modern skirt by Ojay, vintage jewellery; 60s celadon sequin and bead top, modern skirt by Ojay, vintage jewellery; 60s yellow sequin wool top, 1960s linen blend skirt by La Gonda, sterling silver, lemon quartz and agate earrings hand made by me

View all the items here in my new gallery All the Shiny Things.

Photos: (black set) March 2014, (Australian flag) February 2016; (pink and green sets) March 2018

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Read more about the history of sequins and spangles in this excellent article by The Dreamstress.

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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

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

Friday
Nov022018

Ballet Slippers

Ballet slippers were made for dancing, for water nymphs and fairies and swan maidens, for delicate creatures who float through life on tippy-toe. On the other hand foot, ballet flats are made for rather more down-to-earth women, those who need to run and jump puddles and get things done pronto! But these seemingly antithetical women have one thing in common: they need footwear that won’t hamper them or weigh them down.

A Capsule History

Once upon a time, the ballet slipper was only a shoe worn by professional ballerinas. It was first invented in the mid-eighteenth century, with increasing modifications occurring over the following decades, until the modern dance shoe as we know it was developed by famous dancer Anna Pavlova – with some assistance from the renowned Italian purveyor of ballet shoes, Capezio. (Pavlova also, incidentally, inspired the eponymous Great Australian Dessert.)

Anna Pavlova, 1920A Claire McCardell outfit from the 1940s with matching ballet flatsIn the 1940s, American designer Claire McCardell had an epiphany when she chose to use Capezio’s ballet slippers in her 1941 collection, asking him to add a hard sole. And thus the ballet flat was born! First Brigitte Bardot began sporting them, and the beatniks soon followed suit, until a year later, Audrey Hepburn in her role as a beatnik turned model in Funny Face (1957) made them world famous and popularised them for that new breed of human: teens. Offscreen, she wore flats by Capezio and Ferragamo.

A Personal Journey

Decades later, I myself as a teen tried ballet flats numerous times, but was never able to find a comfortable pair. I came to the firm belief that ballet flats were the most uncomfortable shoes ever invented. And though I loved the idea of them, I gave up on them for another couple of decades until I came upon a pair in a thrift store by chance.

This is not my photo, but these were the beloved Sambag shoes I owned. According to the designer’s Instagram account, the label will be relaunching soon to be sold online only. The ballet flats I spotted were in ballet pink, a colour I had recently come to highly favour, and were by the Australian brand Sambag. I had once tried some on in a retail store, but as they were quite expensive, with my past history of painful ballet flats, I was unwilling to trust they were a good investment. The secondhand shoes I found were still in their original box, the soles so pristine they had surely been worn only once or twice. I gladly handed $30 to the store saleslady.

Brigitte Bardot in ballet flatsThese shoes turned out to be one of the most comfortable flat shoes I have ever owned. It was a miracle! I still wore heels at work, but I wore these ballet flats constantly on the weekends, with the sad but inevitable result that they wore out too quickly. I ought to have taken them to be resoled before it was too late, but couldn’t bear to be parted from them for the requisite few days. … Ever since I have kept my eyes peeled for another pair in thrift stores, and actually spotted some once, but lamentably in a size too big for me.

Audrey Hepburn made ballet flats world famous through her 1957 film ‘Funny Face’A few years later, I discovered the brand Yosi Samra on a sale website selling ‘foldable flats’. These are specifically designed to be stored in tiny little drawstring bags to keep on hand (ahem) when the need to relieve one’s feet from high heels becomes urgent. I bought several pairs, including ballet pink ones that are very reminiscent of my beloved Sambags. The leather is extremely soft and flexible, and they are very comfortable, although they don’t offer a lot of support to the foot – they are not meant to be worn for extended periods of walking.

Full Circle

Finally, not that long ago I came across an actual pair of ballet slippers by Blochs (manufacturing dancewear since 1932) once again in a thrift store! I have the most amazing luck. They were a little bit small, to be honest, but for $6 I decided they would be great indoor shoes. The leather was so soft I was sure they would stretch enough. When I took this comparison photo (top) I was quite amused to see that the Yosi Samra flats on my right foot were extremely similar to the dance slippers on the left. The colour is a perfect match. 

Audrey Hepburn’s ballet flats worn at home (1960–70), auctioned off by Christie’s earlier this year. “[Audrey Hepburn’s] training as a ballerina probably contributed to the elegance and poise that we associate with her. She had quite a number of these flats in her possession [because] they were her slippers when she was casual at home, [but] these were the only pink ones. She liked to be casual; she was very much a human being.”Ironically, in 2009 another celebrity – this time from the music world, Amy Winehouse – began wearing actual ballet slippers by Gandolfi in place of regular flats. So ballet slippers danced a full circle, and have gone in and out of fashion several times. But as the second decade of this century draws to a close, they have become firmly established in their status as iconic shoes, and I don’t believe they will ever go away.

One day I’ll go back to that Sambag retail store and invest in a new pair, or three. The pink is my favourite, for the same reason ballerinas first wore them: they seem to disappear on the foot, creating the illusion that one is floating just above the earth, lightly and quickly – for I have always daydreamed of having wings. 

Photos: September 2018

Monday
Jun112018

Tassels for a Fine Lady

There’s an old Mother Goose nursery rhyme called ‘Ride a Cockhorse to Banbury Cross’, where the lines go, Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, She shall have music wherever she goes. … I feel like they did the ‘fine lady’ a disservice by ignoring her ears. May I put forward tassels, with perhaps little tinkling bells on the ends, as a suitable decoration?

One of my favourite pairs of earrings to wear of late are these giant ballerina pink tassels made from seed beads that I bought a few months ago. You might have counted these as frivolous purchase as any fine lady upon a white horse of yore might have made, but amazingly, they seem to go with everything! I think it’s because this pale shade of pink works like a neutral in the same way as does beige, tan or camel.

Another pair, also a recent purchase, are tassel-esque in design but are white rhinestones set in rose-gold metal. They are equally long and swingy. Because they are so blingy, they seem more fitted for evening – I last wore them out for cocktails, celebrating my birthday with friends. (Not that I disapprove of sparkles for day on the right any occasion.)

Both of these sets were bought in the jewellery department of David Jones, an up-market department store here in Australia. The enormous proportions and the sheer fun of tassels make each pair a joy to wear day and night. And I feel quite the fine lady too, I may add!

Photos: May 2018