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Entries in sequins (52)

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
Dec252018

A Christmas Angel

Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new-born King! 
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, 
God and sinners reconciled” 
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, 
Join the triumph of the skies; 
With th' angelic host proclaim, 
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.” 
Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new-born King!”

Well, I knew this song had been around for a long time, because they don’t write lyrics like they used to, but I didn’t know that it was written in 1739 by the famous Methodist preacher Charles Wesley. Interestingly, he requested slow and solemn music, and it was not until one hundred years later that the more joyful music still used today was composed by Felix Mendelssohn.

Wesley had based his lyrics on the angelic choir I talked about in yesterday’s Christmas Eve story, so today’s picture is a fitting, if more stylised extension, as I depict the angel heralding the shepherds.

I decided to go for a Renaissance style angel in gloriously colourful and billowing clothes, sumptuously golden wings (large antiqued wall ornaments, borrowed from Hurn & Hurn – which you can actually buy – fantastic!) and a deliciously gold background reminiscent of some paintings and frescoes of the era, or Byzantine icons (another art period I love).

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful and celebratory day, however you spend it.

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Fashion Notes

I am wearing a blue top with silk puffed sleeves by Australian designer Lisa Ho, a silk taffeta vintage 70s skirt, beautifully dyed and embroidered fabric that I think must have been a sari as it is so long (I bought this in a vintage boutique in Sydney when I was a teenager!), and a copper metal headpiece of flowers by which label I remember not.

Photo: December 2018

Saturday
Oct132018

Another Lemon Slice

So here is the 1960s sequin shell top I bought on the Day of the Yellow Bonanza. It looks very subtle in this picture, and it is quite a pale lemon yellow, a nice addition to my ever-growing collection of sequinned garments. (Rather hilariously, I am suddenly reminded that many years ago I painted my bedroom and boudoir this exact colour combination. Lemon yellow above the picture rail, and robin’s egg blue below – how funny!)

What I like about this particular 1960s sequinned rendition is that when the top is off, it looks like an ordinary shell, but on the body it has cap sleeves. Admittedly it is a little boxier in shape than I would prefer – scroll down and compare it to the red top – but for sequins and yellow ones at that, I will not complain!

Photo: August 2018

Monday
Oct012018

When the Heart Flutters, Buy

As has been firmly established by now, red is one of my favourite colours. I make a beeline for it whenever I see it, as I did with these two handbags that I bought last year.

The first one I spotted in a thrift store by the beach. (Because what do you do after spending a good part of the day at the beach? Why, fit in a spot of op shopping of course!) How cute! I thought when I saw it, round and twinkling at me from inside a cabinet. How perfectly it would go with this sequin top I am wearing, I thought. Did I need it? Of course not. But it does.

The second little bag is made of silk satin and chiffon, and in addition is studded with rhinestones. I spotted this one unerringly at a vintage fair, and had to wait quite a long time for the stallholder to be free to answer my questions about this mystery bag, for it looked completely unused. She seemed unsure as to the age, and doubtfully offered up an era I cannot recall, but I felt sure that was too recent. “It looks 1930s to me,” I said to her, and she conceded it did, excusing her first answer on the grounds of its pristine condition.

I am not sure exactly what shade of red to call it; it is lighter and orange-tinged, but not orange. I like to refer to the Wikipedia pages on colour for their names and descriptions, but the screen representations are poor. By its description it could be scarlet, or cinnabar, both of which are orange-toned reds.

Of course I did not need this bag either, but its ruffles had made my heart flutter, and the fact that I had nothing in my wardrobe to grace this with mattered not a whit. It is still pristine, for I have not taken it out yet either – it is enough to know that it exists, and it resides in my closet. Sometimes the mere fact of beauty is enough. When the heart flutters, buy.

Photos: March 2018

Monday
Feb262018

A Tribute to Turquoise

I’ve often rhapsodised about one of my favourite colours, turquoise, on these pages; it is such a summery colour for me. Scrolling through my archives of fashionistamatics, I was amused to see quite a large number of items that had not yet seen the light of day: here are five of them, to celebrate the waning of the season.

First up is a picture of me on last Christmas Day, wearing a 1960s sequinned wool tank top (despite the how sunny the photo looks, it was not excessively hot that day in Melbourne) and a 1950s feather bandeau. I had decided to go full Christmas, and am wearing these with a red silk skirt, red heels, and candy-cane jewellery (my diamanté earrings are actually candy-canes!).

The woven straw bag I think is 50s or 60s and was a recent purchase in a thrift store, and the next snap is a detail of another beaded and sequinned 60s top, this time in a t-shirt shape. (I actually have a third as well, which has tassels, because why stop at one or two?)

The patent heels are a favourite pair of summer sandals that have that strange property of some hues that seem to change tone depending on what they are worn with. These, when paired with a slightly different shade of turquoise suddenly seem green – quite a magical effect! These shoes were bought on a sale website.

Finally, the little leather wallet was something I actually purchased retail. I loved the colour so much (unfortunately not captured very well on the iPhone 3S), and its convenient tiny size, I willingly paid quite a lot for it. I wore it out until the lovely turquoise turned grey – a bit like summer skies changing to autumn.

Photos: December 2017, February 2018, January 2018, May 2013, December 2011