18
Mar
2015
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Sale, Shop talk

Hi all,

We’re bulging at the seams at Circa, so we’re going to have a little half price sale in the shop so you can pick up a bargain. Here are the details:

What: Half price sale. All ladieswear will be 50% off.
When: Thursdays and Fridays (10am-5.30pm) and Saturdays (11am to 3pm) March 26th to April 24th 2015
Where: Circa Vintage, First Floor, 358 Lonsdale St Melbourne

New stock will be put out each day, so pop back again.
Does not include menswear, jewellery, books or webshop.
No laybys or returns on sale stock and no appointments available during this time.

Thank you!

Sale April 2015 475
1920s quilted jacket.


12
Feb
2015
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Style icon, Talk

Hi all,

For the past few months I’ve been collaborating with Lorelei Vashti, the super talented author of “Dress, Memory” on an event for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program and at last I can tell you all about it.

What: In Conversation: Fashion, Culture and Memory – Lorelei Vashti and Nicole Jenkins
When: 2pm Saturday 7 March 2015
Where: The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale St Melbourne
Cost: $20 incl booking fee and GST
Tickets available from Circa Vintage.

Here’s our blurb:

Join Lorelei Vashti (author of Dress, Memory) and Nicole Jenkins (author of Style is Eternal) for a vibrant conversation about women’s relationship to clothing.

We’ll uncover history’s most iconic ‘dress memories’, and delve into our cultural fascination with stories and fashion, both personal and historical.

Bursting with colourful images and lively conversation, this discussion will explore the many layers of history, culture and memory hiding within even the most utilitarian wardrobe.

We’ll have a slideshow and be discussing famous dresses in modern memory, like the beautiful green silk gown worn by Keira Knightly in “Atonement” and Marilyn Monroe’s “Subway” dress from “The Seven Year Itch” and what they tell us about the time they were set and how they resonate on your modern wardrobe.

It should be interesting and a lot of fun!

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9
Feb
2015
Posted by Nicole in Book, Calendar, Talk

Hi all,

Very pleased to report that later this month I’m visiting the beautiful town of Tamworth to present a talk! Best of all, it’s free. I’ll also be bringing some vintage scarves and doing a little demonstration of some of the ways you can wear them.

From the site:
Do you have many clothes, yet still have nothing to wear? Style is Eternal provides you with the tools to transform your wardrobe from faddish to stylish. Nicole Jenkins shares her experience and tips as a fashion buyer and stylist to navigate the essential additions to your wardrobe without breaking the bank, use accessories to create new outfits, convert your fashion faux pas into chic statements and travel with only hand luggage and still look classy.

What: Author Talk – Nicole Jenkins on “Style is Eternal”
When: 2pm Saturday 28 February 2015
Where: Tamworth Library, 466 Peel St Tamworth NSW
Cost: free!
More information here: at the Tamworth library

Tamworth library 475site.


5
Feb
2015
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Haberdashery, Vintage Fabric, Vintage Market, Where to buy vintage 3 Comments

Yesterday I had the very great pleasure to price up the latest donations for the annual National Trust vintage clothing sale. It’s always a treat to see all the wonderful pieces, and the generosity of the donors gives me great heart too.

So many nice things – this year we have some special wedding and evening gowns from the ’30s, brand new and unworn ’40s high heels in big sizes, lots of designer handbags and a silent auction for two ’60s Chanel couture skirt suits as well as hundreds of good quality ladies and menswear from the last hundred years.

One of my favourite pieces is a silk scarf from Ferragamo with a design of ’50s stilettos and a brand new Pucci silk scarf, unused in the original box. Everything is priced below its value, so it’s an easy decision to give it a new home and support a worthy cause.

Last year we raised a lot of money for the National Trust’s costume collection, enabling it to be preserved and displayed for exhibitions. With your help, we can raise even more this year.

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What: National Trust annual vintage, designer clothing and haberdashery sale
When: Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March, 10am to 4pm.
Where: The Ballroom at Como House, Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra.
Entry: $2. All funds raised support the collection. Be early to snaffle the best bargains!
More information at the National Trust events page.

Nat Trust vintage clothing sale 2015 3
Pale blue silk taffeta couture party dress from the ’50s with shelf bust and hand-beaded lace details.

Nat Trust vintage clothing sale 2015 5
Fabric detail from a printed ’30s tea gown with matching net bolero.

Nat Trust vintage clothing sale 2015
Brand new and unworn silk dancing shoes from the ’30s with little diamante buckles.

Nat Trust vintage clothing sale 2015 1
Detail of hand embroidered silk kimono from the ’40s, lined in printed crepe de chine.

Nat Trust vintage clothing sale 2015 2
1950s hatboxes: perfect to stash all your new hats from the sale.

Nat Trust vintage clothing sale 2015 4
Two good lengths of vintage upholstery linen with bird and roses print. One is a few metres long, sufficient to cover an armchair.

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30
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in Book, Calendar, Talk 3 Comments

Hi all,

This one has been in the pipeline for ages and I’m so excited that I can finally share it with you: ever since my first book came out, I’ve wanted to do an event at Readings, one of my favourite book shops, and I’ve been to so many of their events and I love them. With the launch of my new book “Style is Eternal”, they’ve invited me to talk about my passion for fashion!

From their site:
Nicole Jenkins has been collecting and restoring clothes since she was a child. With a background in film and theatre costume design, her Melbourne boutique Circa Vintage, showcasing the best of 200 years of Australian fashion, opened in 2004.

Over a glass of wine, hear Nicole talk about fashion and the history of clothing, and impart a few tricks of the trade.

Here are the details:
What: Nicole Jenkins on fashion
When: 6-7pm, Monday 23rd February
Where: Readings Hawthorn — 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122
Cost: $10 per person and includes a glass of champagne.
Bookings: click here.
More information here: Readings event site.

Hope to see you there!

Here’s my book cover, because I can’t resist sharing it with you again.

Style is Eternal cover


29
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Australian Fashion, Calendar, Exhibitions, Style icon 1 Comment

There’s a charming exhibition of a local style icon and fashion designer, currently on display in Ballarat. Here are some details from the website:

Fashion director, clothing designer, retailer, philanthropist, world traveller and local style icon, Jessica Simon was a key figure in Ballarat’s fashion history. She played a managerial role in her family’s business, Stone’s Drapery Store (in operation 1860-1965), which was widely considered the place in Ballarat for fashion purchases, in particular wedding gowns. She hosted a fashion program on local television station BTV6, and designed many of the garments for sale in the store.

Jessica was also a great philanthropist, hosting a wide range of charitable events in the region, and was actively involved in the establishment of the Gold Museum.


What:
Stone’s style: Jessica Simon, a life in fashion
When: 26th November – 1st March, 2015, 9.30am to 6pm.
Where: Gold Museum Ballarat, Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street Ballarat
Cost: see list here.
More information at the Gold Museum site.

I’ve had a number of frocks bearing the Stone’s label, mostly from the ’40s and they’ve always been excellent quality with a lot of hand-finishing. It’s nice to have an opportunity to learn more about the label.

There was a nice article in the Ballarat Courier about the exhibition and here are some images to give you an idea of what to expect.

stones label

stones exhibition 1

stones exhibition 4

stones exhibition 5

stones exhibition 6


8
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1950s, 1960s 2 Comments

In these modern times of off-shored manufacturing, most of our fashions are made in China. The wages are lower there, with less worker protections meaning that here in Australia (and other Western countries) we can benefit from the reductions in retail price and have more of what we want.

Sadly, it’s resulted in a culture that values cheapness over all: quantity, not quality. The term “Made in China” has become a by-word for poorly made, but the factories of China are no different to anywhere else: it’s not that they aren’t capable of making good products, it’s that they’re not being asked to. If the customer wants to pay a lower cost, inevitably the quality will be reduced.

When it comes to vintage fashion there is an idea that “Made in China” means you’re looking at a modern garment – but that’s only half true. The Chinese factories opened up in the early ’90s for mass manufacturing to Western countries, so for most “vintage” with a “MiC” label it will be no older than that, but there were always items made for the tourist market, and those that have survived prove that the Chinese seamstresses and artisans are some of the most highly skilled in the world.

Asian culture has often had a big part to play in influencing Western fashion – you see it in Victorian times through the expansion of the British Empire (Indian culture lending the paisley design, for example) and in the early 20th century it was the Ballets Russes with lush coloured costumes with fabrics borrowed from the exotic East that moved our culture away from the soft pastels of the Edwardians.

If you watch the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries you’ll have noticed how Phryne has a thing for Chinoiserie too: in particular, beautiful hand embroideries.

Here’s a piece from my own collection – a 1920s Chinoise embroidered silk coat. This photo is of Frankie Valentine by Dominic Deacon and is from my book “Style is Eternal”.

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Photo copyright Melbourne University Press.

The cream design is entirely hand embroidered, and would have taken a long time to work – it was expensive then and they’re still sought after now.

Chinoise coat
Chinese embroideries in the ’20s are exceptionally fine and make good collectables too. The crane was a popular symbol, representing longevity and happiness and the peony represents wealth, power and class.

You may recall there were a couple of nice Chinese embroideries in yesterday’s blog post.

You can find more lovely hand embroidery on this nightgown, including a fine satin stitch around all the scallopped edges.

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Although you can find Chinese made nightgowns in the ’30s and ’40s, the tags and rayon jacquard fabric give this one away as being from the ’50s – fashions didn’t change as fast in the tourism end of town. It’s new and unworn – perhaps a souvenir or gift that wasn’t needed once home. I do like when people look after their things for us.

Once you get to the 1960s there’s a positive explosion of Chinese products made for the tourist market – mostly from Hong Kong (which was still a British colony at the time, look out for labels that say something like that) and Shanghai.

Made in China 60s label
Here’s a label from a ’60s cotton dressing gown - there’s that paisley again too.

As well as fine embroideries, the Chinese also produce lovely crochetted items like this summer cardigan.

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crochet label 60s
Here’s the label – apologies for the detail being yellow, that’s instagram’s filters for you. You can tell it’s made for the foreign market because it’s in English as well as Chinese.

Remember all those lovely beaded cardigans and tops you get in the ’50s and ’60s? We can thank the Chinese artisans for those too: here’s a nice example in black (so much work in a heavily beaded piece like this)

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sequin cardigan label

The label from a sequinned cardigan – these were shipped in standard designs and appear under many Western fashion labels.


7
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Australian Fashion 1 Comment

We have such wonderful resources to find information these days but sometimes what you seek can be elusive.

I love to look up fashion labels, particular when I like the styles but often they use popular words and google can be unhelpful.

Yesterday Becky Lou and I photographed new stock and this style from “Gallivant Coats” caught my eye:

Circa Vintage Webshop 012015 215 475_edited-1

1940s redingote – “hang on” is that what you’re thinking? “What’s a redingote?”

I’m so glad you asked. A redingote is a light flared coat secured at the waist and based on historical riding fashions and has appeared at many times in the past but is no longer a feature in our wardrobes. A pity, I really like it and it’s perfect for the sort of weather we get in Melbourne, like today, where it’s warm but we also got a thunderstorm.

I’ve got some redingote patterns on the webshop – they’re a very similar cut to the one above.

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Early ’40s redingote pattern on the left

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1943 Redingote pattern.

Here’s the label – isn’t it a darling name, “Gallivant Coats”? “For Smart Wear Everywhere”.

I’ve had a few stylish Gallivants from the ’40s and ’50s (and memory suggests one from the ’30s but I can’t be sure) but a search turned up nothing, perhaps because the word “gallivant” is used in other contexts too. Like actual gallivanting, not just frock-wearing.

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The Gallivant label – you can also see the pintucked neckline detail and the unlined interior with overlocked seams.

“What’s that?” I hear you ask “didn’t overlocking come in much later?” Overlocking (or serging as our American friends call it) has an old history too, much older than this coat. It’s a misunderstood technique in vintage, with some unenlightened souls claiming it’s only found in fashions from the last few decades but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Meanwhile, searching for more Gallivants, I found a few on ebay and etsy – here are some labels.

Gallivant label 1950sFrom a late ’50s nylon frock. Not sure I’d want to be called a “Little Woman”.

Gallivant label late 1970s
From a circa 1981 jacket.

The styles of the more recent fashions are unremarkable, so I suspect that like many fashion labels they got older with their clientele. The quality is middle of the road, but they’ve lasted and they have charm.

Based on the items found, it looks like they were around from the late ’40s, possibly earlier and were still going in the early ’80s. There is currently a “Gallivant Clothing” registered in NSW but they don’t seem to be related.

I did find this from the New York Post 1936 though: unlikely to be the same company but nice all the same:

gallivant

“Gallivant! What an exciting word! Not travel, not journey, just junketing about here and there. New places, strange places, adventure. All that is hinted at in this one word. You may not be going any further than Central Park but as long as you move about, you’re gallivanting, and for this now we have special fashions”.

if you know anything more about Gallivant fashions, please let me know and in the meantime, the Gallivant redingote is now available in the city salon for a lucky new wearer.


7
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in Shop talk

I’m in the fortunate position in that I’m offered a lot of stock – at least once a day, someone will ask me if I “buy from the public” – yes I do! Buying vintage is the best part of what I do and I love it!

For most of the last thirty years I’ve spent the bulk of my disposable income buying vintage fashion – originally it was just my wardrobe and then I’d find nice things that weren’t my size but perhaps I knew someone who might like them? Wherever I went, I would find and buy nice pieces of fashion or textiles.

The result is that I have an awful lot of stock: as a collector I used to have about 500 pieces. Then for my shop I bought another 10,000 in 2003-4. Since then I have an excuse to buy as much as I like but it’s much easier to buy than it is to sell – a collection of vintage might include hundreds or even thousands of pieces and it can take me many hours to individually clean and restore each piece and then find a home for it. I do my best but I only have limited resources of money, space, time and energy. Sometimes I can’t restore it so I donate it to the opp shop or if it’s in too poor condition, take it apart and use it to restore other pieces.

It’s a blessing and a curse: I want to save all the lovely things.

I’m always buying certain things, but as my collection is very large (currently about 15,000 pieces) I need to justify the purchase by demand and the price needs to reflect what I have to do to it to make it saleable: hand wash or dry clean, stain removal, fix damage and restore the fabric. Plus I have to add a margin to cover the costs of selling: rent, wages, tax, electricity etc. It would be nice if I could include a little in there for my work too. Then pieces can get dirty and damaged from being tried on – so there’s more work.

It’s a laborious process and I love what I do, but it’s hard work, especially compared to modern fashion where you can sell a piece many times over. Everything that I have is unique and special and deserving of respect.

Whilst I can’t always offer you money for your items, there is another option – you can donate your clean and good quality items to the annual National Trust vintage clothing sale, which raises funds to support their wonderful costume collection.

Contact Libby on 9819 4831 or Nance on 9889 1042 or Deborah on 0418 334 475 and they can arrange to pick up items.

Here are some sneak peeks that I took recently when I visited – the next sale is on 14-15 March and they’re accepting donations now. You can see more information here.

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1950s dress pattern

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1920s hand embroidered piano shawl

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Detail from a 1920s hand embroidered Chinoise coat

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Fabric from a 1940s cotton seersucker house dress

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Fabric from a 1930s tea dress


31
Dec
2014
Posted by Nicole in Shop talk 1 Comment

It’s been quite a year here at Circa – the highlight was my second book “Style is Eternal”, which was released to a great response – it was simply wonderful on Christmas morning to think that many people would be unwrapping a copy of my book and enjoying it!

Here’s a quote from a reader:
“The book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous colour images…it will guide you…it will inspire you! So if you love fashion, or just want to whip your wardrobe into shape, I can highly recommend this book…it will become your fashion bible!”
Thank you Sarah from Zinc Moon blog.

In particular, the book has been warmly received by those who cherish my first book “Love Vintage” which is great. I like to think that the two books are sitting next to each other on bookshelves around the country, as they are on mine.

Most importantly, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported my vintage shop Circa over the last year: who bought an item online or came to see me at the shop because Circa is the foundation of all that I do.

Circa provides me a home away from home, filled with many of my favourite things and a lovely place to work. A desk to write and needles with which to sew. It funds the research and writing that I do, and allows me the freedom to offer specialised advice to all who come seeking it.

Without your support I wouldn’t be able to pursue my passion and share my knowledge.

I wish you all a wonderful 2015 and in the words of Mae West: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”

Happy new year Mae West 475

See you next year xxx

Circa is open throughout the festive season, only closed for public holidays. Here are some vintage New Year’s images that I’ve found that you might like – and I like the idea that all of these old images were once fresh and new, and looking forward to a new year that for us is now far in the past.


Unless stated otherwise, all content © Circa Vintage Clothing 2004-2014. ABN 37 840 548 574.