Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, Film

I’m looking forward to seeing the new film about Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly – he famously dressed Marilyn Monroe in beaded silk for her film “Some Like it Hot” – and you must know that I’m always pleased to have an opportunity to showcase a photo of my favourite movie star.

MM singing “I’m through with love”, “Some Like it Hot” 1959.

“Some Like it Hot” is a classic Old Hollywood style film, with only a certain amount of authenticity in the period settings: so most of the characters were dressed in ’20s style fashions but Marilyn’s sumptuous curves are very much on display. Which is good, because it would be a tragedy to strap that famous figure down.

Orry-Kelly won an Academy Award for his costumes in the film, one of three he received, meaning that up until very recently – when Catherine Martin followed in his footsteps and dressed Carey Mulligan in beaded silk ’20s – he had won more than any other Australian. He’s long been an inspiration to me.

You may recall that a while ago, I was tasked with restoring Natalie Wood’s costume from “Gypsy” (1962) and I was impressed with the attention to detail.

Natalie Wood in her big number “Let me entertain you” in Gypsy, 1962.

Both of these costumes and a lot more, including his very interesting and fabulous life are featured in Gillian Armstrong’s new film. Here’s a trailer:

Rialto Distribution have sent me a small number of double passes to see the film “Women He’s Undressed” and if you’d like one, all you have to do is place an order through the webshop for the vintage fashion treasures of your choice. First come, first served: good luck!

Posted by Nicole in 1920s, Calendar, Exhibitions 1 Comment

Recently I had the very great pleasure of viewing the new exhibition of costumes and props from the wonderful ABC TV series “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”. If you have the chance, I recommend that you do so too. From the official website:

This brand new exhibition, set in the home of Aunt Prudence in the TV series, features never before seen series three costumes and props. See up close the outfits worn by Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) and her cohorts – including Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) and Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes). Walk through the different sets and touch and feel the sumptuous fabrics. Try on replica costumes and interact with props and furniture from the show as you step deeper into Phryne’s world. Solve a crime by looking out for clues from Detective Inspector Jack Robinson. As you go upstairs, become part of the crew and go behind the scenes to discover the inspiration for the costumes and understand how they were made. You will even get the chance to design your own dress.

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Here are the details:


What: Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition
When: daily until September 30, 2015. Open 10.30am – 4.30pm (Last admission is at 4pm)
Where: Rippon Lea House & Gardens, 192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick
Cost: Adult $20, Concession $18, Child $10. Family prices are also available and National Trust members receive discounts too.

More information: at the official site including some great events and an online shop including Phryne’s red lipstick! Once again, Marion Boyce, the ABC and the National Trust have treated us to an excellent event. Thank you!



Here are some more pics –

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Posted by Nicole in Shop talk 3 Comments

It’s exciting times at Circa – on Tuesday I closed my retail shop. Lots of lovely people came in that day to wish me luck on the next stage of the journey but to be honest, I’m a little scared.

Fremantle June_475

I’m focusing on the positives: now I can create a vintage fashion webshop without limits. I love vintage, and have collected a lot of it over the years but a retail space is inherently limited: it needs a certain amount of space and it needs to be pretty. As much as I like pretty, I like practical too and now I can create a space that works for me and the new demands of Circa’s webshop.

Now all those lovely pieces I’ve been buying can come out to play, and be shared with the world – you would not believe how many pieces I’ve bought and packed into a box and sort of forgotten about! For starters, in my stockroom there is brand new ’60s Dior lingerie from a Sydney auction in 1996. It came out in 1998 when I inventoried it, 2004 when it moved to Circa’s Collingwood stockroom and again in 2012 when we relocated to Mitchell House but so far, no one else has seen it. Soon you shall!

It was always hard when you have a retail shop because there’s only so much stock you can fit in, and even though I love rotating stock and bringing new styles in all the time, it never moved fast enough for me. So now I can fit the salon out with shelving and set up a proper backdrop for my photo shoots and…just…go…for…it.

The sad part is that Circa is no longer a lovely space for everyone else to come and play in – today several people rang, asking to be let in but the truth is that already we’re dismantling the shop and today we were doing stocktakes. I like to hit the ground running, as there is much to do for the next stage. Momentum is my favourite word.

The goal is a simple one: I want Circa to offer you the largest range of vintage fashion from one shop in the world.

Pip from Meet Me at Mikes was also taking stock today – and she kindly supplied this list for us all. Here’s where I’m at…

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Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Vintage Fairs

From the in-box…the annual Ballarat vintage clothing fair

What: Vintage-A-Fair, a vintage, retro and designer clothing fair.
When: Saturday 15th August, open 10am to 3.30pm
Where: Brown Hill Hall Humffray St. North, Ballarat
Cost: $2 entry supporting CAFS and the RSPCA
More information: Contact Lynne or Dinah on 0409335072 0408 072 995 or check out the Facebook page.


Posted by Nicole in Shop talk 2 Comments

Hi all,

There are some exciting things happening in Circaland and I thought you might like to know about them too!

Firstly, I’ll be introducing a page to the webshop about the wonderful people who bring Circa’s vintage fashion to life – it makes such a difference to see fashion modelled by real people, and the people who help me have fascinating creative lives outside of me dressing them up.

Meet George, who is our first ever male model!


You’ll be seeing George in the menswear department, which will now be expanding with suits, jackets, trousers, accessories, all kinds of nice things for the chaps. I really like menswear and I love that now you can browse our selection from the comfort of your couch or desk.

We’re also expanding the webshop and blog with new designs and functionality, so soon you’ll be seeing a new look, with many more unique fashions listed. We’re already one of the largest specialty fashion e-tailers in the world with close to 2,000 products, and soon we will be even larger as the retail shop closes at the end of the month for browsing, to allow more space for the webshop. My specialist advisory services will still be available online and by appointment to help you choose the right outfit.

This will also give me additional flexibility to do more talks and research plus I’m applying to go to university to study history! A very long held dream, it will help me towards my ultimate goal which is to write about fashion history at a post graduate level.

Did you know that Circa’s primary model, Miss Becky Lou is a performer? She’s presenting her solo show “Shake” at the Butterfly Club next month: here’s a blurb:

‘Shake’ is the much anticipated debut solo show written by award winning Australian burlesque artist Becky Lou. Her sumptuous figure, joyous dancing and irreverent slapstick have delighted audiences from Geelong to New Orleans. Come for the shimmies, stay for the stories as being seen and not heard becomes a bit too hard for this striptease queen.”

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I can’t wait to see Becky Lou’s show, it received great reviews when she performed it in Adelaide recently – here’s a sample:

“I really enjoyed Shake. I had seen some Becky Lou’s work over the last couple of years in other shows and I think she has done an amazing job with her first solo show. Full of anecdotes about the “behind the scenes” life of a burlesque performer as well as stories of her childhood, Becky Lou’s casual and conversational tone really draws the audience in, and the intimate venue is perfect for this. Lots of laughs and of course lots of saucy striptease, the show also makes you think, and realise that those bump n grinders sure do have a lot to say!” Rosie R.

Becky has offered a discount price for Circa readers of $27 per ticket – just use the code “Circa” when you process an order through the Butterfly Club’s site: here’s the link. Offer expires next Friday, June 19th.

Hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Talk

Hi all,

Very excited to report that finally, after years of requests, I’ll be presenting a talk on fashion in my home town Perth*.

The talk has been organised by the Art Deco and Modernism Society of WA, and I’ll be talking about both of my books – the award-winning “Love Vintage” and the recent release “Style is Eternal“, as well as answering all your questions about fashion, Art Deco and otherwise. I suspect Miss Fisher may get a look in.

Here are the details:
What: Talk on fashion by Nicole Jenkins
When: 4-6 pm, Saturday 27th June 2015
Where: Grove Library, 1 Leake St Peppermint Grove (Perth)
Cost: free
Tea and coffee will be served

My talk is preceded by a “Make Do and Mend” session so if you have any sewing projects, it could be a good opportunity to come early and join the group. I love community events at libraries. Tempted to bring a project and join them.

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Here’s a pic from my Readings Hawthorn book launch, taken by Sally McKinnon. There will be copies of my book “Style is Eternal” available for sale and I love signing them for you. Note that hair may or may not be pink at the event.

See you soon Perth!

* I moved lots when a child so get two hometowns: Sydney is the city of my birth and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, Australian Fashion, Designers 4 Comments

I’ve wanted to write about Lucy Secor for ages because every garment I’ve seen from this Melbourne label has been exceptionally well made. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who thinks they’re special – items can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

This lovely gown has just arrived in the shop – providing the perfect excuse for a little investigating.

1940s evening gown with beaded bodice and draped skirt. Now available online and in the Melbourne salon.

Lucy Secor was a fashion label that opened in Melbourne in 1922. The original shop was located at Centreway arcade on Collins Street: a premium location, then and now so you can see that they were always a good label.

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Posted by Nicole in 1930s, Designers

Today we have a beautiful new gown in the shop. It’s a wonderfully made and shaped gown that is very comfortable and flattering – like the best of ’30s evening wear.

It has a nice, swishy skirt for dancing the night away with your personal Fred Astaire.

The bodice is quite artful: wide straps (with bra keepers to keep your lingerie out of sight) descend into a sweetheart neckline, and rows of darts to shape the bustline from the sides.

The back features an original ’30s celluloid Lightening zipper. These are hard to find, as most ’30s dresses used other forms of openings like press studs or buttons, and original zippers have often been replaced. An original celluloid zipper is generally a sign of high quality, and they were popular in the designs of Elsa Schiaparelli and Charles James.
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Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Talk

I have a fun talk coming up soon! It’s all about making the most of your wardrobe on a budget.

From the website:

Nicole Jenkins is the author of Style is Eternal and Love Vintage and will give you tips on expressing your personal creativity by updating your wardrobe without buying anything new! Garments you already have or secondhand clothes are the most environmentally sustainable of all. They can also be restored or altered to suit you. Nicole will help you identify different fabrics and make easy repairs for a fabulous wardrobe.

Here are the details:

What: Reuse, Recycle and Update your wardrobe: a talk by Nicole Jenkins
When: 10.30am, Thursday June 18 2015
Where: Eltham Library, Panther Place, Eltham 3095
Bookings essential: call (03) 9439 9266
More information at the websitesee here.

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Posted by Nicole in Contest, Designers, Film, Style icon

Have you seen the new documentary about the House of Dior yet? It’s obligatory viewing of lovers of haute couture, as it gives a view into the makings of a new collection and launching it.

DIOR AND I key art-1

It focuses on Raf Simons’ first collection in 2012 and is wonderful for an examination of how the historical legacy influences his designs, which he combines with his modern aesthetic.

What really impressed me was the skill and dedication of the team behind him – the women and men who have been with the House of Dior for a long time and developed an impressive skill at what they do. These are the people who ensure that Dior produces fashion of the highest quality and stays true to the ideals of the company, regardless of which designer is currently at the helm.

The tone steps confidently between showing the human flaws of the people involved, whilst presenting them in a positive light – and then there are the gowns. The couture market is much smaller today than it was in the ’50s but it’s an important part of the industry and creates fashion in its highest form.

It’s worth the price of admission just to see the glorious walls of flowers. It made me wish we still had smell-o-vision! Christian Dior loved flowers, and reinvented women as floral displays in his designs, so I’m sure he would have loved Raf’s display! It’s a forgotten fact that his ground-breaking collection of 1947, popularly renamed the “New Look” was actually called “Corolle” – “like a flower”.

Dior flower wall

Here’s the trailer:

Madman have sent me a few double passes and several more “two for one” passes – if you’d like one, pop into Circa or order something online and I’ll send one out. First come, first served.

Or – if you prefer – we also have some copies of the wonderful Advanced Style documentary on DVD – here’s my review, I love these wonderful women and their great attitude to dressing.

Just let me know which one you’d prefer and I’ll include it in your order. Thank you Madman.

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