14
May
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, Shoes 2 Comments

I have a thing for dressing gowns: they’re comfortable, relaxed and glamorous, protecting your modesty whilst enhancing your style.

On Sundays I’ll wear one around the house during breakfast and assorted tasks, delaying the inevitable “dressing for the day”. They’re good for answering the door, collecting the mail and saying “hello” to your neighbours. I’ve even worn them to shops, cafes and nightclubs (over silk pyjamas or a slinky ’30s nightgown, please).

Women used to have many dressing gowns in their wardrobe, along with their practical cousins: the brunch coat and the house coat, but nowadays these lovely garments have mostly been relegated to history. Not in my home: on my recent trip my hand luggage included a generously swishy black floral number nice enough for the opera should the occasion present itself. I recommend buying one size up so you have plenty of coverage and comfort.

The sudden onset of winter has created a need for another element of every day glamour: a new pair of slippers. So yesterday I hit the CBD shops hoping to find something better than the previous pair, all fluffy pastels and (shudder) cheap sequins. It was quite demoralising, with most styles conjuring up images of the elderly and nursing homes.

Slippers seem to have been the first casualty in elegance, as we rushed towards comfort in the latter part of the 20th century. Most seem to have been designed with toddlers in mind, with their ease of wear, soft unchallenging colours and cheap, synthetic materials.

Desperately I googled specialist sleepwear designers known for tasteful fashion in the hope that they could do better. They could not. I even started to see the appeal in that most unattractive of footwear, the ugg boot because at least the fibres are natural. Can you imagine? Wendy, would you ever forgive me?

Vintage lover that I am, the truth struck suddenly: I wanted 1940s Daniel Green slippers. Glamour! Quality! Comfort! Style! Elegance! These may be undesirable and unachievable qualities in modern slippers but they were an every day reality for our grandmothers. Here are some examples, supplied by the wonderful world of vintage fashion….highly collectable and yet affordable glamour.

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Image source Pinterest and Etsy (out of stock).

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From the collection of FIDM – image source here.
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Image source Pinterest and Salon of the Dames (out of stock).

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Available for sale at 1860-1960 here.

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Available for sale at Decotique here.

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Image source.

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Available for sale at etsy here.

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Image source Pinterest and Etsy (out of stock).

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Available for sale on Etsy here.

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Image source Pinterest and Etsy (out of stock).

The great thing about vintage boudoir slippers, is that the wearers confined them to the home so they’re generally in great condition, plus they’re often bigger than normal shoes because it was about being comfortable. See? You can look fabulous and feel great.

If you like these, I’ve created a Daniel Green Pinterest board with lots more beautiful styles for your comfort and pleasure.

Daniel Green are still making slippers – but sadly these beautiful styles are a thing of the past. I wonder if this could be an opportunity for a modern shoe maker? Don’t we all need nice things to wear?


8
May
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1700s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1990s, 2000s, Exhibitions 2 Comments

So, yes, holiday! Tim and I have just returned from five weeks in Europe where we visited many cultural sites in Italy, France and the UK.

A highlight of course was the opportunity to see some wonderful fashion exhibitions and I thought you might like to hear about them too – because even if you’re not able to visit them in person, they all have books and merchandise you can order online and they’ll send them to you. Ah, the wonders of the modern world. Plus there are many images online too, if you’d like to see more.

First up was the Deboutonner la mode at the Musée des Arts décoratifs at the Louvre in Paris. I must admit that I almost didn’t go to this one because buttons have never excited me as much as the clothes they adorn but here I was wrong: they’re fascinating!

The exhibition presented a thorough history of the wide variety of materials and types available, plus even better they included lots of authentic fashions where the buttons were an intrinsic part of the design. And not just any fashions – the Musée des Arts décoratifs houses the archive of Elsa Schiaparelli and a great deal of Parisian haute couture so the garments alone are worth the visit, even if you skip over the buttons – which would be a mistake because they’re divine.

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Early 20th century fashions on display at the Musée des Arts décoratifs.
Photo source.

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1920s two toned button boots.

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Art Nouveau buttons, circa 1900.

One of the lovely things about this exhibition is that the lighting was very low, the display perfection but they also allowed photography (sans flash naturally), which was great because it allowed me to post pics to Instagram as I went so many who can’t visit Paris could ooh and ahh over the lovely things.

It’s not often I get the luxury of seeing so many great exhibitions during such a short space of time and some did not allow photography – like the next one, the work of Jeanne Lanvin at the Pallais Galleria. How I itched to break their rules and take snaps of the incredible beadwork and embroideries!

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Thankfully there are images available online, and you can see some here. I was pleased to see that many of the more fragile gowns were displayed lying down in cases, with well placed mirrors so you could easily see all the detailing.

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The fashion’s sublime, it begged the question as to why Lanvin had not received a solo exhibition before – this is the oldest of Parisian couture houses and the styles are simply incredible. There was a whole room dedicated to the ground-breaking Robe de Style.

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Photo source.

Onto the UK and the first treat was a few days in beautiful Bath where we visited the Fashion Museum – they’re currently featuring an incredible display of Georgian fashion from the 18th century. Never before have I seen such beautiful preserved examples from this excessive period of fashion. Here are a couple of their “mantua” gowns, with wide panniers supporting the skirts. Before you get excited about the front gown, it’s a minature which was for promoting the latest styles, but the one behind was worn by a real woman. Unbelievable. No wonder the doorways were so wide during this period.

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The Bath museum also had a permanent display of fashion through the ages and my favourite, a behind the scenes look at what they do. I love this museum so much I checked their website to see if they had any jobs going.

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Dior…Fortuny… *happy sigh*

London had more treats in store: time to step up to the modern world and see the work of Alexander McQueen in “Savage Beauty” in my favourite museum, the Victoria and Albert. By this time I really was finding it hard to justify my continued residence in far flung Australia, when so many exciting things are happening in this part of the world.

Alas, we weren’t allowed to take photos but they can’t stand in for the whole experience any way. Go and see it if you can. Intense. Several themed rooms, I particularly thought the music was well chosen. Lots of people, great to see the crowds but it made it hard to see. Timed entry of course – go early if you can. You can always buy the book too.

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McQueen is a great loss to the world: this is fashion as high art.

Perhaps the opposite of art is functionality and here we went to the Imperial War Museum to see “Fashion on the Ration” – Make do and mend, how normal people adapted to the restrictions of WW2 and all that it meant.

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Again, no photos allowed, but it was an interesting exhibition with many examples of wartime fashion. Personally I would have liked to have seen more of the fashion (I love this era, and especially the resourcefulness that can result in hard times), but it was worth it for all the timelines about restrictions – I find dates really helpful in my work eg silk was unavailable for fashion in the UK after 1940, and there were no peep toe or sling back shoes until after restrictions were lifted in 1945. Maximum allowed heel height was two inches, etc.

Also – they had a big display on one of my favourite garments, the housecoat!

They did such a great job of presenting it all very positively, I almost wished for another big war to make us treat our wardrobes more seriously and get up with repairing and recycling. No disposable fast fashion here.

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Photo source.

Plus, the Imperial War Museum is incredible – free entry (hurrah!*) and very well resourced, it was like heaven for little – and big – boys. The fashion exhibition resulted in a very gender-separated space, which was interesting too. I also met a lovely lady with red ringlets and perfect ’40s pout. Mystery lady, how I wish I had taken a photo of you! You’re just who I wanted to see in the gift shop as I stocked up on my “make do and mend” books.

More pics from our trip can be seen on instagram. Hope you enjoyed my highlights!

* entry fee applies to “Fashion on the Ration”, as it does for all of these exhibitions.


5
May
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, Australian Fashion, Calendar, fashion parade

Hello!

I’ve just returned from a glorious five week holiday in Europe – here some instagrammed highlights including (shock horror) a change of haircolour. Yes, that’s right, no longer pink. I’m going to have to update my user pic – it’s also grown a lot longer, almost down to my shoulders so I can start styling ’40s dos again. Hurrah! I’ve missed my curls.

There’s a lot going on at the moment so brace yourself for a few quick blog posts about upcoming events – here’s the first one, on this weekend! Wish I could make it but I’ll be somewhere else (more on that soon).

The Ballarat Heritage Weekend is pretty special and always an annual highlight. I encourage you to go if you can. There’s a lot on but vintage fashion lovers will especially want to see Charlotte Smith’s wartime fashion parade, the Lucas fashion exhibition and the Apron festival. Check the site for full details.

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What: Ballarat Heritage Weekend
When: 10am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 9th-10th May 2015
Where: assorted locations in Ballarat.
More information: see the website.

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3
Oct
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1930s, Calendar 1 Comment

Hi all,

I hope you have the next “Strictly Vintage” market in your diaries – it’s a bargain $5 entry for some of the best vintage traders around, in the beautiful Deco surrounds of the Northcote Town Hall – plus I’m presenting a free talk on 1930s ladies fashions!

What: The Strictly Vintage market
When: Sunday 30th November, 10am to 5pm (12pm for the talk on 1930s ladies fashions)
Where: Northcote Town Hall, top of Ruckers Hill, High St, Northcote. Tram out the front, Merri and Westgarth train stations nearby.
Cost: $5
More information at the Strictly Vintage Facebook page. – See here.

My new book “Style is Eternal” should be available and I’ll be signing copies – here’s one of my favourite lace ’30s evening gowns, one of the many pieces I’ll be talking about on the day – modelled by St Clare. This lovely gown is made of spiderweb lace, sewn with iridescent blue gelatine sequins.

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There are still some stalls available – if you’re interested in joining us, please contact Rina at Take 2 Markets. It promises to be a wonderful day!


12
Feb
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, Calendar, Exhibitions, Talk 1 Comment

If you haven’t yet seen the fabulous NGV exhibition on Deco fashion and Edward Steichen photographs, allow me to offer you an additional enticement – I’m presenting a talk on Deco fashion at the NGV:

Join us for an afternoon in the exhibition as we take a closer look at fashionable aspects of the ’20s and ’30s, including hats, shoes and jewellery. Hosted by Paola di Trocchio, exhibition co-curator and Assistant Curator, International Fashion & Textiles.

Speakers include Theo Hasset, bespoke shoemaker; Richard Nylon, Milliner; Nicole Jenkins, fashion historian, retailer & author; Anne Schofield, jewellery specialist and collector.

What: Art Deco Fashion Afternoon: Vintage Glamour
When: Saturday 22nd Feb (2pm – 4pm)
Where: National Gallery of Victoria, St Kilda Road Melbourne.
Cost: free, but entry costs apply to the exhibition and you’ll need a ticket to get in.

Here is a pic I took of some glorious ’20s coats: more Deco fashion loveliness can be found here. Hope to see you there.

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Photo copyright Nicole Jenkins


20
Dec
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1930s, Shop talk 1 Comment

Lovely people,

Thank you to everyone for your support this year – readers and customers, vintage lovers all. It’s been an action packed year and as it draws to a close I’ll be listing my 2,000th item of unique vintage or antique fashion to the webshop.

Next year promises much joy: my first book “Love Vintage” is now sold out, and so out of print – but you can still borrow copies from libraries around Australia (much to my great delight).

The good news is that I’m currently working on a second book, more on fashion but with a basis in vintage. For this reason I’m going to have to take a little time off from Circa and so the vintage salon will be closed from Christmas until the 21st of January to give me a big head start. As an extra treat, I’ll also be illustrating it!

The webshop remains open of course, and orders will be shipped on Thursdays via Express Post.

I wish you and your family all the best and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

all the best,
Nicole xxx

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Image Source


7
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1900s, 1920s, 1930s, Vintage 101 5 Comments

Yesterday I listed a beautiful 1920s silk velvet coat of purple velvet with grey silk lining on the webshop.

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The quality was self-evident: the lushness of the fabric, the generosity of the cut, the detail in the construction. The silk lining is unbelievably soft: more luxurious than any modern silk. The original label was inside and also, spoke of quality.

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This exceptional piece sold quickly and prior to packing her up and sending her to her new home, I did a little googling about the maker.

We all know that Regent St in London is one of the best shopping destinations – the border between Mayfair and Soho. Home to Hamley’s and the beautiful Liberty, and many other major retailers. Not surprisingly, every building in the street is heritage listed.

A business that occupied numbers 252 to 264 would be a very large and successful one – today these shops are occupied by many retailers including Monsoon and Natwest. It’s right near Oxford Circus, and I walked past these buildings every day when I worked around the corner for a fashion wholesaler in 1992.

I discovered that in the 19th century this part of Regent Street was the home of mourning dress with many shops dedicated to its wares. Peter Robinson’s was one of the largest – originally occupying the whole block from 250 to 264, and as demand changed, so did the shops: in 1894 they occupied 256-264 and in 1909 it could be found at 252-264. This suggests the garment was made after 1909.

The cocoon coat is such a distinctive style: introduced by Paul Poiret in 1913, this one could be from the ‘teens or it could be the early ’20s – I always date pieces as the most recent possible, to err on the side of caution but the construction, materials and label suggest this one is probably from the earlier end of that spectrum. It came from the wardrobe of a lady who also wore Poiret and Chanel.

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An advert for Peter Robinson’s from the Illustrated London News 1885.

The Victorians were big on mourning and the proper fashion: for a period of up to several years they would wear black after the death of a loved one, followed by a period of “half-morning” when the colours of grey and purple would be introduced. Here’s a half-mourning dress in the collection of the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

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This beautiful – and rather modern looking gown – was worn by Heather Firbank in 1910-1912 and designed by Redfern. It’s featured in the excellent V&A publication “Black in Fashion” by Valerie Mendes.

So with this in mind, the colours of the cocoon coat no longer look like fashion and more likely are to be the later stages of mourning – when a lady is re-emerging back into Society and ready to enjoy herself again. Further information could be obtained by enquiring from the original owner, who may be able to recall or research when family members passed away, helping to pin down a date.

I applied this knowledge to another ensemble in my collection – this luxurious skirt suit, that came to me via the Banana Room, a legendary vintage clothing shop in Adelaide. Like the cocoon coat, it features the colours of purple and pale grey – this time in reverse with a silver grey devore velvet stripe lined in purple silk crepe.

Like many older items, it’s a mysterious suit with style elements from many eras: the glass and enamel buttons look Victorian, the fabric could be too, and it has been meticulously hand tailored by experts.

At first sight I thought it must be late 19th century or early ’20 century were it not for the skirt length: but skirts are often updated when fashions change. Most telling are the large structured shoulder pads. I am not aware of ladies wearing shoulder pads prior to 1933, hence my dating of this suit as ’30s but there is no reason why a fashion innovator could not have requested such a detail earlier: perhaps she had admired those in her husband’s jackets and seen how they could rectify her own rounded shoulders? Perhaps they were inserted in later, although I doubt it as the jacket is so well made and shows no signs of alterations – you can always tell when shoulder pads have been added or removed, because the structure is built to accommodate them. Or not.

Margot Riley of Sydney’s State Library was in recently and recalled seeing the suit in the Banana Room collection: it was originally going to be part of the auction in 2005 but was withdrawn. Margot is of the opinion that it dates to the late ‘teens and is half-mourning. Margot, I think you’re right.

This is what I love most about vintage and antique fashion: there is so much to discover and learn, and how it adds depths to garments that we, in the modern age, can choose to wear as we wish. These were treasured pieces, worn for a transitional time in their original wearer’s lives but they’ve both experienced so much more since then and due to careful care, are now ready to be worn again or enjoyed as beautiful collectables of social and cultural history.

If you’re interested in mourning dress, the NGV had a wonderful exhibition on Black in fashion in 2008 with some great examples of mourning dress. Their publication should still be available from the NGV shop.

UPDATE: I think I have another item of half-mourning dress on the webshop – check out this beautiful crushed velvet purple cape with light grey cotton chenille flowers.


18
Oct
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, Costume Collections, Exhibitions 3 Comments

So last night Tim and I went to the opening of the new fashion and photography exhibition at the NGV. Here are some pics – I wish I’d taken some of the fabulously dressed people though! You should have seen Richard Nylon in his two toned lace up stiletto boots or Fashion Hayley in her bold black and white striped dress: but the social photographers will hopefully make up for it. We’re so lucky in Melbourne to have so many brilliant creative dressers. In the meantime, here are some frocks and coats.

If these don’t convince you to see it post haste, you just don’t appreciate fine fashions sufficiently. It’s on until March 2nd.

Also, don’t forget my talk at the NGV tomorrow on Deco fashions – it’s free and also speaking are William A Ewing on the history of fashion photography and Todd Brandow on photography.

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15
Oct
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, Calendar, Exhibitions, Talk 2 Comments

This Friday the new exhibition of Edward Steichen photography and Art Deco fashion opens at the NGV – the following day they’re running a number of fun programmes includinga film, tour, charleston lessons and a panel discussion about the exhibition and I’m on the panel!

From the NGV’s site:
Join us as we explore the innovative and glamorous fashion photography of Edward Steichen, as well as art deco fashion from the 1920s and 1930s.

Keynote: William A Ewing, independent curator, formerly director of the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland, and specialist in the history of fashion photography; Todd Brandow, Executive Director, Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography and exhibition co-curator; and Nicole Jenkins, fashion historian, retailer & author of Love Vintage: A Passion for Collecting Fashion (2009) .

What: Forum: Edward Steichen – the image maker
When: Saturday October 19th 2-4pm
Where: Clemenger BBDO Auditorium, NGV International, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Cost: free, although an admission cost applies to the exhibition.

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28
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1930s, General, New in store, Sale

Today I’m at the shop working on some of the goodies that are going into next Saturday’s garage sale and I have to tell you that there are some great pieces that will be priced to clear, many below cost. Many have never graced the shop before, from the Edwardian era (1900) up to the 1990s.

Here’s one of my favourites: silk georgette evening gown from the late 1930s. Just beautiful.

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You can see more sneak peeks of the treasures over at Facebook.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone – and if you’re an AFL fan, may your team win!


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