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.

Robinson's label

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!


20
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, Calendar, Exhibitions 2 Comments

I’m beyond excited about this upcoming exhibition at the NGV – I’ve had a sneak peek at some of the gowns and the catalogue and there are some incredible photographs and fashion to see in this one. From the NGV’s site:

“Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion comprises over 200 photographs and more than 30 garments. This stunning exhibition captures the sophistication of the modern woman and the elegance of high-end fashion from this golden age of fashion and photography.

From 1923 until 1938, Steichen was chief photographer for fashion’s most influential and glamorous magazines, Vanity Fair and Vogue. During this time Steichen created images that were imaginative documents of glamour, talent, and style. His work revolutionised fashion photography, and influenced generations of subsequent photographers.

The exhibition will also showcase Art Deco fashion including garments and accessories from the 1920s and 1930s which express characteristic Art Deco motifs and introduce the modern forms of twentieth and twenty first century dressing. The development and changes in the slip dress and coat through the 1920s and 1930s will be shown with examples by leading designers of the day including Chanel, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Paquin and Callot Soeurs. ”

What: Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion
When: 18th October 2013 to 2nd March 2014, 10pm to 5pm daily (closed Tuesdays)
Where: National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne
Cost: Adult $12, Child $6, Concession $10, NGV Member $9
More information at the NGV site.

The NGV have asked me to present a couple of talks as part of the programme, so more news will come about that – in the meantime, pencil this one into your dance cards because you won’t want to miss it!

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6
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Shop talk 11 Comments

Are you excited about the federal election tomorrow? I’m not.

I’ve been involved in almost every election (state and federal) since 1977 due to my unusually political family. At one stage or another, for one reason or another, I’ve campaigned and handed out how-to-votes for the Liberals, the ALP, the Democrats and the Greens.

My personal political leanings don’t change, more that I like to support friends and family, who have previously included a senator and currently include a couple of MPs. I even stood myself once, for the local council!

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Around half of the population is going to be disappointed tomorrow, as their candidate or their party fails to get elected. I remind myself of this because it will hopefully soften the blow as I expect to be one of those people and not winning is never a nice feeling.

The fact is that I live in a fringe world, with fringe interests – and until the majority of the population get over their perception that vintage (because most of it has been worn before) is undesirable and until we can stop buying $5 new dresses made by exploited workers in other countries and until we wake up and realise that we can’t just keep producing new things, filling up landfill forever…well until then, I will continue to dwell happily in my little fringe world caring about things that are unimportant to many.

So it should come as no surprise that most of Australia thinks, and votes differently.

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Like me, if you’re feeling a little sad about what tomorrow might bring – here are some ways to make life a little easier.

1 – Join the political party of your choice and get involved. Each has a process for members to influence policy, and the more that agree with you, the more of a difference you can make. It’s hard to achieve much when you’re yelling from the sidelines.

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2 – You don’t need to be a member to help out with the campaign. You can even turn up on polling day and help out the volunteers of your preferred party. It can be quite fun on the booth, with a sense of camaraderie and it’s refreshing to find that the how-to-voters get on well, regardless of their political differences. You all share one important thing: you care about the result and are doing your bit.

I’ve met some great people on different sides of the spectrum that I would never meet normally. Minor parties (or major parties in electorates where they have small followings) are generally short of volunteers and thankful for extra helpers. Befriending the people helping other parties means that they might cover you for short breaks too – and (if no one is looking) even hand out your How-to-votes. I’ve done that several times.

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3 – There’s nothing better than the feeling that everything’s going your way – but if your party isn’t winning it can be a challenge – remember that your turn may come again with each election and that lending your support can help increase this likelihood, and even when you don’t win, you’ll feel better to have been involved.

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4 – Many polling booths are hosting sausage sizzles and cake stalls – check this site to make your voting experience a little nicer, and perhaps come home with a souvenir of the day, all whilst supporting your local community.

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5 – Why all the frocks? Because when you’re not feeling so happy, do things that make you happy – go for walks in the park, eat Italian gelati whilst gazing out to sea, visit the NGV or watch an escapist film. Drink gin or champagne (in responsible doses of course!) in the company of like-minded loved ones.

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Lucky me, I’m enjoying taking pics of beautiful St Clare in vintage, so here are some of my current favourites. I hope you enjoy them regardless of what tomorrow brings!

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7
Jun
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1930s, Calendar, Talk 3 Comments

Hi everyone,

An exciting event is coming up later this month – I’ll be presenting a talk with a difference as part of the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival. Here’s a little about the festival from their website:

For two weeks from 17 June, Glen Eira City Council will present a range of events that celebrate stories and those who tell them. From brunch with Elliot Perlman at the beautiful Rippon Lea House ballroom to the comics market and manga workshop in the Boyd Room at Carnegie Library, there are events to suit all age groups, budgets and interests.

You can see the full programme here.

My talk will be an interactive one: telling the stories of some of my favourite frocks of the ’20s and ’30s. I’ll be bringing several gowns including silk velvets, beaded silks and printed chiffons. Dresses are very personal and I’m looking forward to sharing their secrets with you.

It’s an honour to present in such beautiful surroundings as the Rippon Lea ballroom so I can’t resist showing you a pic – many movies have been filmed here, and in my ideal world it was where I wanted to get married (well, there and the Spiegeltent).

What: Storytelling through fashion with Nicole Jenkins
When: Saturday June 29th 11am
Where: The ballroom, Rippon Lea house, 192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick
Cost: $25 including morning tea
Bookings essentialbook here.
More information: see the website.

Here are some of the dresses featured in my book “Love Vintage” that I might bring along – all photos reproduced courtesy Tira Lewis.


23
Jan
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1930s, Swimwear 1 Comment

We’re so fortunate to live in Australia, it’s such a beautiful country and pretty good weather, especially when you consider what much of the world has to deal with. Lots of sunny days, and if you grew up here you probably have lots of beach memories – it’s a big part of our lives.

I spent my first nine years in Sydney and my favourite beach was Balmoral- we went to many beaches, but Balmoral didn’t seem like a beach: more like a park with a pretty strip of sand and rockpools at the end. It seemed like we always got a park close by, and there were always lots of kids to play with and if we were lucky, ice creams.

Mum liked to take us to another beach that seemed far away (Dee Why? Chinaman’s?) and necessitated trudging through the sand for miles (or so it seemed to me), carrying the obligatory beach umbrella, esky and lots of bags. It felt like an expedition and there were never ice creams.

After we moved to Perth, I got to enjoy the beaches there: Cottesloe is my favourite and I visit every time I go West, although my relationship with the beach – and sun, and sand – is more complicated that it was when I was a child. I spent my 18th summer doing my best to get a tan and that was it: I don’t have the right skin to tan evenly, or even at all, so since then it’s hats, parasols and daily sunblock for me – now that I’m older, I’m very glad for it because I’ve retained pale and wrinkle-free skin. So far, so good.

The 1930s was the golden era for beachwear and seaside holidays – here are some pics that I can’t resist sharing: everyone is so beautiful, elegant and yet insouciant. Enjoy!


Herbert Matter 1937

Gotthard Schuh 1930

Andreas Feininger 1936

The last three images I found at Livejournal – click here for the link, but be warned there are a couple of tasteful arty nudes.


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