26
Jun
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, Film, Style icon 1 Comment

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy – one of the greatest collaborations in the history of fashion.

I’ve been treating myself to some Audrey films lately: first Sabrina, and then Charade. She’s wonderful!

I was travelling on the Metro in Paris, when I noticed the headlines: “Audrey Hepburn est morte”, so for me Audrey and Paris will always go together: I’m sure she would approve. She loved Paris, and Paris loved her – both Sabrina and Charade feature scenes in Paris and it was here that she met the young Givenchy at his first, informal fashion show. Audrey was sixteen but she didn’t forget: “when the time came and she could choose, she thought, ‘That’s the guy.’”

Audrey was impossibly slim and chic, and yet, childlike and joyous. You got the feeling that she would be enormous fun, that she didn’t take herself too seriously and that for her, dressing well was about taste and quality – and then wearing couture like it was the most natural thing in the world!

She became Givenchy’s muse and wore his designs in her films – here are some snaps I found on Pinterest. I love her style, it’s simple and elegant and uniquely Audrey. Fussy clothes would swamp her delicate frame but these allow her to shine.

She said of Givenchy “His are the only clothes in which I feel myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.” Something tells me that Audrey had copious personality, it was Givenchy’s fashions that offered the freedom to express it.

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10
Jun
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, 1970s, Calendar

Opening this Friday, Hawkeye Vintage is offering unworn designer vintage fashion and the last of the famed Mary Lipshut collection of ’60s and ’80s – here you will find brand new vintage fashions from Missoni, Pucci and Courreges, with their original swing tags amongst many other fabulous labels.

Mary Lipshut amassed an incredible collection of European fashion and this once in a lifetime opportunity is not to be missed.

You can read Philip Boon’s lovely tribute to Mary here, including some of her amazing styles which hopefully will be available this weekend. Lady Melbourne also has written a fine blog post about her including many pics of her fashions – see here.

As always, be there early to snaffle the best buys.

What: Hawkeye and Mary Lipshut designer vintage fashion sale
When: 10am-4pm, Friday June 13th to Sunday June 15th.
Where: Como House, corner of Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra.
10% of all sales support the National Trust.

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Danielle from Hawkeye Vintage in Courreges – photo supplied by Alison Waters.

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27
May
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, Contest, Film 7 Comments

Next week sees the opening of new film “Grace of Monaco” and Entertainment One Australia have offered some double passes to Circa readers.

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“Grace of Monaco” is a fictionalised version of events in Princess Grace of Monaco’s life in 1962. Six years after Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier, she was mother to two children and sought to return to Hollywood for the Hitchcock film “Marnie”.

I read a fascinating biography of Grace once, and her life was a complicated and enthralling one. She was an interesting woman. I also enjoyed the exhibition a few years ago of her personal wardrobe that was on display at the Bendigo Art Gallery – the trailer reveals a beautiful film full of luxurious and historical settings and costumes.

If you’d like a double pass to see this film, which opens on June 5th, simply leave a comment on this post about your favourite Grace Kelly film and why you like it – and the winners will be the best responses. There are four double passes to win and entries close Saturday May 31st at 9pm Melbourne time. Passes are valid at most screenings in Australia.

Good luck!

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I also have several two-for-one tickets for “The Broken Circle Breakdown”: “the story of Elise and Didier, two unconventional star-crossed lovers, who fall for each other despite their differences. He talks, she listens. He’s a romantic atheist, she’s a free-spirited realist”: just come into Circa and request one. Opens May 22nd.


3
Dec
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, Sewing, Shop talk 4 Comments

As a costumer I rarely use patterns when I sew – generally I just draft from scratch – and yet I’ve managed to accumulate over a thousand vintage patterns. I can’t resist them! Often when I go to see people’s wardrobes, there will also be patterns (and fabric, that’s another story) and they’re one of those things that can all so easily be thrown out.

Listing some of my patterns on the webshop today I noticed this style that incorporates a lot of what I look for in a frock: plunging V neckline, nice big full bishop sleeves, empire line, assorted lengths.

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I also wanted to pin down the date: was it late ’60s or early ’70s? Despite fashions changing rapidly during this decade, popular styles clung on, sometimes for a long time. As I’ve mentioned previously, vintage patterns can be much easier to date than finished garments because you have clues in the style of artwork, hair and make up plus accessories. The full hairstyle on the blonde suggests pretty close to 1970, as do her chunky heeled shoes (visible just under the hem of her long black maxi).

Google is your friend – I quickly found the Vintage Pattern Wiki entry – a great resource if you haven’t discovered it yet – which supplied the date. 1969, and reissued in 1970 – and a number of places you can buy it online. The prices were surprisingly high, suggesting a popular style or a premium for the “Vogue” brand.

Then I found a review at Sew Weekly by Mena Trott who had made the dress up – here’s a photo she posted. She called it the “Where’s my coke, Lester?” dress. You can see she’s made the neckline more demure, reducing the decolletage.

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Photo copyright Mena Trott.

Mena made it up in a heavy polyester, which didn’t hang as well as she would have liked. Perhaps she’ll try again in a lighter fabric? As anyone who sews can attest, the success generally depends on what fabric you choose – I’ve made that mistake many times, especially with trousers so perhaps that’s why I don’t wear them? It’s a good idea to follow the fabric suggestions on the pattern packet.

In another review Elona said…”I’ve made this one, and would like to note that with that decolletage and done up in a light, drapy fabric, it can be a stunning dressing gown, if you don’t have kids around the house.”

Gosh, how did we ever cope without the internet and all the information available?

Then I found an enthusiastic review by Urban Rustic who was fortunate enough to score some nice silk crepe at an op shop – perfect! Here’s the result:

Urban Rustic
Marvellous! Photo copyright Urban Rustic.

If that wasn’t enough, I found a pic of my favourite ’60s model, Jean Shrimpton wearing it in a David Bailey photo.

Jean Shrimpton

I think that’s twice in one week Miss Shrimpton has appeared in my blog. Photo copyright David Bailey, 1970. Mr Bailey was engaged to Jean in 1964, and together they produced some wonderful fashion shots.

If you’d like to try your hand at your own Vogue dress, the pattern is now available in the webshop: unless I decide to try it myself, of course!


29
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, 1970s, Designers, Vintage 101 5 Comments

Today I’ve been looking into a new outfit, that’s just gone online – this “two piece dress” or top and skirt set by Melbourne designer Noeleen King.

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Noeleen was born in Ireland about 1933 and first learnt her trade under fashion designer Sybill Connolly. After migrating to Australia in the mid ’50s, she worked as a salegirl for five years before setting up her own label in Flinders Lane making “street dresses” with a small workroom and three machinists.

The following year she started making evening and cocktail wear, which sold better. True success came to her after five years, in 1965. With her Vidal Sassoon Eton crop hairstyle and lashings of mascara, her style was very young and hip. She was compared to Norma Tullo in importance for the era.

Noeleen and models Aus Womens Weekly 1965
Noeleen and models, Australian Women’s Weekly 1965.

Noeleen’s label primarily produced clothes she wanted to wear herself, and was described as “Medieval Mod”. Her customers were mostly teenagers and women in their early 20s – the largest size she stocked was SSW (Small, small woman, roughly equivalent to a modern size 8!). You can see the medieval influence in the outfit above, and sure enough, the size is “XXSSW” – equivalent to a modern 4 but don’t worry, we replaced the elastic in the tiny waist (it had deteriorated) now making it a size 8. It’s a very unusual style, with it’s double puffed, Renaissance style sleeves.

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Jean Shrimpton in Noeleen King, Australian Women’s Weekly 1966.

Mary Quant was a friend and fan of Noeleen’s designs, and authorised Noeleen to produce her designs in Australia, under licence. The Vintage Fashion Guild have a copy of the Mary Quant/Noeleen King label if you’d like to see it.

Noeleen’s skirts came in three lengths: day (just above the knee), cafe (mid calf) and evening (touching the instep) – another way of saying “mini, midi and maxi”. The one above must be “evening length”. The long maxi skirt with a wide ruffle to the hem is quite fashion forward – this style was influenced by the ’40s fashions and became very popular in the mid ’70s.

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Nicole de la Marge in printed cotton dress with tiered collar by Noeleen King, photo by Norman Eales, May 1965 Photo source here.

In 1965 Noeleen was shipping her designs to the US and the UK from her factory of 80 machinists in the basement of 45 Flinders Lane and warehouse at 23 Lincoln Square South, Carlton. She lived in a South Yarra maisonette with her husband Ron (also her production manager).

Aus Womens Weekly 1965
The Australian Women’s Weekly 1965

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The Australian Women’s Weekly 1969

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Noeleen King label from the late 1960s.

Noeleen’s old factory in Flinders Lane is now a theatre and earlier this year a production was staged there about Noeleen’s life and label! I’m not sure when the label ceased, but I suspect it was the late ’70s – certainly, I can’t find any references to the company or fashions after then.

Thank you, Noeleen, I’ll be looking out for more of your beautiful fashions from the ’60s and ’70s.


28
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, Designers, Vintage 101 1 Comment

The other day I listed a new frock on the webshop, a beautiful and very well made dress by Sharene Creations.

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I’ve seen a few Sharenes and it’s an unusual name so with the help of Lesley Sharon Rosenthal’s excellent book “Schmattes” and the internet, I learnt a thing or two about the owner, Simon Shinberg.

He was “mature, worldly, sophisticated, well groomed and elegant” and “a lively energetic person” according to the young model who later became his wife.

Shinberg’s parents were well established with their own fashion business “Paulinette”, which had shops in Howie Court (Melbourne), Chapel Street (Windsor) and Carnegie. Simon started designing costumes for the Princess Theatre in the ’40s and then set up his first label “Simonette” in the back of Paulinette’s Chapel Street shop.

His first styles were the “shortie” swing coats that were fashionable in the late ’40s and he sold them to major department stores in Sydney like Mark Foys, Snows, David Jones and Farmers.

His father suggested he learn about making dresses so together they set up a manufacturing company called “Shinberg Manufacturing” producing tailored fashions for the Kay Dunhill label at the Myer Emporium, amongst others.

In the early ’50s Shinberg opened his next label – Sharene Creations.

In 1957 he produced costumes for the British performer Sabrina for her Australian tour and she was photographed many times in his fashions – here she is in one of her Sharene Creations gowns.

Sabrina (Norma Sykes)
Photo source and more information here.

Mr Shinberg travelled to Paris, and like many young designers visited the couturier shows to learn about the latest styles. With the help of a capable pattern maker, he was inspired to interpret the trends for Australians.

He was amongst the first to bring Givenchy’s new style “Le Sacque” to Australia and David Jones sold 8,000 of his Sack dresses in 1958! The Sack dress was a major change in silhouette from the heavily waisted dresses of the ’40s and ’50s and the waistless silhouette came to dominate the next decade.

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The Age, 1953 – the dress on the right has a very similar silhouette to my dress, with the sloping extended shoulder sleeve and skirt.

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The Age, December 1957 – Sharen’s Sack dress on the left won the top prize in the wool awards.

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Australian Women’s Weekly, 1961. Wool Gold Medal Award Contest: You can win a 350 pound wardrobe! You can see by the prices that Sharene was a quality label.

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The Age, 1964

In about 1964 Mr Shinberg started up a third label called “Mr Simon”, which produced the young and groovy fashions sought by the daughters of his original Sharene wearers – Mr Simon grew and became a major label through the ’70s and ’80s. I hope to cover that label in a second blog post with some examples of his work!

I was sad to discover that Simon only passed away a few weeks ago – he certainly left his mark on our cultural landscape. His clothes were beautiful. I’ll add more Sharenes as I find them, and you’re welcome to send any pics you have of your Sharenes too. In particular, I’d love to find a sack dress!

Sharene Creations label 1950s


24
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, Calendar, Exhibitions, Style icon

Recently I watched a James Bond marathon with back to back movies, starting with the first one “Dr No” and it revealed a lot about the appeal of the British secret agent.

Unfortunately I gave up once we got to the ’80s films but I’d already decided that they worked best as futuristic style porn – a fantasy world of riches and talent. I particularly enjoyed the architecture, interiors and of course – the wonderful costumes.

James Bond parties are not unheard of, and if you’re going to one I recommend for the ladies to go for a sexy but classy look: glamourous and revealing but still elegant. Emphasise one part of your body and remember that a little mystery goes a long way.

Soon the Melbourne Museum is hosting an exhibition of 50 years of Bond Style – as well as costumes, I hope to see gadgets and plenty of them, plus set designs. Hopefully a car or two – preferably the one from “The Spy Who Loved Me” that was also a submarine.

What: Designing 007
When: 1st November 2013 to 23rd February 2014, 10pm to 5pm daily (closed Christmas Day)
Where: Melbourne Museum, Exhibition Gardens.
Cost: Adult $24, Child $14, Concession $16, MV Member $14
More information here. Bookings recommended.

My favourite Bond films were the ’60s ones which were just glorious escapist confections, where anything was possible and the kitsch was unbelievable.

Here are some snaps – thankfully the latest film, Skyfall has rescued the franchise for me. Daniel Craig makes a splendid Bond and I loved Judy Dench as M. I’m going to have to go back and see some more of their work now.

Daniela Bianchi
Daniela Bianchi in “From Russia With Love”

Dianna Rigg
Diana Rigg in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

Honey Ryder
Ursula Andress in “Dr No”

Honor Blackman
Honor Blackman in “Goldfinger” managing to combine the appeal of Lauren Bacall and Jane Russell and give it a ’60s update.

You only live twice
Sean Connery and lovelies in “You Only Live Twice”.


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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4
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s 5 Comments

When I read the news this morning, I got excited because the Victoria and Albert boutique must be a vintage shop surely?

But no: Victoria and Albert designed their own range of contemporary fashion starting in North Sydney in 1964 and moving to Double Bay soon afterwards, where they traded for forty years.

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If you know Sydney, you already have a good idea of what sort of stock a North Sydney shop in 1964 and Double Bay for 1965-2004 is likely to have – they picked up a youthful clientele in the swinging ’60s and then probably catered to them as they got older. I would expect classic but conservative clothes, in very good, even couture quality.

Like many fashion designers, they kept historical clothing in their archives for inspiration -and (along with the groovy ’60s frocks), this is what I would be most interested in: see below for images of an amazing velvet cloak with matching bag, and beaded ’20s dress.

Auction Details
Sunday 15 September 2013 at 1:00pm
Shapiro Gallery, 162 Queen St, Woollahra, Sydney
Woollahra Hotel Function Room, 116 Queen Street, Woollahra, Sydney

Catalogue available online.
More information here. Images reproduced courtesy Victoria and Albert boutique and Shapiro Auctions.

I haven’t seen any vintage clothes with the Victoria and Albert label, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for them.

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31
Aug
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Customers 6 Comments

Okay, so it wasn’t me or my shop, it was one of our frocks but the story stands – here’s St Clare in one of our cotton print ’50s frocks, with her beau Mikelangelo. If you live in the right Melbourne neighbourhood, one of these arrived in your letterbox this week.

Melbourne Leader

This lovely dress is part of the Empire Vintage Collection – and is available in the Melbourne salon or the web shop. I love it.

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You can read the article online here. It talks about their current show about Johnny Cash called “Song of the Outlaw” and will next be appearing at the Lorne Festival of Performing Arts – we recently caught it at the Newport Sub-station and it’s worth seeing. Don’t be late though. On our night, a bloke was so unhappy about missing “Ring of Fire” the band performed it as an encore. Lucky him, but it was great to hear it again too.

One of the nice things about working with St Clare, is that I get to dress her for her many events – and she takes excellent care of them. It adds to the unique history of the pieces. Here are some more Circa Vintage pieces that are ready for new homes after gracing the stage.

The following pics are all reproduced courtesy Tim Chmielewski and were taken at the final Tin Star gig at the Corner recently.

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St Clare wears late ’40s silk brocade ballgown.

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St Clare wears 1970s cotton seersucker halter neck dress with fruit print.

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St Clare wears late ’60s fringed suede lace up vest.

St Clare TSG

St Clare wears cotton voile ballgown with ruched bodice.

To even up the balance a little – here’s Mikelangelo in a black self-tie bow tie from Circa. Tying lessons available on request.

Mikelangelo bow tie

Photo reproduced courtesy Mikeangelo. If there’s a more glamourous couple in Melbourne: please introduce me!


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