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Upcycling Workshops – Across the Arts Festival

Hi all, I’m presenting a couple of workshops on up-cycling fashion, as part of the “Across the Arts Festival”. This year’s festival theme is “Conserve, Recycle and Reinvent” and what better things to conserve, recycle and reinvent than your old damaged, unflattering, out of date or stained clothes? The workshops are all day events and you have your choice of the Friday or the Saturday. Included will be some information about determining fabric types, repairs and basic restorations too, as well as talking about how garments can be changed to fit better or reflect current trends. If you’ve ever wanted…

NGV Blog posts for LMFF

AS part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, the National Gallery of Victoria asked me to appear as a guest blogger on their series “We Blog Fashion”. Here are the two posts that I wrote: 1 – The fashion detective: Looking for clues. This post expands on the mysteries that labels reveal. Previously I wrote a similar post about 1970s fashion labels as part of the Vintage 101 series, but this post has more general advice including a timeline which will help you date vintage labels. Here’s a Norma Tullo label (Melbourne) from the early ’70s. 2 – The fashion…

Natalie and I

It’s been movie stars all over the place at Circa lately – and Natalie Wood holds a special place in my heart. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to purchase some costumes from the film “The Mystery of Natalie Wood” – I still have some, but most went off to happy homes including a Kimbra film clip for her song “Settle Down” and Candice DeVille’s personal wardrobe. A costume from a film about Miss Wood is one thing, but an actual costume she wore in one of her major roles is another thing entirely. Then Peter walked in…

Vintage 101: the clothes moth

Today I’d like to talk about the clothes moth: perhaps the greatest peril of vintage textiles. These nasty little critters are a great destroyer of our precious fashion history. Recently I received a lot of clothing from the ’60s and ’70s including a lot of wool, cashmere and silk. Sadly they had been exposed to moths and so I’m currently treating everything, even the belts and handbags, for moth eradication and cleaning. I can’t risk further damage to the textiles, and I can’t expose them to my stock or shop. It breaks my heart but it’s a reminder that most…

Buying Vintage at Auction: the Lisa Ho Collection

On Sunday I made a snap decision and flew to Sydney for the day, to bid on an amazing collection of ’20s and ’30s from the archives of fashion designer Lisa Ho. It was a hard decision to make because right now, having just moved and still sorting out my enormous quantities of stock, I need more like a hole in the head – but this was an incredible collection, the like of which I’ve never seen in my 32 years of collecting. Pieces of this quality are rare in Australia and the auction hadn’t been widely promoted so I…

A History of Fashion Knitwear – a course by Lynn Savery (CANCELLED)

UPDATE: I’ve received notice that this course has been cancelled. Hopefully it will be rescheduled at some point in the future. Lynn Savery is one of the best dressed ladies in Melbourne, with a particular fondness for the knitwear styles of the ’30s to the ’50s. Using vintage patterns, she started knitting her own and found there was demand so now hand-knits to order for some fashionable local boutiques. She’s starting a new class at the CAE on the history of fashion knitwear, and will cover progress from domestic handcraft to commercial product. Many designers will be covered including the…

Introducing Vintage 101 and a house dress

Many of the emails I receive are about the care of vintage clothing – topics I’ve posted about at various times. You can find the posts by selecting “How To” in the drop down Category menu on the right hand side, but now I’ve made it easier by adding a page called “Vintage 101” which will grow to be a place where you can find the answers to many of your questions – plus it helps me see the topics that I need to cover. Of course much of this information can also be found in my beautiful and award-winning…

Vintage 101: dry rot in vintage textiles

This morning I received a package from the Blue Mountains – Marg sent me her Grandmother’s wedding gown that was “falling apart”, so that I could reuse the beads and sequins. As someone who restores antique and vintage, I find that there is “falling apart” and then there is “an easy fix”, so I hoped that this gown might be restorable – however, I soon discovered that Marg was absolutely correct – this once fabulous, beautiful and expensive 1920s silk dress was no more. Beaded silk ’20s gowns are amongst the most popular and collectable fashions out there: during the…

Vintage 101: dyeing vintage textiles

I received an email today from Tessie who asks: I was wondering if I could ask for your expert advice regarding professionally dying a Guipure lace vintage dress? As a bridesmaid I have to match my dress for an upcoming wedding and wasn’t sure who to trust for the task. I would appreciate any information you might have as I know restoration is a specialty at Circa. Tessie, how well the fabric will dye depends on it’s composition. If the lace is a natural fibre (eg cotton, silk, wool) you will get a good result. If it’s rayon, you will…

In a Perfect World…

Recently Phoebe Garland published an article in Fashion Exposed Online, musing on thoughts of a Perfect World. Phoebe is a fashion agent with many years of experience in the industry, so her list is from her perspective – but it’s set me thinking about what my Perfect World would be, from the perspective of a vintage fashion historian/retailer/author. In no particular order – 1 – In a perfect world, everyone would wear second hand clothing. Most people appreciate the virtues of second hand cars, second hand houses and second hand furniture. In many cases, older is more sought after and…