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

Vintage Xmas 475
Image Source


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.

pa0416 475

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.

IMG_9673
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.

circa_vintage_webshop_269_1

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.

Aus Womens Weekly 1966
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.

nicole-de-la-marge-in-printed-cotton-dress-with-tiered-collar-by-noeleen-king-photo-by-norman-eales-may-1965-b
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

Aus Womens Weekly 1969
The Australian Women’s Weekly 1969

Noeleen King label late '60s
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.

Sharene Creations dress 1950s 475

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.

Simple for summer 475
The Age, 1953 – the dress on the right has a very similar silhouette to my dress, with the sloping extended shoulder sleeve and skirt.

The Age 1957 475
The Age, December 1957 – Sharen’s Sack dress on the left won the top prize in the wool awards.

Aus Womens Weekly 1961
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.

The Age 1964 475
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


21
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, General 1 Comment

A wonderful new exhibition opened on the weekend at the Arts Centre: a sort of “Greatest Hits” of costumes from ballet, theatre and opera of the last, well, many decades.

From the site:
All that Glitters showcases costumes from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection that were designed to create a spectacle on stage. The exhibition celebrates the vision behind these costumes, the creativity and skill of those who created them and the show-stopping performances that brought them to life.

What: All That Glitters – Costumes from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection
When: 16 November – 23 February, 9am until late.
Where: the Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Cost: free.

As well as being very sumptuous and sparkly, I found the exhibition to be personally satisfying as it included a beautiful gown from the ’70s production of “The Merry Widow”. My mum brought the programme home after seeing it, and the costume sketches were my first inspiration to become a costume designer. This is the first time I’ve ever seen any of the actual costumes.

It also includes a pair of Baroque style shoes, worn for the ’70s production of “Don Quixote”, a ballet starring Rudolph Nureyev. Like many little girls, I studied classical ballet and seeing this production was a major treat. I was stunned to see a costume from this distant memory, on display.

More information at the Arts Centre site.

All that glitters 6

Gown worn by Jill Perryman as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly!, Gordon Frost Organisation, 1995. Designed by Tim Goodchild. Gift of Gordon Frost Organisation, Cultural Gifts Program, 2001. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection. Photo Source.


21
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1920s, Calendar 1 Comment

I saw this exhibition some time ago and have been remiss in alerting you – so apologies for the delay, it’s finishing soon. No photos of my own to show you (strictly forbidden) but I can assure it’s well worth seeing, if you’re enjoying the fabulous costumes of the TV series or love ’20s style. Plus: Rippon Lea is a beautiful place and always worth a visit.

What: Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition
When: daily until Sunday December 1, 2013. Open 10.30am – 4.30pm (Last admission is at 4pm)
Where: Rippon Lea House & Gardens, 192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick
Cost: Adult $15, Concession $12, $10 Adult, Child $9. Family prices are also available.
More information: available at the National Trust site .

Miss Fisher's costume exhibition
Photo source Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Facebook page

From the National Trust site:
The popular ABC TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries will return to Rippon Lea this spring with a major exhibition featuring the sumptuous costumes worn by the Hon. Phryne Fisher and her cohorts. The house and gardens, which features in the series as the home of Aunt Prudence, will once again be transformed as the doors open to the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition on the 7th September.

More than 30 outfits worn by the lead cast including Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), Dectective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) and Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes) from both series one and the soon to be broadcast series two of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries will be showcased in the exhibition.

Visitors will be taken on a journey in to the creation of the many worlds of Miss Fisher with insight from Kerry Greenwood, the author of the Phryne Fisher mysteries series of books, Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox, producers of the popular ABC TV series and Marion Boyce, the costume designer for the TV series.

Thank you to the National Trust for inviting me to see the exhibition – my favourite costume was Jack’s wool gabardine coat with the unexpected red lining. I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed that revealing detail before and now of course, it’s all I see.

I hope we get a third season! Friday nights won’t be the same without my weekly Miss Fisher.


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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

01A6C7YH
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.

VAM half mourning 475

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.


6
Nov
2013
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Swimwear, Talk

Are you ready for summer? I’m giving my last talk for the year on ladies swimwear, and there’s sure to be lots of inspiration for what to wear on the beach.


Join Nicole Jenkins (award-winning author of Love Vintage, fashion historian and retailer) on a trip through the changing styles, fabrics and construction techniques of 20th century ladies’ swimwear.

What: Talk on the history of ladies swimwear.
When: 6.30 pm Wednesday November 20th
Where: St Kilda library, 150 Carlisle Street, St Kilda VIC 3182
Cost: Free but please book by phoning 9209 6655 or on the website so you don’t miss out.
More information at the St Kilda library site.

I’ll be bringing along photos of assorted styles and actual swimsuits, so you can see and touch the different fabrics and see how they were made.

Hope to see you there!

1940s swimsuit

St Clare in elegant 1940s swimsuit, pretty enough to wear as a playsuit or sundress.

vintage swimwear2 475


22
Oct
2013
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Costume Collections, Where to buy vintage 6 Comments

I’ve just come back from a sneak peek viewing of a large collection of costumes and fashion that is being auctioned this Sunday. This is the private collection of one person, that was stashed in an historic home in the country Victoria and it’s quite a find.

Aladdin's Cave flyer

What: Costume and vintage clothing auction
When: Sunday October 27th from 10.30am
Viewing: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning.
Where: 17 Wills Street, Melbourne
More information at the Glenelg Auction Centre site and auction Facebook page.

There is a mixture of film and theatre costumes, fancy dress costumes (especially lots of childrenswear) and authentic vintage.

Most of the vintage is from the ’60s to the ’80s with a smattering of early to mid 1990s with some great prints and bright colours. Quite a few military uniforms of different types and eras and leather jackets, skirts and coats. There are a small number of ’50s dresses that have been adapted into costumes and some modern reproductions in the ’50s style.

Lots of menswear, some of it quite old and a couple of ’20s wool swimsuits. Hats, shoes, bags and belts. A fine collection of wedding dresses from the late ’70s and ’80s. Ballroom dancing gowns. Some of the costumes are vintage that have been adapted – eg, a ’50s velvet coat that has had ruffles added to make it into a costume piece. Academic gowns and capes, including a couple of cute ’60s styles.

The best bit is that it’s all in good and clean condition: the collector looked after it and so there probably isn’t much work to be done on the pieces.

There are about a thousand lots to be auctioned in one day – which means it will move quickly. Everything must sell so there are sure to be bargains, including a large number of mannequins and a couple of display cases. Some items are being sold separately and some in lots but there are treasures to be found, especially in the lots.

If you’re interested in the more retro end of vintage, or older menswear or can’t resist a sparkly costume for your or your family, I recommend it. Allow plenty of time at the viewing because you’ll need to go through the lots thoroughly as they’ve very mixed – take your tape measure with you too and as always: check for condition.

There is food and drink available at the venue too, which is a nice bonus. Here are some pics of what you’ll see – if you go, I hope you have a good day and pick up some lovely pieces!

Aladdin's Cave 5

Aladdin's Cave 6

Aladdin's Cave 1

Aladdin's Cave 2

Aladdin's Cave 3

Aladdin's Cave 4


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.

ESteichenDecoexhibition 7

ESteichenDecoexhibition8

ESteichenDecoexhibition9

ESteichenDecoexhibition10

ESteichenDecoexhibition 1

ESteichenDecoexhibition 2

ESteichenDecoexhibition 3

ESteichenDecoexhibition 4

ESteichenDecoexhibition 5

ESteichenDecoexhibition 6


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