This week at Circa

It’s been a busy week – it feels like a short week, although Circa was open the usual four days, I took the opportunity to have Monday and Tuesday off and spend them with Tim. Usually we only get Sundays, because I work Saturdays and he works Mondays, so Easter is a rare treat.

The big task of the week was to get some more hats into the shop and webshop – we started with about fifty or so, and went through cleaning and repairing them. Dates are from the late ’20s to the mid ’70s. Most were also crushed (hats really need proper storage) and so next up is steaming and reshaping them – using a vintage hat block of course! Here’s Esther sorting out the first batch:

I must say that they already look a great deal better than this, and when they’re done I’ll photograph a few for you to see – plus the labels! All the hats are bought locally so most have labels from Collins Street, Kew or Malvern milliners – my favourite is “Mister of Melbourne” with an illustration of a bejewelled black cat (and yes, I am biased because I have two beautiful black cats).

I now have a big bag of woollen hats in my van to freeze – they showed signs of moth activity and I don’t want to take the risk of moths in my shop so I freeze anything of concern. I really should post some time about moths, as they’re a major enemy of good quality vintage. They’re fussy though, so all you have to do is check the finest silks, wools, furs and feathers and if you have moths – that’s where they’ll be. Rayon is a distant favourite and they almost never eat synthetics, but cashmere appears to be their preferred meal.

You may recall my post about Mary Jane shoes and my search for the comfortable and good looking shoe – Melanie from Turnips and Toile recommended that I look at the shoes from Flamenco World and as a result ordered a custom pair of the Gallardo Yerbabuena model with a slimmer heel. Yesterday they arrived and they fit perfectly!

The two inch heel is high enough to look good with a frock but not so high that I hurt after wearing them whilst standing on my feet all day, and the tie accommodates my high arches. They’d also probably look good with trousers if I ever decided to renounce (or dilute) my frock-wearing ways. So I’m chuffed! Thanks Melanie 🙂

The same day I got the new NGV Gallery magazine and it’s official – I’m introducing a Gregory Peck film in June and presenting a short session on menswear of the ’50s-early ’60s. I get to talk about Don Draper – more on that later, but I can’t resist sharing the article. It’s free entry too!

The week was also peppered with glamourous ladies applying for the part time job. Whilst applications officially closed today, you’re welcome to send me an email (see details on that link) as the truth is that I’m about to go off-duty and so won’t go through them until early next week. Thank you to everyone who’s applied, it’s going to be hard choosing only one new Circa lady.

Lastly but not leastly, this afternoon I presented the first in a series of talks for the National Trust at Como House. This was on ’50s couture and was a lot of fun. It was also in the grandest location ever, the Como House ballroom, under a wonderful antique chandelier.

Here’s the rack of frocks and suits I brought along to illustrate the changes in fashion…it includes a US prom dress, an ’80s Prue Acton (to show how enduring the ’50s style is on other eras) and a selection of Australian fashions of the ’50s including two couture suits (one silk, one cashmere). Labels represented included Le Louvre, Hartnell of Melbourne, Kiva Creations, Pretty Girl, Elegance, Germaine Rochas and House of Youth.

The next one is in two weeks and promises to be even more fun – 1960s Melbourne fashions and will cover the early ’60s (think Mad Men) to Mod and Space Age and onto psychedelia and ethnically influenced bohemia. From long skirts to minis and back again.


  1. How did you manage to pack so much in during a week where the most I managed was three gym sessions, paying off laybys, and answering the phone at work??

    That is an astonishingly salubrious place to give a lecture! I love our Theatre at the museum, but it lacks a chandelier. We need more of those. With crystal.

    Looking forward to the hats, of course!

  2. Thank you, Inger but I didn’t pack enough in! The silk ’20s cardigans are on the rack, awaiting photos – apologies for the delay. Next week? They’re quite beautiful, you’re sure to love them <3

  3. I love the shoes! I’m glad that worked to order them without nail heads on the toes and heels.

  4. WOW the shoes are awesome! Thanks for linking that site – there’s some really great styles there. And so many colours to choose from! I know where my next pair of shoes will come from.

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