Trying to put my thoughts & ideas down somewhere and give another outlet to my creativity. It's all connected, so I can't say it's a blog about just this or just that. Dolls. Fashion. Art. A little bit on travel, whatever... let's take it wherever it goes...


Christmas presents, a scarf a month, pirate silk & the laugh of the day

So, time focus on those Christmas presents for a bit. This year, there were two beautiful pins and a retro-style dress clip in for me... and a very interesting and informative book about advertising posters in Vienna in the 1950s ("50er - Plakate aus der Sammlung der Wienbibliothek"). Sound boring? It ain't! There are many well-designed posters, but there is also quite a bit of text to ready about life & society in post-WWII-Vienna, and a thought-provoking look at how some poster designers clearly borrowed from or picked up pre-war or even war-time design ideas...

One other very special pressie reached me from Vienna - the all-year-long-present! It's a pile of twelve differently-wrapped pressies, each marked with a month, and held together with a ribbon.
The idea? Of course, there's one to be opened each month! Well, curiosity killed the cat or whatever they say - I allowed myself to open the first one already now, and I promise I shall open the other ones when I should - and I will blog them, so stay tuned! The first one is a pretty combination of reds and pinks - very becoming.

Since it will be open only until the 13th of February anymore, mom and I visited the "Soie Pirate" exhibition at the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) today. Turns out - today was get-in-for-free-day too! Well, lucky us! The exhibition was built around the Abraham fabric trading company's archive, which was given to the museum some two years ago. First, there's a quick re-telling of the company history, but then it's first and foremost about the fabrics. It seems that also the archive is most about fabrics - books and books of fabric samples, old 19th century sample books from Lyon that served as inspiration-givers, and so-called scrap books. From 1955 onwards, books upon books were meticulously filled with magazine cuttings from every possible fashion magazines showing clothes made from Abraham fabrics. While the archive seem to be thin on actual company papers and actual history, they seem to contain everything there is when it comes to the fabrics. Furthermore, the company each year kept a roll of 4 meters of their "best" fabrics - so there were plenty of fabrics that could be displayed in all their glory. Among their main or most faithful clients were Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Balenciaga, so there were also a couple dresses on display from these three designers (and not behind glass - whoopeee!). One of the best parts also was seeing the actual fabric, and the pictures of the Haute Couture outfits made from them. On the exhibition's German website, there is a short video too, which shows a bit of the exhibition.

The Landesmuseum has also published two books to go with the exhibition. One is strictly on the company's history, the other one features just a short introduction and then focuses solely on 100 of their best designs - pure eye-candy! Although the books don't come cheap at CHF 69 each, I think it's a good idea and they certainly were beautifully made. Someone like me who is most interested in pictures can opt to buy only the second book. It goes by a simple principle - it's done chronologically, and the right page always shows the fabric (mentioning also name, year and material), while the left shows either a big photo of one Haute Couture design made from it, or pages and details from the scrap books which feature a dress (or sometimes even two different ones) made from that fabric.

Of course I realised that a lot of the clothes that I saw in the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in Montreal in September 2008 must have been made from Abraham fabrics. In fact, I even recognised a fabric or two - or pictures of actual outfits (if you click on the exhibtion's link - for example, the black-and-white dotted dress with the big hat). At home I picked up the exhibition catalog, and lo and behold, it actually mentions who by the fabrics were for each design shown! And yes, Abraham does feature a lot (btw - of course Schlaepfer is there too - they were featured amongst others at the Landesmuseum's Bling Bling exhibition a few years ago). Ok, so there's a dress that I saw in the exhibition, in the book, YSL's sketch of it is shown, where a small swatch of the fabric is tacked to the sketch. In the exhibition today, I saw the 4-meter "leftover" of the self same fabric displayed - and the Landesmuseum's book, the dress is shown in an original color photo.
How cool is that? On some of the sketches shown in the book, he actually wrote "Abraham no. ....." on it, as an instruction which fabric was to be used.

Being who I am, slightly OCD on finding the "connection" between things, I grabbed my October 1958 edition of "Elegante Welt" - I guess this must have been Germany's first and foremost fashion magazine at the time, showing all the latest Haute Couture goodies. I had noticed that the scrap books shown in the exhibition often showed cuttings from this magazine, and I remembered that my edition showed the latest from the Paris winter collections, mostly the latest from Christian Dior - one of the first collections by the young Yves Saint Laurent actually. The photo of this outfit actually mentions the fabrics being by Abraham:
And the dress on top here actually turns up in a tiny shot on the scrap book page above too - no doubt this is all from the same collection:The magazine also shows a Balenciaga dress, that is obviously being modeled by the same model as in the Dior dress on the bottom left of the scrap book page - and with the same props that turn up in the smaller shots just above...
I admit, I like seeing things "come together" like this. I'm also still trying to find the painting that's on the prop stand. The scrap book shot shows it relatively clearly, though small - it looks like the 15th century portrait of a woman wearing a hennin, and somehow it feels familiar. I wouldn't be surprised if I found it in one of my many art books!

After all the "heavy research", I took a detour to a blog that sounded fun - Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Those who know me well know that I'm an unapologetic reader of (historical only) romance novels ever since my teens. I will read almost anything from Dickens to Clancy, but every now and then, my brain needs some sugar too, just like my taste buds. My taste buds get chocolate, my brain gets romance novels. Nothing better to read on a long flight, when I'm sick, when life generally sucks (sorry!), or when I've read something rather "heavy" like the latest by Steven Booth or the biography of Sir Richard Burton (not the actor - the other one!), just to air out my brain. Let's be honest, we all need a good, soppy happy ending every now and then! Anyway, the blog is about all kinds of romance novels, and the ladies there love straight talkin' which I like. And they provided my biggest laugh today - this post on a romance whose title already sounds completely ridiculous (honestly, I would have thought that in today's world, a title as bad as "The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable Girl" could only exist in cliché!) had me in stitches. Click on "more more more..." at the bottom and read all about the "complete tool". Geee, I'm starting to laugh again even while writing this!



Back for good

I know, I know... haven't been a good blogger recently. Somehow, all the work and the Christmas preparations have been eating up all my time since I returned from New Zealand on November 22. And what free time was left, was sorely needed for a bit of rest. And sleep.

It all just seemed so unreal - I left at the end of October, feeling like it was the middle of autumn, and Christmas was a looong time away. The trip, a good three and a half weeks, seemed to stretch out in front of me forever. Then it somehow passed by in a whirlwind. And whilst shopping in Christchurch the day before I flew home, the local department store, Ballantyne's, was already in full Christmas swing, with music, catalogs, gift ideas and what-have-you. Though the whole setting seemed utterly surreal to me - after all, it was spring, it was warm, and all the shop windows featured the latest beach wear for the coming summer - I ended up buy most of my Christmas pressies there. I had barely arrived back here, when the first snow came, and I realised that it was time to get started on baking Christmas cookies, or they would never arrive in time on the other side of the Atlantic... oh dear!

However, I haven't been lazy about vintage fashion on my trip! I spent a few extra days in Wellington, where I spent two afternoons trawling the vintage and second hand shops on Cuba Street. At Hunters and Collectors, I found the most divine early 60s shirtwaist dress:

It's by Julie Miller, an American label. The dress came in very handy for a dinner I was invited to by Tourism Wellington - after everybody had kept telling me that the restaurant, which I had mentioned to my tour guides earlier in the day, was the latest, trendiest in Wellington... I knew I'd wear this instead of what I'd packed for the occasion. Traveling light and dressing nicely isn't always easy...

In Christchurch, I walked into Gertie's Vintage Fashion on High Street, a vintage shop right after my taste! A lil' bit chaotic, and chock-full to the rafters with goodies. An incredible red 1940s jacket by Fashionbilt made it home with me. The fabric is butter soft, the tailoring is impeccable and it has some amazing details - what more does one want?

I had been talking about having created a new Willy-Nilly before I left. Since this one, which was a gift, has now reached it's destination, I can finally show it here:

Coming back to vintage fashion, the last few weeks have also been a good time to wear vintage! First, it was time to debut a gorgeous forest-green, supposedly 1940s dress I'd bought on Etsy late last summer. I admit, I only got around to make the 2-3 small repairs it needed some two weeks ago - and to take a closer look at it. It fit beautifully, but something told me that it felt more like 30s than 40s...

So, I asked the VFG Forum, what they thought... and they kept telling me that I was wearing it the wrong way around! I was still sceptictal, I admit, but in the end, tried it on the other way 'round, and after some contorsionist-worthy moves to button it up in the back and close the belt buckle - suddenly everything fell into place! I had a really good laugh at myself! I really had had it on the wrong way, not even thinking that the buttons could be in the back! They did love back detailing in the 30s after all - and this dress is definitely 30s, though it has been shortened.

Anyway, it's a cute dress and I love wearing it!

Another dress that I bought last summer had it's debut this month too - it went to the opera, and turned a few heads... with everybody wearing black, a red dress was all that was needed to stand out in the crowd!

It is quite a bit faded in some places, from having been exposed to sunlight, but I bought it anyway because I liked it's shape so much. And it is perfect. To be frank - the fading doesn't bother me at all... And it's real secret is actually it it's back:

Speaking of the VFG Forum, I can't say just how much I enjoy the discussions there - and seeing the new stuff in their online shops, which they show weekly. It isn't just about fashion, there is so much more involved, and so much more to be learned! About life, about society, about history... and it's such a fun community too.

Recently, this incredible Emilio Pucci tie fascinated me. Just trying to imagine what it would look like with a dark suit and white shirt. Great!

A lot of the Vintage Fashion Guild members also have blogs, and I enjoy reading them too, though I don't always have so much time to read them all. This post on the Kickshaw Productions blog caught my eye today. I remember the lively discussion on the forum well enough - and also the differences about British and American English. I admit, I'm terrible with distinguishing the two, and my own English is probably some bizarre mixture between the two - however, that whole discussion certainly had me in stitches - not even certain Youtube videos have made me laugh so hard!
Since Jonathan had to re-do his blog, after it got deleted when the Fashion History Museum website went online, a lot of his older posts showed up as "new" and I had a good browse and read around this afternoon.
This post might be already a year old, but it certainly provided an amusing look back on fashion of the 00's, and made me smile.