York Festival of vintage


On Saturday I had a completely wonderful day in one of my favourite cities in the country, York. My reason for travelling up to York was for the Festival of Vintage a brilliant event organized by Keeley Harris the lady behind the Discover Vintage fairs and the Vintage Emporium shop in York.
What can I say? Not only did the event have some completely amazing stalls offering something for everyone (in particular lots of wonderful mid century dresses) but there was also a collectors corner, music, cars, hair and make up, talks and fashion shows.
My outfit for the day was a lovely two pieces 1950s Liberty of London airforce blue grosgrain suit and 1940s Lotus suede platform shoes.

Here are just a few of the purchases I made. 

An amazing Jonathan Logan Suit. I think I might need to alter the skirt a bit as the line isn’t quite slim enough for me and do something about the fading on the arm, but love it nonetheless. (apologies for the weird angle of the picture my cupboard door decided that was the prefect moment to spring open)

A lovely little Lucite purse and rhinestone beaded bag

 A fab lucite “confetti” bangle

(These four bits were all from one of my favouirte sellers who I seem to buy from every time she is at the big vintage fair at Leeds town hall)

A totally fab 50s Blanes Dress which is a perfect fit and still has its original integral net underskirt
And here is me with the lovely Becca @bookishbecca on twitter whom I had never met before Saturday and the Lovely Naomi of Vintage secret who was talking at the event (and rather an excellent job of it she did too!)
There will also be another festival of vintage happening in September at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey, details here!

A New (to me) 50s vintage novelty print skirt

Sorry I have been so ridiculously quiet of late! Unfortunately this is likely to continue for the next two weeks until my final degree coursework is handed in.

So, for now I’m just going to keep sharing some pieces purchased lately : )
Today is this rather spiffing 1950s skirt which is in absolutely perfect condition (the cotton is so crisp i wouldn’t be surprised if it had never been worn)

I am an absolute sucker for novelty prints. Give me something a little bit different or random and I am a happy bunny. This gorgeous skirt is not exception printed all over with champagne bottles and grapes. It really is a perfect skirt for someone like me who certainly enjoys a tipple!

This skirt comes from the retailer Richard shops, although it has no makers label. Richard shops designed their own brand garments as well as selling pieces by other companies. Richard shops was a well known department store with the brand first started way back in 1927 by Jack Lyons. The company finally ceased trading in 1999 after being bought out by Arcadia and most stores changed to those within the Arcadia group.

Richard shops Preston c.1962

I also have a Horrockses dress with a Richard shops retailer label in it (the same label as this) which demonstrates they were one of the many department stores that stocked Horrockses dresses in the 50s.

I’m actually pretty interested by Richard shops as it’s only since buying vintage that I’ve come across the department store despite the fact it was still operating in my lifetime. Was it mostly a Northern operation? And what sort of price level were they at? (I’m guessing due to their buy out by Allders at one point it was somewhat similar to them). Anyway I’d love to know more if anyone has any info!

Cecil Beaton’s Fashion: An anthology 1971


After my mammoth museum visiting session over the past few weeks I want to step back in time to what I believe was one of the most important exhibitions the Victoria and Albert museum ever held. Cecil Beaton’s 1971 exhibition Fashion: An anthology.

1971 (October 1971 to be precise) marked the opening of the Fashion: An Anthology exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This exhibition “put fashion on the map at the V&A” and had a lot to do with the changing perception of fashion’s place within the hallowed walls of the museum.
At the time there was mass publicity about the exhibition with both the Sunday telegraph and Vogue running large features on it Vogue mentioned “there were twenty outfits by Balenciaga, nine by Schiaparelli, eight Poirets, two Vionnets, a Fortuny, and “masses of Chanels” 

One of the many beautiful Balenciaga dresses on display at the exhibition, dating to 1959.

Cecil Beaton’s exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum saw the accession of some of the most iconic pieces of dress that the V and A holds. Here are just a few of my personal favoruites.

1957 Jacques Fath dress (what a princess piece!)

1957 floral by Pierre Balmain

1947 classic early Dior day dress

1909-20 Iconic Fortuny Delphos dress

And who can forget my favourite garment OF ALL TIME. This 1938 circus collection jacket by Schiaparelli. 
Beaton was a fascinating character in that these garments were mostly given by Beatons friends. He had the rare opportunity of being a society figure who was respected and admired which I think meant people were more willing to donate. Beatons aim was to create an exhibition which celebrated “the best of women’s fashion today”

Discussions between Beaton and  John Pope-Hennessy  (then director of the museum) suggest the directors enthusiasm towards the exhibition and that the dresses should be exhibited as works of art, not necessarily fashion (dismissing some of the problems often associated with fashion displays). For this reason the exhibition had an elitist focus, with most pieces being haute couture.  

Not only were the objects on display fantastic but the exhibition display itself was also something to behold and heavily influenced later  exhibition styles (I personally believe that Diana Vreeland must have been inspired at least in part by Beaton’s exhibition).
The exhibition was designed by Michael Hayes and stretched across two floors of the Victoria and Albert Museum held in a prime location, it must have certainly been a sight to behold and so unlike anything the museum had done before. What I really love about it was that historical garments were put in a completely modern and somewhat “alien” setting. These are just a few examples of this futuristic exhibition display, which I think still looks fresh, modern and thoughtful 40 years on.

(you can see here how it stretched across two levels)

Although one thing I would say is that the popularity of this exhibition often means that earlier examples of innovative exhibition display are often ignored. If you are interested In the topic as a whole I highly recommend looking further into the “Britain can make it’ exhibition of 1946 organised by the eponymous Horrockses director James Cleveland-Belle and also Richard Buckles 1954 exhibition of Ballet Ruses costumes at Forbes house. 
Hopefully I’ll get writing about these soon too.

From the “Britain can make it” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum

 From Richard Buckles exhibition at Forbes House

If you are further interested in the topic I highly recommend reading Amy De La Haye’s enlightening article (which I have  quoted here

Vogue and the V and A vitrine Fashion Theory, Volume 10, Issue 1/2, pp. 127–152 

Or try and pick up the original exhibition guide. I got mine on ebay a few years ago for only a couple of pounds, and it features some truly sensational images of Marisa Berenson in items that appeared in the exhibition.

All images from the Victoria and Albert museum collections website.