Old friends and Old films

Today my post is in part soppy I love my friends, and also part fashion/film history.

My friend Caro is seriously an amazingly special lady, we’ve known each other since we were 4 (gulp. 19 years) and went to both primary school and high school together. Caro has, over the years, educated me well in old films. We’ve watched countless films together (more Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn than you can shake a stick at) and last night decided to go for two Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers classics. First off was Roberta (1935) , the focus of my post.

My squealing throughout the film says something about how much I enjoyed the costumes I think….

I won’t give away the whole story but as a quick overview Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are almost the second pairing in this film (the main one being Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne). And the film centres mostly around the high end fashion house of Roberta and Huck’s (Fred Astaire’s) band ” Wabash Indianians”. But, for me the plot of the film is secondary (or even tertiary) to the insane costumes and dancing that feature throughout.

Of all Fred and Ginger films I have seen the costumes in this are my favourite hands down. The costumes were designed by Bernard Newman who designed for quite a number of RKO pictures (including Swing Time and Top Hat) , although understandably as this film is about a fashion house these are amongst the most spectacular. Newman had couture credentials and was actually also the head designer for Bergdorf Goodman. The majority of Newman’s film credits come from the years 1935 and 1936, although he designed for RKO from 1933.  Apparently (although I can’t say for absolute certain on this) Newman was used for this film on Dunne’s recommendation.

The costume budget for the film was huge, hitting in at $250,000 but I have to say, well worth it. I think this film is particularly striking for the detail in the costumes, the cut of the sleeves, collar detailing, necklines etc. etc. I really could go on, but I recommend you watch it for yourself.

One such amazing necktie with matching cuffs. (Irene Dunne)

The cut of the sleeves  on this dress were just perfect, with sleeves and bodice in contrasting fabric.(Claire Dodd)

The “wet look” was one of Newman’s design signatures. This is one of the most striking of the film (although as Caro and I discussed it has a bit of a fetish look to it)

This crazy cowl neck coat (that I am sure must have been weighted to sit in this way) as worn by Dunne also has a fabulous reverse fastening detail to the back.

The film is also great for fur accents, which even in black and white seem to come completely to life.

Daringly sensational black backless dress. As also worn in the film by Claire Dodd.

Crazy chevron dress which has a real Schiaparelli feel to it.

Utterly amazing 3 piece swimsuit worn in the fashion sequence towards the end of the film. The styling of this swimsuit seems particularly modern.

A still from the fashion show towards the end of the film.

A small snippet about the film from Ginger:

With handsome clothes by my favorite designer, Bernard Newman, and beautiful songs to dance to, I had the time of my life playing this role.

“Bernard Newman’s clothes in Roberta for me and for Irene Dunne were exceptionally clever and handsome.  The gold lamé dress I wore for the “I Won’t Dance” number was a dress I had bought while in New York as part of my trousseau.  That was the first time I ever wore a personal dress in a motion picture, and it was probably because Bernard Newman had designed it.  For the “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” number [sung by Dunne], he created a long black satin dress, with a wonderful piece of faux jewelry on the chest.  Men always commented on that gown; indeed, I never met a man who didn’t like that dress.”

(From Ginger Rogers memoir)

That Gold lame dress

The black dress worn by Ginger Rogers whilst Irene Dunne sings “Smoke gets in your eyes”

as Stephanie

Headdress worn by Dunne for “Smoke gets in your eyes” The dress was actually red even though it looks very pale in thefilm stills (can’t get a picture that isn’t terribly fuzzy of it mind you!). This headdress cost an eyewatering $6,000.

My personal favourite though is not one of the striking gowns, but the incredible jumpsuit worn by Ginger Rogers in one of the dance sequences “I’ll be hard to handle”.

A day trip to Bath

Today I took a delightful trip to Bath which I have to say is one of my fave cities for going for a “relaxing” trip to.

Outfit for the day. One of my all time favourite Jonathan Logan dresses- I bought this from America about four years ago and it has been a summer staple worn since. I’m wearing with crazy pink 80s flower earrings and a topshop denim jacket.
I FINALLY, after saying I would go for around two years, went to the fashion museum, which I have to say I was incredibly impressed by. A lot of people mentioned to me that it was small, but I didn’t think it was at all and found the displays interesting and informative in a different way. I liked that in the 19th century part of the museum the exhibition text looked to contemporary literature to help explain the dresses.

I was also interested by the trends for 2012 section which showed items from the costume museum collection styled to represent 2012 trends. I actually think this is a really forward thinking way for a museum to represent their dress collections (and actually makes me think of Diana Vreelands interpretation of historical dress).  Whilst I love to see historical dress as it is meant to be styled with period appropriate accessories etc. I think this method if display helps to open up museum displays to more audiences.
Now onto the vintage in Bath!
The charity shops in Bath I have to say (like quite frankly charity shops everywhere) left a lot to be desired. Prices were overall eye wateringly expensive and actually around the same price as the vintage shops. That said I did pick up a nice pair of shorts for £5 – although if I’m honest this is more than I would normally splash out on a pair of shorts. The most shocking charity shop price I saw had to be a pair of topshop brogues with a price tag of £25 on them. (I’m 90% sure these were the ones that cost £30 new last season).
Charity shop shorts. United colours of Bennetton- made of wool. Kind of look like little boys school shorts when they are on!
I also enjoyed the Bartlett road antiques. I’ve never ventured here before but I enjoyed a short while wandering round. If you head downstairs there are two dealers stock that I would recommend, one with a lovely selection of vintage textiles and jewellery (all at v reasonable prices) and another who had some of the most sensational 30s deco hadbags (high prices, but worth it I have to say)
The vintage shops were a hit and miss mixed bag. I was shocked by how high the prices were in Vintage to Vogue. They did have some stunning pieces including a few sensational 30s and 40s dresses but the prices were eye wateringly high. (£195 for an embroidered bolero was a particular shocker).
I have saved the best till last though. My FAVOURITE vintage shop in Bath has to be Scarlet Vintage. The shop currently has an amazing selection of pieces in stock mostly from the 30s to the 70s. I spied a truly sensational 40s evening dress for £95 which quite frankly I thought was a steal and if it had been my size I would have snapped it up. There were also lots of beautiful shoes and bags, I particular had my eye on a nice art deco reptile skin bag.
I did make a purchases though I will admit. I probably shouldn’t have, but it really is an investment piece.

This gorgeous red 1930s Laura Phillips dress. (I really must do some research into this company at some point soon- This is the earliest Laura Phillips dress I’ve seen. I know Laura Phillips existed right through until the 1970s…so if you have any further info, do tell!)
Isn’t it just one of the most glamorous and gorgeous dresses you have seen?

It’s pre 1940s week for Advantage In Vintage

So, As I’ve mentioned on here before I am currently saving up for my really rather expensive masters course at RCA (History of design if you wanted to know ; ) ) and this means lots of my vintage is having to go to fund it. Sob. What i’ve decided to do is have “themed” weeks so that if you are interested in a certain period, you’ll get it all in one week (although 50s may be split up into more than one week as I have soooo much 50s to sell!)

This week it is pre 1940s week and I have some GEMS up for sale.

First off i have these two stunners. Both 1930s and they came from the same owner. Considering their age they are in really fantastic condition. I can’t quite believe i am letting these go! (click the link below each item to see it on ebay)

                                                  1930s black polka dot day dress

                                              1930s brown polka dot day dress

Now onto this amazing original 1930s evening gown from the high end department store Marshall and Snelgrove. I reckon after a little hunt on the internet this is an early 30s dress. There is a similar one advertised by Marshall and Snelgrove in 1931. This link at the advertising archive should take you to it (you do need an account just to warn!) 


                                             Marshall and Snelgrove 1930s dress

The vintage fashion guild offers a good description of the brand 

And as always from the ever knowledgable Miss Rayne a great descrition 

I actually think it might have been a bespoke piece- it has this extra little label with Cooper written on it perhaps suggesting the original owner of the dress. I just adore this dress and can only imagine the glamorous events it might have been worn to. The cape or bolero by itself is stunning and combined with the dress it is certainly a dramatic look. I think if it had fit me I wouldn’t have contemplated selling it!

And the final item I’m going to share- this wonderful little wallet or purse. I did a bit of research into this and it turns out it was made by Ludwig Krumm and hallmarked in 1899. Apparently this was a pretty upscale German leather goods firm,  and part of the Goldpfiel Ludwigg Krumm compnay. (The name was changed from just Ludwig Krumm to Goldpfiel in the 1920s). In the 1950s Goldpfiel achieved worldwide status of being one of the worlds most elite leather goods producers held in a similar regard to Chanel and Louis Vuitton, even producing all of the bags for Dior from 1956. So evidently in its day, as it was made by one Germanys most elite leather goods producers this would have been an expensive piece.

                                                    Ludwig Krumm wallet or purse

                                          To see all of my current listings just click here

I’ll keep you all updated when i do my next round of listings which will include a fabulous Jantzen swimsuit and a novelty print Blanes dress amongst other items!