Lacy Susan

No, not the edible Lacey Susan, a buttery, sugary cookie. And most definitely NOT that spinning thing in the middle of the dining table called a Lazy Susan. (Don’t laugh, KB or EAS!) 

My fondness for lace has only been evident in the past decade or so. I hated to wear lace as a kid because it was always itchy, and as a young woman, I thought it was too prissy and frilly for me. 

Fast forward a few decades, and I have started to appreciate pretty lace and actually wear it on occasion. (But not that scratchy stuff from the 1970s!)

One of my first lace purchases was this beautiful 1920s lettuce green velvet shawl with beige lace trim. The lace is soft and lightweight, and it’s fun to wear. I’m pretty sure it’s machine made.



I wear a lot of black so of course I have been looking at numerous black lace dresses and shawls. This floral design on a 1930s dress really appeals to me. To my very untrained eye, it looks handmade but it could be high end machine-made lace. (Crafty friends, what do you think?) It seems too fragile to actually wear; there are some tears in the lace.

I also photographed this lace, which was on a different late 1920s/early 1930s dress. I like the texture, and it feels sturdier than the example above. The dress is a bias cut long sleeveless dress that’d be nice for summer.

This is a vintage bed jacket with lace trim and embroidery on peach colored silk.

This beige lace looks great with a bedjacket I bought at a really cool thrift store in Paris.

I wish I’d paid a little more attention to my grandmother’s crochet lessons years ago. The trim and butterfly on the chemise below are so pretty. I’ve seen it called filet lace or filet embroidery.

I don’t usually think of Coco Chanel and “lace” together but the photograph below illustrates her use of lace in evening wear. Beautiful!



Portland Favorite – Halo Shoes

Halo shoes

Men’s shoes on table with women’s boots in background

Halo Shoes is my favorite shoe store in Portland, hands down. My first visit was earlier this year – I was actually on my way to visit one of their competitors across the street. Little did I know what I was missing out on. To walk into Halo is to be seduced by one’s senses. The large, airy shop smells like leather, not like chemicals. And the leather just feels so good to the touch. The space is large and well lit with large windows and has a warehouse feel to it. It’s in the historic Otis Elevator building in the Pearl.

Part of the fun of shopping at this local store is the great customer service, both from the staff and the owner. The vibe is very laid back – no pushy up-selling, no hovering, but they’re ready to help when you need it. They know their product – one of the new saleswomen was trying on ever pair of shoes so she had a feeling for what they felt like to walk in. They work very hard to make sure their customers are pleased with their new shoes. I had a small problem with a pair of shoes I purchased and emailed them that evening when I realized my mistake. The owner responded to me very promptly, and told his clerks what I needed so when I went into the store the transaction was really smooth.

And then there are the shoes. Oh my, the shoes. Beautiful buttery leathers, interesting designs, high quality workmanship, and at least a dozen oxfords/brogues/richelieus for women.(Oxfords aka derbys are my favorite kinds of shoes these days – I’ve written about them in a blogpost here.)

shoes 8

Pantanetti shoes, freshly polished

You’ll find shoes you won’t find in every department store in town. The shop specializes lesser known, often European, designers. The Italian line Pantanetti are gorgeously handmade shoes in really supple leather. These black and green oxfords are incredibly smooth inside the shoe and fit my feet like a glove.

The shop also carries Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Grensen (brogues!!), MoMa and other designers for women, and I saw Grensen, Wolverine, Pantanetti and Sartori Gold for men. (T – are you listening?)

long sock

Cotton socks decorated with a little be

And the socks – Halo carries the fun and beautifully made Japanese brand Antipast socks for men and women. The socks come in creative prints in lovely knits including cotton and wool. I really had no idea how hip Antipast socks were until I came across this WSJ article while doing my research.

Pantanetti heeled oxfords

Pantanetti heeled oxfords

I like to shop at local businesses and Halo Shoes is the perfect local spot to buy a pair of beautifully made shoes or socks. They also have handbags and jewelry but I’m always too distracted to pay much attention to the non-shoe items.

Halo storefront

Halo storefront sign

Halo Shoes
938 NW EVERETT ST
PORTLAND, OREGON 97209
(503) 331-0366

Paris Haute Couture Exhibit

Haute

One of the highlights of my trip to Paris was a visit to the Paris Haute Couture exhibit curated by the Galliera, Musee de la Mode de Ville de Paris. The museum building is undergoing renovation so it has been presenting exhibits in various spots in Paris. I happened to be in Paris for the exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall.)

Swarovski has provided support for the exhibit; many of the gowns are embellished with Swarovski beads. According to the Swarovski Facebook page, in 1895, Daniel Swarovski invented a revolutionary technique for cutting and polishing crystal, and in 1900 began collaborating with haute couture designers. Designers who made use of Swarovski crystals include Worth, Lanvin, Chanel and Schiaparelli. In the 1950s, Jacques Fath and Cristóbal Balenciaga were extravagant in their use of crystal in their collections.

©Marc Verhille / Mairie de Paris

©Marc Verhille / Mairie de Paris


Many of the dresses were enclosed in glass cases because of their fragility and because they’re valuable. They were organized chronologically, which illustrated the changes of style over time. No photography was allowed so I’ve used photographs from the Mayor of Paris, Swarovski, and the Museum.

Beer, silk evening dress, circa 1912. Collection Musée Galliera ©Galliera

This cream silk gown is embellished with lace, pearl paillettes, and crystal beads. 

CHANEL 1923

Chanel silk evening dress, 1923 © Collection Musée Galliera

I was surprised at how different this looks than what I expected a Chanel gown to look like. The colors are beautiful and it shimmers so beautifully.

Patou nuit de chine

Jean Patou, robe du soir, 1925. Collection Musée Galliera

The details on this Jean Patou evening dress are stunning. I envision a flapper dancing the night away at a lavish party, drinking lots of champage.

Worth tea gown

Worth, tea gown, circa 1895. Collection Musée Galliera

It was interesting to see how heavy this material looked compared to the gowns in the 1920s and 1930s. And who would get this dressed up for tea?

© musée Galliera, Ville de Paris, droits réservés, 2013

Jérôme, robe du soir, vers 1925. (détail) © musée Galliera, Ville de Paris, droits réservés, 2013

This 1925 dress by Jérôme is embellished with colored crystal beads, silver threads, faux pearl beads, and bright blue feathers. This was one of my favorites.

JEROME_1925_details(3)

Jérôme, robe du soir, vers 1925. (détail) Collection Musée Galliera

Additional Resources

Mayor of Paris Google+ page with additional photographs.

Judy Fayard’s WSJ article about the exhibit

Sew what?

 Occupational portrait of a woman working at a sewing machine, 1853. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Occupational portrait of a woman working at a sewing machine, 1853. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

As a young woman going to high school in the late 1970s, there was no way I was going to take home economics. I had big plans and they didn’t include being a housewife who made her family’s clothes and cooked her family’s meals. I planned to got to college, get a graduate degree in archaeology or something equally interesting, and travel the world. As it turns out, I did indeed go to college, earned a graduate degree, and have traveled parts of the world. But as it turns out, I wish I HAD learned how to sew properly – it would save me a lot of money and could have been a fun creative outlet. I did take one short class in jr. high at the local community center and learned how to sew a maxi dress with a ruffle at the hem.

My parents both appreciate dressing well, as did my grandparents. I have liked clothing and fashion since I was a kid, and used to daydream about being a fashion designer. But I was realistic enough to realize that fashion design was not a practical path to a stable income, and majored in English instead. (Yeah, the irony.)

Now I wish I could stitch up a pretty silk skirt in a day. I don’t want to make beginner’s projects like pot holders and elastic-waisted skirts. I recently took the tentative step of buying a used sewing machine.

Enough whining. Instead I’ll share snippets of some vintage garments that illustrate the beautiful stitching used on clothing women used to make for themselves. My goal this year is to learn how to thread the machine and sew a straight line.

Detail of peach gown

Pintucks

Delicate lace and silk from the 1920s

Lace attached to silk

Vintage satin and lace details on bed jacket

Vintage satin and lace details on bed jacket -the lace was machine sewn to the fabric

Vintage satin dress

Satin dress with tucks (pleats) on the bodice

Seam of vintage dress

Hand finished seam

Lace and silk detail on 1920s garment

Details on 1920s silk piece – lace, bias cut fabric, interesting seams

Vintage pink brocade night gown

Gathers? Ruching? Shirring?

Joyeux anniversaire, Monsieur Poiret!

Paul Poiret, 1927. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris en Images.

Paul Poiret, 1927. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris en Images.

Not Poirot, Poiret, the Parisian couturier born on May 20, 1879. I wrote about him in an earlier post but kept discovering more images. (Librarians can never stop searching; it’s a madness.) I think it’s interesting to see how his designs changed over time. The peach dress from the 1930s has so little adornment compared to his richly decorated gowns from earlier in the 20th century but it’s one of my favorites. I think the decorated headpiece is wonderful, too.

red gown

Theatrical costume. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Date 1900 – 1944.

Evening Cap

Evening cap. Circa 1910. Embroidered with colourful straps of pongee, gold and silver brocade, pleated ivory tulle. Purchased by the municipality of Paris. The Musée Galliera – the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.

Poiret dress Kremlin

Poiret dress, Saint-Petersburg, 1910s. Chiffon of white and blue colours, white crepe-de-chine, fleecy fur trimming of black colour, silver lace, metal thread, gilding, metal, glass beads, bugle beads, strasses, embroidery. Received in 1941 from the State Museum of Ethnography; till 1917 has been preserved in the Novo-Mikhailovsky palace in Saint Petersburg. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg.

Poiret trousers 1927

Evening dress trousers, 1926. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris en Images.

Evening dress, circa 1930. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Anthony Wilson, 1963

Evening dress, circa 1930. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Anthony Wilson, 1963

Poiret VA

Mantuea, circa 1913. Woollen cloth, chiffon. The Victoria and Albert Museum of London.

Poiret dress, 1931. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris en Images.

Poiret dress, 1931. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris en Images.

Textile, ca. 1923. Manufacturer La Maison Martine. Printed linen. Purchase, Edward C. Moore, Jr. Gift, 1923

Textile, ca. 1923. Manufacturer La Maison Martine. Printed linen.
Purchase, Edward C. Moore, Jr. Gift, 1923

Monsieur Hercule Poirot will have his turn, too.

Callot Soeurs

I love to read for many reasons, but one reason is that a book often piques my curiosity about new places, new people, and new things. I can thank Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible and my friend Catherine for my interest in the Callot sisters, four dressmakers who opened a couture house in 1895 that became well known for its beautiful fabric, designs, and embroidery.

The Soeurs Callot (Regina, Marie, Marthe and Joséphine) designed lingerie, evening gowns and day dresses made with antique fabric, beautiful silks, and lace. They were one of the first designers to use gold and silver lame.  (Victoriana Magazine)

Their designs over the years varied widely – I love the silk pajamas and the bejeweled dress below. What are the odds of my finding a Callot Soeurs treasure at a Parisian flea market? Hmmm…

Dress, c. 1926. Gift of Mrs. Anton Hulman, Jr. Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Dress, c. 1926. Gift of Mrs. Anton Hulman, Jr. Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Pleated silk chiffon, lace worked in gold thread, satin, ribbon. 1922 (made). Given by the Ranee of Pudukota. Victoria and Albert Museum.

Pleated silk chiffon, lace worked in gold thread, satin, ribbon. 1922 (made). Given by the Ranee of Pudukota. Victoria and Albert Museum.

Robe-tailleur, Callot Sœurs, Paris, 1910-1912 Taffetas jaspé, tulle mécanique, frange de passementerie, mousseline  Coll. UFAC, don Lindon, 1951. From Les Arts Decoratifs.

Robe-tailleur, Callot Sœurs, Paris, 1910-1912
Taffetas jaspé, tulle mécanique, frange de passementerie, mousseline
Coll. UFAC, don Lindon, 1951. From Les Arts Decoratifs.

Evening dress, 1913. Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1951. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening dress, 1913. Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1951. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pajamas, 1926-1927. Gift of Miss Isabel Shults, 1944. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pajamas, 1926-1927. Gift of Miss Isabel Shults, 1944. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 Setting up the pattern for lace yokes. Paris. Callot Soeurs fashion design house. 1931. Photograph by Francois Kollar (1904-1979). Paris, Bibliothèque Forney. Paris En Images.

Setting up the pattern for lace yokes. Paris. Callot Soeurs fashion design house. 1931. Photograph by Francois Kollar (1904-1979). Paris, Bibliothèque Forney. Paris En Images.

Presentation of models. Paris. Callot Soeurs fashion design house. 1931. Photograph by Francois Kollar (1904-1979). Paris, Bibliothèque Forney. Paris En Images.

Presentation of models. Paris. Callot Soeurs fashion design house. 1931. Photograph by Francois Kollar (1904-1979). Paris, Bibliothèque Forney. Paris En Images.

Fitting. Paris, Callot Soe?urs fashion design house, 1931. Photograph by François Kollar (1904-1979). Paris, Bibliothèque Forney. Paris En Images.

Fitting. Paris, Callot Soeurs fashion design house, 1931. Photograph by François Kollar (1904-1979). Paris, Bibliothèque Forney. Paris En Images.