31 March, 2010

The Vintage Guru of Melbourne at Heritage Hill

I attended a talk yesterday by the lady who I believe is the Vintage Guru of Melbourne, Nicole Jenkins (owner of Circa Vintage Clothing store - Fitroy, writer and generally fabulous person).

Vintage Suburbia (left), Nicole Jenkins V.G. (rt)
Vintage Suburbia is wearing a 1950's dress Ebay Australia (a few yrs ago)
- see at end of post for a full photo of the dress
Nicole is also wearing a 1950's dress - very cute 

Nicole has been doing a series of talks in Melbourne to coincide with the publication of her fantastic vintage book 'Love Vintage'. If you do not have a copy of this, you need to get one now - seriously (see this link for where to buy it). It is like a bible for vintage collectors. I have a few vintage books at home, but Nicole's is by far the best - it has beautiful photos and is very comprehensive (she covers all the major designers of a particular vintage era and also things like sizing, clothing labels and the best places to buy vintage). Most other vintage books I have seen just discuss one particular designer (eg Chanel) or just look at where to buy vintage whereas Nicole's is far more broad-ranging than this.

Nicole signing a copy of her book after the talk.
The lovely lady to the left is a vintage seller from Mornington Antique centre.

In her talk, Nicole displayed and discussed a selection of clothes (mainly dresses, but also a 1760 pair of men's breeches!) from her collection. She had items from each important era of vintage, Edwardian and 1920's-70's. As Nicole is an accomplished seamstress, she loves to see how garments have been constructed and she turned many of the garments inside out to show us how to date clothing by the use of handstitching, overlocking and so on. It was very informative so I would encourage all of you to attend one of her talks. As well as having an encyclopaedic knowledge of vintage (she only had to take one look at my pink dress to tell me it was from 1953 - wow!) she is a really lovely person - very open, friendly and she has a great sense of humour. You can tell she has a deep love and appreciation for vintage, which I find very inspirational. I think we are very lucky to have such a great vintage person here in Melbourne.

The talk was held at Laurel Lodge, which is part of the Heritage Hill Museum in Dandenong. I have posted a few photos from the museum so you can see what it is like. I have also put up a full length photo of the pink dress I am wearing in the first picture in case you are interested. I wasn't able to get a proper outfit photo of it before I left, so I am sorry its just one I took last night with the dress on the hanger!

Cute fireplace - Laurel Lodge

Old fashioned milk bottle - how I wish we still used these! - Laurel Lodge

Oh my goodness, the most divine art deco era canisters - Heritage Hill Museum

And lastly, a not-so-great full-length photo of the dress I wore to the talk. My 6 year old photographer was not around when I was wearing it to take a proper outfit photo - sorry!

Below is a close up of the decorative panels on the dress (they are sewn on rather than embroidered straight on to the dress, Nicole did have a name for this, but I have forgotten sorry!)

And finally (really!) my favourite aspect of vintage clothing are the labels. This one says
'Duval of Melbourne'

I wished we saw more labels like these on modern clothes, then I might actually start buying them again!

25 March, 2010

The joy of vintage costume jewellery - Coro and Weiss

I have always been a collector of vintage dresses, but it is only lately that I have started collecting and wearing vintage earrings and brooches. I am not sure why, probably because they are relatively difficult to find in Australia (compared to the US). But the joy of etsy is that literally thousands of these vintage beauties are available to us now (and I think I have bought most of them!). I was also a little scared of wearing clip-ons after some bad experiences wearing my mother's clip-ons when I was a teenager, but they seem to be OK now (the trick is not to put them on too tightly).

Some of my vintage jewellery collection.
Notice the teal and blue Coro set in the bottom row, centre box. Divine detail.
That was bought from Callie at Camberwell Markets. Notice the Lisner clip-ons, bottom row, right hand side, purchased on ebay USA. I have not had a chance to wear these yet though - need to buy a nice green dress to go with them obviously. What good luck!

I like to store my brooches and earrings in the boxes they came in, stashed away safely in the drawers of my art deco dresser (away from the destructive little fat hands of my little 2 year old Mr Moppet). Most of them have tissue paper or 'packing fluff' (not sure of the proper name for that!) to add to the protection.

The large silver flower set (top left) is a beauty, but needs an appropriate outfit. The cameo with the silver edging (top right) was from that cheapo costume chain store found in every mall across Australia called Kleins - does a great job of filling in whilst I save up for the real thing - fake it till you make it girls! The divine blue brooch (bottom centre) with white figurine is Wedgewood and at $80 is probably my most expensive purchase. I probably paid too much, but it is very beautiful I must say. I also have to mention that the darling little pearl clasps (bottom right) are from an op shop in my little home town of Boggabri, NSW (pop 1,100 - so cute!). I would seriously consider moving back there just to get my hands on real true blue rural vintage treasures!

I have purchased most of my earrings and brooches from etsy, with a few from Ebay USA and some really beautiful ones from Callie, a seller at Camberwell Markets (I have mentioned her in earlier posts, so search for her name on my blog if you are interested - she has some lovely Coro pieces in particular, really good quality items). 
I had never heard of the great vintage jewellery names of 'Coro' or 'Weiss' before, but if you are not familiar with them, I would really recommend purchasing some of their pieces. Callie from Camberwell Markets actually recommended a great book to me, which I would thoroughly recommend to you for increasing your knowledge of this actually quite huge area of vintage. Its part of the 'DK' book range and is called 'Costume Jewellery' by Judith Miller.


I was able to borrow it from my local library, but you could perhaps find a second hand copy on Amazon or ebay. It has an 'A-Z' of the top designers, as well as a section on unsigned pieces. The pictures are sublime - warning, you will want to buy simply truckloads of these pieces after reading this book!

Hope you find a lovely 1950's Coro brooch to make your day soon!

22 March, 2010

The Red Shoes at the Astor Theatre (and a great latte!)

I went to see the lovely old ballet film ‘The Red Shoes’ at the Astor in Chapel Street today.

For those who are not familiar with the film, ‘The Red Shoes’ tells the story of a ballerina performing for the (fictional) Lermontov Ballet in Monte Carlo. It was made in 1948 and stars, amongst others, the famous Australian ballet star Robert Helpmann. To tell you anymore about the film would give the plot away, so I will just say it is a lovely film to go and see on a Sunday afternoon, especially if, like me, you dance, or love to watch ballet. And what better place to watch it than the beautiful art deco Astor.

I took my little six year old daughter to see the film and it was a lovely girls day out for us. We went to see the movie, and then had a latte, lemonade and treats at a local café in Windsor - Dino's Deli (34 Chapel St, Windsor).

Outfit: 1950s dress   Circa Vintage Clothing, Fitroy Melbourne
Shoes   Myer (some years ago)
vintage earrings   Clara Fox Vintage, Brunswick St, Fitroy North

The name 'Dino's Deli' does not really conjure up images of great sophistication I must say, but I would highly recommend this cafe. It is a lovely Parisien style café, only a stone’s throw from the Astor, it has GREAT coffee (I am sooo fussy about my coffee so if I say its good, it is good!) and lovely little homemade treats like small baguettes with jambon (ham!) and little pastries served on vintage plates - all a vintage girl with a coffee obsession could ever want!

I have had horrible luck with cafes on Chapel St, which is a surprise given it is such a popular shopping district. There is nothing quite so bad as a bad latte! I was impressed with the fact that this café had snacks that looked and tasted like homemade, not just the mass-produced fare you normally see at cafes in Melbourne. And as a plus, it is right next door to two fabulous stores: an Art Deco print shop and a great second-hand bookstore (the latter of which is currently having a 20-50% off sale - when I went there I got some Trixie Belden books for only $2 each - yaaahh!)
L to R: Second hand book store, Art deco print store and Dino's Deli, 32-34 Chapel St Windsor
If you want to see 'The Red Shoes' it is only on at The Astor for the next two weeks, so get in quick, I have set out the session times below. Happy dancing!
The Red Shoes
see http://www.astor-theatre.com/
Season: Sunday, March 21 to Sunday, April 4.
Sundays & Saturdays — 2 PM, 5 PM & 8 PM
Mondays, Wednesday to Friday — 7:30 PM (no screenings Tuesdays)

19 March, 2010

What to wear to a fashion show?

I attended my first fashion show yesterday at the GPO in the city (Melbourne, that is, for my international readers). I was quite excited as it was my first visit to a runway show. I agonised over what to wear of course, as I usually wear 'full-on' vintage and didn't really want to stand out too much amongst the skinny panted young fashionistas. In the end I just thought 'to hell with it' I am going to be myself and chose a black and white 1950's vintage dress .  . .

It turned out to be a good choice as it was about 30 degrees on the day and the show was held under the portico at the GPO at lunchtime. This, together with all the bright lights, made for a fairly warm experience!

The fashion show was great fun. It was quite theatrical (they had two dancers at the start prancing around with plates of fruit - sounds weird but looked great!) and the clothes were, by and large, lovely. The show featured GPO store designers such as Lisa Ho, Leona Edminston, Wayne Cooper and Akira. My favourites were a long dusty pink dress from Leona Edminston and a hot pink and red outfit by Akira (odd colour combination, but it worked). Some trends I noticed: skirts are either very, very short, or extremely long; also: quite a lot of feathery vests. One thing I didn't like was the use of snakeskin like material on some of the dresses and jackets (see for instance in Wayne Cooper's collection) - sorry, not attractive at all in my book!

Unfortunately I was a naughty blogger and forgot to recharge my flagging camera battery, but you can see some photos taken by blogger 'Melbourne girl' at this link.

I would recommend going along to this fashion show next year. For a start, unlike some of the other LMFF fashion shows which in my opinion are too expensive ($48 to see a fashion show - I don't think so), this one is free! Just sign up to 'GPO lovers' on the GPO website and next LMFF they will send out an email about tickets and you just reply (which is what I did). Easy! (and you get to sip champagne out of a straw and eat chocolates from Cacao too - lovely!)

1950's dress Frocks and Slacks, St Kilda
Bolero Laura Ashley (2 yrs ago)
Bag St Vinnies, Oakleigh
vintage earrings etsy
flower brooch Portmans

15 March, 2010

Melbourne Fashion Week Bloggers Forum - 1940's jacket, Cue pants

On Saturday I went to the Melbourne Fashion Week Blogging Forum, held at Guildford Lane Gallery in the city.
The bloggers who spoke included the lovely Phoebe from Lady Melbourne and a very talented artist called Angie from Patsy Fox who does beautiful fashion drawings. The bloggers spoke about a whole range of issues, such as getting a blog up and running, intellectual property (copyright) issues and the role of blogs in the fashion world.

The forum also covered the thorny issue of sponsorship and advertising. I think the general consensus was that it was quite difficult to do this as many companies don't yet understand blogging and simply want to have their name mentioned in a blog for free (!). Some also want full editorial control, for instance, ask for the right to review all photos and content prior to blog publication. It was all very interesting, particularly as I am a baby blogger. I actually had no idea it was so complex.

L-R Angie Rehe from http://www.patsyfox.com/; Phoebe from www.ladymelbourne.com ;
The Guildford Gallery itself is worth a visit. It is a great space - very light and airy (it looks like an old wood-chopping factory downstairs - fantastic!). It is currently showing some great fashion-related pieces, including Patsy Fox fashion illustrations, and other installations . . .

I usually wear pure vintage but decided I'd mix it up a bit for fashion week. I am wearing a 40's jacket teamed with black cue pants. I had wanted to keep my outfit simple to show off the collar and pockets on the jacket which are quite unique. I am not sure it worked, I think its a bit too much black and please excuse the bad photo - the light was not good that day!

This is a much better photo which shows the beautiful scalloped art-deco style collar on the jacket.

1940's Jacket: Clara Fox, Fitzroy North
Pants: Cue from many years ago
Shoes: Myer

11 March, 2010

Two Days - Two Styles - Red Cherry and 70's Hawaiian

The last week has seen some variable weather (to say the least!) but I managed to wear my blue and red cherry dress on one of the warmer days. This is one of the few vintage 'copy' dresses I own and I am still not sure about it. It is a wrap around, reversible style but I can only wear it one way at the moment as there is a big split at the back if I wear it reverse style (it flares up at the slightest bit of wind, showing off my gorgeous beige Target undies - not a good look!). I need to put some clasps on the back and then it should be absolutely bloomer-proof. As you can see, it is a little low cut for my liking - but what the hell, if you've got it (or even if you haven't, as in my case) flaunt it!

(you can wear the dress with buttons at front too)

A more respectable look with green cardie

Cherry dress: Ebay Australia (2 yrs ago, when Ebay Australia was quite gd)
Green cardie: Girly store in Chadstone (3 yrs ago) - can't remember name!
Green necklace (repro): Frocks and Slacks Vintage store, St Kilda

The next dress is a 1970's (I am guessing) Hawaiian dress purchased from Ebay a few years ago. I am a real 50's girl, so I don't normally wear this type of dress, but its nice and casual - perfect for walking over to the shops with the pram and picking up my daughter from school (I am not going to worry too much if my 2 year old smears jam on it, totally washable)(and it would probably just add to the pattern!)


Hawaiian dress Ebay Australia 2-3 years ago
Cardie: from non-descript store in CBD many years ago!
Gloves: Ebay Australia

07 March, 2010

History of Shopping Exhibition - Melbourne

I am in vintage heaven! The State Library of Victoria is currently holding an exhibition of the history of shopping in Melbourne. It is called 'Til you Drop' - History of Shopping in Melbourne and looks absolutely divine. This is one of the images from the exhibition . . .

The Block Arcade (circa 1960's). This is one of my favourite buildings in Melbourne.

I hope to visit the exhibition next Saturday after I attend an event at Fashion Week.

Details are:
The ’til you drop: shopping – a Melbourne history
This free exhibition celebrates Melbourne’s passion for shopping, from the Paris end of Collins Street to the local corner store. It explores Melbourne’s social history through changes in our shopping habits, from early settlement and the Marvellous Melbourne of the 1880s to today. Items on display range from wartime ration cards to a 1950s evening gown worn by Lady Ansett, as well as many classic photographs that evoke Melbourne’s changing style.

Time: 10am–5pm daily (to 9pm Thursdays)

Venue: Keith Murdoch Gallery, State Library of Victoria

Price: Free

Happy shopping!

04 March, 2010

A Three-day Frock Fest . . . (be careful how you say that!)

Given that I am not able to post every day (I am doing a PhD - ouch!) I thought I would roll three days of blog posts into one - three days and two decades for the price of one!

Dress 1 is a lovely 1950's atomic blue, pink and green (my favourite colours!) dress with a shawl-type collar (I think that is how you would describe it?) and a matching belt. The only drawback is that it has some type of synthetic in the material so its not very breathable (gets a bit wiffy at the end of a hot day - dear me!) Lucky I am only around my two little kids at the end of the day! 

Outfit details: 1950's dress Ebay USA (I LOVE buying from the US - great quality)
Pearls - 'borrowed' from Vintage Suburbia's mum!
Bag (see close up below) - Frocks and Slacks, St Kilda 

This bag is so cute - I think it is from the 1960's (?)
It has a lucite handle (gasp - I love lucite!) and is made up of small leather pieces which are woven into each other - divine! I don't wear it enough though, I keep it for 'special occasions' (which I perhaps shouldn't)  

 Pink 60's dress Ebay Australia
Shoes - Myer

Dress 2 is a pink 60's number with a lovely decorative panel down the centre. I don't normally buy 60's dresses as I find they don't suit my figure (which is distinctly pear-shaped!) but I find this one is OK. I have to confess to wearing thigh-reducing 'shapewear' under this dress though!

Close up of cute decorative panel

I don't normally put labels in my posts but I thought this one was was quite cute (says 'Marcia June Sydney SSW'). Although the fabric is synthetic (I am guessing 'Prestalene is not man made?!), it is actually very nice to wear - surprisingly breathable.

And, last but not least, Dress 3 is a lovely 1950's teal floral dress. Teal is one of my favourite colours as it seems to suit my pale, freckly skin.

Vintage Suburbia wearing her favourite pink hat (I wear hats every day)

Vintage Suburbia standing in her son's sandpit with her favourite parasol (Oroton).
Teal floral 50's dress Ebay USA
Pale pink cardigan Portmans (from a few yrs ago!)
Hat - Cancer Council Australia online
(their hats are adjustable and don't blow away in Melbourne's terrible wind)
Parasol Oroton (bought on sale for around $35)
I find that Melbourne is so windy in summer (don't you hate that!) that I have to have a very sturdy umbrella. Many of my past purchases have broken in the wind, but I can recommend Oroton ones - they are lined for extra sun protection and seem more resilent than cheaper alternatives (but buy them on special - they are not cheap!)

And finally, a few photos of my Little Mr Moppet, age 2, who decided to get in on the act. His blog is called 'A Two-year old tornado' (he wreaks havoc in my house). He is cute, but he is Trouble with a capital T!

Terrible Two Tornado wears Green Dinosaur shirt sent from Ireland by his Nonny
Ripped jeans (sooo last season!) from our favourite kids clothing store, Target

"I'm off to wreak havoc and cause trouble!"

01 March, 2010

Red Door Burlesque - Vintage Style

Hubby wears 1960's dinner suit, Circa Vintage, Fitroy
Vintage Suburbia wears Black 50's cocktail dress, Frocks and Slacks, St Kilda
(for full details of VS's outfit - see end of post*)

My hubby and I went to the Red Door Burlesque at the Order of Melbourne last night. It was a great evening. The MC Andrew McClelland was very funny (if you like corny jokes!) and the burlesque dancers and trapeze artist (who is called Anna the Pocket Rocket!) were amazing.

One of the lovely Burlesque dancers doing her fan dance - very classy

Anna the Pocket Rocket . Yes, she is on a trapeze!

I wasn't sure what to expect from the evening as I have never been to burlesque before. It was a very tasteful show, the dancers wear fabulous vintage-look lingerie. At the end the dancers do take off their tops, but they have very cute tassells on, its all great fun and tongue-in-cheek. Needless to say, my husband was in seventh heaven! Anna the Pocket Rocket did a wonderful hula-hoop routine, followed by an amazing trapeze act (with no safety net I must add - quite stupendous).

I also met up with the lovely Sophie of Piroska and the Wolf who looked gorgeous in a red and white polka-dot wiggle dress from 'Stop Staring' (I should have thought to take a photo - damn!).  She really seemed to enjoy the evening too, as did the other members of the audience.

All in all a wonderful evening!

Event details:
Red Door Burlesque is held on the last Sunday of every month at The Order of Melbourne, Level 2/401 Swanston St, Melbourne. Doors open 6pm, $20 entry
For bookings, phone 9663 6707 or email reddoorburlesque@theorder.com.au
The show is perfect for people with children, as it ended at around 9.15, so enough time to get back to the babysitter (there was a DJ coming on later which we could have stayed for though).

*Outfit details
The black 50's cocktail dress I am wearing is one of my favourite outfits. It is one of the first really nice vintage dresses I ever bought and it is one of the reasons I started collecting. It is made of rayon and falls beautifully. It is very flattering. It is also my favourite colour - black, which seems to suit my pale, freckly skin. The only problem is that (a) being made of rayon (which I didn't know until recently is a man-made fibre), it seems to attract moths and so it has quite a few moth holes in it, despite all my preventative measures against this (b) the waist is tiny, so I have to wear a waist cincher which can be a bit uncomfortable - but hey who ever wears vintage for comfort?!

Waist cincher - ebay (they come from Singapore I think, only around AUS$45)
Diamonte brooch - from the lovely Callie at Camberwell Markets (she is usually in the undercover walkway section) - she has fabulous stuff and her prices are reasonable
(she also has an online shop with more exclusive items, at http://www.huntedandcollected.com.au/)

Fake fur wrap - Salvos, Oakleigh
Glomesh bag - ebay Australia
Gloves - Temcare Op Shop, Station St, Oakleigh