Fashion History

Adrian jacket: inset circular and tabs detail - Courtesy Bret Fowler

Fashion History : Adrian

Monday, March 17, 2014

Adrian, (1903 – 1959) was born Adrian Adolph Greenberg. As a teenager he changed his name to Gilbert Adrian in 1922. His father was Gilbert Greenberg, who later changed his own last name to Adrian to signal pride in his son’s accomplishments. Adrian started out in costume design working with Irving Berlin and later George White’s Scandals. Adrian label – Courtesy Bret Fowler Adrian jacket: inset circular and tabs detail – Courtesy Bret Fowler He

Featured Designers, Film and Fashion

Louisville Department Store - Courtesy of Hollis Jenkins-Evans,

Fashion History : Louisville Department Stores

Monday, March 17, 2014

They were unique. They were of their time. And they were ours. And now, they are all but gone. Like so many other American cities, Louisville once had scores of local clothing stores that were institutions. One grew up and learned to shop were one’s mother and aunts shopped, not unlike following family traditions regarding one’s choice of church, doctor and attorney. Ladies went downtown to shop to the flagship buildings of Stewart’s, Selman’s or

Regional Style & Stores, Department Stores, Cities

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Fashion History : Rockabilly: Then & Now

Monday, January 27, 2014

Just what IS rockabilly? Well, according to Wikipedia, “Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, and emerged in the early-1950’s. The term “rockabilly” is a portmanteau of “rock,” from rock and roll, and “hillbilly”, the latter a reference to the country music (often called “hillbilly music” in the 1940s and ’50s) that contributed strongly to the style’s development. Other important influences on rockabilly include Western Swing, blues music, boogie woogie,

Trends & Genres, Rockabilly

Louella Ballerino - Photograph by John Engstead, Beverly Hills from 'Fashion is Our Business', B. Williams, 1946.

Fashion History : Louella Ballerino

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Louella Ballerino (1900 -1978) was a young mother when she first embarked on a professional design career in the mid to late-30s. She had studied with MGM costume designer Andre Ani (over 40 films, c. 1925-1930) while an art history major at the University of Southern California. When her family found themselves in financial difficulties after the Depression, Louella returned to a student money-making scheme of selling fashion sketches to wholesale manufacturers. She could make

Featured Designers, Designer History

American black satin platform sandal with rhinestone vamp - c. 1945

Fashion History : Shoes: The Sole Provider

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

THE 19th CENTURY – Modesty and Technology Nature may dictate height but the shoe designer is more than capable of manipulating it. This was never more obvious than immediately following the French Revolution (1792) when shoe heels all but disappeared. Their demise was motivated by politics and the desire to suggest that everyone was born on the same level. Heels first returned on male footwear when in the late 1810s a new fashion emerged. Trousers

Garment & Item Specifics, Shoes

Carven at the wheel  - with her Fiat Convertible sports car' 1950

Fashion History : Carven of Paris

Monday, August 05, 2013

Carmen de Tomasso (1909 – ) “I don’t like sophistication” The words of Carmen de Tomasso, looking back on her career, in 1989, sound somewhat absurd coming from a Paris couturière who resided in a veritable treasure trove of Louis XVI furniture and rich tapestries. But in 1950, ‘Carven’ as she renamed herself, was something different. In 1947, Dior had reasserted the luxury of Paris design with the lavish New Look. Carven, who established her

Featured Designers, Designer History

Putnam dye ad

Fashion History : Fabric Dye: Dyeing to be Fashionable

Monday, July 22, 2013

Remember the 90s when everyone wore black until a darker shade came along? What is it with colour? Brown became the new black in the late 1990s but then a riot of colour exploded each spring of the new millennium that offered a playful palette for hot summer months, only to be shelved each autumn for a return to neutrals. Fashion, is… well, fashion. And it must change if for no other reason than the

Innovation & Techniques, fabric dye

Advance: a versatile pattern from the 1950s - Courtesy of dancingdresses

Fashion History : Vintage Patterns

Monday, July 22, 2013

Vintage sewing patterns open up a whole new world of collecting for someone interested in vintage fashion. Some collect vintage patterns because they want to reproduce the styles of days gone by for their wardrobes. Others collect them because these slim envelopes filled with tissue give a glimpse into a lifestyle that many of us no longer have the luxury to live. They are, in, and of themselves, a documentation of fashion sewing of the

Garment & Item Specifics, Patterns

Ladies of Pompei - Greece

Fashion History : Swim Wear History

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

You may think that the body-baring bikinis of today would have shocked the world centuries ago but you’d be wrong. Actually today’s swimwear is rather similar to that which was worn in ancient Greece as far back as 300 BC. As pictured on mosaic walls, ancient Greek women were barely covered by pieces of fabric, much like the scanty bikinis of the 20th century! Ladies of Pompei – Greece During the Roman Empire, the communal

Garment & Item Specifics, Swim Wear

1920s, 1940s & 1950s Vintage Bathing Suits - Courtesy of fuzzylizzie and pinkyagogo

Fashion History : Swim Wear History

Monday, July 01, 2013

Swim Wear History! Beat the heat during the dog days of summer with a little reading about the fashions of the sea shore! Click on the image to get started. 1920s, 1940s & 1950s Vintage Bathing Suits – Courtesy of fuzzylizzie and pinkyagogo

Articles, Features

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Fashion History : Joe Famolare

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The following was adapted from a 2006 live workshop presented by Chris Riopelle. Part I: The Beginning Joe Famolare grew up in a third generation shoe making family. He was born in Boston and grew up in Chestnut Hill, which is a neighborhood/area on Boston’s south side. His father, Joe Sr., owned Famolare Shoe Engineering, which was opened in 1934. The company made cutting patterns for the shoe industry. Joe Jr. started working at the

Featured Designers, Shoes, Designer History

Early 1950s elegant casino gown - Courtesy of Vintagetrend

Fashion History : Las Vegas Style

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fashion brings to mind so many stylish cities: Paris, New York, London, Milan, Las Vegas? Las Vegas? Okay, so it may not be the capital of couture, but there is a certain look associated with this vibrant city. Remember Sharon Stone in Casino and what do you see? Acid coloured crochet pantsuits with bare midriffs, pale pink lipstick and big blonde hair. Dino or Frankie or any of the Rats might enjoy lounging about backstage

Regional Style & Stores, Cities

Hattie Carnegie elegant jewelry - Courtesy of Connie at CosmicCat Vintage

Fashion History : Hattie Carnegie

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Early Years Hattie Carnegie (1889 -1956) was born in Vienna, Austria. Her name was Henrietta Kanengeiser. In 1900, she immigrated to the United States, and settled with her family in New York City. There is a famous story that while on the ship to America, Hattie asked a fellow voyager about who the richest and most prosperous people in America were. The answer was, “Andrew Carnegie” and according to the story, young Hattie decided

Features, Featured Designers, Designer History

Beaded evening sweater  - Courtesy of

Fashion History : Cashmere Sweaters

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Until the 1920s, knitted sweaters were utilitarian or athletic items, not fashion statements. This all changed with Patou and Chanel in the 1920s, and with Schiaparelli in the 1930s. By 1933, Pringle of Scotland was making fashionable sweaters of cashmere, and they introduced the twin set shortly thereafter. It took Hollywood to make the sweater a star. In 1937 Lana Turner appeared in They Won’t Forget wearing a tight sweater. The Sweater Girl was born!

Garment & Item Specifics, Sweaters

Millners at Work trimming bonnets - from Diderot’s Encyclopedia, c. 1760

Fashion History : The History of Women's Hats

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is a hat a frivolous accessory or a necessity? When looking into its history it quickly becomes apparent that it has been both. Headwear for women began in earnest during the Middle Ages when the church decreed that their hair must be covered. Millners at Work trimming bonnets – from Diderot’s Encyclopedia, c. 1760 During the 18th century, milliners took the hat-making art out of the home and established the millinery profession. Today, a ‘milliner’

Garment & Item Specifics, Hats

Greer dress detail - 1949 evening dress

Fashion History : Howard Greer

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Howard Greer, (1886 – 1974) was an earlier designer than Adrian, and as well known in his day. Like Adrian, Howard Greer was credited by Vogue with “a sixth sense about the fashion future.” Greer got his start as a sketch artist for Lucile, Ltd. in 1916. He served in World War I on the front line in Europe, staying in Paris afterward and working for Lucile, Molyneux and Poiret. Greer returned to New York

Featured Designers, Film and Fashion

Alix Gres (1903 -1993)

Fashion History : Alix Gres

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Madame Alix Gres, (1903-1993) was actually born Germaine Emilie Krebs in Paris. She began as a sculptor, but never had a fruitful career. Frustrated, she began to design toiles for a design house in Paris. That’s when she decided to try her hand at fashion design. She opened her first house under the name Alix Barton. She designed silk jersey dresses with simple lines and draping, and began gaining some publicity in fashion magazines. Her

Featured Designers, Designer History

1960s navy wool coat dress with ivory satin accent - Courtesy of bigchief173

Fashion History : Geoffrey Beene

Monday, September 06, 2010

1927 – 2004 The Vintage Fashion Guild would like to honor the life and work of designer Geoffrey Beene who passed away in September, 2004. We have collected a pictorial history of his designs through the years of actual garments either owned or sold by our members. Beene was born August 30th, 1927 in Haynesville, Louisiana. Initially, Beene planned to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a doctor. He was enrolled in the pre-med

Featured Designers, Designer History

Helen Rose dress detail

Fashion History : Helen Rose

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Helen Rose, (1904 – 1985) studied in Chicago before journeying to Los Angeles in 1929. She started with Ice Follies costumes and designed musical sequences for Fox under the direction of Fanchon and Marco. She went to Twentieth Century Fox in 1943 and signed with MGM in 1944. Rose stayed with MGM until the 1960s. She was much admired by the stars of the 1950s, especially the younger women she dressed while Irene tended to

Featured Designers, Film and Fashion

Irene dress detail - Courtesy Bret Fowler

Fashion History : Irene Lentz (Irene)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Irene (1907 -1962) Born in South Dakota, Irene Lentz made her way to Southern California by 1927 where she started in film as a dress extra. Irene studied at the Wolfe School of Design, and opened a dress shop, Irene of California, on the campus of UCLA at the urging of her husband Dick Jones. Attracting the notice of such stars as Lupe Velez and Dolores del Rio, Irene caught on and became a success.

Featured Designers, Film and Fashion

Tina Leser bathing suit - Courtesy of fuzzylizzie

Fashion History : Tina Leser

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tina Leser, (1910 – 1986) was born Christina Wetherill Shillard-Smith. She was the daughter of an affluent Philadelphia stockbroker and his artist wife. The family traveled widely, and as a young child, Tina visited Asia, Europe and Africa, and for a time, actually lived in India. When it came time to choose a career, she settled on art school, and attended first the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and then the Sorbonne, in Paris. A

Featured Designers, Designer History

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