Friday File

I can’t believe we’re already more than halfway through January. This month is rushing past. If you follow my Instagram account, you saw that I was in Southern California for the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, and then promptly came down with influenza when I got home. It was a bad flu, the kind with a fever and hallucinating dreams, and I was housebound throughout the so-called polar vortex. I missed a few days of work, so this was my first full week back to work.

Here are the links for the past couple weeks:


I love stories about apartments or offices that have remained untouched for decades. AnOther Magazine recently ran a post on Madame de Florian’s Paris apartment that wasn’t disturbed for 68 years and held secrets about the painter Giovanni Boldini’s lover, Marthe de Florian.

Have you read the “Do What You Love” column on Jacobin that’s been circulating social media? It’s an excellent take down of the DWYL myth — how it can be used to exploit workers and the fact that it is a very classist concept. A must read.

The current state of the American textile industry is recorded in photos and an essay, with a personal look at the factories still in production, in this NY Times piece.

Michelle Obama’s 2013 inauguration gown will be on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History for one year. No word yet if the gown will become part of the museum’s First Ladies collection permanently.

I rarely buy Vogue anymore, but I’m psyched about Lena Dunham’s cover. I might just go out and pick it up for myself.

Costume Institute Renovated

Last night, news broke that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is renaming its Costume Institute as the Anna Wintour Costume Center. I freaked and thought I was being punked, and it turns out that we all were. Breathe a sigh of relief here.

The Met issued a statement that the renovated space that houses the Costume Institute will be called the Anna Wintour Costume Center, and that the curatorial department will continue to be known as the Costume Institute. The Anna Wintour Costume Center will house two exhibition galleries — a 4,200-square-foot flexible-design gallery called the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery for big exhibitions and the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery that introduces visitors to the costume collection. The Center will also include the Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library, a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory, research areas, and offices dedicated to fashion.

Looks like a lot of publications have some corrections to run. *cough cough New York Times, The Cut, Fashionologie cough cough*

However I loved the mistaken tweet by Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times: “Met renames the Costume Institute the “Anna Wintour Costume Center.” And so is Diana Vreeland trumped.” Because even though the department isn’t getting renamed as the rumor went, Wintour now has naming rights to a space in the museum, which was something Vreeland never got in her tenure as special consultant to the Costume Institute.

Friday File

Today is my last day of work of the year! I have two weeks off to spend with family for Christmas and recuperate from a busy semester. I’m also going to take some time off of the blog, but I’ll be back on January 6. I hope you get a little time off yourself, and I’ll meet you back here in the new year!

Here are a few extra links (than normal) from the past week:

photo of art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel, from the National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives

I’m so inspired by this couple and the priceless art collection they amassed.

Meet the newest designer to join the haute-couture ranks in Paris.

Dressing a mannequin in historical clothing is no easy feat. See how the V&A mounted an 18th-century bridal gown. Bet you won’t guess how a pruning hand saw is a necessary tool!

Historians are pumped that the British Library recently put 1,000,000 images into the public domain with a crowd-sourcing invitation to help it learn more about them. In fact, these are the fashion and costume images that have already been tagged by the public.

On Christmas Day, fashion designer J.W. Anderson will offer downloadable patterns of a leather top and balloon skirt from his autumn/winter 2013 collection. I’m thinking about trying my hand at sewing the avant-garde ensemble.

Jayne Shrimpton dates and analyzes a family photo from the 1860s.

Wishing I had found this gift guide for avocado lovers weeks ago so I could add it to my wishlist. Thanks for tweeting about it Emilia!

Happy holidays!

1960s Paper Dress Fad

Have I told you that I love the 1960s? It’s one of my favorite decades. I’m over at Raincoast Creative Salon with another Fashion One-Oh-One post — this time on an aspect of the 1960s!


Dress, by Poster Dress, Ltd., late 1960s, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

So much changed during that decade socially and culturally, resulting in big shifts in fashion. This offers fashion historians a lot of meat to work with.

For my most recent post on Raincoast, I chose to share a bit about paper dresses — an odd fad that emerged out of the 1960s disposable culture. Head over to Raincoast Creative Salon to learn about them!

Eve’s Wireless

This video from the British Pathe archive shows two women using the “first mobile phone” in 1922. This blows my mind!

Many have suggested that this “phone” isn’t the kind of device that so many of us carry today, but rather a portable radio. In the clip, they ground the device to a fire hydrant and the umbrella is wired as an antenna. The “phone” transmits to an HF radio. But still, it’s kind of incredible to see this early mobile technology being tested and used in the 1920s!

And don’t you love their winter attire? Did you notice one of the ladies is carrying a reticule?

Friday File

I’ve always wanted to take a floral class, and this Wednesday I finally did! Pistil and Vine, a super cute boutique florist in Bucktown hosted a topiary-building class. We made boxwood topiaries, and I love my creation. All of us taking the class ended up with completely different results thanks to a variety of decorating options and pruning preferences, but they all looked great. The credit goes to Megan at Pistil and Vine for such great instruction.

And now my fave links from the week:

Here’s another story of a rare piece owned by a person who didn’t know what it was worth fetching high sums of money. In this case, a 200 hundred-year-old Imperial Chinese robe fetched £15,000 at auction. The owner was going to donate it to a charity shop! When am I going to find my own treasure at a flea market or in the back of my closet so I can sell it at auction for $$$$?

This fascinating history about mannequins explains how they reflect societal conventions through various historical vignettes. My favorite story in this post tells about a 1899 wax figure named “Miss Modesty” whose arms and hands covered her face in shame because she modeled undergarments.

Do you know how to properly care for your shoes in the winter? Here’s a great guide to getting them through the cold temperatures, snow, and salt-covered sidewalks.

A new study finds that kids that are exposed to the arts “display greater tolerance, historical empathy, as well as better educational memory and critical thinking skills.” Huh, you don’t say?

Have a happy weekend!

photo by Travis Haughton

Chanel Snow Boots


Chicago got it’s first measurable snowfall yesterday, so winter wear is on my mind. I was browsing the Met’s database yesterday and found this pair of snow boots by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel from fall/winter 1993–94. I couldn’t help but laugh.

There’s little practical about these, and they certainly don’t rely on subtly. Coco Chanel’s focus was dressing the modern, liberated woman. Unfortunately, I can’t say that Lagerfeld is consistently holding up that practice.

Friday File

One of the cool parts of my job is going to vintage fashion auctions. A few weeks ago I bid at Augusta Auctions in New York by telephone and won a stunning 1916 dress for my fashion study collection. My heart was beating so hard and fast, especially when my telephone proxy said I won. It’s a euphoric high. Yesterday, I went to a local auction, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and was not as lucky. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Here’s a few links from the week:

Did you hear that Pantone’s 2014 “Color of the Year” is radiant orchid? Christina Brinkley of The Wall Street Journal explains how Pantone comes up with their color of the year.

Fall in love with a Charles James’ Hipster dress in the Met’s preview video for the Costume Institute exhibition this summer.

Do you know when to use historic vs. historical? I’ll be honest, I didn’t know there was a difference until I read this.

I can’t wait to read this biography/memoir of Vivienne Westwood. “Vivienne is wonderfully candid. I sat there with my jaw on the table for a lot of it. Especially about what went on in the 1970s, ” Ian Kelly, the book’s co-author, said.

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to enter my Laurel Denise 2014 planner giveaway!

2013 Gift Guide – Fashion History Books

My next holiday gift post is for any budding fashion historians or vintage fashion collectors. I’ve got some books that will be excellent additions to a personal library.

These first three books are great reference books. If you know someone who wants to learn more about fashion history, you can’t go wrong with any of these.

Fashion: A History From the 18th to the 20 Century from the Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute is a gorgeous book. The pages are filled with full color photographs that bleed off the page of some of the finest clothes that were ever created. The pieces featured are the height of fashion through three centuries.

The next book, 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion by Harriet Worsley, chronicles fashion history through specific aesthetic influences, movements, designers, events, technology improvements, and more. Each spread is a snap shot on a limited topic that impacted fashion. These snippets are fascinating.

Fashion: A Visual History from Regency and Romance to Retro and Revolution by NJ Stevenson, is set up as a chronological timeline that looks at women’s and men’s style from period to period, major designers, and innovations in types of garments. Again, broken up into spreads, it covers a lot of ground to give a well-rounded picture of changing Western fashion.

Moving on the collecting side of fashion history, these next two books are great for anyone who dreams of assembling their own collection.

Your Vintage Keepsake: A CSA Guide to Costume Storage and Display by Margaret T. Ordonez introduces the reader to the basic aspects of caring for historic fashion. He/she will learn the foundations to caring for and displaying clothing.

If your giftee wants to get serious about collecting fashion or textiles, Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist by Harold F. Mailand and Dorothy Stites Alig takes things up a notch. This book covers more technical aspects of collection management and exhibition. I highly recommend this guide.

P.S. More gift ideas on my Pinterest board!

Holly and ivy graphic by MyCuteGraphics.

New Look, New Silhouette

Starting the week off, I have a new post over on Raincoast Creative Salon! This time I’m looking at Christian Dior’s New Look and how it changed fashion. Dior’s debut collection in 1947, not only changed the fashionable silhouette but also cemented Paris as the center of the fashion world and revitalized the haute couture industry.

Head over to Raincoast Creative Salon to read all about the New Look’s impact!