Monday, October 4, 2010

WEARING HISTORY: Deciphering Vintage Labels

Fashion trends can be mysteriously repetitious, fleeting or terribly long. Think Uggs, bleck!

Sifting through labels; some are like gold, some are hilarious, some are faded, and some are unknown. Do you Google items you find while shopping at flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores?

When I need help identifying worthy vintage clothing I go to straight to the Nancy Drew of haute couture.

The Vintage Fashion Guild has compiled the most complete vintage fashion reference guide on the web in what they call VFG Label Resource.

There you can find a short history on thousands of men's and women's apparel companies and the brands they created as well as photo timelines of a brand's label.

Here are some of my personal history quests solved with a little help from my friends at the VFG.                                                                                

Bonwit Teller opened on 5th Avenue in 1911. 

During the twenties and thirties Bonwit Teller became well known for it's quality merchandise.

Peacock Linen Blouse by Bonwit Teller
Available at Humpastuff Vintage

The first female president of a major department store was at Bonwit Teller in 1938.  
Bonwit Teller supported a young Christian Dior in the 50's and lanched Calvin Klien's career in the 60's. 

By the late 80's Bonwit Teller declared bankruptcy and Donald Trump demolished their 5th Avenue store to erect The Trump Towers. 

Marimekko, a brand created in 1954, is still a wildly popular brand. 

Design and Research was the american sister brand based at Harvard University. They began making simple clothing with bold textile designs in 1963. 
I found this dress only a few miles from Harvard Square. The tag was dated 1965.

Sold! To a lucky girl in The Sunny State

Peck and Peck were Bonwit and Teller's neighbor on Fifth Avenue. 

The brother's chain of branded clothing lines grew to 80 stores in 80 years. 
Pick a Peck of Pickles Available at Humpastuff Vintage

Cortifiel was a small family owned Haberdasher in the late 1800's.

Available at Humpastuff Vintage

A Haberdasher was once a peddler of articles used for sewing- like buttons, thread and needles. The term currently describes a  men's outfitters.

Saint Louis IX, the King of France 1226–70, is the patron saint of haberdashers.

This jacket is an exceptional example of haberdashery; corduroy, leather trim, wood buttons, and handkerchief lining.   

House of Bianchi is a local Boston company.

Contour Lines in Mint Available at Humpastuff Vintage 

They had a corner on the wedding dress market for decades but abandoned shop and orders in progress in 2001, claiming a change in management and the state of the nation's finances where to blame.

P.J. walsh was named for designer Phillis Walsh. 

Cherry Blossoms and Fringe Available at Humpastuff Vintage

Nicole Miller was hired in 1976 to be the head designer and she never looked back.  By '82 she changed the company's name to...Nicole Miller.

North Beach Leather designed custom apparel for Elvis and Elton John. 
Peacock Sheen on Black Suede Mini Dress Available at Humpastuff Vintage 
They were famous for their bold designs and high cost. Some of Hoban's designs have appeared in collections at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Fashion History Museum in New York, as well as the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in Washington.

Dear Vintage Fashion Guild, 

Thank you for helping me to get acquainted with some vintage fashion forerunners. Here are a couple of labels that are still a mystery in my time closet. 

PIER 1 had a clothing line??
Luck Be a Lady Dice Two Piece Suit by Serge Nancel

Mighty Fine Men's Purple Button Up
Leading Roll Ruffles and Red Roses Dress
Vinyl Mod Sailor Jacket

Gaga-glorious Black Bling Broken Winged Dress

Warm San Fransiscan Nights Creamy Prom Dress
Pick Nick Basket Not Included Adorable Apple Red Apron Dress

You get by with a little help from your friends...

B A D  T W I N 

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