Thursday, November 7, 2013

On the Radar -- A New Vintage

a 70s dress on the left, a 50s circle skirt on the right

In lieu of the traditional trend post today, I wanted to highlight a fab photo shoot I did this week with two of my vintage-loving design students.  They illustrate (perfectly, might I add) how to wear vintage right now.  Both of them are stylish -- I admire the way they put together outfits, and most importantly, they get their style.  They know their aesthetic.  It's a rare thing, and something I tend to preach about sometimes.  You need to know your style before you design anything.  Now, I'm not saying people are limited to just their style.  I just feel that you need to have a solid foundation in what you like and don't like before you start trying to sell a client something.

left, an 80s shirt and 50s suit jacket; right, a 50s blouse and 40s jacket

I was going for an Anthropologie-meets-Etsy type look.  I asked them to bring their staples -- shoes, jeans, or anything else they can't live without from day to day.  Then I let them play with the racks of clothes, choosing what they wanted.  I love that they were fearless with their decade mixing, taking a 1950s Lilli Ann green and turquoise wool swing suit jacket and pairing it with a striped 1980s button up.  Or a 50s Pat McKay lacy blouse under a claret 1940s wool jacket.

left, 80s blouse and 50s jacket; right, a 60s cropped shirt and plaid jacket

They had a great time, and so did I.  I think the pictures turned out amazing! 

1950s Gigi Young dress
1970s dress

Items that are already available in the shop have links attached.  Be on the lookout for the other pieces -- they should be in our Etsy shop within this month!

left, 60s coat and dress; right, 60s dress with late 40s coat

left, 1970s dress; right, late 60s Neiman Marcus maxi dress

left, 60s Mr. Dino dress; right, 60s dress and coat; 60s umbrella

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Junk Love: I Shot an Arrow in the Air...

I think it probably started with Looney Tunes (as so many things in my life have done). I used to watch Bugs and his pals religiously every Saturday morning, and one day, I saw this short:

Soon afterward, my parents brought home this one:

And then came Errol Flynn (and who can blame a girl for having palpitations, even if she was eight and he wore those bright green tights?)...

But then I got a book for Christmas, a Great Illustrated Classics version of Robin Hood, and I was hooked. In fact, I became a little obsessed, especially after I actually read the book. It was shockingly heartbreaking (spoiler alert: Robin Hood dies), and I was so distraught afterward that I had to crawl in my father's lap for a good hug and snuggle, just to remind myself that life would be okay again someday. To make me feel better, he started telling me about all of the different movie versions of the story, and at that point, I was addicted. We watched everything that we could get our hands on, including the 1922 version (Douglas Fairbanks!) and the 1991 movie with Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman. Of course, I was in the theatre for the Kevin Costner version the same year. And Mel Brooks is my homeboy, so Robin Hood: Men in Tights is still one of my secret joys in life.

I soaked up Robin Hood on the large and small screen, loving the fact that there were so many different versions (and if you can make alternate stories, you can make sure Robin Hood doesn't always die, right?). Then, when I was in middle school, I discovered that there were multiple book versions also. The ending may still be sad, but the illustrations are different, and if you accumulate enough different editions, you can see more and more of your favorite parts in these colorful interpretations. And so, the Robin Hood collection was born.



I don't have as many different versions of Robin's story as I do of others, but I still adore this collection. And, if I'm being honest, he is a part of the reason that I took archery my freshman year of college. (I love the thwack of an arrow striking its target.) And I don't read the books anymore, because I've created a hybrid version in my mind, cobbled together from the different editions, in which Robin Hood is masculine, dashing, sensitive, intelligent, witty, seductive...and he never dies. Or, maybe I just need a time machine and Errol Flynn, who is the best human Robin Hood. (Shhh! Don't tell, but if I could, I would marry the Disney Robin Hood, 'cause he's the best ever).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Skinny -- Montaldo's

Montaldo's was a staple of high quality shopping in North Carolina -- or so I hear.  And it's evident to me, in the pieces we find, that Montaldo's was all about quality and style.  I wanted to know more, but...there's not much out there.

I found out on the Vintage Fashion Guild site, here, that Montaldo's was a specialty ladies' shop, started in 1919.  Lillian Montaldo, with her sister Nelle, opened the stores, with locations throughout North Carolina (Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem), Virginia (Richmond), Ohio (Columbus and Cincinnati), Colorado (Denver and Colorado Springs), Missouri (St. Louis), and Oklahoma (Bartlesville).  They were known for their excellent service and quality.

And that's about all I could find.  

Until I found this short article here, that has more information. But it also has conflicting information.  This article states that Lillian founded the first store with her husband, Raymond, in Kasas in 1918.  In 1923, they opened the second location in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Below is a photo of the Winston location, followed by a short article in the Winston-Salem Journal, dated September 21, 1923.  


The Latest to be Seen of Fifth Avenue   
 and Broadway Shown Here


  Nothing Better in City than Montaldo

With the coming to Winston-Salem of  Montaldo’s perhaps as
never before 5th Avenue for the ultra-fashionable, was
brought to North Carolina.  Not only users of the highest priced
gowns and hats, but a complete line of all styles in medium
priced apparel is carried.  In fact the stock consists of a well
selected variety of ladies ready-to-wear and millinery.

Miss Lillian Montaldo, senior member of the firm, has an office
on 5th Avenue in New York, where she buys not only for her
own stores but for a great number of stores in the middle
west.  Miss Montaldo makes frequent trips to Winston-Salem
and keeps in close personal touch with the desires of her
North Carolina customers and keeps the Winston-Salem store
informed at all times of the very latest styles.  Almost every day
the store receives shipments of the newest patterns and latest
styles in ladies’ ready-to-wear.

With their spacious and attractive show rooms they are well
prepared to advantageously serve the most fastidious.

(Winston-Salem Journal, September 21, 1923)

Lillian Montaldo brought ready-to-wear clothing to areas that didn't have access to it.  Prior to her stores opening, women used patterns -- either making their clothing themselves or hiring a dressmaker.  If you were wealthy, you would travel to larger cities, like New York, for your wardrobe.  She worked out of her office on 5th Avenue in NYC, ordering the newest, freshest fashions for her stores.  This article, by Betsy L. Hendrix, quotes Lillian's nephew, Jack Montaldo:  "She was a dynamic, demanding, and no-nonsense woman.  She had to be."  Lillian's success was during a time when women struggled to have equal footing with men -- Hendrix states it was a "fierce business".
1946 Architectural plans for Montaldo's in Charlotte, North Carolina

And Montaldo was fierce.  She advertised in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, as well as other prestigious fashion periodicals.  She wanted her store to be right at the top with other high end retailers.  And to reward that fierceness, she was awarded "Woman of the Year" in 1967 by the fashion industry. 

Whatever is exceptional in quality and design must be offered to Montaldo’s customers.”
Lillian Montaldo 

Lillian died at the age of 95.  The Montaldo's chain closed in 1995.

Montaldo's, Durham, NC

We have a couple of pieces in our Etsy shop that were sold at Montaldo's.  First, below is a heavy silk and wool blend dress from the 1960s.  It looks so simple, but details reveal quality -- the back zipper is offset and hidden within a seam, pockets are hidden in the front seams, and the lining is hot pink.  Available here. Second, is a lustrous green velvet hat with a hot pink velvet rose.  The overall design and quality is top notch -- down to the beautiful sheen of the velvet and straight, even stitching on the brim.  Available here.