Tag Archives: vintage

Vintage Fashion Sourcebook by Emma Baxter-Wright, Karen Clarkson, Sarah Kennedy and Kate Mulvey

12 Jun

New Looks and Labels and Where to Find Them

It is always lovely to have a one-off piece in your wardrobe that stands out a mile and can’t be replaced. You are never going to turn up to a dinner party in the same dress as someone else if it was a hand-me-down from your grandmother, or be embarrassed that someone is wearing the same cuff links as you if you’ve spent an hour on your hands and knees rummaging through the accessories at a charity shop. This sentiment seems to have spread to the minds of the mainstream fashion consumer in the last few years, leading to an enormous rise in popularity of vintage clothing. With so many competitive sellers on hand to offer their designs, and so many frauds willing to charge a fortune for a modern replica, four industry insiders have decided to unveil all about the world of vintage fashion.

In a decade by decade guide to vintage fashions of the twentieth century, the Vintage Fashion Sourcebook allows the reader to absorb trends of a specific period in fashion and to trace exactly where styles originated. This is helpful on numerous levels; not only can the vintage buyer gain a clear indication of how old their garment really is, but they can style an outfit to replicate a specific era should they need to. All sorts of context is given to fashion as the decades are explored, for example the vinyl dresses of Paco Rabanne are compared to the “party atmosphere” of London in the 1960’s and the hip-hop music of the 1980’s attributed to a “passion for bling and sportswear”.

To conclude the vintage timeline, the Vintage Fashion Sourcebook then goes on to offer tips on how to choose a vintage garment wisely, how to care for vintage appropriately, and offers a number of suggestions in regard to the best vintage sellers in England. Most of the boutiques are based in London which is unsurprising but nonetheless annoying for people from other parts of the country, so the ladies have also included a number of online outlets to accommodate for those outside of the capital.

An enjoyable and easy to follow book, this short read would be a lovely gift to a vintage lover who is eager to learn about the origins of their favourite garments.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10 – great value for money.

Vintage Fashion Sourcebook is published by Carlton Books and is an essential buy for all lovers of vintage at a very reasonable £5.99.

If you liked this, you may also like Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox.


Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns by Cynthia Amnéus

11 Jan

Since time began, little girls have fantasised about the perfect white wedding. An affair filled with joy and romance, there would be a few requirements in order for the fantasy to become a reality: a handsome groom, a delectable cake, and, by far the most important of them all, an immaculate gown.

Now, with the rise of popularity in reality shows such as Don’t Tell the Bride or Four Weddings, weddings are a hotter topic than ever and girls become fascinated by all of the finer details of their special occasion. Be it Vera Wang, Chanel or custom made, the wedding dress is usually the first detail that friends of the bride are gasping to hear about. For this reason, I was intrigued by Cynthia Amnéus’ book Wedded Perfection. In this critical textbook, Cynthia looks back at wedding gowns over time and explores their relationship to the women and societies that they came from, expressing further ideas about how the entire constitution of marriage has evolved.

Featuring photographs of over fifty gowns from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection of gowns and contextualised by essays from Katherine Jellison and Sarah Long Butler, Wedded Perfection tells the tale of gowns from Christian Dior to Yohji Yamamoto. Discussing concepts such as ‘the Evolution and Aesthetic of the Wedding Gown in Western Culture’, it outlines exactly what the rituals were in previous wedding ceremonies and how and why they influenced the physicality of gowns. I found these explanations particularly useful as an English Literature student for they related not only to the act of a wedding in particular but also spoke volumes about the role of women in society. Those interested in feminism or in comparing roles of both genders throughout time would be fascinated by this book.

 My favourite section detailed the importance of the appearance of marriage and traditional family values throughout the war. “Given concern that wartime conditions imperilled American domesticity, the white wedding gown seemed to preserve the traditions of marriage and family life so that they could survive during the war and flourish after the war” – page 83. This section, like the rest of the book, contemplates taking things at face value in two manners. Firstly, photographs and clear visuals are used to give the reader an aesthetic to focus on. Secondly, the notion of appearance is perceived in symbolic manner and the notion of reputation is considered in relation to marriage. For this reason, the book is fantastic. You have the best of both worlds when reading – the engaging, deeply philosophical pieces, and the divine optical bliss of the photographed gowns themselves.

A thoroughly enjoyable book, I would highly recommend it to all students of creative subjects. It raises timeless issues of gender equality, society and the ever changing roles of women, and does so in a way that still enables all girls to picture themselves lavishly clad in an elaborate vintage frock. Perfection!

A la Mode Appraisal: 9/10

Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns is published by Giles and available for £30.00.