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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Scarf Style’

Fluffy Vintage Lynx Fur Collar Repurposed as a Long Fur Scarf

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Fluffy Vintage Lynx Collar Re-purposed as a Long Modern Scarf or Muffler

This beautiful fluffy blond colored fur piece is lynx. I found it in a thrift store attached to a ratty old sweater in size XXXL ! The sweater was awful acrylic and covered with natty balls. This gorgeous fur piece had been hastily basted onto it along the collar edge. I did a double take on the fur and after inspection determined it had probably been removed from a coat. It is professionally lined by a furrier with a tasteful gold/beige silk satin. I quickly purchased the ratty old sweater for $9.99 and removed the fur from it as soon as I got it out to my car! I always carry a sewing kit with me for emergencies and separating this lovely lynx collar from the old synthetic sweater to which it was attached called for immediate emergency surgery. I threw the disgusting old sweater away in the thrift store dumpster.

The Lynx Fur Can Be Wrapped Around the Neck as a Deliciously Soft and Cozy Muffler

I wrapped the cozy lynx around my neck in my car. As I drove home I debated whether I should try to sew this new fur prize to a coat or cape in my collection or make something new to use it on. It was incredibly soft, lightweight and warm. I was really comfortable and toasty by the time I got home. I immediately experimented with it in front of a full length mirror and tried it out on several coats, capes and sweaters in my collection. It looked good with everything. For this reason I decided not to sew it onto anything, but to re-purpose it as a modern style lynx fur scarf or muffler instead so I would have the greatest versatility. I carefully restitched the silk satin lining so that it was neatly attached all the way around. I actually like the way the gleaming silk satin side shows when the scarf is flipped around ~ I think the textural contrast of the shiny and soft silk lining with the lynx fur is pretty. The color of the fur and the golden beige silk satin look good with camel colored wools and gold jewelry. I have two vintage camel colored coats – one of camels hair and one of cashmere that both look great with this blond lynx worn casually draped around the neck as a scarf or muffler.

The Lynx Collar is Backed or Lined with an Attractive Beige/Gold Shiny Silk Satin Which Looks Nice & Also Feels Really Good Against My Neck

I am also experimenting with wearing it over a bare shouldered evening dress as a fur stole. It is amazingly warm and it is a nice cozy thing to wear at home instead of a cardigan sweater or a sweatshirt.  Perfect for cuddling up and reading at night in an upholstered armchair. I like to use my vintage furs at home during the winter to keep the chills off in my drafty old house. This allows me more opportunities to use and enjoy my vintage furs and makes me feel glamorous in the old Hollywood manner. I consciously seek out ways to feel elegant and luxurious in my daily life and wearing my furs at home is one really good way. I often wear one while writing or working at my computer because I live in a drafty house in a cold winter climate.

Another Way to Drape & Wear the Long Vintage Lynx Fur Collar as an Elegant Contemporary Scarf

There are many elegant modern ways one can drape, wrap and wear a long fur scarf or muffler. I think it will also work as a wrap over a bare shouldered evening gown or the right style and color evening dress as well as over more casual winter sports wear such as coats, jackets, and sweaters.

It Can Be Styled as a Casual & Versatile Lynx Fur Version of a Knitted Muffler or Scarf

It will also work tossed over a tailored skirt or pant suit in a modern version of the way women wore the fur stoles with ” heads,  tails and paws”  attached in the 1940’s. Here are just a few examples of ways one can drape this lovely and versatile vintage lynx fur piece. Personally I like to style my vintage furs in the ways they were originally intended to be worn and in new ways that look up to date with modern fashion sensibilities. I think vintage pieces worn in contemporary settings combined in unexpected new ways look wonderful. I am always searching for ideas and ways to style my vintage clothing to create a completely new and modern mix of old and new. I like the best of every era!

A Close Up Shot of My Incredibly Fluffy Vintage Lynx Fur Scarf

Close up my lynx fur looks like this. For the record this vintage lynx fur was inspected and identified as lynx by professional Swiss furrier Rene Vogel of Seattle, WA. Mr. Vogel was formerly the furrier for I. Magnin and Co. and for Nordstroms when they still had a fur salon. He now works independently caring for the furs of his remaining fur clients in the Seattle area. He is a second generation professional furrier trained in Switzerland with decades of experience in the fur business. I have him identify all my vintage furs so that I can be absolutely sure of what they are and where they come from. I will write another post soon explaining the characteristics of lynx fur and what to look for when identifying and buying it.

I have found that many vintage furs for sale online and in thrift shop environments are not identified correctly. One reason I am writing these posts in an effort to help readers correctly identify furs they have or may be considering buying. I am consulting Mr. Vogel for his professional opinions and correct identification of the fur types as well.

Vintage Cream Racoon Fur Stole ~ 1955 ~ I.Magnin & Co. ~ Vintage Fur Identification: Sheared, Bleached and Dyed Natural Raccoon

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

I have an extensive collection of vintage furs and people always wonder what kinds of furs they are. Some are quite unusual and seldom seen these days. I have decided to research all of them thoroughly and have consulted a professional furrier Rene Vogel for authentification. Mr. Vogel is a second generation Swiss custom furrier who was the house furrier for Nordstroms when they were still selling furs and I. Magnin when they were still in business and selling furs.

Beautiful Rich Cream Colored Circa 1955 Sheared, Bleached and Dyed Raccoon Stole From I. Magnin

This beautiful rich vintage cream colored circa 1955 stole from I.Magnin initially had me puzzled. The original owner thought it was beaver, but I had done a school report in Portland OR, when I was in the fourth grade, on beavers and their fur and I was not sure she was right. Sheared beaver is silky soft like butter and in my opinion this fur had a different feeling. So I took it to Rene Vogel, the furrier in Seattle, and he explained that it is, of all things, sheared, bleached and dyed raccoon!

Cream Colored Vintage Sheared, Bleached and Dyed Raccoon Fur Stole Shown with Vintage Sheared Brown Beaver Fur Muff Purse for Comparison Purposes

It is a dense fur and very soft, just not as slippery silky as beaver.  But the look is similar to sheared beaver so it is easy to see how the original owner would have thought beaver. Here is a picture of the raccoon shawl with my vintage sheared brown beaver muff purse placed beside it for comparison. They actually look very good together and I feel they could be worn together.

The Classic I. Magnin & Co. Importers Label in the Glamorous Cream Colored Sheared Raccoon Stole

The cream colored raccoon shawl was purchased at I.Magnin by a family friend of ours who wore it before and directly after her December 1955 winter wedding as part of her wedding and honeymoon ensembles. She told me she wore it over her green velveteen evening dress when she arrived for her rehearsal dinner, to the church over a cream colored wool suit when she arrived to get prepared for her wedding ceremony, and again over the cream wool suit when she departed for her honeymoon. She wore a formal cream satin wedding dress for the ceremony itself, but did not use the fur stole with it. The cream raccoon fur stole was her winter cold weather wrap for all her wedding related events and parties. She was a prominent Seattle socialite whose outfits and activities were chronicled regularly in the Seattle Times Society Section of the 1950s through 70s. She wore very glamorous clothes and kept a scrap book of photos of herself and her husband at all the events they had attended. She had saved many of the clothes as well.

When I Wear This 1955 I.Magnin & Co. Cream Sheared Raccoon Stole I am Wrapped in the Warmth of a Gorgeous Vintage Fur & the Memories of the Elegant Friend Who Gave it to Me

I.Magnin was her favorite store and she purchased almost all her clothes there. She relied on them for the level of taste and elegance she wished to project. She told me many stories about her shopping trips to I.Magnin and the items she had acquired there and gave me this stole, several Odette Barsa lingerie ensembles, and other items she had acquired there over the years. She was extremely sad when I.Magnin closed!

 

 

A Circa 1950s Label From Frederick & Nelson, Seattle

And when Frederick & Nelson closed! It was the end of an era and she was very aware that she was part of that era. It made her happy that I knew about I.Magnin and appreciated their level of style as much as she did.

A Beautiful Label in a Brocade Dress From I. Magnin& Co.

One day while thrifting I found several vintage items ~ a couple of cashmere sweaters and wool skirts in her size and in very good condition and I bought them for her ~ she was absolutely ecstatic to have some “New clothes from our favorite store!” She was so happy when I gave them to her she was jumping up and down at the age of 86 like a 16 year old girl would have! This lady was a very good friend of my mothers and, as a result of that, she and I became very good friends. We had lots in common! Consequently this beautiful soft cream colored shawl is not only wonderfully cozy it is full of warm memories of special times with a very special person for me. She had no children so I was like the grand daughter she wished she had had.

The Cream Sheared Raccoon Stole From I. Magnin & Co. 1955, is Lined in Heavy Beige Colored Silk and Has Two Silken Pockets, One at Each End, in Which to Put Your Hands to Keep Them Warm. These Strategically Placed Pockets Also Provide a Way to Hold the Shawl Close to Your Body to Gracefully Encircle Your Shoulders ~ the Way We See Them in Glamorous Circa 1950s Fashion Photographs.

The  sheared cream raccoon stole is lined in heavy beige silk and has two silken pockets, one at each end, in which you can put your hands to keep them warm and to hold the shawl together in front of you while you allow it to slide gracefully down low around your shoulders and encircling your body the way it is done in glamorous 1950s era fashion photographs. This works well. When I have a photographer present I will model it and show how that is done in person. I plan to photograph all my furs styled and coordinated with proper outfits on myself or other models after I get them all identified by type and era.

The Cream Sheared Racoon I. Magnin & Co. Fur Stole is Like Somthing a Hitchcock Heroine Would Have Worn in a Movie Set in San Francisco in the 1950s!

The Creamy Sheared Raccoon I. Magnin & Co. Fur Stole is Like Something a Hitchcock Heroine Would Have Worn in the Daytime Over Her Pastel Cashmere Separates and at Night With Pale Silk Brocades in San Francisco in the 1950s!

This is such a rich looking garment. There is a lot of depth in the creamy color and a slight striping effect as you can see in the photographs. It reminds me of the Alfred Hitchcock heroines ~ of Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Eva Marie Saint, and Tuesday Weld ~ with their pale cashmere coats, cream and beige cashmere sweaters, pastel pencil skirts, and French rolled coiffed blondness and, of course, pale fur coats and stoles over cream colored brocade silk suits and dresses with white kid gloves. It reminds me of San Francisco in the 1950’s ~ where I. Magnin  & Co. was founded and had their first elegant store.

A Circa 1950s Label From The City of Paris Department Store in San Francisco For a Hat From Their Exclusive Midenette Millenery Salon Which Carried One of a Kind Couture Hats imported From France

And of The City of Paris, another sophisticated and elegant department store in downtown San Francisco, with an incredible French perfume department and a fabulous ornate mezzanine overlooking the ground floor and salons for each designer they carried arranged in  elegant salons branching off along the mezzanine. That store was magnificent, like an ornate theater in Paris with crystal and gold gilt and mirrors everywhere you turned! A miniature version of Versailles transported to San Francisco to feed the imaginations of western American women who really wanted to be in Paris.

 

The Lining and Pockets Are Made of a Beige Silk to Tastefully Coordinate With the Creamy Sheared Raccoon Fur Stole

After her marriage and honeymoon my friend occasionally wore her Creamy Sheared Raccoon Stole from I. Magnin & Co. to the Theater and to the Olympic Hotel in Seattle for Holiday Events. She recalled wearing it when she took a trip to San Francisco and dined at the famous restaurant at the Top of the Mark and attended a performance of The Royal Ballet from London featuring Margo Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev at the War Memorial Opera House. That was in 1962.

She acquired additional furs over the years so this one was not used often, just for special events, mostly around the Christmas and New Years Holidays. She said it was a good wrap to wear to winter parties where there were slight chills running through buildings but you still wanted to be glamorous and feel elegant.

The Creamy Color of This 1955 Sheared Raccoon Stole From I. Magnin & Co. Coordinates Beautifully with Pearl Jewelry and White Kidskin Gloves Making Any Color Dress Look Instantly Put together. The Vintage Muff in This Photograph is Sheared Beaver. It is Quite a Bit Older Than the Stole, But I Like the Way They Look Together. The Muff Will Be Discussed in a Future Post.

She pointed out that the cream color of this stole goes very well with pearls. You can wear it over any color dress with white kidskin or silk gloves and pearly jewelry and instantly look put together. This was how women thought about dressing in her day. I’m planning to use it to keep warm, look good and have a conversation piece at Holiday Cocktail Parties this winter.

This Creamy Sheared Raccoon Fur Stole from I. Magnin & Co.is 57 Years Old and is Still in Excellent Condition Because it was Professionally Cleaned When Needed and Kept in Cold Storage During the Summer Months by its Original Owner

This stole is in good condition after 57 years because it was well care for. The original and only owner before I acquired it put it in fur storage every summer and had it cleaned when recommended by her furrier. It is a good example of how long furs last when properly cared for. I am the future generation and I really appreciate the fact that she did this. The color is creamy as you can see in the photos. Because we did not see it when it was new we do not know if it was originally this color or lighter. There is a possibility that it may have darkened due to oxidation as it aged. There are no sections of distinctly different shades or color from one part of the piece to the next. In other words the current color and effect is uniform throughout the stole.

As described in the opening paragraph of this post I had this vintage fur stole inspected by Rene Vogel the professional Seattle furrier. Mr. Vodel identified the fur to be Sheared Bleached and Dyed Raccoon as stated above. He has decades of experience having been in the fur business himself since 1969, as well as growing up around it because his father was also a furrier. He is very familiar with the styles and types of furs worn over the past decades in both Europe and America. Rene Vogel now works independently by appointment and his business is Furs by Rene. He is located in the Seattle area. He can be reached at 425- 322-9638. He does custom designs, restyles, alterations, repairs, storage and cleaning. His email is rdcvogel@msn.com

Vintage Skunk Fur Stole & Muff ~ Circa 1940s ~ Vintage Fur Identification: Natural Undyed Black/ Brown and White Skunk Fur

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Natural Skunk Fur Stole and Matching Muff ~ C 1940s ~ From the Lady Violette Vintage Fur Collection

I have an extensive collection of vintage furs and people always wonder what kinds of furs they are. Some are quite unusual and seldom seen these days. I have decided to research all of them thoroughly and have consulted a professional furrier Rene Vogel for authentification. Mr. Vogel is a second generation Swiss custom furrier who was the house furrier for Nordstroms when they were still selling furs and I. Magnin when they were still in business and selling furs. He has decades of experience having been in the business himself since 1969, as well as growing up around it because his father was also a furrier. He is very familiar with the styles and types of furs worn over the past decades in both Europe and America. Rene Vogel now works independently by appointment and his business is Furs by Rene. He is located in the Seattle area. He can be reached at 425- 322-9638. He does custom designs, restyles, alterations, repairs, storage and cleaning. His email is rdcvogel@msn.com

Jacques Nam ~ Polar Bear Fur Coat & Coats of Fur for Children ~ 1912

I plan to work my way through my own collection of furs and post each fur with extensive photos and a description in the hope of helping people to make correct identification of furs they have or would perhaps eventually like to acquire! And for the purpose of correct historical identification of the furs used in creating these spectacular vintage fashions. I think the use of furs is a fascinating part of our social history. At this point I will explain that I do not buy or wear new leather or fur clothing, I only recycle vintage. Many of the furs I have now I inherited from family members and elderly friends who know I have an interest in them. My interest is in identifying the furs accurately, preserving and repairing them if necessary, wearing them when it is appropriate, and education about furs and their place in history and society ~ in other words, social studies. I do advocate wearing a recycled fur if you wish to wear one and I feel we show our respect for the animals used in the making of these old furs by learning about them and caring for them properly. I personally feel it shows more respect to an animal who was made into a fur coat years ago to wear it respectfully than to bury it in a landfill before its beauty and useful life have naturally expired. Wearing an antique of vintage fur out in public gives you an opportunity to educate people on the topic of furs and the preservation of endangered species. I see this as an animal rights and environmental education opportunity.

Skunk Stole Made of 24 Skunk Pelts & Matching Muff Made of 6 Skunk Pelts

This fabulous vintage 1940s fur ensemble is a very dramatic black/ brown and white skunk stole and muff. The stole is comprised of 24 skunk pelts arranged with 3 pelts sewn together side by side width wise by eight pelts lengthwise creating a rectangular stole that is 13 ” wide by 86 ” long. The matching muff is comprised of 6 skunk pelts joined side by side and formed into cylinder which is lined in heavy black satin and stuffed with down feathers. The natural pattern of white against black/ brown fur in the skunks coats creates an interesting zigzag effect when the pelts are joined together side by side.  The coloration in this ensemble is natural, not dyed. It is black with very dark brown undertones and cream patterning when you hold it in bright natural light. In the photo below the skunk fur muff is placed on a black ultra suede upholstered sofa and is in bright natural light which allows you to see that it has brown tones within the black ones.

Cozy Muff is a Cylinder of 6 Skunk Pelts Joined Side by Side, Lined in Black Satin and Stuffed with Down Feathers to Keep Your Hands Warm! There is a Black Bakelite Bangle Attached so You Can Secure The Muff By Wearing it on Your Wrist Like a Bracelet. It is Beautifully Warm!

Skunk was often dyed solid blue black in order to disguise its identity and called ” American Sable” because some people did not like the identity of a skunk associated with their elegant fur garment. Personally I really like the natural coloring and the pattern produced by joining the skins side by side and end to end. I also like the softness of the natural coloring versus dark blue/ black because it is more flattering to my skin tone and easier to wear than stark blue/ black.

Back View of Vintage Natural Skunk Stole Circa 1940s

Here is a back view of this stole on a mannequin showing the length and proportion it had when worn. It is 86 ” long by 13″ wide ~ a glamorous and generous size for wrapping around the shoulders or draping for a highly dramatic entrance to an event over a bias cut 1940s evening gown. In writing this piece I choose to call this a stole but it can also be considered a scarf and a shawl when you are deciding how to style and wear it. You could even use it as a gigantic muffler or as a throw over a piece of furniture in your interior decor. There is an art to using furs and if you get creative you can figure out many ways to wear them and other interesting ways to use them. It is important to recognize the furriers skill as an art form and experiment with ways to wear his creations.

In former more elegant time periods it seems that women dressed with a great deal more attention to the beautiful effects they were creating and the lasting impressions they made. The ability to do this was considered a valuable talent and a respected female accomplishment. It was viewed positively as one of the feminine arts. Of course many men did this too. In my opinion many more men used to give attention to the way they dressed than they do so today.

Jacques Nam ~ Evening Coat Trimmed in Skunk Fur and Tailor Made Children's Clothes

Many men and women were employed in the professions that helped these fashionable women to achieve their great degree of elegance.  Consider the couture designers of clothing and furs, the jewelers, the textile manufacturers, the perfumers, the shoe designers, the milliners or hat makers, in fact the designers of every item these refined and beautiful people consumed and needed! Consider the craftsmen and trades people who supported the fur industry ~ the trappers, the tanners, the taxidermists, the fur dealers, the trade companies, the exporters and importers, the furriers, the seamstresses, the stores and shops and sales staff and models and photographers and illustrators and fashion editors! And so on, as there are undoubtedly many more categories of middle men and support people than I have quickly thought of here. The amount of work involved in the fur industry in the past and and the numbers of people employed by it and involved in executing it is amazing to contemplate in retrospect. The fur part of the fashion industry has been as large and complex as any other part of the fashion industry in past eras. Now it is barely hanging on.

It is a now dying art form and profession and most of the furriers have closed shop in American cities. It is difficult to find a professional furrier to work with you anymore. I learned today that the only one left working in Portland, OR is Nicholas Ungar and the only one I know of in Seattle is Rene Vogel. The others have had to close down due to lack of demand for real furs. You may read in the press that fur is suddenly in demand again, but there is not enough demand to keep a small professional craftsman in a relatively large city in the United States in business. What is shown in a European fashion magazine’s artistic photo layout is no real indication of what is happening on a business level for these artisans and small business people. Antique dealers who sold vintage furs in Seattle four years ago have completely stopped and the last exclusive Fur shop in Bellevue, WA closed 2 years ago due to lack of adequate sales to stay in business. The department stores no longer have fur salons. All of them used to.

Jacques Nam ~ Fox Fur Stole ~ 1912

This is why I consider my beautiful vintage furs to be real treasures. They are rare and lovely and, in my opinion very worth the difficulty and expense of collecting, caring for, storing and maintaining. It is important to point out, here, that the furs need to be regularly cleaned to maintain the suppleness of the leather and keep the pelts from drying out and disintegrating. That means once every couple of years at least. During the summer they need to be put in cold storage for temperature and humidity control. It costs about $100 to clean a fur garment and about $60 a year to store it professionally during the summer season. You must also repair any little damages or stresses such as torn pocket edges or little splits that occur in the pelts as soon as you discover them. This must be done by a professional ~ the furrier ~ in order to be done properly. We need these guys! Furs are really quite delicate and need to be treated accordingly. They should be hung on wide padded hangers in a cool dark place with plenty of air circulation. They should not be exposed to light as they will oxidize and change color ~ very quickly. Like fine art which they are, too, they need to be stored in the dark.

There are a lot of details and lots to remember about caring for and wearing vintage furs but it is all interesting and ultimately well worth it! Like any area of special interest collecting vintage furs requires discipline and commitment. Like caring for a live pet requires love and attention, so does properly maintaining your fur and the way I see it doing so is also respecting the animals from which it came.

Jacques Nam ~ Sable Fur Scarf ~ Dress with White Fur Cuffs and a fur Trimmed Hat ~ 1912

I envision several ways of wearing my skunk fur stole and muff; first as an elegant evening wrap over a dark black/brown full length bias cut 1940s evening gown; second as a warm shawl and extravagant extra layer of warmth wrapped over my 1950s brown and black with cream tweed skirt suit along with the matching skunk fur muff to keep my elegantly vintage gloved hands even warmer; and third and finally, as a deco patterned black and white fur scarf over a slim calf length black wool coat with a high black fur collar and deep black fur cuffs as they did in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century. In those days they often mixed fur types and colors to achieve unusual color and textural combinations and proportions and it worked beautifully. They also combined furs with textiles in ways we would consider unusual today to great dramatic effect. Studying the way furs were worn in history gives you many new ideas on ways to use a vintage fur if you have one. Inspiration can be taken from any place and any time period. If you have any vintage piece I encourage you to experiment to find ways to wear it combined with contemporary items for a look all your own that is distinctively new and one of a kind to you today. The three outfits I create for myself with my skunk  fur stole and muff and other clothing that I own each draw their inspiration from different past fashion eras. I do not copy those eras to the letter. I draw from them and apply them to myself to achieve a look that I feel is appropriate to my personal style and life today.

 

Jacques Nam ~ Chinchilla Toque and Scarf ~ 1912

After I finish photographing and documenting my furs and identifying what types of furs they all are. I intend to style them and photograph them on human models showing several different and relevant ways in which each one can be styled and worn today. I like to experiment with this ahead of having to be somewhere all dressed up on a schedule! I find preparing and planing in advance really saves me time and cuts down on stress when getting ready for an event. And I also enjoy the planning and experimentation part of dressing. I do not enjoy being pressured however so I try to prepare in advance! Remember, “Rushing is not glamorous!”  is one of my favorite quotes.I think it is a great luxury to be able to get ready in a leisurely manner.

Side View Shows the Repetitive Art Deco Pattern Created When the Skunk Skins are Joined Together Side by Side and End to End.

A side ways view above shows the repetitive patterns of the skunk skins in the little V shapes that are created when the furrier joined them together. I think the designs of the joined furs look very Art Deco. I imagine descending a curving staircase in that long black/ brown satin bias cut 1940s evening gown wrapped in this beauty or making a red carpet entrance in it ~ Just imagine the photo opportunities!  I think the press would go insane! Or at the very least mad! An actress would definitely catch their attention if she were wearing these unusual pieces on the red carpet today! They are so simple, yet so elegant and all because of the natural beauty of the humble little skunk!

Any actresses out there, or their stylists, please contact me and arrange to use my skunk fur ensemble for such an event rather than having a new one made. I in no way wish to advocate the creation of a new skunk fur ensemble by showing this vintage one on my blog. Alternatively it might be possible to make a similar one out of faux fur, but I have personally never seen faux fur of this type.

Jacques Nam ~ Evening Dress with Polecat Fur Mantle Trimmed in White Fur~ 1912

My authentic skunk stole and matching muff are lined in a black satin with an embossed  leaf pattern. The stole bears a small label sewn in the side seam for the the Seattle store Jay Jacobs Seattle where it was originally sold. It has the original owners monogram initials HV appliqued on the lining. I find it interesting that they sewed in the owner’s initials as an applique that could be easily applied with a few well placed stitches or removed easily by picking out the threads that hold it in place and changed to another owners initials should this garment change hands! I’ll have to look into changing them to my own! Jay Jacobs Stores existed from 1941 to 1999. This ensemble was created and sold in the early 194os.

I acquired this skunk set about 20 years ago from an elderly friend of my mothers who was no longer able use it. She had worked at Jay Jacobs first store store in the early 1940s and bought it during that time. I have found elderly lady friends to be a great source of older fur styles. They are often happy that I show interest in the furs they treasured and the periods of time when they acquired and wore them. I have acquired several beautiful furs and other articles of vintage finery this way. I always promise to keep their fur, take good care of it and wear it out, to special events as they would have done back in the day. I promise, essentially, to treat it like a beloved pet. And I wear it when I go to visit them which they love!

In the olden days skunk would sometimes smell, well, a little bit skunky, if it got wet! However the furriers found a way to eliminate the natural odor of the skunk animal so an elegant wearer was only identifiable by her French couture perfume.

The interesting historical tidbit on skunk fur below is courtesy of the Vintage Fashion Guild’s Fur Resource on skunk where close up photos of several colors of skunk fur and several other vintage garments made of skunk pelts are also pictured. This section was written by Pauline Cameron and Katie Kelmsley.

“Skunk fur is rather long, with coarse, glossy guard hairs of about one to two inches, which have the qualities of strength and longevity. Normally the under-fur is grayish underneath the black guard hairs and white underneath the white guard hairs. If the more valuable all-black pelts were not used or available, the entire pelt was dyed a uniform, glossy black.

Jacques Nam ~ Badger Fur Trimmed Tunic, Skirt,and Printed Stole ~ 1912

Skunk fur has been used in the fur industry as early as the mid 1800’s, gradually increasing in popularity into the 1900’s when it exceeded production of the most traded fur – Muskrat. As the United States recovered from the Great Depression a strong market for fur trimmed cloth coats created a demand for skunk, with pelts doubling in price into the early 1940’s. Previous to the 1950’s it was sold under different names including Alaskan Sable, and American Sable.
After the identity of the fur was known, Skunk took a dive in popularity. This continued into the early 1970’s at which time the offbeat, unconventionality of it seemed to restore its appeal for a brief time after which it went out of use again. An upsurge in the popularity of Skunk fur has taken place with fashion houses such as Prada and Fendi using the black or brown-and-white varieties in items from handbags to throws and long, sweeping coats.

The hop growers loved the skunk because they ate the hop grubs that damaged the hop vines. The hop growers of the state, centered in Madison County, petitioned the State Legislature to pass a law giving the skunk a closed season. Thus the skunk became the first New York State furbearer to have legal protection!” “Many times a farm boy could earn more in a season’s trapping than his father made in a year on the farm. Skunks saved some farms during the Depression by the income from their pelts.“ Norman Evans, Stories From Old Georgetown.”

 

Jacques Nam - Full length Coats Trimmed in Beaver, Otter, Opossum or Ermine and a Long Fur Boa or Scarf~ 1912

Scarves, Stoles and Muffs in Skunk were also popular in fashionable cities in Europe in the early 1900s. The French fur fashion illustrator Jacques Nam did charming drawings for fashion plates and magazines depicting elegant women wrapped in in furs surrounded by the animals from which they were made as if they were darling personal pets. The greatest value in these pictures is seeing how the fur garments were initially meant to be worn when the designs were conceived and the clothing was made and accurate pictures of the animals whose pelts were used. Jacques Nam’s animals are very accurately rendered even though it is his fantasy that a woman would be walking her pet skunks, muskrats or leopards along the boulevard like two pet dogs while wearing an ensemble of a skunk stole and muff! You can get a lot of charming ideas of ways to wear your vintage furs by looking at his work.

Jacques Nam ~ an Evening Mantle in Mink with an Ermine Cape Collar ~ 1912

Note the fur stoles and muffs on the center woman below. That one makes me want to wear my skunk set with a straight long black dress and an amazing large brimmed black vintage hat trimmed in a cream ribbons and a soft tuft of black and brown feathers chosen to compliment the natural colors in the skunk fur. And dainty little shoes in a combination of cream and black with brown feathered shoe clips… Pictures like this make my imagination run wild on ways to wear my vintage furs!

Google Images gallery of Jacques Nam’s work.

Jacques Nam's Illustration of Fur Stole and Muff ~ about 1912

Finally I want to point out that I have included the Artist Jacques Nam’s illustrations in order to introduce you to his work and trigger your imagination in how to wear vintage fur styles. Much of his work is sheer exotic fantasy and would be great fun to own and wear, but, if one decided to reproduce it today I feel it would be best to do so in faux furs. I think this is entirely possible to do using vintage patterns available on Etsy and eBay.

I saw a Polish Folk Festival fashion show of native Polish costumes a couple of weeks ago. One of the men’s full length wool capes was trimmed using a 1940s woman’s vintage squirrel evening stole to make a wide shawl collar at the top, almost like a second short cape, that just covered  the man’s shoulders. Thus a vintage woman’s stole was used to make a contemporary man’s fur trimmed cape. And it was gorgeous! The costume designer had recycled the original stole, using every bit of a second hand fur to create an elegant wide fur collar on a new garment. It was absolutely stunning! This is a perfect example of using an old fur garment to inspire you to create a successful new one! I spoke to her after the event and she told me she had bought the shawl at the Goodwill for $37! I am just waiting until I have two similar pieces to put together to create a sweeping floor length wool cape with a vintage fur collar!

Restoring Vintage Reptile Purses & Skin Bags From the 1950’s Using Vintage Scarves for Handles & Ties

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection of Vintage 1950's Reptile Handbags with Scarf Wrapped Handles

I have several reptile skin handbags from the 1950s that are in good condition except for one thing – without exception the handles were all unusable because they were made out of a thin strip of leather with the reptile skin glued over the top. That skin had deteriorated from use, age, and the glue used when they were made. In many cases it was too cracked and had broken off and it looked terrible. This is why other people threw these handbags away and I managed to get them for very reasonable prices.

My first try was to take them to a good shoe and leather repair shop to find out what they could do to replace the handles. I actually visited three shops for estimates. The verdict was unacceptable as they could not, match the skins and any other repairs they suggested wouldn’t be as pretty and would cost way too much – more for fixing one bag than I had already invested in my entire collection of 6 of them! I didn’t think these shops were being very creative!

I love the styles of these purses. Very lady like and formal and to be carried not flung over your shoulder. They are just so feminine and civilized. And, of course this is currently in style on the runways if anyone cares about that. New ones are being designed by all the big names and cost a small fortune.

Late 1940’s Vintage Crocodile Skin Bag With Scarf Wrapped Around Damaged Handle & Tied at One End

Of course I developed my own solution – both affordable and pretty as can be while remaining well suited to the original era of these purses. I am getting asked about it and getting compliments on my bags every day I use them. So here is what I did.

Example One: The Crocodile bag pictured above had a badly split, but still attached handle. I simply took a very long and tough oblong shaped scarf which is a synthetic chiffon from India in a leopard skin print and pulled it through the metal link on one end of the handle until it reached the middle of the scarf (so both ends were equal lengths. I then double wrapped the handle by wrapping one end around, then overlapping it by wrapping the other end around until I got the entire handle covered. At the end I tied a secure and attractive knot to hold the scarf in place and create the decorative scarf tie ends as shown. None of this gets in the way of opening or closing the bag. The handle is now reinforced and no one can see that it is broken under the fabric. This took a lot of fabric. The scarf I used is 76 ” long and 18″ wide!

Vintage 1950's Navy Bag From France With Handle Repaired Using a Belt & Scarf

Example Two: The elegant navy bag above is actually leather, not snakeskin. I love the hardware on it! It is a burnished gold with little stars embossed on it like a piece of elegant costume jewelry. It’s leather handle was unusable. I had to remove it. I was left with a metal ring on end to which the original handle had been attached. The circumference of the metal rings was not very big.

My solution was to take a very thin vintage belt that I happened to already have that would fit through the rings. It also happened to be red and it is what is now under the scarf. It doesn’t match the bag at all but it doesn’t have to as it is completely covered  by the scarf. The job of the belt is to create a strong secure handle. I simply pulled it through and buckled it! The buckle is hidden under the scarf at the V on top of the handle. The length is perfect buckled on the smallest size of an S length belt.

I then took a large square silk scarf in a pretty complimentary print, folded it in a triangular half, then brought each end inwards to the center folding to create a long skinny scarf folded rectangle with the points at each end (such as you would to tie it around your neck) and pulled the scarf through the belt halves at the top of the V in the middle of the handle. I secured the scarf with a knot at the middle of the buckle, then began wrapping each side individually downward, tightly covering the belt and pulling its two sections together, until I got to each of the ends with equal scarf point lengths remaining. I carefully knotted them to look about the same and dangle down artistically on each side of the bag. This makes a very secure handle with double strong leather straps inside the silk scarf wrap. I think it is also very attractive. The scarf I used is slippery shiny soft silk and is a huge square. It is a small geometric print with large paisleys on it and a navy border around the edges. It just happened to work out well for this particular bag.

Vintage 50's Snake Skin Bag With New Handle Made of a Silk Cord Belt Decorated with a Chiffon Square Scarf Tie

Example Three: This Bag is in Perfect Condition Now! I removed the completely broken down original handle and pulled a brown silk cord belt I just happened to have through the metal loops doubled it and knotted it at the correct length letting the ends with the decorative knots on them hang down on one side. I then took a small vintage 50’s silk chiffon square scarf in complimentary browns, gold, orange, white, and green colors and pulled it through the knot and tied it into a fluffy little floppy bow to decorate the one end of the purse. Voila! I have given this purse a new life and I didn’t spend any money on expensive repairs.

The cost of the above purse and renovation was: $9.95 for the purse at an estate sale. (Good price due to broken strap!) 99 cents for scarf at a thrift shop. And the cord belt I already had on my miscellaneous belt rack. I spent $11 total on this lovely spring bag! It is very clean inside and even has its original coin purse, mirror and comb intact!

Beautiful Real Black Patent Leather Vintage 1960's Bag From England

Example Four: Here is Real Black Patent Leather Purse. It is from England and I think it was made in the 1960’s. It is large and roomy and perfectly clean inside. The handles on this one were in great shape with no problems at all. The clasp is a pretty silver with an embossed design like a piece of jewelry. This bag needed no repairs. It is gleaming white leather inside. I doubt if it was used very much being that there isn’t a scratch on it. I got it an an estate sale for a very good price because the kids selling it thought it was terribly out of style. I offered $10 and they accepted. I got it home and I liked it but it did remind me of my grandma! She always says “Get me my handbag, Dear…” and it is huge black bag quite similar to this full of everything under the sun. It weighs a ton the way she packs it up. She takes it to town sitting on the passenger seat of her Oldsmobile and it gets her through the day! It gets its own seat. She would never put it on the floor. It gets its own chair at restaurants too! That is how large and important it is to her.

Anyway, for days when I have to carry around 50 pounds of daily gear myself, I now have this bag to remind me of my Grandma! I wanted to jazz it up though which is why I tied  on this perfect for spring shiny black silk square scarf in a big pink dahlia print. I wear a lot of pink and this ties it all together with the shiny black bag and black patent leather pumps. The scarf brings the giant bag up to date and gives it a now fashionable Mad Men Style vibe. I can see Joan Henderson carrying this to the office in one of her bright pink wiggle dresses circa 1960. The scarf choice is perfect for this bag as it also has little jacquard polka dots in black on black which you can just barely see in this photograph.

I simply tied this large silk square scarf in a self knot loop pulling the ends through once and let the silken tails flow long and gracefully down to the front on one side. Tying a scarf to your bag makes you more conscious of how you tote your purse and forces you to behave in a more ladylike manner to show off the both the scarf and the bag. It is good self discipline. Like finishing school for the carrying your scarf tied purse.

Palizzio New York Snakeskin Bag Decorated with a 1950's Scarf Tied on One Side

Example Five: This is a beautiful late 1950’s vintage snakeskin bag from Palizzio New York. It is in good condition except that the handle is getting the same kinds of age related problems described above and will soon probably go. I am being careful with it. I will wrap the entire handle when it becomes necessary. For now I am decorating it simply with a same vintage large silk square scarf tied in a soft and sensual large floppy bow on one side.

I have a big hatbox full of vintage scarves in many shapes and colors that I ruffle through for an appropriate match to tie on my purses, baskets, in my hair or around my neck. I also use them as sashes, wrap my jewelry in them to keep it clean and safe and a bit padded, put them over small tables and sometimes drape them over a lampshade to soften the light or add a touch of color to a room with the light glowing through the colors of the scarf fabric. Scarves have a million uses! I use them to wrap bundles and presents, as bracelets and necklaces, as a sling when I broke my arm. I have even learned to tie large ones as skirts, dresses and halter tops. They make great summer wear. I love using them as shawls and stoles and as wrap around skirts. For these reasons one can never have too many of them. There is warmth in the winter months too. It always helps to have a warm scarf around your neck or a shawl draped over the shoulders of your woolen coat to make you even warmer.

I believe everyone needs an ample scarf collection. I find most of mine in thrift stores and consignment shops. I get amazingly nice ones for very reasonable prices from these sources. I look at the scarf racks every time I go into these places. I have even found really beautiful designer scarves this way. I even have three gorgeous Hermes scarves that I found in thrift stores. But, honestly, many non famous designer scarves are just as beautiful as those made by big names. I always look for cotton, silk, pure wool, Pashima, cashmere, wool challis  and occasionally blends. But the natural fibers tend to produce superior bows and stay tied better. Scarves are one of the best buys you can find in thrift shops. Only yesterday I picked up 6 of them for 99 cents each. This was at least $150 worth of scarves had I purchased them as new retail merchandise. And they are all in perfect condition. I make it a practice to buy vintage only if it is clean and in very good condition. I think many scarves are given as gifts and are often not even worn. Then, when people clean out they pitch them. This is to our great advantage as vintage and thrift store shoppers because we can find real beauties for exceptionally good values. And scarves can transform your wardrobe very easily as you will have seen if you are following all my scarf tying and scarf using posts in this blog. I actually call them my transformers.

Palizzio Very New York Snakeskin Purse - Vintage 1950's - With a Scarf Wrapped Repaired Handle

Example Six: A beautiful Snakeskin bag from Palizzio’s Very New York collection circa 1950’s in a black and brown combination with gold hardware. The handle on this purse was completely damaged – broken, cracked. unusable. I removed it and replaced it with a narrow vintage belt, then pulled a long chiffon print scarf through the ring on one side and braided it around the belt from one side to the other completely concealing the supporting structure of the underlying belt in the wrapped fabric. I did a two strand braid using the belt as the third braid strand. You will be able to figure that out if you know how to braid using three strands. Just start in and the method will become apparent as you work. When I got to the end of wrapping the handle I tied what was left into the bow at the side and additionally embellished it with a butterfly brooch. The Butterfly looks like he just flew in and landed on the flowered scarf! The scarf I used here is silk chiffon 76″ long x 18 ‘ wide. It has a black background and is printed with yellow, medium blue, cream and red accents in stylized flower and paisley patterns.

As far as what types of scarves to use for each bag and handle, this is pretty hard to advise without seeing the purse you intend to wrap and the selection of scarves you have at your disposal. I can suggest that you will need to use large scarves as the wrapping, braiding and tying uses up a lot of fabric. As I was beginning to do this I tended to choose smaller scarves and it wasn’t always working. I would end up without enough scarf at the end to tie a nice decorative bow or streamer. The best advise I have is to experiment. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right with the first attempt. I have had to work at some bags with a couple of scarves to end up with one I liked to use.

I have wrapped each of these bags ahead of time so that they are ready for me to shift my contents into quickly when I want to change out my purse for a different one. That way I do not have to fiddle around trying to get a perfect wrap and bow tie job done as I am trying to rush out the door and get some place on time. I keep my entire collection of purses and bags all tied up and ready for use. I also keep my hatbox of vintage scarves all cleaned and pressed and folded at the ready for use when needed.

Black Vintage 50's Snakeskin Bag with Vintage Cacharel Silk Foral Print Scarf & Antique Onyx, Silver & Marcasite Brooch

Example Seven: This is a very sweet small black snakeskin purse with silver hardware. It is vintage 1950’s. The original handle is still barely functional.I decided to decorate this one with a small silk 18″ square floral printed Cacharel scarf to make it ready for spring. The scarf is black with a lavender inner border and pastel flowers that resemble little violas. Some have light silky grey bits in the flowers that I think look nice with the silver accents on the bag. A plain pretty scarf didn’t seem like quite enough decoration so I added the my antique silver and onyx brooch/pendant also trimmed with sparkly marcasite stones. I am only using it this way because it has a good safety setting so I know it won’t come off and get easily lost! You could also sew a nice decorative button on over the knot if you had one you liked to use there. This handle will last awhile longer but, as you can see in the photo it is bending where the snakeskin is creasing. These are the places that show the aging effects of the drying skins and eventually break through. There isn’t really anything you can do to prevent these age related effects from eventually happening. I just recommend keeping an eye on your bag handles and silk scarf wrapping them when it becomes necessary. By no means throw out these beautiful purses just because the handles aren’t perfect any longer!

Handle repair alternatives: I looked into attaching chains to use as handles but I didn’t like the heavy metal hanging down over the snakeskin and I thought it could easily damage the rest of the purse. The character wasn’t right either, to my way of thinking, on a feminine vintage purse. I prefer the look of a soft and feminine silk scarf. I also thought about making a beaded handle and I may eventually try that. I have seen a raffia wrapped one that someone else did. She used the raffia you can purchase to use for tying up presents and making bows and wrapped the handle as I do with the scarves. She finished it off with a big poufy raffia bow and lots of extra raffia ends sticking out. She called it a festive look for hitting the clubs in Miami with her retro 50’s snakeskin bag. It would be cute with the right outfit! I am in cold Seattle and not hitting Miami clubs so I need a more day to day social, going shopping, going to work, or attending a meeting looking purse. The scarf ties on my lady like snakeskin, crocodile, alligator and leather purses work well for me with my style of vintage coats, dresses and suits. I think they look both lady like, fashionable and professional which is the look I want to pull off. I get lots of compliments on the look I achieve so I can only guess it must be accomplishing the effect I want and working out the way I want it to. What people say to you out on the streets is always a good gauge of how well your fashion choices are actually working!

In the summer I go all out tying my colorful vintage basket purses with bright and cheery scarves. I’ve shown some of those on my past blog posts and will do more as summer approaches. If you want to see all my scarf tying posts search for them on this blog. Ditto my vintage purse posts. I have done quite a few. I am always putting up more as I am a big scarf wearing fan. Everybody can learn to use their scarves. There is no reason to have them languishing in a dresser drawer or eventually giving them away to a thrift store! Get them out and use and enjoy them!

My Personal Spring Collection of Seven Vintage Scarf Tied Skin Bags

Inspiration: Here is my entire lineup of seven vintage reptile, patent and leather bags that are now tied up with vintage scarves and ready to use. Four of these had seriously damaged handles and could not be used at all until I had done them over in this way. Now they are all ready to grab and go! (By the way do not use leather cleaner on reptile bags! It ruins them. I use only a dampened with water soft cotton cloth.) Personally I really like the shapes of these purses. Again, they are so finished looking, lady like and girly. This is a perfect example of restoring, redoing, reusing and enjoying nice things from the past isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revlon’s Ultra Violet Cosmetic Ad ~ Trick & Treat in Advertising & a Good Idea for a Halloween Costume!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Dorian Leigh in the 2nd Revlon Ultra Violet ad of 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF ILLUSIONS IN ADVERTISING

There were two versions of the Ultra Violet ad I have been discussing lately made by Revlon in 1946 featuring Dorian Leigh. This is the second one. I love the way she looks and the colors in the ad, but I think some of the flowers are lilacs, not violets! Both types of flowers are purple so they are alluding to violets through color. Lilacs are tougher than violets and probably held up better under the hot photographic lights used on the sets in those days. They do appear to have used real flowers because you can see them drooping in places. They don’t seem to be holding up during the shoot as as well as Dorian did! The poor little things look like the heat from the lights was wilting them. Meanwhile, Dorian looks fresh as a daisy!

Also, I can tell that Dorian is wrapped in a violet colored sheet, not a beautiful designer gown. This disappoints me! I want to see her in an exotic creation ~ a dress or evening gown by Charles James or Christian Dior or Cecil Beaton for example. Cecil Beaton is the photographer here. I wonder why he wasn’t asked to make a special violet gown for this occasion? (Budget constrictions, perhaps?) She is wearing real jewels which were loaned out for the occasion by Harry Winston. She is every bit as beautiful as they are!

It is interesting to note, here, that Cecil Beaton was a costume and fashion designer par excellence and also created magnificent hats. He later did the costumes for the film My Fair Lady which included spectacular dresses and hats for the Ascot Races. He could have designed something magnificent for Dorian to wear in this campaign had Revlon been up for that! I’m sure it would have been worth the extra money!

Given that they had only a cotton sheet and a straw sun hat (again not a designer creation!) to work with for costuming, she and Beaton did a pretty good job of creating the illusion of glamor in these two photographs that made Revlon over $3 million dollars in 1946! Wow! On this one color alone! Ultra Violet was quite popular. Dorian was so elegant and charming that she could sell anything even wrapped in a sheet! They draped and tied it around her like a giant scarf, so this is an example of creative scarf tying and styling! Cecil Beaton was a master of illusion as a photographer, stage and costume designer. Between them, Dorian and Cecil were able to trick the female public into seeing this ridiculous set up as glamorous and treating themselves to the Ultra Violet cosmetics so that they could look just like Dorian.

Considering the amount of money Revlon spent on the ad campaign and the amount of profit they made back from doing it they should and could have sprung for a decent dress for their top model! Charles Revson was infatuated with Dorian and wanted to marry her. She turned him down repeatedly. I wonder why? Don’t you? I haven’t found out the reasons yet, but will post that juicy tidbit of information when I do. I suspect she may have found him cheap! Suzy Parker, Dorian’s sister, complained that Revlon paid them “peanuts” for modeling for these ads. The girls knew that Revlon was nothing without them, but Revlon hadn’t realized the value of its models yet. They didn’t until Lauren Hutten came along in the 1970’s and demanded an exclusive contract. That was the beginning of the big money for women who modeled in cosmetic ads.

This getup has gotten me thinking that I could make an Ultra Violet Girl costume to wear for Halloween! I always try to come up with a violet theme being Lady Violette. All I would have to do is apply my makeup like Dorian’s vintage makeup design in the picture; then, dye a white sheet violet in Ritt dye in my washing machine, artfully wrap and drape it as they have done in the photograph, pile on some costume jewelry, plop my big violet colored straw hat on my head and cover myself with artificial violets and lilacs which can be bought in garlands or individual stems at craft stores. I could even make myself a round box like the powder box she is holding, label it Ultra Violet, and hold it out for my treats! A little small for candy? I don’t want candy! I want big girl treats ~ some of those Harry Winston treats like Dorian’s will be just fine and should fit perfectly and discreetly in my little treat box!

 

Suzy Parker Inspires Looking Glamorous in Vintage Fashions After Car Accidents, Broken Arms, & Surgery in Elegant Long Gloves

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Suzy Parker at age 17 in 1950 Wearing Long Gloves in LIFE Magazine Photo Early in Her Modeling Career.

In the summer of 2003 I was doing research for an  article I was writing on the beautiful 1950s – 60s model Suzy Parker who had recently died. Before finishing that project I was in a very serious auto accident in which I was severely injured. I had to be cut out of the car by the jaws of life and taken to the trauma ward. I had many injuries, which resulted in multiple surgeries and scars. I  broke my left arm and had to have surgery on my right wrist, which left me with scars.

A Few Years Later Suzy on the Cover of LIFE Magazine Wearing a Red Sequined Dress by Norell and Long White Opera Gloves

I remembered that Suzy had also been in a terrible auto accident in which her father was killed and she broke both her arms. I also remembered she was in a second accident years later when filming an episode of the Twilight Zone. I looked terrible after my accident of course, and I thought of Suzy often as inspiration because she managed to come back, looking lovely and sophisticated, and working as a model and actress again after these accidents and injuries. She inspired me to keep going at times. I read in an interview that she had scars on her arms after this, but kept working because she learned to hold her arms to conceal them or wore gloves, which, luckily, were very fashionable during that time period. You can check out The Suzy Parker Glove Gallery for a collection of photos of Suzy wearing gloves.

Suzy Parker Modeling Crochet Gloves and a Long Flowing Scarf~ So Elegant!

Then, 3 and a half weeks ago, I broke my right wrist and arm in multiple places and ended up having to have a second surgery on my right arm and this time left the hospital with a metal plate and nine pins in my right wrist. I also have a nice neat surgical wound of several inches running up the inside of my right arm. This will become yet another distinctive scar on my right arm along with the other one on the side of that wrist.

Gorgeous Suzy Parker in a Stunning Cocktail Dress with Long White Gloves

Again, I thought of Suzy Parker. And the beautiful pictures of her wearing long gloves with almost every ensemble she modeled. I love vintage clothes, gloves and her look. Now, I’m in a cast/splint, enduring the tedious recovery process. and doing everything my doctor ordered, but this will take quite a while to heal. I’m thinking a lot about Suzy and her gloves and I want to incorporate gloves into most of my outfits when this is over. I already have a glove collection started. But now I am really inspired to acquire more! They are both practical and very elegant. I know I am going to have to keep this wrist and arm warm during the winter because injuries are always more vulnerable to cold. I’m going to wear gloves and think of Suzy when I’m getting dressed both casually and formally. Isn’t she beautiful and inspiring?

This last picture in the sequined evening gown was taken after she recovered and returned to work following the terrible accident in which her father was killed and both her arms were broken. She looks so elegant and beautiful because she was very professional and knew how to put herself together and carry on with life turning mishaps and misfortune into life experience and understanding that comes across in her photos. I find her grace and maturity appealing and glamorous. In the fifties and sixties women tried to look sophisticated and worldly. Personally, I like this look much more than the young looking models of today. It makes me happy with myself as I get older! I’m posting this in the hope other women will find it and be inspired by her as well! If you browse through the glove gallery of photos of her you will find many inspiring looks to emulate in makeup, hair styling, coats, suits, day dresses, cocktail gowns. evening dresses, furs and jewelry as well as gloves. Her photos epitomize 1950’s glamor! Enjoy!

Suzy Parker After She Recovered From Her Injuries Received in the 1958 Car Accident and Back at Work Modeling an Elegant Black Sequined Evening Gown With Long White Opera Gloves, Diamond Earrings & a Sterling Silver Mink Stole ~ If I Had to Walk the Red Carpet Today I Think I Would Like to Wear This Ensemble! I Think it is as Beautiful and Appropriate Today as When it was Originally Created.

Dates and some facts regarding Suzy Parker’s auto accidents:
On June 7, 1958, Suzy Parker аnd hеr father, George Parker, wеrе involved іn a horrific car-train collision. Apparently, nеіthеr Suzy οr George, thе latter οf whοm hаd bееn аt thе wheel, hаd heard thе oncoming train. George died οf hіѕ injuries аt thе hospital whіlе Suzy suffered several broken bones аnd embedded glass, though none tο hеr famous face. In 1964, whіlе rehearsing fοr hеr role аѕ Lana Cuberle/Simmons/Grace/Doe/Jane #12 іn Thе Twilight Zone episode “Number 12 Looks Jυѕt Lіkе Yου″ (1/24/64), Parker wаѕ involved іn another car accident. After that she said she retired to be the best possible wife and mother.

Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm ~ by Lady Violette de Courcy

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Having broken my Right arm, and wrist, for real, last Saturday night, and had surgery for a compound fracture with metal plates and screws inserted on Tuesday, I have learned a lot about slings over the last few days. This is my Left handed typing too, which is getting pretty good, pretty quickly! This is a serious injury and actually quite painful. And, of course, I have to keep my arm elevated. It also feels like it weighs a ton!

I am small and the two slings I was issued from the hospital, one from the ER and one after my surgery, were both way too big and slipped all over the place and were, consequently, inadequate! They were both terribly uncomfortable and would not stay in place at all! I  found this very annoying!

I immediately remembered Grace Kelly using her Hermes scarf as an elegant sling in a similar situation and got right down to trying it. There is nothing unusual about using a square piece of cloth or a scarf for a sling! It has been standard emergency medical practice forever. I found quite a few how to directions online. One instructed actors as well as injured people on how to make a proper sling until you could get professional medical attention.Being an actress I wondered if Grace had studied this in acting classes? It was easy to follow so it is the one I decided to use and link to. How to Make a Sling Out of a Scarf Instructions. This is from eHow Trusted advice for the curiuos life.

They didn’t give specific Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm or Hermes or Other Scarf Sling Size Instructions so I will. They assume many scarf shapes or sizes will work.  And they probably will with experimentation. I was interested in what Grace Kelly used and how she did it. So here is that specific information.

Instructions for Tying the Grace Kelly Hermes Scarf Sling for a Broken Arm

And Hermes or Other Scarf Sling Size Instructions

by Lady Violette de Courcy

1). Grace Kelly used a 35 inch square Hermes silk scarf laid out on a flat surface and brought the opposite corners together folding the scarf in half in a triangle. She then tied the diagonal corners into a secure knot.

2) Grace then placed  the knot over her head so that the scarf draped down over her chest in a loop and the knot rested on her shoulder just to the side of her neck. (Not directly on the spine as that can injure the neck and or spine.)

3) She then gathered the Hermes scarf loop together and pulled it up in front of her injured arm. She positioned her scarf with the wide striped outside border to the outside (her shoulder side) as you can see in the top photograph.

4) Then Grace slowly slid her injured hand and injured arm into the scarf loop. She continued to gently slide the injured arm into the loop until the entire forearm was tucked inside.

5) Grace then tucked her elbow and hand into the loop ensuring that her entire arm was protected within the sling. The Hermes scarf was large and she had excess fabric on the end of the elbow. She folded this excess fabric over the front of the arm and pinned it to the sling with a large 24K gold safety pin, concealed discreetly inside the folds of the Hermes scarf for extra support. This last step kept her elegant Hermes scarf sling from slipping and held her injured arm secure and close to her torso.

I followed these instructions to the letter with a friend’s help tying and pinning my 35 inch square Hermes scarf the first time because it was impossible for me to do it alone with a broken arm! I am quite sure Grace Kelly had to have help as well when her arm was broken! However, once we got it sized and adjusted and perfectly tied to fit it stayed that way and I could slip it on and off and slip my injured right arm in and out of it quite easily and safely all by myself! I, incidentally, used a sterling silver pin, instead of a 24K gold one! And it worked just perfectly!

I made note of the fact that Grace Kelly had also broken her right arm!

It is perfectly fine to use a Hermes scarf or any other strong scarf, vintage or new, designer or not, to make an elegant, secure custom fitted sling! The point is to make it out of a scarf you like and to have a tidy fit that will be secure and stay put while your injured arm heels safely.

Thank you Grace Kelly for this wonderful stylish idea that makes me feel better both physically and psychologically while recovering from an unpleasant injury! It helps!

 

 

My Amazing Quest for Beautiful Liberty of London Vintage Ties

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Beautiful Banners ~ Liberty of London Vintage Ties - Circa 1960's

A while back I wrote a post about my Liberty of London Scarf collection. That is one of my favorite blog posts I have done yet!

After doing it I received a nice response from the Liberty of London Social Media Team complimenting me on my scarf collection, writing and photographs.  They seamed really pleased that I had the collection of their vintage scarves and had put up the photos to share them. I have been thinking about  that ever since as I have several other Liberty items. I love the fabrics. I realize I have scarves, skirts, blouses, and now men’s ties! I even have some makeup in packages designed by Liberty of London in collaboration with Mac Cosmetics.

This is What to Look for On the Flip Side Liberty of London Men's Ties - the Fabrics and the Labels

Because the scarves go so beautifully and comfortably around women’s necks I felt it was logical to explore what went around men’s necks next! I have seen artistic and fashionable men wear one of the Liberty of London Scarves occasionally and personally I think it looks great ~ but, let’s face it, not many men are wearing ascots these days! That was popular in Victorian times and in the 1940’s and 50’s. Men are getting really casual about their dress in the last couple of decades. They hardly even wear ties anymore! But they were in fashion for everyman in the middle of the last century! Doesn’t that phrase sound long ago? I feel like I just said something straight out of Oscar Wilde! The Importance of Being Ernest, perhaps, because I am earnest about this!

A Sampling of Liberty of London Vintage Ties - circa mid 1950's - mid 1960's ~ From Top to Bottom and Narrow to Wide

In the 1950’s, 60’s and very early 70’s Liberty of London made elegant ties for men out of their signature prints and fabrics. The earlier ones were traditional rather narrow width styles in the 1950’s and 60’s, elegantly done, in paisleys and small traditional silk prints and often utilized many of the subdued English Arts and Crafts type botanical prints in silks and wools. These suited the traditional English Tailored Gentleman Style of dressing very well.

In Chronological Order ~ Fanning Left to Right the Two on the Left are From the 1950's English Tailored Gentlemen's Style ~ the Two on the Right are From the Flower Child Style Eruption in the mid 1960's

Then, with the Flower Child Style eruption in the 1960’s bold full blown colorful flower patterns became popular. Liberty of London’s ties were often wider and more dramatic in both shape and coloring.  They were made from some of the more flamboyant archival floral prints from the Liberty of London Fabric Collection. I have seen them done in cotton, silk, and wool challis. The Liberty designers also issued new prints to meet the 1960’s fashion world’s demand for color and big flowers. Liberty’s style was particularly suited for this opportunity! As the demand for these more flamboyant men’s ties emerged some women’s scarves were also issued in brighter palettes for the more fashion forward. Somebody in the marketing department of Liberty was very wisely looking ahead ~ making sure to attract a younger clientele for the present and future success of the company. Liberty of London has always been very aware of its market combined with what is happening in the society at any given time. That is one of their very strong points as a company.

Note the Labels on These Flamboyant Mid 1960's Liberty of London Ties! By Now They Were Notating Which Prints They Used Were New and Which Were Taken From Their Archival Designs. Note the Customization of Their Tie Linings As Well!

The mainstream fashion world’s high point for popularity for mens’ Liberty of London ties was the 1960’s. They were coveted by hip dressers in the fashion forward cities in the United States, Canada and Western Europe. That fad died down in 1970’s,  but Liberty, of course, continued to make traditional ties as they always had for their English Tailored Gentlemen Style customers. Elegant, subdued and distinctive these ties could be spotted a mile away by those in the know. I saw them now and then on distinguished gentlemen.

This is a good point to mention that the Liberty of London Company is very British and steadfast in the sense that they always can be relied upon to consistently produce certain types of old reliable items that their permanent admirers want – fashion fads notwithstanding.

I became really interested in exploring the Liberty of London print ties right after writing my blog post on the Liberty scarves. I had long been aware of them, but I had never owned any before that. Two things happened to whet my appetite for finding some. My general resurgence of interest in all things Liberty of London because of my scarf tying and writing post and secondly, the fact that a friend of mine asked me to help him shop for and co~ordinate a business wardrobe. We went shopping for men’s clothes for 2 days – in a big hurry because he had to leave for Tokyo for a week of meetings, and being in IT in Seattle, had been dressing casually for work for the last 10 years. He had no dress clothes! We had to do everything at once. That is hard and I do not recommend it. You ideally need to allow more time to co~ordinate things and get alterations done!

We flew into action. I must admit I am very good at this and I really enjoy personal wardrobe consulting. I knew what stores to go to for what brands and what was on sale. This man is very tall and thin and has a hard time finding ready made shirts and jackets with long enough sleeves and slim bodies ~ as well as pants with small waists and long enough inseams. This is one reason he hates going shopping and puts it off as long as possible. We bought everything! And after getting the main pieces down we got to the fun part ~ selecting ties. Until we looked at the prices! The new silk designer ties are really expensive! As much as, or more than, women’s designer scarves! My friend had sticker shock! We had to buy three because we had no time to search for bargains. He had to get alterations done and leave town packed by the next day. I had an alterations connection who was willing to do a rush job. We got him packed, and off to Tokyo looking fantastic with enough clothes for a week of business meetings in the very critical Tokyo design and advertising world where the men are very fashion conscious. They even flash their labels to show you who designed what they are wearing. They are absolute competitive fashion sharks! The modern day version of the dandies of the French court.

His clothes worked out. Everything was a hit. While he did business in Tokyo I got busy learning about vintage ties. I went online and searched for vintage tie dealers and looked at their offerings and prices. They were considerably less expensive than the boutique and department store ties we had just looked at and had to buy in the shops due to the rush we were in. I memorized the desirable designer names and absorbed their looks. I made myself a mental tie dictionary. Ties are complicated! And very sophisticated. New ones, as I mentioned above, are very costly. I decided to hit the local thrift shops, consignment and vintage shops to see what I could find. Ties are something I like to see, feel and inspect in person. ties are very sensual.

I live in Seattle, WA. Men have not been dressing up much for work in the IT industry here for decades. For me this was very fortunate. No one was buying ties and there were lots to be had. Especially lots of awful ones! These little resale shops were loaded with possibilities! This was how I began my Liberty Tie Collection. I searched for vintage ties, knowing what kind I was hoping to find and after looking at about 1,000 truly, finally, found one Liberty of London vintage tie!

I was spurred on! About 500 ties later, I found another one! About 2,000 ties after that, yet another! And so on. Last week, I had four and decided it was time to photograph them to write this post. So I did. Then, driving home from town last night, I stopped at the Goodwill and jackpot! I found yet another one! I now have five! Altogether 5 Liberty of London vintage ties. 5! I am so excited! And, just so you know, I have to get excited to write about these things!

And I must admit I have also picked up many other ties that are really nice from different designers as well.  I now have a basic collection of about 40, altogether, great men’s vintage ties. Why? You may wonder, being a woman? Well, because I like the fabrics and the way they are made, and I decided it would be fun to have them around to loan to my male friends who are always needing help with their clothes! I am also figuring out ways to use them myself and think I will incorporate them into my own wardrobe in some very feminine menswear inspired looks this fall and winter. Something to look forward to! Hopefully I will blog about that! I will certainly try!

I decided the time was ripe, I must write about my Liberty of London Vintage Tie Quest this this very weekend.

Study the Front Side as Well as The Flip Side ~ Inspect the Ties Carefully ~ if Buying Vintage You Want to be Sure the Tie You Pick is in Pristine Condition

As I drove home I thought about this: Vintage shopping takes time. You cannot go to a store because you know you need something and find it right then and there. You have to have a lot of patience and search and search. Over time. I cannot emphasize how long it takes to put together a decent collection of wearable art in this way. It is a constant work in progress. And it requires tremendous self discipline. I am always editing up. I have a rule, I have a limited amount of physical space and I must take as much out of my collections and get rid of it as I bring into them. Thus I am sorting and recycling constantly. I have kept many items for decades and some for only a few months. The hunt is part of the fun. You never know what will be around the next corner, what you may find, what new desire this might kindle within you. And, when you get one of these desires going you have to keep it smoldering in the back of your mind constantly, in order to keep the quest for finding it it fueled. Somehow, sending the message that you want something old and odd or unusual helps it to appear on your horizon. This really works! But you must have patience. Sometimes it takes two years or longer for something special to appear.

The Subtler Colorations of Traditional Silks From the 1950's Liberty of London Styles.

This is how it was, as you have read, with the Liberty Vintage Ties!

Then, all of a sudden, as I was driving home I remembered this:

About two years ago, when I was rushing around doing household errands in Target of all places, in Seattle, Washington, I remembered I had seen some men’s Liberty of London print ties for sale! They were part of the Liberty of London for Target collaboration that produced a variety of popular lifestyle accessories, from lamp shades, through throw pillows, clothing and my favorite ~ screen printed bicycles for women and children! I was busy. I was not paying attention. I did not look very hard. I did not buy anything from Liberty of London issued in collaboration with Target that day. In fact, at the time the Target/Liberty campaign was going on I didn’t get into it at all! I missed out on the entire thing! I wish I hadn’t! But I must say, I live in an area where Target is not very active. Very little of that companies special campaigns merchandise make it into the stores in my area. I have since become aware of this because some people I know are collaborating with Target merchandising and PR on developing on their I-phone Application.  In fact, one of those very people is the man whom I was helping with his trip to Tokyo business wardrobe.

This guy is a computer person. He is an IT professional. He is also a gamer. He has long teased me for my penchant for vintage shopping and collecting. He recently observed that thrifting is like gaming – it is all about the hunt, the unknown, the quest, what you will find around the next corner when you go out looking, and what that will lead you onto next. The reward, we vintage shoppers get, in our game, is the treasure we find to add to our collection at a price we are willing to pay. He has observed that people who are “addicted” to thrifting are similar to gamers in this way. He uses this as justification for spending much time gaming, of course! Time I think he should be spending some of shopping so that his wardrobe is ready when he needs it!

Collection of Liberty of London Vintage Scarves ~ Circa 1960's

I do know some thrift shoppers who love to shop because they find it “so relaxing.” these people buy something of everything. I am different. I actually find thrift shopping quite stressfull. I think this is because I am honing in on a particularly small areas of highly specialized and hard to find items. Rare stuff that one hardly ever comes across. And I am way over the thrill of looking through tons of garbage to possibly find it. I actually do not like to have too much stuff around. And all of it must be orderly and neat and in very good condition. I turn down 90% of what I find because it is not pristine enough to fit my standards.

I clean and repair everything as soon as I acquire it if that is necessary. I don’t want to have anything dirty or needing renovation lying around. This, in my opinion, is the advanced stage of successful collecting! These are the ways I have managed to assemble my own collections. I would say that operating within limitations is generally a good guideline. In this case I was looking specifically for the men’s version of the Liberty of London neck pieces ~the ties ~ made in the same time period as my women’s vintage Liberty of London scarves. I was also looking for about the same number of them ~ four or five. I often actually set out with a number like this in mind as I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by having to find or take care of too many. I find that I use and enjoy things if I have numbers of them that are under control.

Photographs of the ties are by Fredric Lehrman

Photographs of the scarves are by Violette de Courcy

 

 

The Epitome of Grace ~ The Charming Ways Princess Grace of Monaco Wore Scarves & Instructions From Hermes on How to Tie the Grace Kelly Scarf Style.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Princess Grace of Monaco Gracefully Disembarks From a Plane Wearing a Hermes Scarf as a Sling While Recovering From a Broken Arm

Grace Kelly & Carry Grant in to Catch a Thief

Gorgeous Grace Kelly was always the epitome of class and style. She is a great inspiration for ways to wear anything when dressing in vintage and modern fashions! When she broke her arm in 1956 she cleverly devised a Hermes scarf as a sling! Of course that made international scarf styling news!

While researching her wearing scarves I particularly noticed this because I broke my arm and had to have surgery on my wrist and didn’t know about this manner of making a sling. I would have done it had I been informed! Why don’t doctors suggest this?

She was famous for tying Hermes scarves around her head to protect her hair. That way she wore them became known as the Grace Kelly Style. It was particularly becoming on her and women all over the world adapted her style in the 1950’s and 60’s – both to emulate her look and to protect their hairstyles when outdoors in windy weather as well as for activities like riding in convertibles and yachting! The sun hurt her eyes so she wore huge dark glasses and made those famous too! Of course! Nobody else has ever looked as stylish in dark glasses as she did! Needing glasses in order to see clearly she also made them look beautiful! In fact, she made everything she put on look great.

Princess Grace of Monaco wore Hermes scarves and bags regularly and single handedly provided the company with a celebrity style icon who was both a legitimate princess and a real movie star just because she liked their products. They must have been delighted that her fashion choices put them on the map and brought them worldwide publicity and attention throughout her lifetime. That was way before celebrity endorsements became the rage. Grace chose to wear their accessories on her own, too. In my opinion, her good taste and exquisite sense of personal style gives more credence to Hermes name the than any endorsement contract could. Who could not want to look like Grace Kelly? Even punk princesses imitate her in one way or another!

She was always naturally graceful and feminine. She epitomized the Feminine Arts in her career as an actress and in her life as a woman. Grace Kelly was extraordinary. I don’t think this was because she became a film star or a real life princess. I think it happened in the reverse. I think she became a film star and a princess because she was already extraordinary as a person. Fortunately she became well known for her attributes and entertained and inspired many people throughout her life through her performances in her acting career and later, for much longer period, in her real life role as the Princess of Monaco. No matter what happened in her life, she always maintained her incredible poise! I think her training and experience as an actress gave her added advantageous skills to handle her jobs as wife, mother, princess and celebrity. In my opinion she was far superior and light years beyond other royal wives. Of course it probably helped that her husband truly respected her and was totally and publicly really in love with her. Plus, the fact that she had had her own career and success, and was mature in terms of life experience when she married were to her advantage. She was perfectly qualified for the job of a princess.

Grace Kelly Demonstrates a Unique Way to Wear a Hermes Scarf

I was searching for a photo of Grace in her well known headscarf style when I found the pictures of her using her Hermes scarf as a sling. I just had to post them! It’s such a great idea for scarf styling! I hope no one ever breaks an arm, but if she does I can guarantee she will feel better if brought a Hermes Scarf as a get well gift! Unfortunately, I didn’t get one when I broke my arm!

These are some pictures I found of Grace wearing scarves and it is easy to understand why she made them famous! In researching her actually wearing scarves she tied them every way imaginable – around her neck, babushka style under her chin, crossed over each other in the neckline of a jacket, as stoles with evening gowns, decorating the brim of her hat, tying her hair back into a ponytail, as a headband, and the infamous arm sling! But over the years she became famous for the elegant style associated with protecting her hair while stylishly riding in a convertible as illustrated in the how to drawing below.

Here are instructions, from a little booklet given out by Hermes, on how to tie Grace Kelly’s famous hair protecting, face flattering, scarf design showing headscarf style. It is very easy to do. So we have no excuse not to look like Grace Kelly from now on as we run about town! This works best with a large square scarf. The Hermes scarves she so famously used were silk twill 90 cm squares. That is 35 1/2 ” x 35 1/2 .” I’ve tried it with both silk and cotton square scarves and both worked well.

From the photos you can get additional ideas on scarf styling, tying and wearing for some of the other pretty and classic ways Grace did it! They are all straightforward and easy to drape or tie. I hope you find Grace as inspiring as I do! She is not only lovely to look at she also looks nice and sweet!

How to Tie & Wear a Hermes 90 cm Square Silk Twill Scarf the Grace Kelly Way ~ Instructions Courtesy of Hermes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Collection of Liberty of London’s Classic Vintage Scarves Showing Some Prototypical Designs and Floral Prints From the Past of the Type the Liberty of London Company is Famous For!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Royal Blue Liberty of London Vintage Silk Twill Multi Color Flower & Paisley Print Scarf

My Treasured Collection of Four Liberty of London Vintage Silk Scarves

Yesterday I was inspired to get out my small collection of vintage Liberty of London flower printed silk scarves after watching the French stylist Lauranne Plats wonderful scarf tying tutorials for Liberty of London. They are bright and cheerful colors and I want to have them ready to wear in the hope that it might someday actually  become spring or summer here! It has been unseasonably cold, dark and wet in Seattle where I live this April, surprisingly even colder and wetter than London!  Everyday of the last month has been between 10 and 15 degrees colder in Seattle than in London!

A 1970's Liberty of London Vintage Scarf Label Shown Above Framed Inside the Bracelet.

It’s reminding me of the movie Enchanted April in which a group of London women in the 1920’s pool their financial resources to rent a Villa in sunny Italy and take a vacation against their husband’s wishes! However, when they get to Tuscany, it is raining hard, but “It’s Italian rain!” So, inevitably, things get better. I highly recommend this movie! Especially now, if you need warming up and cheering up and at least a couple of hours of escape from dreary grey dampness.I watch Enchanted April every spring if I cannot get away! It is a good mini vacation and it also reminds me that this seemingly endless damp overcast is good for my pale complexion! I remind myself that the humidity makes my hair wavy which is actually becoming. And that the sun finally comes out in this movie, as it will here eventually!

Navy Blue Border with an All Over Dense Floral Print Liberty of London Vintage Scarf

Meanwhile , I am lucky to have inherited four really pretty vintage classic Liberty of London scarves in excellent condition. I can wear them rain or shine! They are good examples of the traditional designs the Liberty company became famous for so I am posting them here to share with other scarf enthusiasts.

Another Version of a Liberty Label in a Close Up of the Scarf Pictured to the Left

I’ve recently been sorting out my scarves, bringing spring and summer ones forward and putting winter ones away, After watching Lauranne Plat demonstrate on the Liberty of London Scarf tying tutorials I was really inspired!  I learned some new ways to tie and saw some stunning scarves! So, out of curiosity, I went to Liberty’s Scarf Store website to check on what new scarves they were recommending for this spring 2011 that has yet to come! They have beautiful modern designs available by many designers. And, fortunately, they still offer many versions of the traditional designs for which they originally became famous. Designs similar to these.

Liberty of London 26" Square Silk Scarf

Burgundy Liberty of London Scarf Border

I have always loved Liberty of London’s ladylike silk scarves in tiny floral prints and paisleys. I grew up with them. Here is a sweet burgundy one with a printed “lace” border trimmed in traditional old fashioned English garden flowers including roses, cornflowers, and nasturtiums. Miniature bouquets, tied together with bows of the same printed lace are scattered over the rich wine background. This scarf is a 26″ square. I think this scarf is from the early 1970’s. The mannequins first two fingers are pointing out  the Liberty signature very subtly printed in the printed lace border in the picture to the left.

Vintage Liberty Of London Burgundy Beauty ~ Large Shining Silk Twill Scarf with Lace Motif & Charming English Garden Flower Border Print

My mother and my grandmother loved Liberty of London fabrics, regularly wore Liberty scarves and made themselves and me light and fluttery spring and summer dresses and blouses out of Liberty’s delectable floral printed cotton Tana lawn. I have fond memories of excursions to the department store to pick out fabrics for my summer wardrobe. I was always taken along to be sure I liked the final choices and to learn how to choose colors and appropriate fabrics and patterns that would work together. This was a very pleasurable part of my education! Everything they were trying to teach me really sunk it and stuck! We always went out to lunch afterward. I loved watching the women who went downtown to shop dressed up and wearing hats and gloves. It was a real dress up event for them! My mother told me that dressing up to go downtown shopping and out to lunch was a performance. Everyone you knew would see you and you should look as nice as possible. They carefully planned what they were going to wear each week! For them it really was a performance and they took it very seriously! They rehearsed for their performances as if they were fine actresses, often trying on the outfits they were planning to wear in advance to be sure all the parts went together perfectly. They were very elegant!

Spectacular Large 1970's Vintage Liberty of London Silk Twill Scarf ~ Cream Ground, Floral Print, Black Border, Hand Rolled Hem. The Liberty of London, Made in England Signature is Just Above the Mannequin's Finger With the Ring on it, Printed in Beige. These Labels Were Printed onto the Scarves as a Subtle Part of the Floral Print.

Some more things I remember from going shopping with them as a little girl to pick out fabrics. They taught me that Liberty’s floral printed cotton was the world’s best. I have always loved the floral prints. It was definitely the most expensive, both then and now, but it is well worth it! I fondly remember many of my favorite prints and the clothes they made out of them. I really loved some of my dresses. And the experiences I had with these women that included Liberty’s fabrics have influenced my life and stuck in my mind. They taught me to be an excellent seamstress, and designer, and Liberty was a big part of that. They taught me to dress well, and Liberty was part of that, too! They taught me to appreciate flowers and use them in every part of my life. Liberty was part of that as well. They taught me to shop for quality and not accept less. I remember, as a teenager, being in a prestigious department store with my mother looking through a rack of wool challis skirts and blouses, fabric from Liberty of London. She said to the sales clerk, “We’ll take two, one in each color.” I hadn’t tried them on, but she said, “I know they’ll look good on you and I know they’ll fit by looking at them and I know they are quality because they are made by Liberty.” She knew she could trust what they made. She was right. I wore those two piece dresses for two years and they fit perfectly. I wish I still had them!

A Royal Blue Paisley and Floral Print Vintage 1970's Liberty of London Silk Twill Scarf with an Ornate floral Border Print The Liberty Label is to the Right Side of the Lady Figurine.

To this day I very clearly remember particularly favorite Liberty of London scarf prints. This blue one with the paisleys was my mother’s. One summer she wore it a lot in San Francisco with a chic navy blue Christian Dior silk suit, a light blue Dior silk blouse, apple green jade carved squirrel earrings with diamond eyes, and an apple green Chinese jade carved bead and gold necklace. She wore a trademark pair of kelly green sling back Amalfi pumps, and a navy blue Christian Dior frame purse. Of course, she wore white Dior kidskin gloves with this. It was a beautiful outfit. This scarf is so pretty! It is the opening picture in this post as well. Below is a close up of the Liberty of London label printed amongst the flowers on the border of one corner. It is positioned to the Right side of the china lady figurine in the full scarf photo above. Liberty’s labels are subtly placed amidst the flowers or other designs on their scarves.

My Precious Collection of Vintage Liberty of London Silk Scarves

You can see more photos I have taken of Vintage Liberty of London Scarves and read more that I have written about Liberty of London’s Scarf Tying Tutorials with Lauranne Plat on my post titled “French Women are Famous for the Way They Tie and Wear Their Scarves.”

Liberty of London Made in England 100% Silk

French Women Are Famous For the Way They Tie & Wear Their Scarves! I Highly Recommend Liberty of London’s Six Videos with French Scarf Stylist Lauranne Plat!

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A  Classic Vintage Liberty of London Scarf From Lady Violette’s Personal Collection

 

Today I happened upon the Liberty of London Scarf Tying Tutorial when I visited their store in quest of ways to wear the vintage Liberty of London scarves in my personal collection. And what a great find!

Liberty of London is famous for their printed fabrics and beautiful scarves. Also for their scarf shop in London where you can buy luxurious scarves from them and many other top designers. They now have an in shop scarf stylist extraordinaire, Lauranne Plat, who is French, has an adorable accent, and is fabulously talented at showing how to do all kinds of magical things with scarves in the most charming French manner. They have made a series of videos with Lauranne demonstrating and they are great! There are six so far and I hope there will be many more! The series of six is called The Liberty Way to Wear a Scarf. It is visually excellent as well as you will see when you watch her teaching in action on the video.

They include The Chiffon Knot, the Flower Headband, the Halterneck, The Chunky Braid, the Turban, and The Handbag and I advise watching all of them. They are realistic and easy to execute styles. Pretty and Fun. So is Lauranne! The styles she teaches us to do will work with new and vintage scarves, many sizes, the lovely designer scarves they sell and scarves you may already have in your collection. I learned a few new tricks for scarves I’ve had for a long time! This scarf tying tutorial  is definitely worthwhile! Merci Lauranne!

To see a collection of beautiful Liberty of London scarves and read about more them please view my blog post titled  A Collection of Liberty of London’s Classic Vintage Scarves Showing Some Prototypical Designs and Floral Prints the Liberty Company is Famous For where I show a lovely collection of four vintage scarves in detail.

The Mannequin is Pointing to The Liberty of London Label Which is Subtly Printed Into the Floral Design of This Scarf. You have to Look Carefully in the Field of Flowers to find it!

Scarf Styling for Long Oblong Scarves ~ Two Ways Lady Violette Likes to Wear an Oblong Scarf ~ Simply Looped and Draped & in a Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for a Long Scarf

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Step #1) Begin with Oblong Scarf Simply Draped -

I have a 96″ long crinkly green silk scarf with beaded fringe on both ends. Here Tricia James, International Scarf  Stylist, shows us one way she wraps and ties such a scarf It is lovely as is and can be worn in a simple elegant drape looped around the neck with both ends hanging down as shown in the first photo and Step #1 ~ You can wear the scarf simply looped just like this or begin with this drape as the first step of the dramatic double side wrap style.

With all the fancy scarf tying and embellishing experiments of late I still think the simple drapes are sometimes the most modern and sophisticated ways of wearing and showing off  beautiful scarf shapes and textiles. I like both elegantly simple and ornate ways of styling scarves and shawls. I want to wear them in different ways at different times. I like having both options and the skills for styling both of them.

This scarf is particularly long ~ eight feet long to be exact! It was given to me by someone who thought it was too long and awkward for her to handle! I was delighted to receive  it! It is silk, permanently pleated, and embellished with seed beads on both ends.

Because it is so very very long it is perfect for wrapping. Here is how to do this dramatic double wrap style ~ done the same way Tricia demonstrated on one side in the earlier post titled ~ How to Tie the Orange Pashima ~ but done on both sides to create this lovely style.

Step #2) Wrap End on Left Side Under & Around

Step #2) Begin with the Left side. All you do is wrap the end on one side under and pull it through…

Step #3) Pull it Through

Step #3) Then wrap it around again, repeating under and around and through…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #4) Wrap Fabric Around & Around Until You Reach the Bottom of the Front Draped Loop

Step #4) Continuing until you have wrapped the fabric around enough times to get to the bottom of your front drape loop.

Step #5) Repeat the Wrapping Process on the Right Side of the Scarf

Step #5) Repeat the exact same wrapping process on the Right side of the scarf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #6) Voila! The beautiful finished Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for an Oblong Scarf! Once again demonstrating that tying and wearing a scarf beautifully is definitely one of the foremost Feminine Arts! Thank you Tricia for demonstrating this beautiful style! You can visit Tricia James at ScarfGenie.com.

Step #6) The finished Dramatic Double Side Wrap Style for an Oblong Scarf!

Three Ways the Stunning Swedish Actress Greta Garbo Wore Large Shawls as Elegant Vintage Evening Wraps

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

There are even more beautiful ways to wear a large square shawl. As I promised I am continuing with my demonstrations using my 43″ square blue silk shawl with the 6″ hand tied fringe. Because I am showing more methods of styling this size and shape of shawl or scarf with this blue shawl I am continuing to identify them as part of the sequence of large blue shawl styles and they will be numbered as style # 6, #7,and #8 accordingly. You can find the previous styles in these former posts:

In an old original publicity shot for the movie The Tempest the great Scandinavian film actress Greta Garbo is wearing just such a long elegant evening shawl draped around her shoulders and pinned in place. The photo was taken shortly after her arrival in Hollywood. The studio was determined to capitalize on her exotic European elegance and extraordinary beauty to turn her into a top grossing international star. I searched and searched on the internet but could not find that photo to add to this post. I saw it years ago in a museum retrospective on her films and it has stuck in my memory ~ it was a full figure shot and she was leaning against a wrought iron wishing gate wrapped in a long shawl much like this one. Of course Garbo, in a lovely setting, wearing a beautiful vintage shawl shot by a professional Hollywood glamour photographer made a magnificent and alluring fashion photograph! In her honor I will name these three styles which she inspired after her!

Style #6) Greta Garbo ~ Version A Simply Drape Shawl Evenly Across Shoulders

Style #6) The Greta Garbo ~ Version A. Hold the shawl spread fully open. Fold the fringe of the shawl and about 2 inches of the top edge of the fabric forward so it will hang toward the inside facing the back of your neck. Place the folded edge of the long top side of the shawl at the middle of the back of your neck, bring it across your back and forward over your shoulders making sure the center is in the middle of your neck and back so both sides hang down in even equal lengths. Make sure the fringe is hanging straight. You have very simply draped the shawl evenly across your shoulders. This is the classic way to wear a large shawl in every country and every culture, for both warmth and graceful feminine beauty. It shows off the fabric, the design and style of the shawl, and the woman!

 

 

 

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~ Version B

Style #7) The Greta Garbo ~Version B. Arrange the shawl as shown in Version A, Then bring both sides of the shawl together in the front and cross it over a bit in the center and clip it together in one or two areas to hold it firmly in place so that it doesn’t slip off your shoulders and fall to the ground.

That’s all there is to it! It is amazingly simple and lovely.

You can use one or more brooches or pins, a shawl clip or clips, a stick pin, or, as I did here, two vintage clip earrings. I have discovered that I can use clip earrings from the 1950’s which are too big and heavy for me to wear on my ears as shawl, scarf and sweater clips! It is great to have another use for these earrings because many of them are very pretty.

Clip Earrings Used as Shawl Clips

These vintage clip earrings are made of blue butterfly wings used to create little tropical landscape pictures complete with palm trees and sunsets! Jewelry and other objects made of butterfly wings were popular souvenirs from South America in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

This is a good place to mention that I found this lovely large square fringed scarf/shawl at a thrift store for only $4! Isn’t that amazing as well? I recommend looking for scarves and shawls on a regular basis at vintage stores and thrift shops. I think people get rid of them because they don’t know how to wear them! Which is lucky for us who are willing to work with them and learn how to style and use them.

I have also realized that many different and interesting types of ethnic scarves and shawls become available on the second hand market. I think this happens when people get tired of things or think they are old fashioned. And when people immigrate to the United States or Europe, and want to wear the new contemporary clothing to fit in in their new homes, they often get rid of the ethnic styles and national costumes of their homeland!

Many lovingly handmade scarves and shawls are also given away or gotten rid of.  I have found an East Indian sari, silk scarves from occupied Japan, a Ukranian shawl, a handwoven Tibetan silk scarf, an embroidered Spanish shawl, a French Leonard of Paris designer silk scarf, four British Liberty of London scarves, an Italian silk scarf, 3 Italian Missoni designer scarves, a hand knitted traditional Irish scarf, a Mexican rabosa shawl, an Indonesian batik sarong scarf, an Estonian hand knitted lace shawl, a hand made Breton lace scarf, a Scottish cashmere shawl, an old East Indian paisley shawl, a Russian flowered wool challis shawl, a Thai silk stole, a mink fur stole, a British wool and cashmere muffler from Burberry of London,  several American designer mufflers, a Spanish mantilla, and many more in second hand and thrift shops! I am often happy to rescue a beautiful ethnic textile or a handmade or historical vintage piece! I realize I have accumulated a pretty good collection of beautiful and historical  international scarf styles which is why I am now completely committed to learning how to wear them all!

For me, and many other women, scarves are purely fashion and style statements – beautiful expressions of the art of femininity! I was initially interested in them as textiles and clothing and only later realized they were not only means of expressing oneself fashionably and  artistically, but also embodied complex social, philosophical, cultural  and religious issues and beliefs. I learned that these squares, rectangles and triangles of cloth often represent much more than geometric shapes or beautiful ways to drape the body or set off your face. And I will write more about that at a later time.

I also noticed, in artists renderings, that many great beauties of history have often been draped in flattering shawls and scarves! Queen Cleopatra is beautifully draped in artists portraits. Helen of Troy as well! The notoriously beautiful Spanish dancer, Lola Montez, was wearing a magnificent Chinese embroidered piano shawl with long silk fringe when I “met her” in the photographic portrait gallery of the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York City. I first discovered her and developed an interest in her when I viewed her portrait on exhibit there! The modern dancer Isadora Duncan was also famous for wearing her reconstructed versions of draped Grecian style dresses and trademark blue shawls.

The list of glamorous and beautiful women in shawls goes on forever! Because I became interested in this subject I noticed them everywhere! That is how I eventually got to Greta Garbo! Years ago I saw several of her silent movies at a museum in Los Angeles and noted the shawl she wore and how she was wearing it in the film The Tempest right away! She was so beautiful and carried it off so well that I committed the image to memory and have often worn and fastened my own large shawls inspired by the way she wore them! This one is my favorite!

Style #8) The Greta Garbo ~ Version C ~ as she wore her shawl in The Tempest

Stlye #8)  The Greta Garbo ~  Version C ~  Another way Garbo the great wore her long fringed shawl in the film The Tempest. Wrap the shawl over the shoulders bringing the Left side all the way across the front overlapping it to the Right shoulder. Secure it in place with a brooch or shawl clip. I used my Eissenberg Ice blue and silver brooch because it is a lovely look with this shawl. It is there on the Right shoulder of the mannequin, but it is so sparkly it is almost blinding! That makes it hard to see in the photograph. I assure you, it both attractive and very noticeable in person!

This manner of styling makes a beautiful long formal evening wrap over a long columnar dress. It would be lovely worn over a simple bias cut spaghetti strapped gown! I would ideally have that in a dark royal or navy blue with this particular shawl!

I have always loved Garbo. I love to reference her in her films for clothing designs, makeup ideas, hair styles, and, of course, the incredible evening gowns designed for her by Adrian. Together they created great art in film fashion and, it epitomized femininity as an art form.

In my opinion no one, and nothing in the world that came before or after Greta Garbo, could possibly be more elegant!

I will continue to search for the publicity photos I saw of her wearing a shawl like this for The Tempest and post them here if and when I find them.

Speaking of artist’s renderings of supreme beauties there was another film, starring Garbo, in which she plays a popular artist’s model in Paris. A long and dramatic story that I cannot remember much about, including the name of it, although I distinctly remember the artist studio scenes with her posing for the painters and sculptors in them. As with most of the horribly melodramatic stories in the majority of her films it is not memorable as a movie, but it is worth seeing to see her and her fabulous clothes. I am always amazed at how Hollywood dressed the actresses playing starving artist’s models and other poor working women in those movies in extravagantly beautiful and outrageously expensive designer clothes.

Of course, like all the girls and women who saw these actresses, it made me want to be like them and dress like them.  And that was the point, wasn’t it? The movies did a lot for fashion in their heyday! I think that they are hugely responsible for the fact that women were more glamorous in general back then and dressed as much as possible like these stars in their real lives.

Because I love that period of fashion history and it inspires me so much I try to dress that way myself now, whenever I get the chance.Of course this takes effort and time but it is well worth it to bring more beauty and pleasure into the world for people to enjoy!

I am grateful for the inspiration I receive from all the people who worked  in the old movies to create the glamorous effects we associate with the great stars of the old Hollywood films! These actresses were beautiful women to begin with but their memorable images were also created with the help of many experts. The makeup artists, hair dressers, costume designers, lighting experts, photographers, brilliant film directors and publicity departments and the writers all contributed to create the final images.

The making of a great legendary Hollywood beauty and star of the old days of high glamor depended on a lot of people doing an incredible amount of high level creative work!

I think about that every time I set out to get dressed up for a high level social effect on my own! I think it must be a lot harder for me than it was with all that professional help! But this is real life, not the movies. I am only inspired by the old movies. I don’t live in them!

Thus, I try to get organized well in advance as I have found that that really helps me. By this I mean laying out my clothes and jewelry and shoes. Trying them on a couple of days ahead of the event for a dress rehearsal. That way, if anything needs to be repaired of altered I’ll have time to take care of it in advance. Figuring out any color co-ordinated makeup I need to plan on wearing in advance, etc. And figuring out some kind of wrap if it will be necessary to get from place to place on a cold winter’s night without freezing to death! Fur coats were popular in the old days for good reasons! They kept you warm as you went from place to place.

A shawl such as this is a good evening wrap in the late spring and summer, but in fall and winter it will not be warm enough worn alone as an outdoor wrap. In such a case you can wear a fur coat or long evening cape to the event and either carry or wear the shawl as neck scarf. When you arrive at the event, check your cape or fur coat, then go to the powder room and style your shawl as shown in one of the photos above. This way, if you are in a cold drafty venue, which is often the case, wearing a lightweight  evening dress with bare shoulders or no sleeves, you can wear the shawl to both stay warmer and look more glamorous! I did this at a winter black tie event this year and was the only woman there who was not covered with goose bumps! I also got a lot of compliments on my beautiful shawl!

I can imagine someone saying carry it? What does she mean, that would look tacky! Here is what I did. I carried a black satin evening purse, sort of a pouchy style between small and medium size. I rolled the above scarf up in a tight and quite small roll and put it into the purse along with a lipstick and a folding comb, and my brooch to pin the shawl. When I arrived, in high style, I checked my long black velvet evening cape and went to the ladies lounge, took my shawl out of my evening bag and put it on in front of the mirror. Then I checked my hair and lipstick, went out and checked my purse, because I don’t like having to hold onto those during an evening, and joined the guests. Many women who were purple with cold commented on how smart this was and said they had never thought of doing it!  I got through the evening looking grand and managed not to catch a cold! Silk is amazingly warm, in case you don’t know. It can actually be too hot during the summer.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I felt glamorous because I was not cold. I was comfortably warm. I do not find suffering in any way to be glamorous and, I really enjoy being glamorous. In order to feel elegant and beautiful I have to be comfortable in every way as well as feeling assured that everything I am wearing is properly co-ordinated and put together and the proper choice for whatever I am attending or wherever I am going. I love coats and capes and shawls and furs and knitted sweaters and winter scarves because they are beautiful fabrics and designs, but also because they keep me warm and comfortable. Greta Garbo wore a lot of gorgeous furs in her movies! And I always take note of this fact!

Lady Violette’s Dji~Dji Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Vintage Boucle Mohair & Fine Fingering Yarn ~ A Complimentary Lady Violette Knitting Pattern!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The Dji-Dji Scarf Designed by Lady Violette

The Dji-Dji Scarf Designed by Lady Violette

The Dji~Dji Scarf is 42" Long, but You Can Make it as Long as You Like!

I had about 2 & 1/2 balls of old vintage mohair boucle yarn called Dji~Dji in a heathery purple and grey melange. They were not complete balls and the yardage was unknown. I also had a bit of skinny grey wool yarn, fingering weight, but not enough to make a pair of socks. I wondered if I had enough to make a scarf? It was a gamble, but I decided to try it. I knit a small swatch holding the two yarns together. I used size 8 needles and they worked fine. I wanted texture, so I made up a simple pattern and knit until I ran out of yarn! I am posting this as a complimentary knitting pattern that anyone may use! Enjoy making & wearing it!

Here’s the pattern for the Dji~Dji Scarf! I used size 8US straight knitting needles.

To Make: Cast on 32 stitches.

1st & 3rd rows:(K2,P2) to end

2nd & 4th rows: (P2,K2) to end

These 4 rows form the pattern.

Repeat until you nearly run out of yarn or the scarf is the length you like. I was able to knit to 42 inches. Then cast off. C’est fini!

You can use any yarn or combination of yarns held together that will give you an approximate gauge of 4 stitches and 4 rows to an inch. You can make the scarf any length you like from about 40 inches to 96 inches! The Blackberry scarf I posted earlier is 96 inches long including the fringe if you wish to use the way it looks as a guideline. The good think about scarves is that you can easily take them off the needles and try them on to decide what length you actually like and want to make!

A Close Up Showing the Texture of the Yarn & the Pattern Stitch & the Pair of Hair Sticks Used as Shawl Pins!

I didn’t block this piece because I wanted to retain it’s lofty nature. It is a little short for tying so I simply crossed it over at the front of my neck and stuck two hairsticks in it, one above the other, to hold it closed. You can use children’s chopsticks as well. They are shorter than adult ones and make great shawl pins. I have a shawl pin that would also work just like a hair stick! I like the look of two hair sticks slightly juxtaposed one above the other. Chopsticks make great scarf pins or shawl pins which is really scarf/shawl jewelry. You can wear them in your hair too to keep it pinned up when knitting! And I encourage you to try hair accessories such as these, lobster clips, and barrettes to hold your scarves and shawls in place. Hair jewelry can often double as scarf  and shawl jewelry!

This scarf is great over a high necked sweater or tucked inside the collar of a woolen coat. The double layer of crossed over knitted wool or mohair keeps your chest cozy and warm. It’s easy to make, looks good with black or any co-ordinating color. It’s a good solution to keeping warm and looking stylish at the same time!

Depending on the color and type of yarn you use this can be used as a man’s or a woman’s scarf. It is extremely easy to knit. And the results look very professional. This would make a great first scarf pattern!

Please feel free to use and enjoy it with my compliments! If you do so please credit me and refer people to my blog. And, if you make it, please send photos and I’ll try to post them for others to view. I recently sent photos of a finished project and the link to my blog to a designer  whose sweater pattern I knit and she wrote back thanking me. It was very encouraging getting that feedback!

The Delicious Blackberry Scarf by Lady Violette ~ Making and Styling a Fabulous Extra~Long Handknitted Winter Scarf with Fringe! Made with Noro’s Yarns Using a Jane Ellison Pattern

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The Blackberry Hand Knitted Winter Scarf of Noro Yarns

Everything about this scarf is scrumptious! The yarn, the colors, the softness, the easy to execute pattern, the design, how warm and thick it is and how finally how elegant it looks! I love the name too! I think the stitch pattern is sometimes referred to as the blackberry stitch, but the Noro book doesn’t explain that. Anyway, it was easy to make. I am often working on really difficult knitting projects in which I have to concentrate closely on every stitch and row I make. This was a good break being a repetitive easy to do and remember pattern that I could work on while talking to people, watching a film, waiting for an appointment, etc.

Because I was only knitting with two types of yarn it was also an easy to carry around project! I need to take on more like this. It is hard to lug around a basket of 50 different colors and types of yarns when I want to knit away from home. All serious knitters usually have several different kinds of projects on needles and in the works at any given time. Of late I have been finishing a lot of things and don’t have something easy that I gan grab as I leave the house and work on when I get a chance while out. It is time to set up another one.

 

Close Up View of the Blackberry Stitch

The Blackberry is another pattern from the book Naturally Noro by Jane Ellison using Noro’s yarns. This is actually a booklet, rather than a book. It looks like a magazine. As far as I know these are not available from bookstores. I believe they are only sold by specialty yarn shops that also carry Noro’s yarns.

The yarns specified and the ones I actually used are Noro’s Iro in shade 9 and Noro’s Kochoran in shade 17. You work with one strand of each type, held together throughout the entire project. It is also done on giant size #13 US knitting needles so it knits up really quickly. That means instant gratification! I used Clover bamboo needles.

I have experimented with many types of needles and these are my favorites. I have found that stitches and the finished fabrics actually look very different knit on needles made of different materials. I recommend using the same type of needles made by the same company of the same material for your entire project.

I once made a pair of gloves on size 7 wooden needles. I had a pair of Clover and a pair of Brittany – both wood, both size 7. I wanted to make both gloves at the same time. I launched into the knitting. Unfortunately both gloves looked different! They were knit of the same yarn in the same technique, by the same person. The difference came from the two brands of needles made of the same type of wood. I showed them to many people at my local knit shop. They could all tell there was a pronounced difference. Caused by using two different brands of wooden needles in the same size! The one knit on Clover needles looked the smoothest. So I ripped out the other one and reknit the entire glove to match the better looking one done on the Clovers. A tough lesson learned the hard way! You don”t have to go through that because I am warning you ahead!

The Fabulous Dramatic Hand Made Yarn Fringe

This finished scarf is 96 inches long. It is mighty long and mighty thick and I love it that way! It’s very warm! Mighty warm! It also has fabulous fringe on both ends! I also love fringe! It is so dramatic! I love tossing it! This scarf is so long and big and thick that is is almost like wearing a coat! It does it’s job as a winter scarf! I also like having all the warm thickness of several layers of it cuddled up around my neck.

Noro’s yarn is hand dyed and hand spun in small batches in Japan! When they come out with a color it is usually not available very long. In fact I have had a lot of trouble actually getting enough of it in the same type and color to make entire sweaters – even size small women’s sweaters and children’s sweaters which is what I am usually making!

Noro, himself, is a painter who became a knitter and spinner. Working with his yarns is like painting. They are spectacular! To me at least. I actually like the immense amount of variation in each skein and the difficult to get enough of it aspect. I like the uneven spinning and unpredictable differences found in each small batch because It is like painting. I approach knitting with it like painting and I am willing to experiment and work with it’s unique qualities to achieve the effects I want. Incidentally these are unpredictable and they evolve as you work with the yarn. They cannot be planned in advance. There is an element of chance involved. I like that in my knitting. Even though I am a technical perfectionist! In the end, when I have finished knitting a garment out of Noro’s yarn I know I have a unique to me one of a kind piece!

The Fabulous Blackberry Scarf Designed by Jane Ellison & Knitted by Lady Violette with Yarns by Noro

Now I am all excited and I want to go buy yarn and start another one! I am worried about what may happen to Noro yarn given the Tsunami disaster in Japan. Of course I am more worried about other things in Japan, but the Noro yarns are definitely important elements in my work! They have always been hard to get and I am concerned that their availability may be seriously impacted. I am going to investigate this.

The oak leaf pin with an acorn looks like it is made of copper, then enameled. It is a vintage piece that I found at the Goodwill! It is a perfect accent on this scarf!

People often ask me how much it costs to make something like this. The kinds of yarns I use are luxury yarns of natural fibers. In the case of Noro all the steps of production are done organically. All of them! From raising the sheep to getting the ball of yarn onto a shop’s shelf! The fibers used are the best available and often rare. Consequently, Noro’s yarns are very expensive. These are $20.25 per skein and the sweater required 6 skeins total! So the yarn cost was $121.50 before tax, The pattern book is $24 and you will also need a pair of Clover bamboo or similar wooden knitting needles in size 13US which are about $10.  Allowing for a few other miscellaneous supplies and tax the project cost comes to about $170 just for the materials.

Blackberry Scarf Simply Wrapped

That is the cost to make this sweater if you knit it yourself! No allowance is figured in for the amount of time and expertise for an expert knitter to make if for you!  I am often asked why I do not sell the beautiful hand knits that I make on eBay or Etsy. It would not be worth it for me to do so. The honest truth is that people are not willing to pay what it costs to make them! Or to pay me anything for my time to make them! I have friends who knit and sell their work that way and I have watched the process. They make wonderful things but cannot charge enough to even cover the cost of using top quality yarns. I have had many discussions with fiber artists sharing their experiences selling in these venues. If they continue to do so they knit items in acrylic yarn and make only uncomplicated things that they can produce quickly. The online buying public is not willing to pay for hand knits in particular. Too few people who do not knit themselves understand what is involved and are, thus, unwilling to pay for it.

I have sold on eBay and Bonanza and I know how these systems work. It usually isn’t worth the effort involved. I have written an article about selling on eBay which I will intend post on my blog soon. I am quite willing to share what I have learned about that! I sold high end high quality vintage clothing on eBay for over a year. It was difficult and not worth the effort involved! More about that later!

The bottom line is that, if you want a really gorgeous hand knitted scarf like this one you will have to knit it yourself or find a friend who will do it for you. Or, better yet, teach you to knit! And that is a good thing as you will have the enjoyment of the knitting process for your time investment as well! Knitting is a wonderful fulfilling meditative calming, and grounding experience.

I honestly hope seeing this Blackberry scarf and the other projects I have posted inspires you to knit!

The Blackberry Scarf ~ A Wonderful Hand Knitted Winter Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as I am concerned that is the big picture!  This is the softest, warmest winter scarf I own! The easy pattern is appropriate for a beginning knitter who knows how to knit, purl, cast on and off, and can read a basic pattern.

Scarves are worn in every culture and knitting is done all over the world. Every country has techniques and styles to contribute to the great knitting, scarf  design and styling repertoires available for us to draw from.   Interestingly the Blackberry is truly an International Scarf because the yarn is from Japan, the designer, Jane Ellison is British and it was knitted in the United States by Lady Violette! I find this crossover of influences fascinating and it adds interest to the scarf for me!

Short Ribbed Poncho/Capelet/Shawl/Scarf – Hand Knit of Noro’s Iro Self-Striping Yarn in the Brown Color Way by Lady Violette

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Hand Knitted Ribbed Poncho of Noro's Iro Yarn in the Browns Color Way

This is a short ribbed poncho or capelet that just covers the neck, chest and shoulders. Sort of like a scarf, actually, but in a circle so it stays on. Vogue has put out a knitting pattern book with scarves, shawls and ponchos so they, too, feel they are all in the same category. The keeping warm stylishly category!

The pattern is called Cat and is in the book Naturally Noro by Jane Ellison beginning on page 44.  It is hand knit of Noro’s Iro self-striping yarn in shades of brown.

It takes 300 Grams which is 3 skeins of Iro yarn in the color of your choice and is worked on size 10.5 US needles. It is an easy pattern and is very quick to knit. The poncho is a very cozy cover for the upper body. I like wearing it to grocery shop because I get really cold  in the super cold store grocery stores! The yarn is a little scratchy so I wear a tight cotton turtle neck sweater under it.

This Poncho is knitted in one piece on straight needles and seamed together down the back.

Handcrafted Scatter Pins Made From Vintage Buttons & Seed Beads

I felt the poncho needed a little embellishment so I made three accent scatter pins to decorate the left shoulder. These are very easy to make out of  vintage buttons stacked together, then glued and attached to a metal craft brooch pin. The flower pin is made of seed beads strung on thin wire, twisted into the shape of a flower and, attached to a craft brooch pin.

Pins like this are very lightweight so they won’t stretch out and damage hand knits. They also make excellent personalized embellishments for hand knitted or felt hats.

The book, Naturally Noro, by Jane Ellison is full of cute modern knitting patterns. I have finished two scarves out of it and am working my way through a vest and a sweater now. The designs are fairly easy to make, and are casual and wearable. Maybe I will be able to knit them all! I’m trying!

 

How to Make (or buy) the Gigantic Scarf I Used for My “Belted Half Dress Drape” Long Oblong Scarf Style.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I know how hard it is to find a giant scarf, or a great scarf! Especially one that is affordable or in the fabric, the color or the shape that I want. Therefore I have started making my own so that I can have whatever I need!

Gigantic Scarf 96" x 45"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the scarf I used to create the “Belted Half Dress Drape” scarf style demonstrated in my post yesterday. It is simply a 96″ long piece of 45″ wide fabric narrowly hemmed on each end. In this case with a rolled hem stitched by machine using a narrow hemmer foot. You can do it on a machine or by hand. The hand method is called a narrow rolled hem.

When selecting fabric something very light works best. This scarf is made of silk chiffon. It is border printed on each end because it was originally intended to be made into a scarf, but any all over print or a solid color will work just as well. Silk or polyester chiffon, china silk, lightweight silk crepe, rayon, or very lightweight cotton batiste would also be appropriate.

You will need to buy between 8 and 9 feet of fabric total. You want it to be sure the fabric is cut straight across the end before you hem it. Fabric stores do not always cut off the pieces they sell in exact straight lines with the grain of the fabric. Check for this before you sew the hem and, if necessary even it out.

Shops that sell Indian saris carry the kind of fabric I used. I have seen border prints, printed on each end like this one, or on just one end. My scarf is 96 inches long, That is 8 feet. I am 5″ 7″ tall and I found the length to be adequate. However, if I could I would get a little longer piece, such as 9″ that would give me a bit longer drape hanging down the back when I have finished the tie. If you are very tall I advise a 9 ‘ long scarf. That is all there is to it! It is quite easy and you can make your own “designer ” scarf in just the size, shape and fabric you need quite reasonably! Appropriate fabrics will cost from $3 per yard to about $40 per yard in fabric shops.

I have found chiffon on discount tables for $3 – $5 per yard. The sari silk scarf cut I used in the picture was a true bargain for $5 found in a thrift shop. They are also available in Indian shops and are not terribly expensive. I have also seen silk in fabric shops for $20 – $40 per yard. If you do not sew yourself, just purchase the fabric you like and take it to a tailor or dressmaker and ask them to hem it for you. Or ask the staff if anyone there would be willing to do it. I know that many women who work in fabric also sew for people.

International Scarf Styling ~ a Simply Beautiful Cherry Blossom Pink Japanese Shibori Scarf Tied as a Wide Sash and Worn with Hand Made Bead Necklaces Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Japanese Cherry Blossom Pink Pleated Shibori Scarf Tied as a Sash

Shibori is an ancient Japanese method of dying and pleating. The beautiful pink pleated oblong Shibori scarf that I have simply tied around my mannequin’s waist as a sash reminds me of pink Japanese cherry blossoms.

It is cherry blossom time in Seattle where I live. The cherry trees are just beginning to bloom, but it has also been unseasonably cold and we have had several heavy periods of freezing hail and snow over the last few days! Temperatures have been in the low 30’s and accompanied by strong winds.

The University of Washington Campus has a well known large planting of Japanese cherry trees that burst into a flurry of extraordinarily beautiful lovely smelling pink blooms at the beginning of April every year. I make sure I go there every spring when they are in the height of bloom to walk under them and experience their color and enjoy their exquisite perfume. Nothing is more beautifully scented than the Japanese cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The exquisite perfume from these flowers lasts only one day, then the blossoms fall from the trees in swirls of pink snow petals and are blown away by the turbulent spring winds.

Getting caught in pelting rain and wind and a blizzard of the pink petals is all part of the memorable experience of walking under them and enjoying them. I am always a little upset by the fact that the weather is destroying them so quickly when they last such a short time anyway! I would like this transient experience to last as long as possible! So I do things to remind of it, to stretch it out a little and enjoy the memories of it longer. One thing I do is wear my pink Japanese Shibori scarf, either tied around my waist as a sash, as illustrated in the photo, or simply wrapped around my neck. It is an easy scarf to wear because it is a permanently pleated oblong. I wish I had a cherry blossom perfume to wear!

I love the scent. I’ve always  fantasized about creating a perfume from Japanese cherry blossoms. Even to the point of experimenting with making it and, about 15 years ago, talking to a professional perfumer, called a Nose, from Italy, who creates perfumes for major European couture houses. He told me it cannot be done because the flowers are only at the height of their scent for less than 24 hours each year! It is then, and only then, that hundreds of thousands of pounds of the flowers would have to be collected and their essence extracted to create a perfume. From these thousands of pounds you might get an ounce of the essence necessary to make real cherry blossom perfume. It would take impossibly vast orchards of the trees to grow enough flowers. And that is not the only problem!  The fact that the height of bloom and scent is such a short period that harvesting enough of them at exactly the right moment and processing them quickly enough to extract their pure essence is impossibly difficult.

The Italian Nose told me that many kings and emperors and professional perfumers have shared my dream. And that, over the centuries much experimenting has been done to extract the elusive essence of the pink Japanese cherry blossoms. No one has been able to succeed because it is logistically impossible and impossibly expensive. “What about a synthetic recreation of the scent?” I asked. Some of the world’s greatest perfumes, notably Channel #5 are synthetic creations. He said their have been many many attempts to do this but so far no one has succeeded. He gave me samples of several expensive perfumes that claim to have recreated the scent. They were pleasant but did not succeed.

Over the years I have tried out every perfume on the international market that claims to be the scent of Japanese cherry blossoms. I believe he is right. None of them manage to recreate the beauty of the original! Not even for a fleeting moment of delightful memorable scent. One of the great allures of perfume is its ability to recreate memories ~ memories of the person who wore it, or the place and time you wore it or an experience you had when wearing it. These supposed cherry blossom perfumes did none of that for me. I am quite a good Nose myself and know that many other perfumes are successful in that respect.

Cherry Blossom Inspired Bead Necklaces by Lady Violette de Courcy

I have had to be satisfied with creating and collecting other things that remind me of the cherry blossoms when they are not blooming. To this end I have made the necklaces of pink beads in the picture. I call them my Cherry Blossom Collection. They consist of lamp work beads I have made myself and vintage and antique beads made of all kinds of different materials that happen to be the right color of pink or, when combined together suggest Japanese cherry blossoms to me. These beads come from all over the world and have taken me many years to collect. The necklaces are one of a kind art pieces ~ no two alike and unrepeatable. In that way, too, they are like the scent of the  Japanese cherry blossoms ~ impossible to capture and reproduce ~ rare, elusive and special ~ totally unique.

I have also discovered, one night in a Japanese restaurant, that the taste of plum wine actually reminded me of the Japanese cherry blossom. Quite unexpectedly I tasted it and had a memory flash of walking under the pink trees in full bloom. I concentrated on the plum wine. I realized it has no scent, only a taste. But the taste reminds me of how the cherry blossoms smell! In that way it is very pleasurable. However, because it doesn’t have any scent at all there is no possibility of my using it as a perfume to trigger an association of the Japanese cherry blossoms scent in other people!

So far I have resigned myself to having to use the visual sense to trigger memories of cherry blossoms. Sometimes, when appropriate, I can also serve plum wine! I will continue to search for a rendition of cherry blossom perfume that satisfies me. In the meantime I will wear the Japanese cherry blossom pink accessories that I associate pleasurably with this experience ~ my pink Shibori scarf and the pretty pink necklaces and earrings I have designed.

I have some clothing designs inspired by Japanese cherry blossom forming in the back of my mind as well! And I feel that the two concert performance dresses I have made for Princess Wow! in myriad pinks are associated with this imagery. I have just finished these dresses and will be putting up final photos of them soon.

Isn’t it amazing to think about what image and association triggers an artist or designer’s imagination and leads to the creation of art in other forms? I know flowers have always stimulated fashion designers. A few posts back I quoted Christian Dior saying, “I have made flower women.” when interviewed about his New Look Collection after WW II. He also loved lilies of the valley and talked about their scent reminding him of his childhood and his mother because they were her favorite flowers. A perfect example of a perfume triggering memories! Of course he created a perfume featuring lily of the valley!

I am lucky, being Lady Violette de Courcy, that my personal flower is the violet and that both it’s flower and it’s leaf have distinct and lovely scents that are extractable for use in the making perfumes. I have several perfumes containing one, the other, or both that are very attractive and easily obtainable. I will write more about perfumes later!

Be Your own International Scarf Stylist ~ How to Tie The Glamorous Version of The Cowgirl Scarf or Cowgirl Bandana with a Large Square Shawl with Fringe

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf Tie ~ Front View

To create a glamorous version of The Cowgirl I began with a Large  Square Shawl with Fringe measuring 43″ square with 6″ long fringe.

To tie and style the Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf or the Cowgirl Bandana: Simply position the triangular folded shawl evenly in front of your chest like a bib and tie the ends around your neck. Adjust the drape and fringe attractively.

This works well with smaller fringed or beaded shawls as well and you often see cowgirls in old western movies wearing fringed shawls and scarves this way – which is, of course, the way it got its name!

Below are the side and back views of this style: It is very elegant with a sheath dress and a lovely little clutch bag for evening wear.

 

 

 

 

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf~ Side View

Cowgirls were very glamorous! And they had a true love of fringe! I noted it on their shawls, their boots, their bags, their leggings, their skirts, the reins of their horses, their saddles. everywhere! And I was falling in love with it too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glamorous Cowgirl Scarf - Back View

I say, watch a few Westerns for Fringe Fashion inspiration!

 

 

 

In a more casual vein this scarf/shawl tying method works well over a western shirt or a blue chambray work shirt. You can use it on large, medium and small shawls, with and without fringes and in all fabrics.

I will photograph and post some more variations soon!

Be Your Own International Scarf Stylist with Two Pretty Side Tied Shawl Styles From France and Italy ~ Gorgeous International Shawl and Scarf Tying Techniques That Are Easy to Do By Yourself to Wear and Add to Your Spring Wardrobe Right Now! Perfect for Fashionable and Lightweight Traveling!

Monday, April 4th, 2011

As a professional ballet dancer living in New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC; and traveling extensively, I picked up many ways to wear scarves and shawls along the way that I would like to share. I also collected quite a few scarves and shawls because they were nice momentos of the places I’ve been and easy pieces to pack and use to transform the looks of the two dresses I traveled with. I love to travel light and I call them transformers! Two dresses and and a mixed selection of five scarves and shawls can create many different looks. I haven’t counted them and I know I haven’t discovered them all! It seems there is always a new way to wear a scarf just around the corner or in the next country you visit! Scarves are an international staple of style. They are worn by women everywhere and how they are wrapped, tied, and worn is a wonderfully interesting feminine art that is practiced all over the world.

I have already shown you Style #1) the Sash, Style #2) the Dorothy Lamour Sarong and Style #3) the Cowgirl Bandana with this square blue shawl in the previous blog. Here are two more wonderful ways I like to wear a large 43″ square silk shawl with 6 ” hand tied fringe. I am using the same blue shawl to demonstrate and will number the styles accordingly. I ended with Style# 3) The Cowgirl, and continue here with Style #4) The French Bateaux and Style #5) the Italian Side Tied Sling.

Begin with Style #3) The Cowgirl Bandana Tied at the Back of Your Neck

Style #4) The French Bateaux: Begin by folding the shawl in half in a triangle and hold it up like a bib in front of you, just as you do to create the Cowgirl Bandana. Tie the ends of the shawl around the back of your neck.

Then rotate the shawl so that the knot is nestled on your Left shoulder and the long pointed centers of the triangle are hanging down your Right side. Arrange the drape of the silky shawl so that it appeals to you and make sure the fringes hang down neatly. I like to arrange a Bateau ~ a more or less square shaped neckline ~ for this style.

 

 

Style #4) The French Bateaux

This is an easy to execute way of tying a shawl and makes an elegant look for both day and evening. It creates warmth around the shoulders on slightly chilly occasions. You can both decorate it by pinning a brooch at the shoulder.

Style #5) The Italian Side Tied Sling

 

 

 

 

Style #5) The Gorgeous Italian Side Tied Sling: Simply begin with the shawl folded in half in a triangle. Place it, centered, on your right shoulder, with half the shawl coming across the front of your body and the other half going around and across your back. Gather the ends together on your Left side near the waist and tie in one overhand knot! Arrange the shawl to your liking and make sure the fringe is hanging nicely.

I often saw shawls worn like this when I was in Italy. It is lovely, graceful and very sexy!

Vintage Eisenberg Ice Brooch on the Hip

 

 

 

 

 

This is also incredibly easy to execute! I have added a vintage blue Eisenberg Ice and sterling silver brooch at the side on the hip to create a bit of jazzy evening dazzle!

Eisenberg Ice is Very Nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A jewel at the hip is gorgeous bit of glitzy vintage Hollywood Glamour inspired sparkle so rarely seen these days and so lovely to emulate. You can see many examples and get many ideas of how to wear it in old films.

Enjoy trying, tying and wearing these large fringed square shawl styles and I promise there will be more to coming soon!

These large square shawl styles I have demonstrated are truly international with origins and inspirations coming from The South Seas, Hollywood, The Cowgirl from the SouthWestern United States, France and Italy so far!

I think we could cover the world with ways of wearing shawls there are so many! The more I discover, the more I want to know! They are such an easy way to add elegance, grace, and a touch of the feminine arts to any outfit. There is no reason, with access to the internet, that you cannot be your very own international scarf stylist! Isn’t it wonderful?