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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘Shawls’

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!

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!

 

 

Beaded and Metallic Gold Embroidered Black Velvet Evening Handbag, Belt, Buttons, Scarf/Shawl ~ A Vintage Ensemble Inspired by Matching Accessories from India Circa 1930’s in Razia Zardozi Style

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Vintage Ensemble Featuring Accessories From India Decorated in Metallic Embroidery & Glass Beads & Stones ~ Silk Satin Evening Dress, Black Silk & Velvet Belt with Gold Embroidery, Sheer Black Silk Chiffon Scarf/Shawl Trimmed with Gold Edgings & Red Glass Stones, and Embroidered East Indian Evening Bag ~ all circa 1930. On the Table a Pair of Black Suede Evening Pumps Trimmed with a Satin Bow by Palter De Lisa circa 1950 with Large Black Velvet, Pearl and Metallic Gold Embroidered Buttons Used as Shoe Clips. Jewelry by Liz Palacios San Francisco.

I am posting more photos of the Vintage Black Velvet Indian Embroidered & Metallic Beaded Evening Purses and adding pictures of the matching accessory items ~ belt, evening scarf/stole/shawl, and buttons ~ of the same textile technique/ ethnic art form so you can view them as I described them in my post yesterday. I am often inspired to put together an entire look by a key piece, such as one of these evening bags, or by a technique used to create a textile or embellishment. I love this look! It reminds me of English  Elizabethan gowns, the glamorous movie stars of the 1930’s and graceful East Indian women in saris all at the same time. I have borrowed a little something from each of them to achieve my own unique look with items from my eclectic collection.

The Three Embroidered Evening Clutches that Constitute My Mini Collection of 1930's Indian Embroidered & Beaded Evening BagsI am often asked where I find the items in my collections and I am going to try to explain that as often as possible. It is not an easy answer ~ I don't just go to one place and buy them! They are hard to find, It often takes years of searching and a good trained eye to spot them. I patiently sift through immense amounts of junk to eventually locate just one treasure - I go to antique stores - where you find things at the highest prices, because they often know what they have. I also shop flea markets, fun because you never know what you might find there. Thrift stores, charity shops, church bazaars, rummage sales, hospital donation shops, the Goodwill, (but I don't find much there as they are now selling anything they recognize as special on their eBay stores.) The Salvation Army is doing eBay as well. I buy and sell on eBay sometimes, but I feel it is very difficult. I prefer to see, inspect, hold and decide on an item in person. Garage and yard sales, estate sales, sometimes auctions, antique malls with many dealers in small booths, consignment shops, estate sales, asking friends if I know they are moving, or not interested in those goodies they inherited in a trunk when Grandma dies, elderly friends who are downsizing and moving into retirement homes, the retirement homes themselves often hold senior sales where the residents can sell things they are no longer using and do not have space for. These are a great source for well cared for vintage hats, purses, costume jewelry, treasured sets of fancy antique dishes, vases, even old wedding dresses. I even got a sewing machine and button hole attachment at one of these. The people are nice and love to see their things go to young women who appreciate them.

Embroidered Evening Handbag #1 ~ Circa 1930

 

 

 

Embroidered Evening Handbag #2 ~ India Circa 1930

 

 

 

 

I am one of those younger women whose taste can be summed up like this: If your grandmother liked it I probably will too. So these ladies love me! I have bought something they had on display and started to talk to them and they make appointments with me to come back to see other things they think I might like that they hadn’t brought along to this sale. They love to have me over to tea and show me things and tell me all about the stories of their youth, when they wore the items and what life used to be like back in the old days. I also enjoy this! I have ended up making some wonderful friends and great connections by spending the time listening to these women tell me the stories. One lady, of 96 years had just recently remarried! She was like a young bride of 28! Full of joy, but also full of the wisdom of her age. She had moved out of a large home to live with her new husband and had had to downsize considerably. She was selling many of her belongings on Craig’s list. I answered her add for a Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine. During the discussion she told me she had sewed all her own clothes for many years and still had all the patterns. I expressed interest! She was really pleased! When she returned from her honeymoon I visited her in her new home and she gave me her life in sewing patterns. And the stories of each outfit she had made and the fabrics she had used. I have Dorothy’s life in her sewing patterns! And it is an amazing story. I am planning to post this story on my blog at some point.

Embroidered India Evening Handbag #3 ~ Circa 1930

These Indian Handbags came respectively from a #1) thrift store in Seattle, WA, in 2002, #2) an elderly lady who was moving in Portland, OR, in 2000, and #3) a church charity store in Houston, Texas in 1998.

Collecting vintage items is both fun and frustrating. One of my friends who is in IT and is an online gamer compares it to World of Warcraft for guys! He says it is all about the joy of the hunt. You never know what you may find! what unique and fantastic treasure may be lurking around the corner!  Once he came up with this explanation I seemed to be able to be more tolerant of his interest in gaming and he understood why I like going to estate sales and antique malls and charity and  thrift stores! But he won’t go with me! He has not got the patience for it. Thus he doesn’t get the rewards – except for the current favor I have done him by showing him that you can find fantastic designer and vintage silk men’s ties in the same types of places I find my treasures! And these are good for the times you have to dress up in business suits and look good and don’t want to spend $130 t0 $180 on a new tie! The vintage ties are often more beautiful and in great condition. And I find them for $2 to $12 versus the $80 To $200 range in better men’s stores.

Besides, recycling is so good for the environment! these lovely items from the past are in good shape and beautifully made and deserve to be used and appreciated again! And your style is so much more fascinating and original if you mix new and old together to create something totally original and unique!

The Three Exotic East Indian Evening Handbags Juxtaposed ~ Circa 1930's ~ Black Velvet Decorated with Metallic Embroidery, Cabochon Stones and Glass Beads

So, here are the Three Vintage Indian Circa 1930’s Handbags, again, and I will also list the matching accessory items I have found over the years: A slim velvet evening belt trimmed in the same metallic embroidery, two large buttons which can be used to fasten a black jacket or cape or to decorate a pair of evening pumps, and a sheer black silk chiffon scarf/stole/shawl trimmed with matching embroidery and stones at each end to wrap around your neck or drape seductively around your shoulders! I saw a gorgeous black velvet evening jacket completely covered in this metallic embroidery and cabochon stones and beads attributed to the 1930’s in a thrift shop in Philladelphia. It was totally encrusted and weighed a ton. It was also an extra large size and extremely expensive. Due to the huge size and weight of the piece I couldn’t even consider it! I am small and it would have drowned me, but the decorative work was utterly amazing! I mention this so that you know these pieces exist and you might be lucky enough to find one! I think the jacket was priced at about $500. It looked as if it had never been worn. I think these kinds of items survived because they were very dressy and people only wore them for special occasions then kept them carefully wrapped and boxed up in a drawer or closet. This is good for us as they have survived in good shape for us to rediscover and use again!

Shoes Trimmed with Buttons as Shoe Clips

The pretty evening bags surface from time to time. I think they were popular gift items too and also were given as Christmas, birthday, anniversary and Valentine’s Day presents. I have a theory that beautiful bags, gloves, scarves, men’s silk ties, lingerie and costume jewelry often fell into that category and being valued as special occasion treasures were worn very little. I have often found them in their original boxes or paper wrappings with the gift card enclosed ! ~ from 80 years ago!

Details ~ Handbag, Belt & Shawl

This is utterly amazing! I posted a blog about my three Indian Evening Bags yesterday, and began to write and photograph this piece. Then I had to go to an appointment and found another one that very afternoon in a horribly junky little thrift store in Kirkland, WA. It was just dumped into the filthy purse bins in the back of the store. Fortunately it hadn’t been crushed! But it was very dirty. I brought it home and cleaned it up and now it looks quite good! It is different that these three! It has more green stones. I have to mend it a bit, but then I will post photos so you can see it. I’ll post a photo of all four of them so you can see how the designs differ. I love the fact that they are handmade and no two seem to be alike!

Beautiful Vintage Embroidered and Beaded Black Velvet Evening Bags From India – Circa 1930

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

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Three Vintage Evening Bags from India Circa 1930's are black velvet decorated with metallic silver and gold embroidery accented with glass beads and cabochons. The small evening purses are envelope style clutches with optional braid shoulder straps which can be tucked inside to hand carry the bag. These were elegant pieces used to accessorize black evening outfits and look equally lovely today worn with any Little Black Dress - long or short - and some delicate gold and colored stone jewelry. Narrow black velvet belts decorated with the same type of embroidered design and buttons about one inch in diameter were also available to add as matching accents to your dress and evening jacket. I have also seen sheer black silk chiffon stoles decorated with a band of the matching metallic embroidery and stones on each end. None of these evening purses are labeled so I have no further information as to the source they originally come from. I have found them in different times in different places. Just beautiful! And I can imagine how lovely an evening gown worn with the matching belt and stole would be! The buttons could be used on a jacket or as clips to decorate a pair of sexy black heels! Assembling such an elegant circa 1930's evening ensemble is something inspiring to work toward in my constant quest for quintessential vintage glamour!

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!

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!

Lady Violette’s Sewing Studio ~ in the Corner of the Kitchen! Where I Cook Up Gowns for Real Princesses!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Kitchen Corner Sewing Studio ~ Where Gowns are Made for Real Princesses!

This morning I was taking final photographs of the dresses I have designed for Princess Wow! before I send them to her in New York. Between taking pictures of the right side of this dress and shooting details of the wrong side, or inside, I snapped this photo of my tiny sewing area in the corner of our kitchen! It is a very tiny area and I rather like it! This picture reminds me of something from Victoria Magazine when it first came out years ago and was full of lovely photography of interiors, artist’s work spaces and romantic settings!

In this tiny space I have taken all the photos on my blog, done all the sewing and knitting I have shown, styled and photographed all of my recent scarf and shawl tying and styling demonstrations, styled and shot all the vintage clothing I have shown on my blog and sold on eBay and Bonanza, made adults and children’s clothes, made dresses for princesses of all sizes, made and photographed jewelry, written things and cooked every day! I have often been doing several of these things at the same time!

We also use this same space for reading, talking, visiting with friends, having tea and watching movies! Everyone who comes by the house heads for this corner first! And usually plops down on the couch, hangs out here for a while, has a cup of tea, talks, plans what is going to transpire next and eats something. It is very conveniently located right next to the tea cupboard, the teakettle, the stove and the refrigerator! I like it when friends feel so comfortable that they walk right in, ask me what I’m cooking, grab an apple or banana from a bowl on the counter, and make themselves at home. It doesn’t disturb me or my work at all! In fact I find it forces me to relax and take a break and afterwards I am able to return to whatever project I’ve been working on and be more productive.

Even I am quite amazed at what can be done with a small space if one is resourceful. It was all I had to work with and presented an interesting challenge. The more I experiment with using it the more I find I can do within the limitations it presents. Sometimes limitations and restrictions help you make good art because you have to begin by working within their confines. This photo is another humble little example of that fact!

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.

Lady Violette’s “Belted Half Dress Drape” ~ A New Scarf Style ~ How to Wrap It & Wear It & Transform a Dress!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Necessity is the mother of invention. I needed to figure out something impressive and dramatic to wear to a midday meeting with a producer/ presenter. I needed to look creative and talented and be memorable. I wanted to look ultra feminine as well because I feel that works to my advantage. I wanted to look both business-like and artistic. I felt that sensual and attractive would work, but I did not want to look not overtly sexy. Although it is spring it is also still cold out and I needed to be warm. I find that wearing tights and  layering scarves and shawls over dresses traps air and creates a cozy layer of practical extra warmth. I cannot think and relax if I am cold! It has been in the 30’s all week. It has been wet and windy, even snowing and hailing. And it has been drafty everywhere, both inside and out. All these thoughts were at work in the back of my mind. And this was only what I had to be thinking about what I was going to wear! The other things on the agenda were on my mind as well, but I felt I had them under control. I just wanted to figure out something to wear in which I would feel comfortable and confident, and have my outfit and accessories all worked out in advance.

Browsing through the Nieman Marcus online catalogue for ideas yesterday I found an immense Oscar de la Renta scarf and a wide belt that I loved. Alas, the scarf was $850 and the belt was $395. I couldn’t buy that right now, but I was determined to have the look! So I sorted through my things to find my biggest scarf and a belt of similar width. They don’t give the size or the shape of the Nieman Marcus scarf, only the price! It looked big and it looked like a square.

Front View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape" Achieved ~ Transforms a Dress with Just One Wrap & a Wide Belt!

I don’t currently have a gigantic square, but I do have a brown and olive green gigantic oblong silk scarf that measures 45″ x 96″. It is basically an 8′ x 45″ wide piece of fabric, but it is printed with a blue and white floral design at both vertical ends like a border print, so it was designed to be a scarf, shawl. or stole. I also found that I had a blue leather belt about 3 inches wide.

The idea I had was to make what I have named a “Belted Half Dress Drape” using the gigantic oblong silk scarf  and securing it with the wide color co-ordinated belt. I wanted to transform my basic sheath dress into a cinch waist draped silk dress by using one simple to do wrap and belting it! I wanted the finished style to look like one of the very expensive European or American designer silk draped sheath dresses I have been seeing in fashion magazines and stores lately.

Thus I concocted my “Belted Half Dress Drape”  Scarf Style.

3/4 or Right Side/Front View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape"

I think it worked quite well and it was amazingly easy to do! I have taken photos from all angles so you can see that my new “Belted Half Dress Drape” scarf design actually looks nice and works as a dress from back, side and front views!

As you can see the “Belted Half Dress Drape” is beautiful from all angles.

I think wearing a scarf beautifully is one of the ultimate feminine arts!

Step #1) Drape Scarf Over Shoulders, Left side Longer Than Right as Shown.

 

To create this sensual style all you do is:

Step #1) Drape 96″ long or longer scarf around the back of your neck and over your shoulders, Left side longer than Right as shown. Right side reaching almost to the hemline of your dress. Spread the Right side out to fan over your body from the center to the Right side seam of your dress.

Step #2) Fasten the Belt Around Your Waist with Right Shorter Side of Scarf Underneath It & Left Longer Side Hanging Free.

Step #2) Fasten the wide belt around your waist with Right shorter side of scarf underneath it and Left longer side of scarf on the outside of belt hanging free over your Left shoulder. Arrange the folds of the scarf to your taste like a little half dress that covers the right side of your body.

Step #3) Check the Back View in a Hand Mirror After Putting on the Belt. It Should Look Like This!

Step #3) The back will look like this! I found it helpful to look at the way things were arranged in the back in a full length mirror using a hand mirror. Be sure that only the Right front shorter side is tucked under the belt. The Left longer side should be hanging freely off to the Left side in a casual manner like this.

I experimented with the arrangement of the front folds and found that I preferred them to be uneven and arranged like a gathered skirt in the front. This was softer, prettier and more feminine than a straight across the bottom hemline. I pictured a Grecian draped effect as my goal. It may be helpful to strive for that as you arrange your folds.

Step #4) Gather Up the Long Left Side of the Shawl and Drape it Over Your Right Shoulder!

Step #4) Finally gather up all the fabric in the long Left side of the shawl and drape it loosely and casually over your Left shoulder around your neck and over your Right shoulder letting the long drape of fabric hang down your back! You will need to arrange the drape in your own individual manner in a way that is pleasing to you.

I was able to do this on myself in about three minutes! I wore it around the house for a couple of hours and it actually stayed put and maintained the original look while I tested it out. I did not pin it in place, but you could use a brooch on the Right shoulder to hold the finished drape in place or just decorate it if you want to.

I encourage you to experiment until you find the way that is comfortable for you. I try things out the night or day before I plan to wear them if they are new looks for me. This way, if I need a supply to hold myself together, (or who knows what!) I have time to get it ready in advance.

I’ve written instructions on making your own gigantic scarf like this one on my next blog post. Check it out!

Step #5) To Finish the Beautiful "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style, Arrange the Way the Fabric Loops Around Your Neck and Adjust the Folds and Gathers in the Half Draped Skirt to Flatter Your Face and Figure and Please Yourself.

Finished Back Right Over the Shoulder Shoulder View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style

Finished Back View of "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style

Finished Right Side View of the "Belted Half Dress Drape" Scarf Style

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?

Beautiful Ways From Old Hollywood Movies to Wear a Large Fringed Square Shawl – the Exotic Waist /Hip Sash, the Dorothy Lamour Sarong and the Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

I’ve been watching old movies and studying the styles of the actresses wardrobes of course. I note many lovely shawls as part of their costumes imparting real glamor to their looks. (Good old fashioned time tested still holds true glamour! ) I’m inspired to try them out of course! The movies, especially the old ones, are a great source for beautiful vintage styling ideas. You can find almost everything there!

I have a large blue silk 43″ square shawl with especially lovely 6″ long hand knotted fringe. There are many ways to use this shawl shape.  To begin fold the shawl in half in a triangle across the center. I promised instructions on tying sarongs in my postings on Dorothy Lamour a while back and here they are!

The Exotic Waist/Hip Sash and Sarong

 

Style #1) The Exotic Waist Tied Sash com Skirt or Sarong: Simply wrap the shawl around your hips with the point of the triangle hanging down over your bottom in the back and tie the two ends in an overhand knot in the front. Be sure to adjust the fringes so they are all hanging down neatly.

 

 

Close-up of Knot & Fringe

 

 

 

 

 

The Dorothy Lamour Sarong: as a Lovely Side Tied Skirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style #2) Sarong Skirt: Tie the shawl in the same way and rotate it so that the knot is on one side, usually the left, and position it at a jaunty slanting angle below the waist. The point of the triangle should be hanging down one side, the tie ends down the other. Voila! You have made one version of the lovely Dorothy Lamour Sarongs – the side tied skirt!

This is pretty over a dress or skirt as shown. It also works beautifully over slim pants and leggings. and makes a darling little skirt and coverup over a swimsuit!

Watch some of Dorothy Lamour’s movies for inspiration on how to wear these!

And I promise more versions of the sarong and the sarong tied as a dress to come soon.

 

 

The Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana: Front View

Style #3) The Glamorous Cowgirl Bandana: To create this style 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 small 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.

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!

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.

The Cowgirl: Bandana Side View

The Cowgirl: Bandana: Back View

Gallery of Variations on the Basic Style and Tie of the White Silk Shawl

Friday, March 25th, 2011

My last posting was the instructions for tying and styling the basic version of the white silk shawl. I am following it today with a gallery of ways you can personalize or embellish the basic white shawl tie to make it really unique and special. I have showed these before over the last few weeks but I thought it would be helpful to post them all together in a gallery of variations on the basic look immediately following the basic tying instructions. For all these styles variations begin with the simple basic tie.

Silk Flower

1) Garnish with a silk flower corsage pinned to the shawl where ever you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lobster Hair Clip as Shawl Clip

2) A lobster clip hair accessory makes a great shawl clip as well! Here is a black and red Asian style lobster hair clip attached to the front folds of the shawl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin or Brooch

3) A Vintage or modern brooch or pin is a lovely touch! Here a gold vintage 1950’s brooch in by Sara Coventry is attached to one side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Ficarre Updo Hair Clip as Shawl Clip

4) A Ficarre hair clip which is normally used to create buns or French rolls can be used as a shawl clip for a modern abstract looking styling variation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrunchy Used to Create Freeform Flower

5) A scrunchy hair accessory, usually used to create a ponytail or bun can be ingeniously appropriated to create  a freestyle  abstract flower positioned off to one side. This scrunchy is made of dupioni silk trimmed with seed beads and other larger glass beads around the outside border.

I will post instructions on creating the freestyle scrunchy flowers soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are suggestions! There are many more possibilities! Once you start experimenting you will be able to come up with more on your own. It is a wonderful way to use hair accessories and jewelry that you don’t use often! I especially like finding a new way to use the basket of hair accessories I have accumulated but don’t use often in my hair.

I have found that I cannot use hair accessories in my hair very often because of having headrests in cars. You cannot have  lot of doodads in your hair if they get in the way of using the headrest properly. These have been instigated to protect heads and necks when driving but hats, barrettes, buns or  ponytails  gets in the way ~ really making it impossible to use the them and the headrest together properly. You must use the headrest for safety – so you cannot wear the hair accessories in your hair when driving or even riding in a car. You must put them in your hair after you arrive at your destination or use them in these new ways on your scarf or shawl!

I have always loved collecting and using hair accessories. I am delighted to have found out theses ways to use them!

The scarf styles are created by Tricia James of scarfgenie.com. Visit here there!

How to Tie & Style the Basic Beautiful White Silk Shawl Demonstrated by International Scarf & Accessories Stylist Tricia James

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

One Version of the Exquisite Finished Shawl Style Garnished With a White Silk Flower

One Version of the Finished Shawl Style Decorated With a White Silk Flower Corsage

Here is one of several of the beautiful decorated versions of this finished shawl style that I showed over the last two weeks. This one is decorated with a white silk flower corsage.

To create this basic tie and style Tricia used a white raw silk oblong scarf/shawl measuring 72″ long by 20″ wide ~ not counting the fringe on each end which is a nice extra touch and measures about two extra inches long on each end.

We have experimented and discovered that a pashima or a silk scarf of this approximate size will also work for this shawl tying/styling technique. You can use a solid color as we have done here, or an all over small print.

The longer the shawl is the more you will have to work with as you create your drape. We recommend the longer versus the shorter versions of these shawls for ease and success in creating this style.

 

 

Step #1

To Begin:

1) Drape the shawl over shoulders with Right side of scarf longer than the Left side ~ as in picture 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #2

 

2) Bring the shorter Left side of shawl across your body ~ as in picture  #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step # 3

 

3) Drape it over allowing it to rest on your Right shoulder  ~ as in picture #3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #4

 

4) Pick up lower Right longer end of shawl in your Right hand and bring it up across the center front of your body to the center of your neckline ~ as in picture #4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step #5

 

5) Then tuck it under your neckline and ~ placing your Right hand up under the shawl from below, take hold of the tail and pull it down and through the center front with your Right hand, ~ while taking the upper Left shorter end of shawl (that was resting on your Right shoulder) in your Left hand and pulling it upward ~ thus making a large soft center front knot ~ as in picture #5

Begin to pull on the two ends of the shawl simultaneously, creating a custom fitted shawl around your shoulders, thus preventing the shawl from slipping throughout the day.

As Tricia says, “A custom fit is a marvelous thing, Darling!”

We all agree with that, don’t we?

 

 

 

 

Step #6

 

6) Tuck Left upper end end behind your Right shoulder and spread the shawl out styling it attractively at both top and bottom. This is very elegant and attractive just like this! You can wear it plain and simply like this, unadorned ~ as in picture #6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or,

For added interest you can decorate this beautiful basic shawl shawl tie with a silk flower corsage, a brooch, a shawl clip, a hair accessory used as a scarf clip or anything else you can think of as Tricia demonstrated in several earlier blog posts. The styling possibilities are almost endless once your imagination sets in! I really encourage you to experiment!

Be sure to visit international scarf and accessories stylist Tricia James at her website scarfgenie.com to see other interesting scarves, scarf styling options and products she has to offer.

And come back to this blog, Ladyviolette,com often because I will be posting many more shawls and scarves and ideas on how to wear them on a regular basis.

I am a great admirer of shawls and scarves and feel they add amazing elegance and options to women’s wardrobes. A scarf can be a beautiful and unique personal statement and the way one wears it is certainly one of the loveliest of feminine art forms.  I am personally committed to demonstrating this and to finding out more about how to style and wear them successfully again. I say again because I think they were worn much more in elegant previous eras and I feel it is time to bring them back, research how they were worn in the past and learn how to tie and style them once again for our enjoyment in the present ~ here and now!

Additionally there are so many new contemporary ways to wear them.  And, luckily, I have my friend,  the modern current day scarf specialist, Tricia James to collaborate with me on this project!

Tricia brings her own artistic ability to styling and tying scarves and shawls along with 20 years past experience traveling around the world while training and working with her mentor Isabella Gardener. I will interview Tricia soon and post her incredibly interesting and exotic back ground story on this blog…

I also plan and look forward to sharing some amazing examples of vintage scarves and shawls I have collected with you here in the near future. Watch for this!

And, if you have historical information to add please share it with us as well. We would love to hear from you! After all, isn’t that is what the web is for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions for Tying International Scarf Stylist Tricia James Beautiful Orange Pashima Scarf/Shawl

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I am happy to present the instructions for tying and styling Tricia’s original and unique way of wearing an Orange Pashima Scarf/Shawl. This demonstration is by Tricia James, photos and written directions by Lady Violette. You can also visit Tricia at her website, scarfgenie.com. Tricia is an International Scarf and Accessories Stylist

The finished pashima scarf beautifully tied.

 

Begin by folding the scarf in half lengthwise.

 

Drape over shoulders.

 

Loop scarf around neck & adjust with both ends coming forward in even lengths.

 

Take Left side of scarf loop end and bring it under & around…

 

under & around…

 

several times…

 

as shown…

 

on Left side…

 

Do the same thing with the Right side of the shawl wrapping the end under & around…

 

under & around…

 

until both sides of shawl are fully wrapped,

 

and hanging down in the front.

 

Next, slip your finger into one of the loops on the upper Left hand side of the shawl as Tricia demonstrates here.

 

Next, pull that loop up and out a bit,

 

then continue to “style it out” by spreading it apart with your fingers,

 

as she demonstrates in the photos…

 

To complete the style arrange the extended loop to your liking, adjusting the fullness of the scarf to fit attractively on your neck.

 

Make sure the ends of the scarf and the fringes are hanging down and arranged neatly as shown!

 

Admire your work! You have just tied and styled your pashima beautifully!

 

Elegant & Flattering New Tie On a Pashima Shawl

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Pashima Shawl Folded & Tied as a Scarf to Ring the Neck & Light the Face in Flattering Color

In her never ending creativity with scarves and shawls International Scarf Stylist Tricia has just invented this new way to wear a pashima – as a beautifully styled scarf to ring the neck and light the face in flattering color.

She actually just invented this new method of tying the shawl! It amazes me because I have seen stacks of these in department stores in scores of pretty colors and wondered exactly what one was supposed to do with them, beyond the obvious thing of wrapping your shoulders with a stole.

Now I feel like I need a stack of pretty colors to wear in all the ways she ties them! If you find a color that flatters your complexion, eyes, or hair (or all three) and learn how to tie it, you have an instantly unique accessory that lights up your face and also adds a bit of warmth around your neck and shoulders. And is unique to you!

The right scarf/shawl and way of tying it can transform any simple dress or blouse into a stunning outfit. I have begun to think of them as transformers! This is a traditional cashmere Pashima shawl size 28″ x 80″ and is folded and tied to wear as shown.

We are working on writing and photographing the directions for tying a pashima like this so you can learn to do it yourself. I’ll post them soon. meanwhile you can visit International Scarf Stylist Tricia James at scarfgenie.com