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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

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Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Pattern by Lady Violette de Courcy , Part 2 ~ Knitted Bow Tutorial

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

My Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Decorated with a Knitted Bow

The Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat is trimmed with a knitted bow which both adds a decorative vintage touch to the hat and conveniently covers and conceals the side seam over the right ear. The pattern for this hat is in yesterday’s blog post here.

Cast on 18 stitches on Size 8 US needles and work 12 inches of stockinette stitch to make a piece of fabric for the bow.

To make the bow cast on 18 stitches on size 8 US needles in the same bulky weight yarn as you use for the hat. Work in stockinette stitch for 12 inches, then bind off. (Stockinette stitch is Knit one row, Purl one row.) Cut the yarn but leave a tail of yarn about 12 inches long to sew the center seam of the bow together.

Do not block the piece of fabric you have made for the bow. You will want the selvedge edges to curl in order to create a nice soft plump looking bow.

Sew the center seam together on what will be the back underside of the bow when it is attached to the hat.

Turn the bow and fold ends inward toward the center. Sew the ends together along the center seam which will be on the underside of the bow when it is sewn to the hat.

Turnover and cinch the bow fabric together in the center with a piece of yarn to create the bow tie shape.

Turn the bow so that the right side is facing upwards. Place a piece of yarn under the center of the bow and tie it together to cinch the bow together in the middle.

Gather together , cinch and tie yarn on the backside to form bow.

Bow should be about 6 inches in length.

You have created a fat puffy little bow about 6 inches long. Smooth the edges and both sides of the bow with your fingers to make the shape pretty.

Place bow on side seam of hat to check the fit.

Set it over the seam of the hat to be sure it is long enough to cover the sewn seam and conceal it.

Wrap yarn tightly around middle of bow several times to create the center. Tie securely on back side and tuck in ends.

Next: Wrap a generous length of yarn around the center of the bow several times tightly to create the middle section of the bow. Tie it firmly on the back side so it will stay put. Tuck in the yarn ends. Your bow is now finished and ready to sew onto your hat.

Center the bow over the side seam and make sure one narrow edge is along the edge of the brim fold and the other is along the edge where you picked up and knit the stitches to create the crown of the hat. I think it is a good idea to try the hat on at this point and make sure you like the position of the bow.

Place bow on hat and sew in place.

When you are satisfied with the placement sew the bow to the hat using yarn and a large yarn needle. Sew the bow on securely but only sew through the bottom layer of the bow fabric so that the top layer of the bow fabric is free and stays puffy and full. I sewed my bows to the center along the side seam of the hat and sewed it down along both short ends ~ sewing along the bottom of the brim and attaching the other end of the bow to the joining stitches along the crown.

Only sew the bottom part of the bow loops to the hat. Leave the top sides of the bow free and open so that you can put your fingers inside to plump up the bow.

I left the top loops of the bow free so that I can shape the bow with my fingers by reaching inside them to plump up the bow.

The bow will cover the side seam and the wearers right ear when the hat is worn.

When wearing the hat the bow should be placed over your right ear. It should completely cover and hide the side seam of the hat.

This type of bow can also be attached to a barrette or hair comb and used as a hair ornament. You can make these bows larger or smaller and use them to decorate hair ornaments, hats, gloves, the backs of little girl’s dresses, and sweaters, even gift boxes! Knitted bows are very pretty and very easy to make. Small ones can even be used to decorate mittens and booties or baby shoes! I made one and applied it to the back of a little girl’s knitted coat at the top of a pleat. They are easy to make and have many uses.

The Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat in two color ways designed by lady Violette de Courcy

Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat and Free Knitting Pattern ~ Part 1, by Lady Violette de Courcy

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Designed by Lady Violette de Courcy

I created this Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat to attend an art museum opening of Edward Hopper’s paintings. I wanted to make a hat in the style of the ones the women in his paintings wore. I also wanted it to look like a proper 1920’s – 30’s formed felt cloche hat, rather than a knitted cap so I made it very thick and sculptural with a turned back rim and graduated shaping. I made a very thick sculptural bow to cover the right side seam of the hat. It comes down over the right ear and has the added benefit of being like a very warm ear muff!

 

This hat is very thick and warm, but I may have to try making one with a bow earmuff on both sides now! I’m thinking of ways to keep even warmer on my 4th day of being completely snowed in! And it is still snowing out! We are in the middle of a huge snowstorm in Seattle and I am taking advantage of using this time to post my recently knitted stuff on Ravelry! You can take a look at my  Lady Violette Ravelry project page here .

 

I’m really happy with the way this hat turned out. The construction was an experiment that fortunately turned out perfectly and is exactly what I had in mind. I am writing the pattern so I can offer it to other knitters who would like to make one. I am making this pattern available to you as a free pattern ~ a kind of Happy Valentine to all you knitters out there. I hope you enjoy it.

I wear this one with a vintage navy blue 1930’s coat in wool gaberdine and a purple wool dress. The outfit is totally inspired by the women in Hopper’s paintings who are always dressed in strong clear distinctive colors. I get a lot of inspiration for my clothing from painters. I like to recreate the moods of the paintings in the way I dress. I can also wear this hat with a purple wool wrap coat with a big ruffled collar. This is more of a 1970’s look, but also very successful.

Size: This hat is made with slight negative ease. I made it to fit myself with a 21 inch head but it fit a 22 inch and 23 inch head just fine as well because it stretched, comfortably, to fit. Note: When you fold the brim back you should try on the hat and adjust the amount of fabric you fold back to the individual wearers preference and your opinion as to what amount of fabric turned back looks the best. Based on my knitting experience I do not think you will find it necessary to adjust the number of stitches or the gauge to fit people within the above size ranges for a comfortable and attractive fit. That is between a 21 – 23 inch head circumference. Please note: I am very finicky about patterns being written clearly and correctly. I have tested this pattern by making it twice myself. I have finished knitting a brown one as well and will photograph it to add to this post within the next few days.

Yarn: Use a BULKY weight yarn.  I used Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dye from Plymouth Yarn in the color way of Blue/ Purple. This is a Bulky weight yarn. The hat and big bow took 2 skeins. Thus the yarn for this hat cost $40 plus sales tax! Each ball retails for $19.95. Rather expensive for a knitted hat but soft, warm and really beautiful so well worth it. The hat itself takes well over 1 skein of yarn and with the bow you will use about 1 and 7/8 skeins. These skeins are 110 yds each. If you are substituting another bulky yarn with the same gauge you should begin with 220 yds.I plan to use the small amount of left over yarn to make small bows like the one on the hat to decorate a pair of purple gloves I have made. There is just the right amount left over to accomplish this.

Needles:  sizes: US 10.5 – 6.5mm, US 10 – 6 mm, US 9 – 5.5 mm, US 8 – 5 mm, US 7 – 4.5 mm. ( Yes! You will need all 5 sizes of needles to create the sculptural shaping required for this hat!) I used 10 inch long sets of straight needles for the brim of the hat and a set of longer size 9 needles for the crown. I think they are 15 inches long. They are the long old fashioned straight needles and I found it really helpful to have the extra length to handle all the stitches at the beginning of the crown section.

EDWARD HOPPER INSPIRED PORTRAIT CLOCHE HAT

Using 10 inch long straight needles as I did or your choice of alternatives:

Work the BRIM:

1) Begin by casting on 42 stitches on size US 10.5 needles

2) Change to size US 10 needles to work the brim:

Mark wrong side with a small safety pin to help you keep track of your work:

Row 1: (Wrong Side) *K2, p1,: repeat from * to last 3 sts, k3.

Row 2: ( Right Side) Work stitches as they appear.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until fabric measures 14 and 1/2 inches from beginning edge;

Change to size US 9 needles and continue in ribbing as established until fabric measures 16″ from beginning edge;

Change to size US 8 needles and continue in ribbing as established until fabric measures 17.5 ” from beginning edge;

Change to size US 7 needles and continue in ribbing as established until fabric measures 20″ from beginning edge.

Bind off all stitches in established rib pattern still using the size 7 needles.

The Crown will look like this from the top when finished !

Work the CROWN:

Using long set of straight US #9 needles, Right side facing, begin at Cast On edge and Pick Up and Knit 68 stitches evenly divided along the selvedge to the Bind Off edge.

Rows 1,3,5,7, and 9 : ( Wrong Side) Purl.

Decrease Rows:

Row 2: K1, *k4, k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 57 stitches total.

Row 4: K1, *k3, k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 46 stitches total.

Row 6: K1, *k2; k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 35 stitches total.

Row 8: K1, * k1, k2tog; repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 24 stitches total.

Row 10: K1; *k2tog, repeat from * to last stitch, k1 = 13 stitches total.

Row 11: P1, *p2tog; repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p2 = 8 stitches total.

Break the yarn, leaving a 10″ tail. Weave tail through remaining 8 stitches twice, then tie off on inside.

SEW SIDES OF HAT TOGETHER:

Thread yarn on a large eye yarn needle and sew sides of hat, including the sides of the crown, together in method of your choice,  being careful to match the lines of ribbing together.

FITTING AND FOLDING BACK EDGE OF BRIM:

Try on hat. The seam should  be on the right side. The narrower portion of the graduated size ribbing should be in the front of the hat. Turn edge of brim back approximately 1.5 to 2 Inches. It should be turned back the same amount all the way around. How much is a matter of desired preference. I turned the brim back so that the edge rested on the lower portion of the 6th ridge of ribbing. Make sure it is evenly turned back all the way around and the hat and brim are adjusted to your preference. Thread yarn needle with yarn and starting on Inside of hat, under the folded back brim, insert needle all the way through the brim inside of a ribbing channel. Then insert needle from front to inside so that you are making one invisible stitch through all the layers of the brim to tack it down securely and hold the folded back brim in place. Tie this single tacking stitch down, then cut the yarn and repeat the process about 4x evenly spaced inside of the hat to keep the folded brim securely, but invisibly in its folded back position.

MAKE BOW:

Using US #8 needles cast on 18 stitches. Work in Stockinette Stitch until piece measures 12 Inches in length. Bind Off. Sew the two 18 stitch long edges together.  Fold so that the seam is inside and  underneath and in the middle of the piece. Take a generous length of yarn and wrap this piece in the middle cinching it together to form a stylized bow. Secure on the wrong side under the seam. Place this bow over the side seam of the hat vertically and sew it down firmly to completely cover the seam on the turned back section of the brim and the side seam of the hat above it. Sew it down firmly all the way around. It should be worn placed over your right ear.

I have added a Part 2 to this pattern, The Knitted Bow Tutorial

FINI

The bow sewn into place covering the right side seam of the hat. Bow is placed over the right ear when hat is worn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Violette’s Starbuck’s Coffee Shop Violet Adventure

Friday, February 7th, 2014

The Violet Bros in Their Matching Violet Coats

 

You absolutely cannot predict the interesting adventures having a personal color will bring you. My personal color is Violet of course. All things violet catch my attention, make me take a second look. Every now and then I see some interesting version of violet street fashion and do a double take

I was at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, WA to do some errands, and needing a coffee stopped in at the Starbuck’s Cafe across from the movie theaters. I got my coffee “for here” because I detest the taste of paper cups. When I sat down at one of the tables, I could not help but notice two young men wearing matching long violet colored coats! I had to say something! I introduced myself and explained that violet is my personal color. I commented on their coats and violet fashion sense and asked if I could take their pictures for my Lady Violette blog. They were delighted to oblige !

They call themselves The Violet Bros, they harken from Bremerton, WA

One thing led to another and they decided to show me their tattoos! Right there, in the middle of  Starbucks with all the conservative Lynnwood, WA suburban shoppers gaping. Their story? They are members of the US  Coast Guard, and they had a day off so they came to the mall to buy some fun clothes and see a movie.

Thanks Guys! And no matter what, keep wearing Violet!

I feel much safer knowing Violet Bros are guarding the oceans!

It was hilarious! and innocent and a good time and much laughing was had by all! And a few shocked suburban shoppers got  jolt to their blood pressure which was undoubtedly good for them! Here are the pictures! I did promise to post them.

 

Violet Bros Tattoo, Starbuck's Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood, WA

A Violet Bros Tattoo

Yet Another Violet Bros Tattoo

A Violet Bros - Showing Off a Torso Tattoo in Starbuck's Cafe - Alderwood, WA

Giggling Sailor - One of The Violet Bros

Violet Bros Tattoo - The Sailor's Back

One of the Violet Bros - Portrait By Request of The Other Violet Bro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was hilarious! and innocent and a good time and much laughing was had by all! And a few shocked suburban shoppers got  jolt to their blood pressure which was undoubtedly good for them! Here are the pictures! I did promise to post them.

Valentine’s Day Red Blouse from France

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Valentine’s Day is coming soon! What to wear? This is a chance , like Christmas, to bring out my red beauties.This charming red blouse, from France, was made in the early 1990’s. It is lovely with a black pencil skirt, sheer black stockings, black patent leather pumps and my black patent leather Chanel Mademoiselle Frame purse. I think this will be my day time ensemble . For a day as special as Valentine’s Day I like to plan several outfits for different times of day.

Valentine's Day French Red Blouse, c1992

Valentine’s Day Red Dress by Dior

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I am thinking about what I want to wear!

This is perfect! This is it! A gorgeous RED COCKTAIL DRESS by DIOR, 1950.

Christian Dior Cocktail Dress 1950

 

Jane Austin Discussing Her Hat

Monday, January 27th, 2014

From Jane Austin – Letter to Cassandra, 1798

“Next week shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.”

Just began knitting a new hat and remembered this delightful quote from Jane! Times haven’t changed. If this turns out well I, too, shall be very happy!

Ballerina Lubov Tchernicheva’s ~ Cleopatra Portrait Gallery

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Lubov Tchernicheva as herself

Lubov Tchernicheva (1890~1976) was an extraordinarily beauty and a great star of the Ballets Russes. The studio portrait above was taken sometime between 1930 and 1937 and is from the Geoffrey Ingram archive of Australian ballet now in the National Library of Australia. She trained in Russia, then danced with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes from 1911~1929.  She was married to Sergei Grigoriev, the company Regisseur. She attempted to retire in 1929.

However, in 1932 Rene Blum coaxed her back to continue dancing as first ballerina and serve as ballet mistress for Col. de Basil’s Ballets Russes. Her husband served as Regisseur for this company as well. The couple worked for the Col. de Basil Ballets Russes troupe from 1932~1952. They performed and worked with de Basil’s Ballets Russes in their popular tour of Austrailia, throughout the United States and Europe. An extremely popular dancer her public simply would not allow her to retire!

In the 1950s this extraordinary ballet couple worked together staging Fokine’s Ballets for other companies.

Fortunately for dance lovers and historians Lubov Tchernicheva left her personal papers and ballet records to the Harvard University Library and her husband, Sergei Grigoriev, left his to the United States Library of Congress.

Tchernicheva also had amazing costumes for many of the roles she danced! Fortunately many striking photos of her were taken in many roles and survive.

The Ballets Russes Cleopatra Costume by artist Sonia Delaunay 1918

My favorite photos of Lubov are as Cleopatra originally known as Une Nuit d’Egypt and premiered by Diaghilev’s troupe in 1908. The ballet was revived in 1917 and exquisite and truly fantastic (as in a product of the artist’s Egyptian fantasy) new costumes were designed for the revived production by Russian artist and textile designer Sonia Delaunay. These Cleopatra costumes are the version Lubov wore in these photographs.

Lubov Tchernicheva in her Cleopatra costume designed by Sonia Delaunay

In the days these old photos were taken the ballet dancers often had to assume a pose in the photographers studio and hold it for a long time while the glass plates of film were exposed. By a long time I mean as long as 20 minutes while the photographer got set up and  organized and then slowly exposed the film. It must have been sheer torture!

Tchernicheva reclining elegantly as Cleopatra

It is hard to hold perfectly still in an an exotic pose, no matter how static, without twitching or swaying a tiny bit. I know because I have posed for photographers who were trying out the old techniques.Dancers were really happy when fast film was developed so that they could be photographed in action!

Tchernicheva strikes a pose a l'Egypte in the photographer's studio

 

Tchernichova’s strong aristocratic profile is amazing and perfect for the character of Cleopatra! And the headdress! it must have taken practice to perform in such a costume – it does not look like it allows for freedom of movement. It looks to me as if the dancer had to adapt to working within the confines and limitations of the costume. Fashion is often like that as well! It is interesting to note that this ballet set off a fashion craze for all things Egyptian in Paris and London. Society ladies were even getting Egyptian tattoos in intimate areas of their bodies!



It’s Spring So Let’s All Get Inpired to Wear Hats Again & Consider the Princess WOW! Hat Collection Funding Campaign on Indiegogo, too!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

A Classic Handmade Feather Beret From Lady Violette's Personal Hat Collection in Brown and Green Handmade by Millinery Artist/ Designer Princess WOW!

I was going through my own collection of hats this weekend while getting out some pretty ones for the spring season when I received a notice from my milliner friend Princess WOW! about her Indiegogo campaign efforts. She wanted my help to spread the word. I am glad to do so through this post, but I also want to get people back into the mood to wear hats! Easter is around the corner – a classic time to wear a pretty hat and hats just generally inspire people, cheer them up and make them feel better. As the flowers begin to bloom again in the spring women should take inspiration from them to bloom beautifully in pretty hats and colorful scarves as well! It is a wide open opportunity to express ourselves in the performance art of wearing a hat which is always fun, easy and a lift for the spirits of both the wearer and those viewing her wearing the hats! Hats, are an innocent and easy way to bring people pleasure. Wearing a hat is fun and takes some personal style and confidence – as demonstrated by the young lady in the picture at the end of this post.

Making hats is a special skill ,as is marketing them, as you can find out by reading this: Mindy Fradkin attended New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology to learn to make hats in the classic way from old school masters of the craft. She is now Princess WOW! – A Milliner Extraordinaire –  working to raise money for her new collection of beautiful artistic hats through an Indiegogo fundraising campaign. This is a worthy cause if you love hats, hat makers and designers and you can participate on a small or large level. Here is the link to the campaign which is an interesting thing to know about in itself. I am hearing more and more about artists and businesses raising money for their projects in this manner and having read her funding campaign now understand more about how these work. If you are curious about that as well as helping her raise the funds she needs I suggest you check it out too! Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! the hat designer, and she has done a good job putting her proposal together. I have known her for years and own over 20 of her beautiful timeless hats myself.  I can testify to her design brilliance and reliability. Of course it costs money to put together a collection and even more to attend high end craft shows where people can go to see and buy your hats. There is much more detail to the millinery business than putting decorations on a hat! Go here to read about what she needs to do and gain appreciation for the business side of millinery as well the beauty of handmade hats.  http://igg.me/at/princesswowhats.

I love wearing hats myself and have amassed quite a collection of artist made and vintage ones over the last two decades. I have been a personal client of Princess WOWS! hats since the early 1990’s! I wrote an article about what happens to me when I wear one of her hats for a magazine in New York years ago.  Here it is again, to get you into the mood of wearing a Princess WOW! hat yourself.

“Confessions of a Head Turner” – or What Happens When I Wear a Beautiful Hat.

“Confessions of a Head Turner ” was originally  written by Lady Violette for Princess WOW! when she was primarily  known as Mindy Fradkin’s Important Hats. It was published in 1995 in Breukelen Magazine in NYC  with accompanying photos of  Lady Violette wearing Mindy’s hats. It still holds true and it is still fun, so we decided to bring it out for contemplation if you find yourself considering wearing hats again this spring and summer as we do. (We being Lady Violette & Princess WOW! and our young model Mademoiselle Coco.)

Over the years we became good friends through out mutual love of hats and our design work together. It is also interesting to note that, years after I originally wrote this piece, Princess WOW! met her husband, artist Roland Mousaa, because he saw her wearing one of her hats while waiting in a line to be seated at a restaurant. Just as I wrote, something special always happens when you wear her hats! A real life adventure!

Now Mindy Fradkin is Princess WOW! and her main focus has changed from making hats to her work for The Smile Revolution but she still makes and wears her own hats in her concerts and performances and for private clients. Lady Violette has taken good care of all her Important Hats and Princess WOW! hats and still wears them regularly. We love hats! And spring is coming! A new hat for Easter has always been a tradition! So, it has gotten me  thinking a lot about hats ~  Hats off to Princess WOW!  And a stroll down memory lane with ~

“The Confessions of  Head Turner”

I love to wear Mindy’s Important Hats. I never go without an Important Hat. I have two dozen of them. They make adventures happen.

I meet men. Men follow me. I feel mysterious, like a heroine in a novel. Like Zelda Fitzgerald or Greta Garbo. In an Important Hat you create an indelible impression… you become an enigma, unforgettable, memorable…

It’s evocative of romance and another time. A hat is an emphatic statement. Jewelry is more subtle, smaller, meant for close up. A hat can be seen across a street or restaurant. At a distance in a gallery or museum. It casts the wearer’s magic spell…

In giving up hats, women gave up coquetry. Mindy’s hats bring it back, but they are not vintage, not ingenue. They are totally modern & sophisticated, they’re history, too…

They’re true art, completely original form and construction. The simplest looking design transforms a face.

She is the Rodin of the sculptured hat.

When you wear her hats heads turn.

I began collecting Mindy’s hats if 1992. Now I can’t stop!! Each hat represents a different facet of my inner personality to the viewer. They allow me to express the different aspects of my character.

Together Mindy and I continue to discover more ~ a great talent in a designer for her client.

Thank you Mindy for presenting my many inner characters to me and to the the world… To love me you (I mean anyone,) must know me. Your hats project aspects of my inner soul to the outside world (when I choose to do so by wearing one.)

Lady Violet de Courcy, Ballet Dancer, Jewelry Designer, Writer and Mindy’s Muse

Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, now The Princess of WOW! & renowned hat designer and comedienne performs using her hats, in shows and concerts and at “Hat Happenings” regularly around New York City. She also currently works for The Smile Revolution raising conscious awareness for the healing power of a genuine smile. She is a singer, songwriter, and concert promoter but still creates wonderful extravagant hats for private clients and participates in select craft shows  You can contact her at:

www.theprincessofwow.com

For INSPIRATION here is something to think about! Madamoiselle Coco below, who is 4 years old, wisely says, “You can wear hats anytime and all the time.”  Here she wears a white vintage hat with a veil while out doing errands on a Saturday morning.  She says “You can always wear a hat. It makes every occasion special. You do not need a special event or an occasion such as a wedding to wear one! ” Here she is getting a manicure at the local village salon where her unique personal style and lovely vintage veiled hat garnered quite a few compliments! This stylish young lady already has a collection of special hats! “When you wear a lovely hat people smile at you and stop to talk to you and compliment you on it. They tell you how much they like it and they want to meet you! Sometimes they even tell you that seeing you in your hat makes them feel happy! Wearing a hat is definitely worthwhile!”

A lovely young lady - Mademoiselle Coco - wearing a vintage hat with veil shows us that we can wear hats as we go about our regular activities everyday!

Marlene Dietrich in a Fabulous Fur Hat ~ “Fur is Fabulous” Isn’t it?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Marlene Dietrich in a Fabulous Fur Hat!

“Fur is Fabulous” is my personal favorite quote ~ I made it up myself for myself ~ and tonight I came across a great photo of Marlene Dietrich in a fur hat that I want to share with you. I suspect this might actually be a fur muff that she plopped on top of her head like I did to create a fur hat during a photo session. Anyway, I like it!

Fur is Fabulous~ photo by Leigh LeDare

Just for fun, here is my own Fur is Fabulous picture of me wearing my black fox fur cuff spontaneously plopped on top of my head during a photo session as a hat.

Lady Violette’s Favorite Quote From Marlene Deitrich

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Marlene dressed for image in a white man's suit ~ gorgeous!

“I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men. ”
Marlene Dietrich

I am currently reading Marlene’s biography written by her daughter Maria Riva. I am enjoying the book and highly recommend it. It is not a Mommie Dearest type book. It is informative and unravels many myths about Marlene.

I found this quote while looking at pictures of her online. And I immediately thought, how true! I dress the way I do for the same reason, actually. I love clothes and so did she. But I think we all dress for the image we want or need to convey.

Dressing up is a lot of work and their has to be a reason behind doing it. We all like certain clothes, but we do not like having to be perfectly groomed and turned out 247. That requires a lot of discipline and patience. It is, essentially, a job and a career in itself. It requires a lot of time and effort.

Marlene was honest and intelligent and that is what I like about her, as well as her beauty and her work in films. Of course.

 

Grace in Furs ~ Beautiful Grace Kelly Wearing Fabulous Furs

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

A Perfect Dress for Valentines Day!

Grace Kelly looked particularly fetching in furs. Here are a few examples. I love this red silk dress trimmed in mink cuffs, and, of course, my favorite photo of her in which she is wearing both furs and flowers together

Gracefully Wearing Furs and Flowers at the Same Time!

is the one I showed in my last post where she is wearing a spring hat decorated with roses with the most luxurious looking long sable fur coat on the planet. I love this picture because she looks both warm and happy!

The Famous White Mink Stole of the 1950's

Attending formal affairs she often wore this white mink stole which epitomized the 50’s chic and accentuated her blondness.

Grace at a State Event in Monaco with Her Prince

This stole looked particularly good with diamonds and long formal gowns required for state events. I think she fueled every woman’s desire to own a mink stole in the 1950’s.

Here is the amazing full length sable again ~ photographed in New York City with throngs of adoring fans looking on! Grace, as usual looking really warm and happy.

Grace After an Acting Class in NYC

This photo appeared in Life magazine and the caption read, ” Grace arrives home (to her 5th Avenue Apartment ) after an acting class.” Grace was not a starving actress barely surviving in NYC!

 

Grace in a Full Length Pastel Mink with Her Famous Kelly Bag

Shopping in Paris with Prince Rainier Grace was often caught by the paparazzi wearing spectacular furs.

Long Blond Mink on Beautiful Blond Grace Carrying the Kelly Bag Which She Made Famous

This next photo better shows the luxurious full length pastel mink fur coat which perfectly complimented her cool blondness. Graces life as a princess was the thing of fairy tales for most women. It was also her job, as Rainier’s wife to make Monnaco look good! She performed this job of princess as perfectly as she had performed as a film actress.

A Formal Portrait Again Featuring Her Favorite White Mink Stole

Monaco’s main industry was, and still is, tourism. Grace was tremendous publicity draw for Monaco. Her life was a fantasy for most women and they loved to read about her in the press. Of course her fashion choices were heavily emulated. Her spectacular designer gowns, jewels and furs were the things other women dreamed of. And she was the perfect real life model to show off designers work.

Strolling in Paris with Prince Rainier Wearing a Fur Stole Over a Wool Suit

I realize this was a job for her ~ she had to look perfect and be perfectly groomed at all times as the wife of Rainier and the Princess of Monaco. Grace did so gracefully. She never had any down time. Grace became the epitome of old world elegance as she aged.

The Epitome of 1960's European Glamor

She was always perfectly groomed and meticulously dressed and throughout it all she retained her personal charm. She epitomized her name.

The Grace Kelly look was famous for her gigantic Kelly bag, her designer sunglasses, (she had notoriously poor eyesight so she probably wore these because she really needed them to avoid eye strain and headaches,) her jewels, her exquisite Hermes accessories such as gloves, belts, and scarves, her beautiful designer evening gowns, day dresses and meticulously tailored suits, her hats, and the ultimate and most flattering fine accessory – Prince Rainier, the prince of a husband. Grace’s real life was like that of a heroine in a romance novel to the public.

Of course, it was a real life and it had its real ups and downs, such as unruly teenagers and her unfortunate untimely death. Real life always has its difficulties! But people like to dream and Grace Kelly was the dream girl of her time.

More Inspiration ~ Marlene Dietrich & Grace Kelly Wearing Flowers With Fabulous Furs

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Ultra Fluffy Bleached White Fox Fur Frames Marlene's Face ~ Note the Corsage of Violets!

Marlene Dietrich in all her beautifully lit beauty wearing beautiful luxurious face framing fox furs. I love the added accent of the violet corsage! Nowadays it seems oddly out of season to wear flowers with furs but this was not always so. Apparently women wore warm furs over flimsy floral dresses with floral corsages or flower trimmed hats in past eras. It was certainly charmingly ultra feminine. And solved the problem of wearing a sweet spring light dress while freezing to death on Easter!

Grace Kelly Shortly After Her Arrival in Monaco

This is one of my favorite photographs of Grace Kelly wearing what looks like an exquisite sable coat with an adorable 1950’s rose trimmed pill box hat and white gloves. She looks so fresh and girlish and happy! And warm! So you see, it is possible to wear a spring outfit and not freeze to death! I have found many photos of Grace in furs and she was obviously someone who preferred to be comfortably warm by wearing a proper coat! More Grace in furs coming soon!

Fur is Fabulous ~ As Demonstrated by These Very Young Fashionable Ladies

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Tiny Turn of the Century Girl in Fluffy Fur Collar and Muff

It was important to dress your child warmly in days of yore for two reasons ! To keep her comfortable in winter and to show that you could afford to do so! In fact, it was important to a man’s success in business and society to show the world, via his wife’s clothes and jewelry, and of course his child’s as well, that he was doing well financially. You would buy your wife an expensive fur coat if you could afford to do so and she would wear it publicly to show off her beauty, it’s beauty, and your success. Your adorable children would follow in her footsteps.

A Tiny Girl From Chicago in Her Sleigh Stroller Wearing a Darling Fur Ensemble

Here are the daughters of some very wealthy couples dressed in head to toe fur ensembles at the turn of the century. Muffs and fur collars were obviously in vogue for the very young. I think girl number one is wearing long curly lamb and the girl in the sleigh is wearing ermine.

They certainly make an impression! Fur is fabulous at any age! And my mommy Daddy can afford to dress me this way!

Amazing Violet Dyed Lynx Coat

Friday, January 4th, 2013

An Adorable Dyed Violet Lynx Coat

I discovered this amazing little violet lynx fur coat yesterday! And now I want it! It is the perfect little casual everyday fur for Lady Volette!

Gorgeous and Soft. Violet Lynx Coat Viewed From the Back.

I want! I can just imagine myself running around town doing errands in this beautiful jacket! And ending my excursion with a Lavender Martini in the Olympic Four Seasons.

I Am Sending My Desire to Own This Violet Lynx Fur Coat Out Into The World With this Post

I must do more research to find out if this edgy little jacket is attainable/ available for sale.

I am allergic to live cats, but I have no such problems with fur coats!

” Here Violet Kitty, Kitty, Kitty! Come Here Purple Kitty! Come Home to Lady Violette…”

Alas: This coat was sold to someone else! It was from Mark Kaufman Furs in NYC. C’est la vie! I will have to keep looking! Meanwhile I can save up for one!

Vintage Tweed Coat by Sabrina With Lush Natural Coyote Fur Collar ~ Circa 1967 ~ Identifying Coyote Fur

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Vintage Wool Tweed Coat by Sabrina ~ Circa 1970's With Lush Natural Coyote Fur Collar

Here is a beautiful vintage winter tweed coat with an extravagant natural coyote fur collar made in 1967 by the Sabrina Coat Corporation in New York. The fur is very long and fluffy and is composed of all the brown, tan and cream colors in the nubby tweed fabric. This is a great warm winter coat for cities like New York and Chicago where it gets really cold because it is double breasted, long and full.

The Double Breasted Design of This Winter Coat Provides Extra Warmth and Protection as it Covers the Chest with Four Layers of Fabric Counting the Tweed and the Millium Lining Crossed Over Each Other, While the Criss Crossed & Overlapped Coyote Fur Encompasses the Shoulders, Neck and Chest as Well as Framing the Face.

The double layer of fabric and fur where it crisscrosses across the chest is a great wind barrier and the huge fur collar is soft, snugly and luxurious.

Long Full Skirt with a Generous Amount of Fabric and Wide Back Pleat Layers Well and Fits Over Anything InCluding Sweaters, Skirts, Pants and Suits

The long full skirt fits over everything and is swishy and glamorous as well! It is lined in blush colored satin Millium lining fabric which is insulated for extra warmth. Millium is a trademarked lining fabric which allowed for extreme warmth without creating bulk and was favored for use in women’s suits and coats when a tailored fitted look was desired. The extravagant coyote fur collar creates a flattering portrait frame for the face of the wearer! I feel beautiful and glamorous and very warm when I wear this coat! It is a coat one can wear out in the dead of winter in the coldest place and be warm and comfortable while enjoying being outside.

Shiny and Elegant in Itself the Specially Designed and Insulated Millium Lining in a Feminine Blush Color Satin Finish Fabric Adds to the Warmth and Beauty of This Well Designed Vintage Winter Coat.

Short jackets just do not keep me warm enough in winter! I need a long coat to keep me warm all over. I also love the way this coat is belted, creating a small nipped in waist when the self fabric belt is tied. It has a 1950’s influenced New Look silhouette with the small waist and long full skirt. This coat features a wide pleat in the back of the skirt giving extra movement and fullness.

Generously Sized and Completely Functional Side Pockets are Big Enough to Really Carry Things In and Have the Added Benefit of Being Securely Closed With the Opening Underneath the Overlapping Decorative Placket at the Top. Pickpockets Would Have to Work Hard to Get Into Your Pocket So You Would be Well Aware of Their Annoying Presence. These Pockets Are Big Enough to Carry a Pair of Gloves, a Scarf, a Pretty Vintage Handkerchief, a Folding Pocket Comb, a Compact, a Lipstick, a Cell Phone, Keys, a Change Purse and a Small Wallet Without Creating Unsightly Bulges or Adding to the Impression of the Size of Your Hips. Of Course They Are Also Thoughtfully Lined in a Warm and Soft Flannel Fabric to Help Keep Your Gloved Hands Even Warmer if Needed! They Knew How to Make Good Working Pockets Back in the Day!

The two huge side pockets are also very functional. You could carry your life in them if you needed to! This coat was made in the days when they still did hand bound buttonholes which is a detail I love and sewed a few extra buttons inside the coat in case you needed to replace one.

Well Made, Laboriously Hand Tailored Bound Buttonholes Add to the Quality and Beauty of This Elegant Circa 1970's Coat.

The buttons are also sewed on extremely well! Originally. I always check the sewing on all the buttons of vintage items when I acquire them to be sure they are very securely attached. If any are loose I sew them on by hand so I won’t lose any. It is hard to find replacement buttons and the extras sewn into the lining are a real sign of quality construction.

An Extra Replacement Button is Sewn Inside the Coat Just In Case You Lose One. Also Note the Beautiful Big Sabrina Coat Corporation Label and the Still Attached Cleaning and Care Instructions. I Just Love the Elegant Labels in My Vintage Clothing and It Really Adds to the History and Value of a Garment if the Original Designer Label and Care Labels Are Still Inside a Vintage Piece When You Acquire It.The Labels Can Also Help You to Date the Clothing and Research Its History. Some People Collect Label's in and of Themselves. I Photograph My Favorite Ones and Keep a File of the Images.

The coat is beautifully designed and tailored and it fits over anything I have tried to wear underneath it – from a dress to sweaters and skirt or a sweater and suit jacket worn together. It is rare to find a pretty coat that is cut to fit over a suit without creating a bulky unflattering look.

The Side View Illustrates The Influence of Dior's New Look with Its Nipped in Belted Waist and Longer Full Flowing Skirt on the Lines and Silhouette of this Very Figure Flattering and Feminine Coat.

I acquired this coat at an estate sale during the summer. It is in excellent condition and very clean. I question whether it was ever worn before I bought it because it is in such good shape! I recommend looking for winter coats, suits and vintage furs during the summer months because they are bulky and people who are selling them will want to do so during the summer in order to get rid of them. When you buy a winter item during hot summer weather you can often get a good price because the seller doesn’t want to have to hold onto that big warm hard to store coat for another 6 to 9 months when winter sets in.  The same principal  applies to buying vintage swimwear.  Buy off season when the demand for an item is lower in order to get better prices.

Note the Classic 1930's Influence on this 1967 Tweed Midi Length Winter Coat with its Face Flattering Natural Coyote Fur Portrait Collar. This Coat Was Made at the Height of the Influence on Fashion of the 1967 Movie Bonnie & Clyde.

I think this style of wrapped and belted wool coat with its glamorous and warm natural coyote fur face framing collar is timeless. I have seen similar coats in old black and white movies worn by Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Faye Dunaway wore them in the 1967 movie Bonnie & Clyde which is set in the depression era 1930’s. Faye Dunaway was incredibly glamorous in that movie and influenced fashion accordingly the year the film came out. She wore such coats over tweed midi length skirts with sweaters and textured stockings and T-strapped or gillie shoes. She wore her gleaming blond hair in a sleek Garbo influenced bob with berets and cloche hats. Many portraits exist of Garbo dramatically framed by the gigantic fur portrait collars like this coyote collar. The year 1967, when Bonnie & Clyde was released, every fashionable woman wanted a 1920’s ~ 30’s influenced fur collared winter coat and sexy clinging midi length tweed skirts. In the dead of winter tin 1967 these coats were worn with narrow high heeled taupe suede boots and knitted or felt cloche caps and berets.

Vintage Fur Muffs & Muff Purses ~ and Identification of the Kinds of Furs They Are Made From

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

My Collection of Five Vintage Fur Muffs

I have a small collection of vintage fur muffs. Several of them are also purses. I absolutely love muffs. They are so practical and darling! You can carry them instead of a purse and have a place to keep your hands toasty warm while looking glamorous or romantic.

This is the Lovely Sheared Natural Colored Brown Beaver Muff That Belonged to My Grand Mother

The first one I acquired is the beaver one which was my grandmothers when she was a young woman. It is natural brown colored sheared beaver and very soft. There is a zipper in the back which opens to reveal a roomy satin lined “pocket” compartment which serves as a purse for carrying a few essentials. It has a loop made of heavy satin ribbon to attach the muff to your wrist. My grandmother told me she used it wherever she went in the winter and, most romantically on sleigh rides and when she went ice skating on a lake near their home where the young people gathered for winter socializing and recreation. It is very soft and silky and exceptionally warm. The part of the fur we see in this muff is the part that is located under the stiffer and longer guard hairs that you see on a live beavers coat. They shear off the guard hairs which protect this inner part of the beaver’s coat when processing the fur in this manner. This softest thick part of the coat, under his guard hairs, is what keeps him toasty warm in bitter winter cold and serves as his insulation while he is swimming and working in snow and icy water. His longer outer guard hairs literally serve to guard this amazingly soft and warm inner coat. Water runs right off the guard hairs and when swimming they make him sleeker and faster in the water. Beaver fur is used for garments both with the guard hairs left on it and sheared in the manner of this muff. With the guard hairs on the fur has a courser feel when you stroke it, but this super soft exact part of the fur is located right under the guard hairs next to the leather skin. Snow will slide or shake right off a beaver coat with the guard hairs on it while this inner fur is keeping the wearer, or the beaver, exquisitely warm. A sheared beaver coat is more dressy and elegantly soft and was usually made for garments to be worn for fancier occasions.

This is the Backside of the Sheared Natural Brown Beaver Muff Showing the Zipper that Gives Access Into The Satin Lined Purse Compartment discreetly Hidden Inside The Muff!

Fortunately my grandma took very good care of her sheared treasured beaver fur muff and she gave it to me when I was in the 4th grade doing a school science report on beavers. I lived in Portland OR at the time and every child had to pick a topic for a science project. I chose the beaver who happened, coincidentally to be the official state animal! Of course my topic was approved by the teacher! I did not pick the beaver because he was the state mascot. I picked him because I loved my grandma’s beaver fur muff and my grandpa’s stories about real beaver damns he had observed. They loved beavers and I developed a great affection for them hearing them talk about them. My entire family got involved in helping me and I wrote a spectacular report with great displays which included this very beaver muff! My father took me to visit a professional furrier in downtown Portland who gave me strips of beaver fur to use for my displays. I had a sample with the guard hairs still on it, one that was sheared like this muff, and several that were dyed different colors to show some of the ways the furriers could create different colors and looks with the same type of fur.  I had a white one, several shades of brown, a tan one and a black one.

My rancher woodsman grandfather took me out into the wilds of Idaho to observe a beaver damn and the large beaver colony in action. It was amazing and I will never forget it. We ever so carefully chopped down a stump from a tree that a beaver had felled and mounted it on a wood display block for me to show in my report. My grandpa just happened to have a real set of beaver front teeth in his collection of weird treasures that I was also allowed to use in my display as well! They were long and very stained and sharp and you could see how they were ideal for cutting down entire trees and chewing through logs to make them a usable size in damn building. We displayed these next to the mounted tree stump in a special cigar box with a glass lid mounted in the top!

After the trip to observe the damn, which was quite an excursion, as we packed into the mountains on horseback and camped out for 3 days and nights in order to study them, we constructed a reproduction of the entire beaver colony and damn in a diorama using sticks and mud and moss and stones and other things. We made it small enough to transport and show on top of a table. My grandfather was so excited and willing to help me that we even created a cutaway of the damn to show what it was like inside!

To top things off we displayed his beaver felt hat from the days in which he courted my grandmother, pictures of them in hat and muff and her fashionable brown beaver fur jacket. I do not have those items now. Other family members do! They are in another state so I cannot get pictures to add to this post right now! Sorry!

My report on the beavers was a big success. It was success that I ended up winning the first prize in the state for my Science report. I am sure that the fact beavers were the state animal and are featured pictured on the Oregon state flag helped me win. I was taken to many schools to present my report in person. I sure wish someone had filmed or video taped it! But nobody did that in those days so it is only a legend now! Finally the entire display was featured at OMSI ~ the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in a display with plaques and everything for several years. I was really impressed by the plaques and having my name on them when I was in 4th grade! My family moved from Portland to Seattle a year later and I have no idea what became of my beaver exhibit and report after that.

The conclusion to the story is that I have had tremendous respect for beavers and have truly loved the little guys ever since! I now live in Lynnwood, WA and a couple of years ago an industrious beaver colony built a large damn in a wetlands area just off the 44th Street Exit of Interstate 5. That is the exit I take to get to my house! They quickly built a big damn and it caused a lot of water backup leading to a flood that forced the highway department to close off the roads. The industrious beavers were so adept at building and so determined to succeed that they could not be stopped. ( I really enjoyed watching this transpire!) At first the highway maintenance people tried to redirect them a bit without disturbing them, but it didn’t work! More beaver troops were called in for this emergency project, arrived from somewhere, mysteriously, and built the damn bigger and higher in record time working 247 around the clock in the freezing dead cold of damp and icy winter! The lake,  (Yes! Really! It became a large lake! ) completely blocked off that freeway exit and several blocks in each direction. No one could get through. something had to be done!

The State Wildlife Department organized a swat operation and came in  and captured all these beavers and transported the entire group to a new distant location suited to their lifestyle but far from civilization as we know it! I do not know where they are now, but I hope they have adapted and survived. Every time I pass the wetlands I think about them and I miss them! Of course I think they should be protected. When I use my sheared beaver fur muff I get to tell people what it is and I get to tell my fantastic true story about my 4th grade beaver report. And I get to urge people to protect the existing beaver colonies. This is a perfect opportunity for me to promote the protection of this beautiful animal and I think the muff is doing more good for beaver society that it would if it were destroyed. as the Peta people advocate doing. I have strong personal opinions about this and I feel you can make people care more about issues like animal protection through education and knowledge of the history of the animal and its relationship to people during the development of our society. In our history the quest for beaver pelts was why much of Canada and the western states were explored, settled and developed. Now it is our turn to protect them.

Today I am writing about my muff collection, but, soon I will photograph and post pictures of the 1947 wool cloth coat trimmed in a different kind of fur collar that my grandmother wore with this sheared beaver muff. I will show how the two kinds of fur coordinate with each other really well and can be worn together now, just as she did back then for an elegant put together look. The coat is currently being cleaned and having a button restored so I cannot include it for a few days. I will link the two posts together when I put it up.

Amazingly Soft Sheared Seal as Used in This Muff is Even Softer and Finer Than Exquisitely Soft sheared Beaver!

Most furs have guard hairs to begin with and many can be sheared off to get down to the softest part of the fur which can then be used for elegant garments and fur accessories such as muffs. a sheared fur garment is more delicate than one with the guard hairs left on to continue to guard the fur. This should be rather obvious! The reason some people get confused by two items made of beaver or other fur is that one could be sheared and one could still have the guard hairs on it and they could very legitimately look quite a bit different to the untrained or inexperience eye. Furs can be bleached or dyed different colors or shades as well, just like human hair, so that could change the look as well! It is no wonder people who are new to fur get confused at times! Additionally, designers and furriers have been very creative over the years and have made furs and garments having unusual effects that become difficult to recognize without experience. The more you see, feel, study and collect, the better you will become at correctly identifying fur types. That is why I am writing these posts and showing pictures of my own furs ~ in order to share what I have learned and help others figure out what they have. I hope it is helpful.

This Photo Shows The Back Quilted Silk Satin Side of the Sheared Seal Muff. It is Feather Down Filled for Extra Warmth and Elegance. This Piece Dates to 1912

This muff is made of sheared seal on the front side and quilted silk satin filled with feather down on the back side. it is also lined with silk and filled with feather down on the fur side. I love the color of the silk satin and the decorative stitching pattern used in the quilting stitches. there is a small piped border on each side where you put your hands into the openings. In the next picture I have turned the muff sideways to try to photograph the inside and show the zippered interior purse compartment.

Here you can Look Inside the Sheared Seal fur Muff Purse From the Side Angle and See the Zippered Area For the Purse.

When you turn the fur side in the light you get different effects of coloration depending on how the light hits the pile of the fur.  The entire piece is beautifully constructed.

The Seal Fur Can Be Stroked to Lie in Different Directions Which Gives a Different Effect and Look to the Fur Color

In the next picture I have photographed again in natural light but the color looks different ` a bit cooler, because of the quality of the light hitting the fur. You can change the way the fur lies by stroking it one way or the other. I love to “pet” the muffs when I am using them! You should never brush your furs or comb them. It will damage them. You can smooth them out with your hands gently. Be sure your hands are clean and dry and free of any hand lotion, cosmetics or perfumes as they could damage the furs. If you want to wear perfume you should apply it to your own skin in areas where it will not come into contact with the fur itself.

Please note. I took all the pictures of these muff at the same time. The color fluctuates a lot on this seal one but this is due to the way the nap of the fur is positioned, turning the fur muff, or moving it a bit into a different quality of light.

Dramatic Natural Black/ Brown and White Natural Skunk Vintage 1940s Era Muff with Bakelite Wrist Ring Attached

This vintage 1940s’s muff is natural black/ brown skunk fur which is kind of obvious isn’t it? I am saying that with a sense of humor because I have been asked if it is some really odd things ~ ranging from dog to zebra! I do not think it looks like those animals at all and I think it loos exactly like a skunk, so I can only assume that the people who say such things must not know their animals or look at animals or pictures of them very care fully!

The Dramatic Skunk Muff and Matching Stole Ensemble Circa 1940s is a Real Vintage Show Stopper!

This skunk muff is not a purse but it does come with a matching stole! The muff is made up of six skunk pelts and the stole is made up of 24 skunk pelts! I have written extensively about the skunks fur and how to recognize it in my previous post on this skunk ensemble * .  Sometimes skunk is dyed jet black.

Fluffy And Incredibly Soft Silver Fox Fur Muff With Double Hand Compartments

This incredibly fluffy long haired vintage muff purse is Silver Fox Fur. It is only fur on the font side and is backed with black textured fabric. It has a black satin wrist strap. It is uniquely designed to have two compartments for your hands, one for each hand. There are several kinds of natural foxes and they are different natural colors – not dyed. Sometimes fox fur is dyed as well. In the future I will show you different kinds of natural fox fur in different colors so you can see the differences, but in thins post I am focusing on muffs so I want to be sure it is understood that this particular example is a Silver Fox. This has been confirmed by a professional furrier, Rene Vogel.

This Picture Shows the Black Stripe Textured Fabric Used to Back the Fur Portion of the Silver For Fur Muff Purse.

Inside this Silver Fox fur muff purse has a concealed secret zippered purse area for your belongings. I love how well structured it is. The old time furriers did a nice job of designing and sewing these muff purses. The muff keeps your hand so cozy and warm as well. I personally need this extra warmth even when I am wearing gloves! I love the idea and the practice of keeping warm with fur lined gloves in a fur lined muff while wearing a fur lined coat and a fur hat and fur lined boots. I have tried every other solution to keeping warm but none other works as well. I am thin, I have no body fat to help me stay warm! I have become aware of how tiny a fox is inside his fluffy long fur coat insulated for the winter cold by his beautiful fur pelts.

I Have Tipped the Fox Muff Purse at a Weird Angle So I Can See Inside It To Photograph the Zipper for the Purse Section

The furs are lightweight, they trap air between then to keep you warm, some fur follicles are hollow and these trap additional air within the individual fur hair itself to keep the animal even warmer or the human wearer of the coat made of his fur even warmer.  This is why, in olden times, when there really were not many ways to keep warm people initially wanted to wear furs from animals for coats. It was the only way you could keep from freezing to death in some bleak and frozen places. Historically humans began to wear furs as a necessity for their own survival. I do not think that a lot of people who work for animal rights realize this or, if they do, they never think deeply about it. As humans we owe a great deal in our evolution to the fact that we had animals to eat and their furs to wear in order to keep warm and thus stay alive!  Personally I am very grateful to animals of the past for making this contribution to the survival of my species. When I wear a vintage fur or carry a vintage fur muff purse I an sometimes able to use the comments people make about wearing furs to discuss this. I find it very wasteful of a life to discard a perfectly useful vintage fur when it still has a lot of useful life in it! I personally want to honor the animal from whom the item came by wearing his already dead pelt proudly until it expires naturally.

Natural Black Persian Lamp Fur Muff Purse with Black Fabric Backing and Satin Wrist Strap Made in the 1950s

The last vintage muff purse in my collection is natural black Persian Lamb fur. It features very curly black fur on its natural black skin backing on the front side. The back side is a heavy black brocade like fabric. This muff is the real thing. Faux  versians of Persian Lamb exist as well and were often used for coats and jackets in the 1950s. I will do a post on Persian Lamb in the near future explaining how to tell the difference and showing examples. I have decided to save that topic for another post because it will make this one really long if I add it now!

This is the back side of the Persian Lamb Muff Purse

Sewn into the black fabric back in a metal zipper to access a generous pocket which is the purse. In the next photograph I will show the zipper pocket unzipped and shot from above so that you can see inside the purse. It is a really roomy compartment.

In This Photo You Can Look Into the Unzipped Pocket Section of the of the Black Persian Lamp Muff Purse and See How Nice and Roomy it is! It even has another little pocket inside of it that is meant to hold a small mirror!

Then I will show the muff purse standing on one end so you can see how it was structured.The openings at the sides of the top were where you inserted your hands to keep them warm and they are positioned so that you insert one of your hands through the wrist strap first, then a hand each into the top section openings of either side of the muff. The muff then hangs in front of your body in a perfectly balanced manner.

A Side View of the Persian Lamb Muff Purse Showing Where You Insert Your Hands.

Marilyn Monroe carried a muff purse like this one, also in Persian Lamb fur as she ran to catch the train in a black hobble skirted dress in the movie Some Like it Hot! One of the nice things about muffs is that they give you a place to put your hands. This can be a real asset when posing for photographs or in Marilyn Monroe’s case acting in a film! It is a valuable tidbit of knowledge at any rate! Who knows when any of us might be called upon to play a femme fatale?

My Vintage Real Fur Muff & Purse Collection Comprised From Lower left Corner Clockwise of: Sheared Beaver, Silver Fox, Skunk, Persian Lamb and Sheared Seal

The reason I have shown so many photos and various angles of these muff purses is to document and illustrate some of the ways in which they are constructed. Some are just cylinders drawn together at each hand end while others are rather complex designs. I think there are vintage patterns available to make some muffs and muff purses. You could make them out of fur or faux fur or possibly heavy wool or novelty fabrics such as upholstery fabrics and line them and fill them with down to make them warm. I love fur ones the most but I think interesting ones could be made with alternative materials. I think of them as purses as well as hand warmers so there are undoubtedly some unique variations to be made. I have also seen old crochet patterns for making muffs and matching hats! I believe I have one somewhere in my book case. I will try to find it soon and post it here on my blog so we can look into more ways to make vintage muffs!

I plan to do another photo shoot soon showing ways to wear these beautiful muffs with vintage and contemporary clothing. If you have fur muffs and want to contribute photos to me to add to this post I would be interested in doing so. You can leave a comment about this in the comment section with your email address and I will get back to you about it. I am also interested in locating and preserving more vintage for muffs made of different kinds of fur and in different styles. If you have fur muffs you are interested in having used for this project please contact me. My email address is violette@ladyviolette.com.

In my interest of being absolutely sure of what kinds of fur I have and claim these to be all of these vintage fur muffs have all been inspected and authenticated in October 2012 by a professional Swiss custom furrier in Seattle, WA named Rene Vogel of Furs by Rene. Thank You Rene!

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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!

A Fashion Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket Part II ~ Philosophy & Ensemble

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket Inside Worn Outside is a Customized Vintage Fur Coat Made For Janis Joplin

The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket ~ a Customized Vintage Fur Coat, Eight Strand Ode to Janis Joplin Love Bead Necklace, and The Styled for Janis Joplin Vintage 1930's Persian Lamb and Fur Felt Hat.

 

I recently posted photos of this Fantastic Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket in my first post about her contribution to fashion  The Fantastic Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket ~ One Way to Use Vintage Ties and Furs.

The Back of The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket Inside Worn Outside

Today I am showing the rest of the opulent characteristic of Janis Joplin Ensemble and The Janis Joplin Accessories that go with it.

The Front of the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket with the Fur Side Out

Janis loved beads and piled on many strands at once. She was even photographed for Rolling Stone wearing only her necklaces and joked that you couldn’t tell she was nude because she was covered with beads.

The Magnificent Ode to Janis Joplin Necklace

Here is the beautiful eight strand Ode to Janis Joplin Bead Necklace of silver, marcasite, garnets, Swarovsky crystals, rubies, and antique and contemporary glass artist lamp work beads. The ornate clasp is antique silver studded with marcasites.

The Antique Silver & Marcasite Clasp on the Ode to Janis Joplin Necklace

The Ode to Janis Joplin Necklace Over a Wine Silk Burnout Velvet Blouse & Midnight Blue Velvet Tiered Gypsy Style Skirt

The necklace is worn over a wine burnout silk velvet blouse with a dark blue velvet bohemian style three tiered gypsy skirt.

The Crazy Quilted Inside of The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket is Made of Many Kinds of Beautiful Antique Fabrics and Pieces of Needlework Which Make It a Unique Piece of Bohemian Style Handmade Textile Art.

Janis loved opulent fabrics in deep rich colors.

Legendary Ode to Janis Joplin Antique Black Leather Boots

Janis also loved collected and wore antique boots.

Ode to Janis Joplin Real Victorian Brown Leather Boots

Here is a brown pair of real Victorian Boot Janis Joplin loved and a black pair.

Janis was notoriously quoted in ” FASHION NEWS: I went out & bought myself a $35 pair of boots. Oh they are so groovey!! They’re old-fashioned in their style-tight w/buttons up the front. Black. FANTASTIC! When I get back, I’m going to rent a sewing machine & make myself some sort of beautiful/outlandish dress to go w/them. ”
– Janis Joplin, September 1966

The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket & The One of a Kind Eight Strand Ode to Janis Joplin Bead Necklace Worn with A Characteristic Janis Joplin Style Ensemble of a Wine Burnout Velvet Blouse and a Midnight Blue Velvet Skirt is Opulent and Amazing!

Here ~ in the gorgeous exotic fabrics Janis Joplin loved ~ is the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket with the full ensemble of vintage midnight blue velvet three tiered gypsy skirt, vintage wine burnout velvet blouse, custom made one of a kind eight strand Ode to Janice Joplin Necklace of love beads, real Victorian boots and two men’s silk ties worn overlapping each other as a neck scarf. Her fans loved her homemade dresses, skirts and bell bottom pants, and piles of jewelry. And, of course, her customized vintage real fur jackets and hats.

Ode to Janis Joplin Vintage 1930's New Orleans Hat Trimmed in Persian Lamb and Custom Decorated for Janis with Burgundy Ostrich Feathers and A Jeweled Antique Brooch

To top off her outfits Janis often wore vintage fur or felt hats. This Ode to Janis Joplin Hat is originally from New Orleans and is trimmed in curly black Persian lamb fur and decorated with a fantastic jeweled antique brooch, and ostrich feathers! It was picked up at a thrift shop on a jazz festival tour of New Orleans and further embellished with her trademark curling ostrich feathers dyed a rich pink red and a gigantic jeweled brooch. Like everything she owned it is personalized and one of a kind. Janis loved to add colorful ostrich feathers in this form or in elaborate feather boas pinned into her hair.

Janis Joplin sewed! And she shopped in thrift stores. She sought out fabrics, notions and vintage clothes that inspired her. She put things together in her own way. Because she was on stage she inspired the people who saw her live in the 1960s to do the same thing for themselves in their own way. Everything was individually  done in this way of dressing and one of a kind, This look was very personal. You had to create much of it yourself from found objects so how you combined things became highly personal. You could not go out to a mall and successfully create such a look.  Janis Joplin made and designed many of her own costumes. She also worked with a designer friend to help execute her ideas as she became more successful. She always dressed as a performer ~ simply because she liked to ~ both on and off stage. For her life was really a continual performance. And she dressed accordingly. To her clothing was another form of her artistic expression and she derived great joy in expressing herself this way.

Her fans loved her style. Her influence on the way people dressed in the 60s effected the entire world. She became one of the 100 most influential people in fashion of all time. Because of the way she herself dressed and how much people liked that. Other people wanted to express themselves and their own individuality in a similar way. How she dressed epitomized  freedom of choice and self expression and inspired the rest of the world to do the same. No one copied her exactly. That was not the point of her influence. The main point she got across to other people was it is a good thing to be yourself and dress in your own way.

She collected fabrics. She loved exotic materials such as silks, velvets, brocades and metallic jerseys. She wore luxurious leathers, furs, and many beads and jewels.~ particularly armloads of bracelets and many rings on every fingers all at the same time.  She wore fluffy colorfully dyed ostrich feather boas in her free flowing long naturally wavy hair. The custom made Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket is hand sewn and skillfully embroidery stitched with many of these types of collected fabrics, including ribbons, hand crocheted lace doilies, embroidered birds and flowers and thrifted Italian silks taken from vintage men’s neckties. People loved Janis Joplin for her music and for her fashion sense. And most of all for her sense of freedom of self.

Janis Joplin’s self made image and often home made style and fashion choices perfectly symbolized what was going on in the world and society at the time. She became the bohemian fashion queen of the hippie movement. She had been ridiculed as unattractive and ugly during her high school years and it must have been tremendously empowering for her ~ in a good way ~ to be admired and respected for her artistic taste and fashion sense! She would probably be amazed to know what long lasting effect she has had on fashion today. Janis Joplin was also innocent and pure in her fashion choices because they came from her heart and soul in the same way her music did. It was improvised spontaneously in the same way she interpreted her songs. Janis always put her own unique twist on things!  Her fashions were in no way commercial or mass produced. Her lovely clothes were lovingly chosen and made either by herself or by other artists. She spearheaded a movement to dress the way you wanted to that swept across the world. In her way she was the ultimate dress reformist. And she accomplished this as a side line to her music and unintentionally. She became tremendously influential in fashion just by doing her own thing.

Slashed Fur Sleeves Patched With Silk From Vintage Italian Designer Neckties.

“Do Your Own Thing” incidentally became a catch phrase of the times! And the basic theme and message of many songs and stage musicals like Hair, and Do Your Own Thing, and OH! Calcutta. I think Janis would have loved that! Janis Joplin’s style was not commercially created by stylists and promotion experts.  She did not have a huge clothing budget or makeup artists and hair stylists following her around at all times. She did not get done up with hours and hours of preparation for interviews and personal appearances. She refused to wear makeup because she hated the way it looked and felt and she allowed her hair to naturally do its own thing – which meant grow and be wavy and simply put some scarves or feather boas in it to add color and volume.

I think she got dressed like some 3 – 5 year old girls do! They have a closet full of clothes and a costume box and left to their own devices put on and mix up colors and styles wearing whatever appeals to them with no care for what others think every time they get dressed. They often look great in a mix of colors and accessories worn in unconventional ways. It is all done quite spontaneously and I hear grown ups say, “Wow! That looks great! I wish we could wear those things and those colors and fabrics together!” And the mother of the child says, “I don’t choose her clothes or accessories. she does it all herself!”  I, personally believe that Janis Joplin got dressed in this same way. And, as she made more money and could afford to buy what she wanted she became all the more colorful and free and self expressive in her clothing choices.

These were simple natural choices for her that were fun and lighthearted and easy for her to accomplish. She had a tremendous natural ease and vulnerability and that was very appealing. It came through in her singing and dancing of course, but it was also how she looked. It amazes me to consider this in contrast to the singers of today – such as Lady Gaga, Boyonce, Gwen Stefani, Rhianna, Madonna and many others who have such commercialized, highly manufactured, expensive to produce and high maintenance personal and stage styles. Janis had none of this “Professional Help.” It is important to realize that she was completely responsible for creating her look herself. I find it hard to see the person under the modern stars styling whereas Janis Joplin was personally completely exposed at all times.

In The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket- Slashed Furs Reveal Black Cloth Sections of Inner Darkness Beneath the Outer Layers. Rich Deep Colors of Soft Silk Like the Depths of Janis Joplin's Voice and Amazingly Warm and Beautiful Yet Damaged and Vulnerable Furs Enable the Artist to Wear Her Soul On Her Sleeves.

Janice Joplin sang as if she cut herself open and showed us the very insides of her own self and soul in her music in every performance she did. This was the essence of her style and way of dressing as well. Thus, in the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket the slashed skin sleeves and torn furs revealing sky colored satin embellished with birds embroidered in psychedelic colors of thread perched next to dark rich silks and patches of exotic brocade that symbolize the person and artist Janis Joplin was to those who saw her in the clothing. There are some important patches of personal darkness too in exposed inner sections of black fabric that are open to view under the the torn away outer sections of the amazingly warm and beautiful, yet vulnerable and damaged fur. The Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket is really just like she was ~ original, unusual, delicate, beautiful but rough and exquisite and raw and different all at the same time.

It is important to note that Janis had no aversion to wearing real furs or leather and openly did both. She also loved animals and most notoriously owned a beautiful and affectionate sheep dog. Janis loved her dog. And other furry animals. As far as I know she only wore vintage furs made from pelts of animals killed long before that she rescued from thrift shops. I think she felt, as I do, that rescuing an old fur and giving it new life by wearing it or making it into a beautiful new article of clothing was a way of honoring the already long dead animal from whom it came.

Two Beautiful Men;s Vintage Silk Ties Are Overlapped and Used as a Woman's Scarf Encircling the Lapels of the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket. The Navy Paisley Tie ifs Vintage Liberty of London and The Wine Colored Floral is Vintage From the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.

In Janis Joplin’s  characteristically creative personal way of repurposing materials she loved beautiful thrifted silk men’s ties – a vintage navy blue paisley patterned one from Liberty of London and a vintage burgundy floral one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection are overlapped and used as a woman’s scarf to frame the neckline lapels on the fur side of the Ode to Janis Joplin Jacket. This “scarf of ties”  treatment works in nicely with the crazy quilting of velvets, brocades, lace, ribbons, embroidery and antique silks used in the jacket. some of the silk patches in the jacket came from old neckties as well.

Janice influenced other people to do their own thing and express themselves through their clothes as much as she did. Many people, especially in the 1960s and 70s did so really well. Because, like she did, they “got down! ” They got down and dressed themselves with things they found and made and put together in their own way.They created their own version of an artistic and eclectic look. And this really worked. People were very often beautifully and very individually dressed  in that time. It was a very experimental period. People wore things they really loved with boldness and confidence. It was wonderful to see the things they came up with.

Ever since she came on the scene she has been copied commercially. The mass market has tried to benefit from her style and vision by mass producing cheap imitation versions of her look. They usually look like chap imitations too! It is not exactly a mass produced look! To achieve it and pull off something with a similar success you have to get to the soul of the matter of self dressing. You can do it inexpensively or using expensive fabrics and jewels. You can do anything as long as it is honest and original, preferably self made, found or artist made. It is best done by artists that are your friends or do work that is meaningful to you personally.

You will not be able to go to a mall and assemble pieces to give you such a look. If you do that, or follow the conservative commercial version of “Getting The Janis Joplin Look” as advised in a teen or adult woman’s fashion magazines and certain advice online your attempt to achieve the real Janis Joplin Look will fail completely! I have seen some ridiculous articles and advice columns in magazines and online with utterly tepid versions of the look. You cannot be conservative about this. You have to be absolutely fearless as Janis was. She actually often used very fine luxurious fabrics, furs, beads and jewelry and had a passion for beautiful old high quality boots. She found many of her beautiful fabrics and clothes antique and second hand and this can still be done. As an artist Janis gave old things a new life in her assemblages. Her clothes and outfits were actually artistic collages of wearable items and they became art with her interpretation. Again and again and again her fashion interpretations were like her musical interpretations ~ original and unique with a very personal twist. That is the secret to achieving her look. If you can do that for yourself you will be able to achieve a truly Janis Joplin inspired personal look.

All the Ode to Janis Joplin Clothing and Accessories pictured are from Lady Violette de Courcy’s personal collection, The Lady Violette de Courcy Vintage Clothing Collection.  She is a writer, art and vintage clothing collector and fashion historian.

Photos for this article are by Violette de Courcy

A Charming Little Beaded Dance Purse from the 1930’s from Lady Violette’s Vintage Purse Collection

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

A Charming Dance Purse from the 1930's. Hand Beaded With Needlepoint Embroidery. Made in France. From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection of Vintage Handbags

Here is a lovely little beaded bag from the 1930’s. It was designed to take with you when you went out dancing. It is 5 inches across and 3 inches tall. It was meant to be held in your hand by slipping the back side of your left hand delicately through the little strap on the back of the bag thus enabling the front of the bag to show against the shoulder of the dark suit of your partner as you danced with your left hand resting gently on his left shoulder in ballroom dance partnering position. I don’t suppose the dancing could get too wild and vigorous while holding such a purse! When the dancing got more athletic the purse would probably have had to be relegated to the tabletop! I picture this as a style meant for civilized ladylike dancing at social occasions.

The Back Side of the 1930's Beaded Dance Purse From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection

The flowers are done in needlepoint using very tiny stitches with silk thread. They are outlined with marcasite beads against the groundwork of tiny white glass seed beads. Small glass pearl beads were used in the center of each flower. The beading is done on a linen base. The bag is lined in white silk. It is made completely by hand. This one was made in France. Beautiful beaded and embroidered bags like this were hand made in Europe ~ mostly France, Austria, and Belgium ~  by women artisans for women to to use. It was an art form of beautiful objects being made by women for women to own and appreciate and use during special occasions in their lives. Such bags were often given as elegant gifts.

One of the reasons I love these bags so much is that they are fine examples of what my late father called the Feminine Arts ~ these include the arts made by women and the arts worn by women and, simply, the arts of being a woman. At the time these bags were made being elegant and charming and dressing beautifully was considered an art form and women were greatly appreciated for doing so. Putting oneself together in an artistic way was valued and appreciated. My father, who was an English professor, reminisced on this when he viewed my collection of vintage purses a couple of years ago in his 80’s. While viewing them he remarked, ” If a man wanted to be with a beautiful woman in those days he knew he had to support her .”  (Shock! What a novel and quaint idea that is nowadays! What happened to that custom?) He continued to say, that, a successful man knew that a woman would bring the very things he lacked, being that he was a man, to his life ~ these things all fell into the category of female attributes that my father called the Feminine Arts ~ and that he, as a man, could not acquire by any means except being with her. These things could not be bought at any price if a man were alone. These “Feminine Arts” included  love and companionship of course. It was his firm philosophy that taking care of a man and supervising a household while bringing these elegant and elusive feminine qualities to a man’s life was a full time undertaking and should be supported, respected and rewarded as such by a man. He was acknowledging how much effort success in the Feminine Arts required and that is was also somewhat costly and well worth the price.

Unfortunately modern men often feel just the opposite and condemn women for their interests in these very same areas. They do not realize what richness the Feminine Arts can bring to a man’s life as well.

Beaded Blue Evening Bag Made in Hong Kong in the 1950's From Lady Violette de Courcy's Collection

The World Wars disrupted the purse making and beading crafts, of course. But after WWII the remaining artisans who knew how to do this kind of work went into business again. Demand for beaded evening purses was high during the 1950’s and 60’s. Styles changed with the times of course, but the workmanship was still beautiful. At this time workshops opened in Asia ~ notably Hong Kong ~ in order to meet the demand. Again the bead work and other handiwork was exquisite. Pictured above in an example from my collection of a beaded clutch evening bag made in Hong Kong in the late 1950’s. It is made with iridescent dark blue glass beads with the colors of an oil slick radiating from their centers. It is densely beaded in a swirl design and is spectacular!

Such elegant purses are the perfect compliments to modern, vintage or vintage influenced evening wear and in their small way take us back to the romantic times when ultra feminine women were appreciated by manly caring men! Every time I look at one I am reminded of my late professor father’s philosophizing on the Feminine Arts …. When I carry one I feel like I am in one of the old movies with that type of plot. Incidentally, my father grew up in NYC watching a lot of those old movies. They went to the movie theater every Saturday and watched several features back to back. He would often describe entire scenes, decades later, that had made deep life-lasting impressions on him including the leading ladies fashions. The manners and elegance depicted in the old films really had a strong influence on young people growing up in those days. Even if they were not living in elegance it made them appreciate and aspire to it. The films and film fashions of their youth definitely had lasting impact on both my parents.