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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘The Lady Violette Handbag Collection’

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.

 

Why Do Women Like to Buy, Collect, Carry and Covet Designer Handbags? By Lady Violette, Pursenally

Monday, August 13th, 2012

El Roi Molded Wood Handbag in Rainbow Hues Lined in Black Silk with Silk Tassle & Strap designed by Fine Artist Tim Woods of Beverly Hills. From Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

Many woman regard designer handbags as works of high art and amass grand collections of them from their favorite luxury designers, from both the present and the past.

It is common knowledge ~ in the high fashion world, not in the modern world of everyday life for the majority of people! And I know this! ~ therefore I continue, tongue in cheek with:

It is common knowledge that handbags from the following four categories are coveted as works of art and social status symbols:

Bottega Veneta Forest Green Nappa Leather Intrecciato Foldover Clutch with Optional Shoulder Strap Handbag From Italy Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

Category #1) The commercially produced and successfully marketed contemporary designers such as Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, Bottega Venta, Fendi, Nancy Gonzalez, Jimmy Choo, Manilo Blahnik, Valentino, Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Chloe, Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, Salvatorre Ferragamo, Balenciago, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Reed Krakoff, Tom Ford, Burberry, Akris, VBH, Brunello Cucinelli, Henry Beguelin, Nina Ricci, Michael Kors, Jason Wu, Louis Vuitton, Judith Leiber, and a handful of other high end designers are some of the ultimate status symbols in today’s high fashion society.

Collection of Handbags by Designer Isabelle Fiore from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

Category #2) Cole Haan, Coach, Dooney and Burke, Emma Fox, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Milly, Longchamp, Lancaster, Tory Burch, Furla, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Lauren Merkin, Frye, Brighton, Hobo, B Makowsky, Isabella Fiore, Lulu Guiness, Mon Sac, Marc by Marc Jacobs, MICHAEL Michael Kors, and several more make the current social status grade on the currently produced bridge level as fun, “everyday use bags” that are a little more casual and sporty, still ultra classy, but not quite as expensive as the very high end names above, while still being well made and recognizable on the street as a casual high status label. To the majority of people in the world these are also considered very expensive handbags. Let’s face it, realistically, a $300 ~ $400 dollar handbag is still pretty pricey for many people and some bags in this category are many times that price.

Collection of Tooled Leather Vintage Handbags & Wallets From Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Collection

Category #3) There is another category ~ the beautiful well made vintage handbags from the great designers of the past and these come in every material, shape, size and price range. There are many designers in this category. Some are well known and others are long forgotten, but their work is distinctive, immediately recognizable as vintage, sometimes museum quality, usually well made and often quite affordable. Vintage is synonymous with class and glamor. It is very very cool to find and carry a gorgeous vintage handbag. It requires moxie and self confidence and makes a fashion statement of strong individuality.

A Beautiful Selection of Dainty Vintage Gold Evening Purses ~ All Made by Whiting & Davis Over Several Past Decades From Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

When you carry a vintage or artist made bag you state that you are a fashion original and do not follow the crowd. This is the ultimate cool. Many of the high end commercially successful designers in categories #1 and #2 admittedly find inspiration for their current work from vintage designers of the past.

The Lady Violette ~ One of a Kind Fine Art Handbag Designed by Multi Media Artist La Marelle

Category #4) Finally, there are the fine artist designed and hand made one of a kind handbags individually produced by living artists. When you carry one of these bags you are actually carrying an original piece of artwork around with you as part of your wardrobe! You are making a public statement that you are an art collector and a supporter of the arts. This can also make the outfit you are wearing into a work of art in itself and it is a sure conversation starter. It is fun and different and  can be very avant garde. All kinds of interesting handbags designed by artists working in many different media fall into this category. I have selected two handbags ( above and below) by the artist La Marelle to illustrate this category. The first photograph in this post of the Rainbow Hue Wood Purse by Beverly Hills Artist Timothy Woods is another excellent example of the genre. So is the petite black purse, further down, by Rita Diana for Mylinka. She has developed a fan base and following amongst Rock Stars! Artists handbags like these are becoming increasing well known and collectable. It is fun to see something you bought because you liked it show up a year later on the Red Carpet when the artist/designer you discovered is suddenly popular with celebrities! This has actually happened to me and it can happen to you too!

The Mona Lisa Handbag Designed by Fine Artist La Marelle ~ A One of a Kind Art Piece Made From a Reclaimed Vintage Purse Made New Again

Fine artist designed and made handbags are usually one of a kind or are produced in small limited editions. They are often handmade of rare or unusual materials.  They are always interesting. They are fun to find, discover and carry and they often generate interesting reactions from people! As an example I had a man follow me for an entire city block in New York in order to ask me who made my quirky surrealistic purse when I was carrying my Man Ray handbag. The artist who made my bag was a friend of mine who was inspired by Man Ray’s work and my encounter led to her getting a commission from my follower. You should be prepared to answer questions when you carry an unusual artist made handbag! They are not for the shy!

Vintage Collection of East Indian Clutch Bags Circa 1950 ~ 60 Made From Black Velvet, Metallic Embroidery, Semi Precious Stone Cabochons and Decorative Braid from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

All of the types of bags and purses described are Fine Designer Handbags!

So why do women like them? Why have mere purses in which to carry your money and a few items you need during the day reached such status? There are several reasons.

The first thing another person sees about you is your body and your face. After they see your face they subconsciously size up your body and what you are wearing. You are carrying your handbag so it is immediately seen/viewed as a part of your silhouette and an important element of your entire visage. Visage is a rather archaic French word that means what you look like all in all. I think it is the perfect word to express what I am trying to convey with this statement. This entire process happens in a matter of seconds and no one involved actually realizes it is happening at the time. It is the instantaneous impression you are making.

Vintage 1970 Botegga Veneta Shoulder Bag of Softest Italian Nappa Leather with Decorative Wood Button and Trim from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

Thus a handbag is seen by everyone who sees you because you are carrying it, quite obviously, and thus it becomes a visual part of your clothing and ensemble for that day. This is why the term “wearing a handbag” has come into use versus carrying one. I personally know I am not wearing a handbag or a purse! I know I am carrying one. But I am constantly hearing the term “wearing a handbag” , so I have begun to think about the origin of this statement and what it means. I have concluded that it refers to carrying a handbag or purse that is coordinated with or compliments the ensemble of clothing you are wearing at the same time. As such it has become another venue in which designers and stores can seduce women into buying a slew of expensive handbags so they have the proper one to tie in with each outfit! This translates into more sales of fancy designer handbags and purses. Which is exactly what the fashion designers and fashion retailers want.

A Hand Knitted & Felted Handbag Made By Artists in Bolivia of 100% Wool from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

Artists are more interested in creating intrinsic style. They realize that the bag you carry can make or break your total look. It is at any rate an extremely important part of it. Thus, for an artist or serious designer, the handbag has become another canvas on which to express his or her true sense of style. And for the wearer of fashion who is more interested in projecting serious style than following fashion like a lemming a handbag can be an extension and expression of great taste. It is always a lovely feeling to perfectly express your own great taste. And it is the ultimate compliment to have someone admire that.

A Beautiful Bright Blue Seed Beaded Butterfly Motif Evening Purse Made Entirely by Hand in Paris During the Late 1800s. From Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

It is not , of course, a life or death matter to grab the wrong bag to go with a lovely dress as you run out the door to an event, but it definitely makes a difference and when you have chosen the right one to compliment your entire ensemble you stand out as elegant and totally chic making the person with the wrong bag look as if she should have stayed at home! That simple fact should explain how important it is to take the time and effort to select the right bag!

An Exquisite Caramel Colored Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Clutch of Italian Nappa Leather from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

Each of the top big name designer lines has a distinct look that is instantly recognizable, along with their own unique designer label, to the consumer/ collector in the know. Carrying one, or wearing one, whichever verbal terminology you care to use, instantly catapults you into a certain social class. You look as if you know fashion and are fashionable. You look as if you have style and can afford such expensive items and therefore have attained an enviable income and/or social standing. Such as a high paying job or a wealthy husband, or any number of other instant but not necessarily accurate impressions. ( It is possible to rent an expensive handbag by the week and change them up every week to look as if you have a never ending supply of new and expensive designer handbags and purses even if you are living from paycheck to paycheck while working for a temp agency!) The truth is that people treat you more nicely if you make these kinds of positive style impressions. I have experimented with it so I can attest to the experience first hand. People treat me better and with more respect if I am carrying an expensive fancy designer handbag and wearing nice clothes than if I am toting my stuff around in a recyclable canvas grocery bag. Even if I am wearing sweats and coming from the gym if I am carrying a distinctive expensive looking bag I am treated as if I have class and am a rich lady. An expensive distinctive looking handbag really does makes a difference in how you are treated by society. Everyone likes to be treated with respect ~ and envied by their friends who covet their fancy handbags ~ so why wouldn’t they want to carry a distinctive  designer bag? There is absolutely no reason!

Well, there is one reason, actually. If you want to go someplace and be incognito, or if you want to avoid being mugged or robbed in certain locations, you should deliberately slum it. You can actually do this and still be stylish, just don’t look like you have money. It can be done and I highly recommend it when in a situation that calls for caution.

A Darling Petite Black Leather, Sequins & Silk Fine Art Limited Edition Handbag Made By Artist Rita Diana for Mylinka from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

As stylish, fashionable and/or artistic women we have several choices before us. and it is ultimately our choice to make. We can either capitulate to the type of fashion and sales pressure the mass media wants us to and buy lots of high end commercially produced designer handbags from expensive retailers or we can be relatively rebellious and only carry one or two, or a small few, or those types of high end designer bags and collect any number of different vintage and artist made handbags and purses that we “pursenally”  like a lot and can mix with our outfits in ways we also personally like and can financially afford without killing ourselves with stress of the decision making or financial variety – both of which are ultimately unattractive and unwise.

A Rare and Delectable White & Crystal Clear Vintage Lucite Box Handbag Made by Patricia of Miami in the Early 1950's from Lady Violette de Courcy's Personal Handbag Collection

This is what I have chosen to do myself. I have amassed a goodly collection of well made and beautifully designed vintage purses and handbags. I happen to like vintage designer bags and artist designed and made bags most because I am an artist myself and I love originality and high quality. I also love handmade things. I have also collected a few fancy big name designer handbags that I have acquired from time to time because I really liked the designs and colors of the particular bags I have chosen. I have never bought a handbag simply because it was a status symbol but I have acquired some over the years that are status symbols simply because I liked them. I am very fond of the vintage purses and artist made handbags that I have in my personal collection, and I am equally fond of the good quality well designed big name designer handbags that I own.

As just one example there is a lot of specialized knowledge and work involved in the complex process of making an exquisite intrecciato nappa leather Bottega Veneta handbag and I admittedly enjoy the lush, soft, luxurious and very real “Oh, so rare!” results immensely! I admittedly enjoy then so immensely that I have acquired several of them, admittedly six to date. They are soft and lovely and I enjoy cuddling them like a child with a special teddy bear. I have them because I have earned them, and I deserve them, therefore I allow myself to enjoy them often. This is a pretty good example of why women want and enjoy their own personal special designer handbags. The same reason a child loves a certain special to her stuffed animal! Perhaps, in this particular personal case, because it is leather, very soft, and extraordinarily tactile.

The Handbags Shown in this post from the Lady Violette de Courcy Personal Handbag Collection are not currently for sale.

The handbags in this post designed by La Marelle are for sale in her Etsy store Hopscotch Couture.  To visit her Etsy store and view her work go to: http://www.etsy.com/shop/HopscotchCouture.

Marelle sells her work in her online Etsy shop above and also accepts private commissions. She can be contacted  by email at lamarellegallery@aol.com or by telephone at (443) 825.6353.

Her work can also be seen on her website at LaMarelleGallery.com. There is a link on there that will take you directly to her Etsy store.

The photographs in this post of Lady Violette’s Handbags were taken by Lady Violette de Courcy and Fredric Lerhman. The photographs of La Marelle’s Handbags were taken by Marelle.

 

How Do You Select Ties To Make a Purse From Men’s Silk Neckties?

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

A Rack of Fantastic Vintage Silk Ties That I Have Collected in Thrift Stores, Estate Sales and Yard Sales. Incidentally, the Blue Ties That I Select for the Following Example are Hanging in this Picture!

People want to know! They ask, so here is how I did it! First collect a goodly batch of silk neckties in an outrageous variety of prints and colors. Whatever you like. I got most of mine at thrift shops and estate sales. Store them hanging up so they stay straight on the bias. I store them on hangers and take them out of the closet and transfer them onto a hanging rack in a well lit area so that I can see them clearly. I choose each tie individually when I am shopping, so that it stands alone, to be worn as an elegant man’s necktie as it was originally intended. I began collecting ties so my boyfriend would have a nice collection to wear.  Now he has so many it can be hard for him to decide which one to wear in the morning!. This can be visually confusing. Even overwhelming! Especially when you are trying to get dressed for work in a hurry at 6AM in the morning! I usually make us an espresso so we can wake up enough to see what we are doing! I do not mind helping him choose a tie and coordinating clothes. In fact I enjoy doing it. He is dependent on me for help and advice in the styling department. He likes having my opinion. He has certain favorites that he likes to wear repeatedly. Some are exceptionally nice worn as conventional neckties. Those will never be made into other items like belts, purses or handbags. Others are fair game for use in fanciful creations.

I Make an Initial Selection of Ties That Appeal to Me for Making Into Accessories Such as Belts, Hair Bows. Purses, Corsages, Hat Bands, Rosettes, Bows, etc.

I begin by selecting some that I think I would like to see made into evening purses and flowers. I pull all of these out and set them on my ironing board so that I can contemplate them more carefully. It takes three ties in a coordination color to make an evening bags like the brown or wine red ones I posted yesterday. I looked over my initial selection here and saw that I had a lot of blue ones and blue grey ones so it made sense to cull those out for further examination as a blue grouping, a blue and grey grouping. and a grey grouping. I decided to trey that.

A Selection of 5 Blue & Blue/Grey Combination Silk Neckties. I Like This and am Considering Trying it Out for a Possible Clutch Handbag . Not Only do the Colors Need to Work Well Together. The Silk Fabrics Must Combine Well in Terms Of Weight and Character. The More Ties You Add the More difficult It Gets to Achieve a Strong Overall Balance.

Here is what I got. I then experimented with grouping them in different ways to study the way the colors looked combined together. I have actually found that it is quite difficult to find five or three of these busy patterns that work well together.

6 Ties Combined in 2 Different Groupings of 3 Fabric Patterns Each is a Possibility

I have so many blue and blue and grey colorway ties that I am contemplating whether or not I can make a bigger clutch bag utilizing 5 or even 6 ties. Or perhaps two small evening bags that are each use different blue silk ties . Here are some of the combinations I put together.

This is Beautiful Combination of Three Blue Silk Ties For an Evening Purse. I am very Pleased with The Variety of Prints and the Different Shades of Blues and Greys Combined Here. I Know I Would Like This Combination in a Finished Product. All Three of These Silk Ties Have Similar Heft So they Would Sew Together Well and Also Hold Up Well Together

Three Ties in Coordinating Blues Silk Patterns is Very Attractive in my opinion. I spread them out on a white cloth background so that I can study the way they look together without the distraction of another color. By now I am tired of looking at all these busy patterns  together. They have begun to op and it is giving me a headaches! I realize I need to take a break from it and go do something else for awhile, than come back to look at the combinations  again, when I feel fresh, to make a final choice of which ones work will work together.

Here is Another Combination of Blue Ties. See How different it Looks From the One Above? There is Only One Different Tie and This Combination Totally Changes the Visual Balance and Final Effect.

The silks used in making ties have very strong distinctive patterns and are designed to be worn alone one at a time with a shirt and jacket. Each pattern and colorway is originally meant to be an accent to an ensemble of men’s clothing. They were never designed to be combined and used three to five together at one time in the making of a purse and that will then be worn with an ensemble of other clothing as well! They were definitely not initially conceived to be used in this way! And t is actually very difficult to select several that go together for this purpose. You must actually try doing it to really understand what I am saying! Tie silks come in a large variety of weights and textures too. The soft. lighter weight ones sew and press better and make better looking final purses and effects. They also seem to twist into nicer looking rosettes and flowers more readily. The thicker, crunchier ties in fabrics like brocades are more difficult to handle when sewing a purse. For this reason you will need a large selection of ties if you want to start making your own purses and accessories. I do not think you can gather them  together in one short trip to a thrift store! You will have to start a vintage tie collection and slowly gather it together over time.

I select ties carefully when I am shopping. I only buy beautiful ties that are in very good condition and are really clean. I choose each tie as if it is going to be worn alone. I began collecting ties for my boyfriend to wear so my criterion is , ” Will this tie be wearable? Is it a nice addition to our wearable tie collection?” I bring them home and I offer them to my boyfriend to see if likes them and wants to wear them. He gets first pick. He likes the majority of them! When I decided I wanted to make some into other items he asked me if I would pull out what I wanted to use, then ask him if it was okay to take these out of the wearable as single ties collection. I agreed to this arrangement because I am really happy that he is enjoying wearing them and dressing nicely! His fashion sense has greatly improved and he dresses nicely much more often since I have accumulated this large collection of ties for him to choose from at home! He hates to go shopping and would never buy them for himself. He hasn’t the patience to sift though racks of ties in places like The Goodwill and The Woman’s Assistance League and Children’s Orthopedic Thrift Shop. I, on the opposite end of the spectrum, enjoy the thrill of the hunt! When my blue tie purse is finally sewn together I will, of course, post a picture of it! And who knows …. by then I may have decided to combine my blue ties in yet another way! It will be interesting to see!

The Combinations Are Endless! Which Ones Will I End Up Using? I Need to Take a Break Before Making a Final Decision!

 

I visited Marlee Fowler’s booth MM Fun Purses after making the above selection of ties for myself from my own collection. I showed her my tie choices and we discussed all the topics I mentioned above. She confirmed that she has had the same experiences in difficulties of finding ties that work well together, and handling characteristics of the different types of silks used in making the ties. I wanted to find out if her experiences were the same as mine! She maintains an inventory of over 300 ties at all times to work from. I have not counted my own collection but I assume it is about the same number! We both recommend that number as a good base collection from which to work if you want to be choosing different color combinations on a regular basis. In choosing my blue ties, above, to make a blue purse or two, I decided that it is feasible to decide on a color scheme first, then go shopping for ties that fit into that scheme! You could, for example, buy only blue ties, until you felt you had the correct array to choose an appealing purse combination from. This would probably be a good way to go if you only wanted to make one or two purses for yourself and a gift. You would have to exercise strict self discipline to avoid being seduced by the appealing colors and patterns outside your chosen color scheme!

I Also Notice That The Color Combinations and Patterns Can Look Quite Different Under Different Light Conditions and In Person Versus in Photographs! All These Factors Have to Enter Into the Way You Choose to Combine Ties in the Final Design of New Handbag or Other Article Made Out of Vintage Ties Because the Patterns are Very Complex and the More of Them You Combine in One Article the More Complex They Become. It is Quite a Challenge!

If you do not want to go to the effort of collecting ties and sewing them into a purse yourself you can buy one! I am not making purses out of neckties for people to buy, because I have too many other projects taking up my time, but Marlee Fowler does so and sells them at her booth MM Fun Purses. You can reach her for information about her Street Fair appearances and sales here: Marlee Fowler at Retiredfowlers@aol.com. She makes and sells several other types of purses and handbags as well. I will be posting photos of her booth and her upcoming schedule of appearances within the next few days. Please check back for this.

 

Lady Violette de Courcy on Using Mens Vintage Silk Ties to Make Rosette Corsages, Petite Evening Bags & Elegant Purse Embellishments

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Handbags & Rosettes Made From Vintage Silk Ties

I have been collecting men’s vintage neckties. I am really enthused about the use of men’s ties in my own wardrobe and as women’s accessories. I intend to find more ways to use them and make more things out of them! This idea is still in the experimental stages but I have decided to share some of the results here. I will be showing more nice examples from my tie collection in the near future. I am interested in exploring the use of the beautiful tie fabrics for accessories for the upcoming fall and winter seasons since they look so great with wools, tweeds, velvets, furs, knitted fabrics  and silks!

I began collecting ties about  year and a half ago when a friend of mine asked me to help him update his wardrobe and we went shopping for new clothes for him. He was on his way to Tokyo on business and had to update his look to meet with men in the Japanese design and advertising industry who are very style and fashion conscious. He had not bought new clothes or dressed up for business in years so this was starting from the ground up! We only had a weekend to do it because he had not told me he needed this sooner! This was a difficult assignment because we didn’t have much time to find things and we had no time at all to get anything altered! Men’s pants usually need hemming and jackets need fitting, etc.

Petite Silk Evening Bag Made From Three Brown Colorway Vintage Silk Neckties and Embellished with a Removable Clip on Rosette Also Made From One of the Neckties. The Rosette Can be Clipped to Other Items as a Corsage or Worn in the Hair! The Bag measures 6 x 6 Inches and Has a Handle Drop of 5 Inches. Bag made by MM Fowler.

Surprisingly we began on Saturday and actually succeeded in shopping for, buying and accessorizing a very nice hip and modern business wardrobe for him. I got his entire wardrobe for a week put together and altered ( because I was able to do this myself) and got him coordinated, styled and packed and on the plane on Monday morning! It was a big success. Everything looked great and his look was a hit. This is an important part of doing business in that environment. This endeavor was a big job because it included every bit of his clothing, a haircut, shoes, every tiny detail. Because we were in a big hurry I did not have any time to hunt down vintage clothing and accessories. We had to shop in department stores and new retail men’s shops. When it came to selecting and buying ties he went into sticker shock! He could not believe how much a new designer tie cost! He was stuck and he had to buy three of them for over $125 a piece and they were not particularly fantastic designs.

This was my chance to explain to him that vintage shopping was far superior to shopping for new things both in terms of prices and interesting selection. He wasn’t sure! He doubted me! So I set out to prove myself! ( Of course I knew this could be done! I am an expert at it!) Every few days when I went out shopping for myself or my vintage clothing clients I found him something great, a vintage treat, to add to his wardrobe. The kind of things I found were beautiful designer ties, men’s silk pocket handkerchiefs, men’s foulard silk scarves, shirts, shoes, cuff links, coats, umbrellas, hats, leather belts, gloves, winter scarves, cashmere sweaters. etc.  The list goes on and on! He was shocked in a good way !

Sweet Little Cross Body Evening Bag Made of Three Wine Red Colorway Vintage Silk Ties and Embellished with a Removable Silk Rosette Corsage. Handbag Measures 6 x 6 Inches & Has Shoulder Length Straps Made From Two of the Ties that Can Be Attractively Knotted to the Wearer's Desired Length. Bag made by MM Fowler.

In a fairly short time I amassed a lovely selection of designer ties, historic ties, art ties, you name it! Utterly fantastic ties. The fabrics are beautiful! As a result my friend really got into ties. He wears a different one every day and he is, after a year and a half, somewhat famous for his sharp ties. His work takes him all over the US and sometimes to foreign countries. He travels a lot. A few carefully chosen ties can greatly extend his wardrobe on the road. He is having a lot of fum with ties. And yes, some men still do wear ties! He is an exception in that he likes to wear them more regularly than most. He has even taken to tying a full Windsor knot these days. Personally I like this look on men a lot! I like a man to dress in elegant clothing and I wish we would see a lot more of it!

Detail of a Straw Handbag with Wooden Handles Tied with a Silk Scarf and Further Embellished with a Silk Rosette Attached to a Clip Made From a Vintage Silk Necktie! Rosette made by MM Fowler . Tie made by Lady Violette.

Meanwhile, with all these beautiful ties in the house, I developed a great appreciation for the beautiful tie fabrics and the way these ties are made. I soon understood why ties are so expensive! I also could not resist finding ways to use them and wear them myself. I sometimes wear one as a necktie for a menswear look, I sometimes wear one as a belt or sash, and I sometimes use them to embellish a handbag.  Now I am experimenting with wearing them as embellishments on hats, handbags and purses.

This experimentation in using men’s ties as women’s accessories for myself lead me by chance to find a lady in Edmonds WA at the Saturday’s Farmer’s Market who makes several kinds of purses and other items and makes various things out of repurposed neckties. Her name is Marlee and she also collects ties for the beautiful fabric! I bought the two evening purses and the flowers used in these photos from her.  She made ties into rosettes that I can use as little corsages and made these two little evening purses  entirely out of vintage silk ties. Her name is Marlee M Fowler and her company is MM Fun Purses. Marlee Fowler can be reached at Retiredfowlers@aol.com. You can find her at her booth at the Edmond’s WA Saturday market on July 28th! She sells other types of purses, table runners, pillows and other home decor items as well as silk tie roses and purses.

Each of the rosettes takes one tie to make and each small purse takes three ties to make. The tie has to be carefully taken apart so as not to damage the fabric and the item you make out of it has to carefully cut and sewn together. This takes considerable skill as handling silk fabric is tricky. It is slippery and unravels easily. I spoke to Marlee Fowler about her experience making and selling her necktie items. She said it has been tough because most people are not willing to pay enough for them to make it make economic sense for her to produce them. Ties are expensive to acquire and there is a lot of time involved in making each item. Each piece has to be custom designed because she is using different ties made of different fabrics each time she makes a new one. I asked her if she had made skirts or larger bags and she said, each time, “”I can’t do it because it requires too much tie fabric – thus too many ties, which cost too much and it takes too much time and people are not willing to pay for it.”  She has been showing her items and selling them at street fairs for a long time.

I met another man, last year, who had tried making and selling items from ties also and reported the same problem. This is why you do not see accessories made of men’s ties for sale everywhere! Or anywhere for that matter! You see them hardly anywhere. For this reason you may have to make them for yourself. I have looked online and have found many tutorials on making skirts and dresses out of ties. These are big projects that require a lot of ties and have to be custom fitted to the individual for whom they are made. Another point Marlee made was that it takes a lot of ties to come up with a few ties that look good together and coordinate in color and fabric type to combine in making one purse. She has a collection of about 300 ties to work with at any given time. I asked her where she gets her ties. She said at thrift stores and rummage sales, at estate sales and yard sales and consignment shops. These are the same places I find the ties I collect. I have been buying mine in and around Seattle. She has been buying them in the same area and in Arizona where she spends her winters since she is retired.

I usually pay between $2.99 and $10 per tie myself. Sometimes as much as $14 or $16. Marlee finds them at the same price range here, but in the Southwest, where she winters, she can get them at a sale that goes on in one place for $1 a piece on one day a year. That is a lucky break, but it is not consistent! The other important thing is that you have to pick through a lot of second hand ties to find any that are nice enough to use. Then you have to check them carefully to find any flaws such as stains of tears or pulled threads that render them unusable. I would never buy a silk tie that was in need of cleaning because it costs $10 to have a tie dry cleaned and it is uncertain whether any stains or marks will actually come out. Silk ties cannot be washed! Nor can any other ones. Ever! Do not try it. It would be a disaster and ruin the tie.

I understand what is involved in hand making lovely things like these and I do not have any problem paying a skilled artisan or crafts person to make me something special. I greatly appreciate the materials and the skills involved and the fact that such a person is willing to make something like a purse from silk ties. Apparently I am in the minority because I constantly find that people just do not want to pay a fair price for something well designed and hand made. They will willingly pay a great deal for a commercially produced designer original from a luxury brand name. And they will willingly over pay for mass manufactured  overpriced low end commercially produced items, but they don’t want to and won’t pay for a unique well made handmade artist designed  item. Over and over again I find artisans who tell me they cannot continue to make something special and beautiful to sell it because people refuse to pay enough to make it worth their time. The people who say this either do not know how difficult it is to make something, or how much time it takes, or are not thinking about the hours it takes to make an item and the skills involved. They also do not seem to understand the cost of the raw materials the artist needs to acquire in order to make such items. In this case 3 to 5 designer silk ties. This is why you do not regularly find certain beautiful things on the market. Many things are too beautiful and too special to be sold in any big store! I urge you to buy from people who make custom items such as Marlee Fowler on a regular basis in order to support their work. This is the only way they will be able to continue to produce it to make it available for us to buy.

I have asked Marlee if she would make up some special order items I would like done to my specifications using some of the ties from my own collection. She said that she would. So I am going to be placing an order for several items I want to use myself and some to give as gifts. This should work out well for both of us since I will supply her the ties I want her to use at my expense and she will be able to charge me whatever she thinks is fair for making the items I request. Maybe special order work is the way for someone like her to go? We shall see! I am, at least happy to have found someone who is willing to make up some of the silk tie design ideas I have spinning around in my head! Because I am not finding time to do it myself ! I am looking forward to what we come up with together!

Currently I am really enthused about the use of men’s ties in my own wardrobe and as women’s accessories. I intend to make more things out of them myself – like actual clothes. This idea is still in the experimental stages but I have decided to share some of the results here. I am hoping this idea catches on! I will be showing nice examples from my own extensive tie collection in the near future. I am interested in exploring the use of  beautiful tie fabrics in women’s wear and for more accessories for the upcoming fall and winter seasons since they look so great with wools, tweeds, velvets, furs, knitted fabrics  and silks!

Please check back soon because I will be posting Marlee Fowler’s summer 2012 Street Fair schedule and pictures of her booth within the next few days. If you are interested in acquiring one of her Silk Tie Purses this summer you should visit her booth. She has a good selection in many colorways and styles of silk tie evening bags and cell phone purses, rosettes as you see below, and other items already made up to choose from. Marlee M Fowler and her company is MM Fun Purses. Marlee Fowler can be reached at Retiredfowlers@aol.com.

Rosettes Made From Vintage Silk Ties with Clips Sewn to the Back That Can be Used to Attach Them to Many Things. The Rosettes are made by MM Fowler.

About Intrinsic Style & My Favorite Handbag from Bottega Veneta

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

A Favorite Precious & Beloved Vintage Bottega Veneta Clutch from The Lady Violette Handbag Collection

I have a beautiful black woven leather Bottega Veneta clutch handbag that is now over two decades old and too worn out to carry outside anymore despite the fact that I have sent it to the Bottega company for repairs and complete overhauls several times. They do a wonderful job of restoration but it is now truly too worn out to carry outside, it would fall apart! But I still use it inside ~ I keep favorite letters and special cards in it. It is my favorite bag I have ever owned. It was very expensive and well worth every penny I spent on it. I love it and it makes me very happy and because of my experiences owning it symbolizes intrinsic style to me in every way.

Today a friend named Nora complained to me about her daughter using the same bag, one that was getting worn out, all the time, despite the fact, that, she, her mother, had bought her several other very expensive well known designer bags in efforts to replace it. Perhaps it falls into her favorite bag category as I describe below, category number III. If so, I told her, you should cut her some slack!

So I decided I should write this for her and my readers. In my opinion there are three ways to look at bags!

I. There are special designer or collector bags that you keep very carefully, protected in their dust covers, for the majority of time and bring out to use and enjoy only when attending a special event or wearing with a special outfit. Thus you are very careful of them and they are seldom used or seen!

II. There are casual sturdy tough bags you can use daily or casually and toss about with careless abandon. These are very practical. Some become favorites and get a very broken in familiar look. I have nothing against this. It is very practical and I think that is where my friend’s daughter’s bag falls. Sometimes these look like hell, but that can also be OK if you don’t care.

III. Then there are the Special Favorite Bag Category bags, like my black Bottega Veneta black leather clutch as described. These are the type that are well made and classy enough to belong in Category I as described above, but they are so beloved and special and comfortable that you literally fall in love with them and become emotionally and physically attached to them! It is not always easy to recognize that a bag will be like this at first. (Just like a person in the same category!) If a beautiful and expensive designer bag makes it into this category it is truly well designed because it is useful and lovely and enjoyable all at once.

If you own a bag like this, you love it for your own reasons and no one else can, necessarily, understand them! It is very personal. And very special! And you, as the owner are very lucky to have it. I know that Nora’s daughter’s bag is one of these special Category III bags! She has lugged it through college and traveling, during her summer vacation, all over the world and now has two young children and continues to use it! Of course it is weathered and has character by now! In its own way it actually looks great – to people who understand this type of thing! I like it, myself. I can see the meaning in it and how useful and serviceable it has been. It is truly shabby chic. She is totally attached to it, carries her life in it, and will not give it up! She thinks it is wonderful and so do I! It is also sort of cool that her mother hates it, to tell the truth! That fact even adds to its sense of character! She also refuses to carry a wallet. She carries her ID and credit cards in a bunch held together with packing tape. She has also done this forever. (Her forever!) This also makes her mother crazy! Eventually her bag and her makeshift wallet will fall apart and she will probably be forced to acquire another one. Then, I predict, that she will evolve into using one of the other bags her mother has bought for her. One of the big problems is that the mother buys for her own age, life circumstances, social position and taste. The daughter, has her own style, situation and experiences and they are quite different.  These two women are of different ages and are in different stages. Frankly a conservative expensive bag that Nora would like, isn’t at all right for her casual diplomatic Bohemian daughter! The daughter is selling the bags her mother buys her in consignment shops. This upsets Nora, but frankly, she kind of deserves it. After all, the fact that she is trying to force her look, and her own sense of style, on her adult daughter is inappropriate if the daughter doesn’t like it or want it. She should let her daughter do things in her own way. Her style will evolve as she does and this handbag issue work itself out!

Here are my personal Lady Violette de Courcy handbag insights!

# 1) You do not wear a bag. You carry it. (courtesy of my mother who died at age 82 – leaving me a collection of fabulous retro bags.)

#2) You can have a lot of bags, but mostly use one – the everyday bag. The one you grab and go with because it is the most comfortable, you can find your stuff in it, it isn’t too heavy and you like the way it feels. That was where my favorite black woven Bottega fell.

#3) The way it feels – the leather, the way you can carry it, the shape, the weight, the lining, the security of the clasp, etc. – all make it special! When the favorite bag is sitting on a chair or table by itself it looks like a sculpture. It is a beautiful thing on it’s own. That is where my favorite black woven Bottega fell.

#4) The bag goes with you, not what you are wearing. You will know this because of how it feels and the fact that you never think about this. And the fact that you get a lot of compliments on it. A lot of “I love your bag!”and “What a cool bag!” That is where my favorite black woven Bottega fell.

#5) It is always best – always – if no one recognizes where it came from. (This is Nora’s one big mistake if you ask me!) The design should be so cool that it should develop it’s own character. This is where my favorite black woven Bottega fell. It is also a stated goal of the Bottega Veneta company!

#6) An example of my own. I bought a black woven Bottega Venetta Clutch when I was about 16 for myself. I spent a small fortune on it. I didn’t even know about the prestige and reputation of the name at the time. I just wanted a bag that fit all the above criterion. Obviously I had good taste!

You would think this would be saved for special occasions or dress up. But no! I used it every day. I used it every day for 22 years! I especially began to notice how I would throw it on the floor of the car, on the passenger side, when I was driving. As the Bottega bag got more and more broken in, softer and softer, ploppier and ploppier I loved it more and more. I could fold it under my arm and it was as comfy as a teddy bear.

I used it for every imaginable daily purpose. And I was not particularly careful of it – that would have spoiled it. What made this bag so great was the ability to enjoy it – which I must give myself the ultimate credit for! I was able to relax into my Bottega and carry it everywhere and let it become a part of me. And it did.

#7) People who recognized what it was were shocked that I used it like this. There problem, not mine! I had earned the money to buy it. I had found it for myself. I had broken it in. I was allowing myself to use it and enjoy it to its fullest extent and my fullest capacity. By doing so I was really treating it like the treasure that it was.

#8) Eventually it got a little worn out. So I sent it in for repairs. I only had to have it repaired twice! I sent it back to the company and it was returned in fine condition with the clasp fixed once, and the strap sewn back on where it had torn a bit the second time. It looked brand new when I got it back. By now it was 15 years old. It was becoming softer and more comfortable every year. I loved it.

#9) I used other bags from time to time – but that was always an effort. It was an effort to change the contents, whenever I did it, to another bag, And it was always an effort to carry it, and it just hadn’t become an extension of my body as the Bottega had. I always missed my black woven Bottega when I used another bag and changed right back to it the very next day! Thus I can understand Nora’s daughters feelings about her favorite handbag! Can you?

#10) The black woven Bottega clutch finally wore out. The leather got so thin and raggedy that I could not really use it safely. Amazingly the bag looked its most exquisite at this stage! But it had become very very delicate. So I retired it from carrying. I still have it, carefully tucked away in a desk drawer filled with special cards and letters from friends and family members that I also want to keep. I will never get rid of it. It is still beautiful and carries something very important –  many happy memories – the best of which is how perfectly naturally elegant using it made me feel. As I said, the black woven Bottega was very expensive, but I feel as if I got my money’s worth out of it in every possible way! I fully enjoyed it in very way possible for as long as I could get use out of it. And I still do. I get it out and look at it and feel it every now and then. I also learned, from owning and enjoying it, that buying yourself luxuries like this is totally reasonable deserved and justifiable. The bag was well worth what I spent on it and so was I! I get very annoyed with people who do not understand the real value of fine things. It is there if you understand it. This, of course, takes a certain level of exposure and education.An appreciation of fine design and good workmanship and, most of all, self knowledge and self love.

Interestingly, Nora does not understand any of his even though she is wealthy and can afford to buy nice things, but her earthy individualist casual well traveled daughter does! Through self knowledge and experience. She also knows her own style and is not going to allow her mother to shove her taste and style down her throat! Good for her! Long live independence! Really good personal style requires being independence and having self knowledge. And, again, an appreciation of fine design ad good workmanship and, most of all, self knowledge and self love. I realize I said this twice. I really want it to sink in!

I should mention that I have several other especially lovely and satisfying bags. But I have only had three during my lifetime that fell into the special loved bag Category III of the black woven Bottega clutch, I have a whole shelf of others, currently, but not a favorite, comfy one. They are very hard to find. I even have four more Bottega Veneta bags, which I love and appreciate, but which are not as special and unique as that particular one. I love them all dearly however.

#11) Incidentally, my mother’s favorite bag and shoes were Kelly green – and made of soft Italian leather. She wore this color accessories with navy blue Christian Dior silk suits and pale blue Dior silk blouses. This became her trademark look. Also a navy blue purse and shoes. She had multiple green shoes and bags. And multiple Christian Dior navy suits. She hand washed and ironed her light blue Christian Dior silk blouses herself. She was gorgeous. She accented this with a gold and green apple jade necklace, ring and earrings. All very light and delicate. She wore Diorissimo perfume and 22K gold Dior hairpins! She never lost one! This amazed me. And she carried a 22 K gold jeweled refillable Dior lipstick case. My uncle went to Paris several times per year and he brought the lipstick refills back for all the women in the family.

She only and always wore the color True True Dior red lipstick and matching nail color for special occasions. For day to day wear she wore Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow or a bright coral from Elizabeth Arden. She repainted her own nails every morning while having coffee and reading the The New York Times.  She was absolutely impeccable. She said you could tell a real lady by her hands and it was very important to take very good care of your hands and nails. She was very disciplined about her beauty routine.

She loved Christian Dior. If you are French you are born knowing who Dior is and wanting Dior. That is the way it is in France. For this reason they never had to advertise Dior in France. I now this for two reasons: as a child I was exposed to Dior by my family and, as an adult, I worked for Christian Dior for several years. As I said, people in France knew about it from birth and wanted it naturally, so advertising was unnecessary.  I had baby dresses made by Christian Dior. I saw Dior items and labels every day at home and heard women and men talking about Dior all the time. My uncle was a European buyer for Nieman Marcus and went to the shows in Paris to buy for the store several times a year. He brought us gifts every time he returned: French perfume, the newest colors of cosmetics, dresses, jewelry, and pretty unique accessories. We were an unusual American family in the minority having this much exposure and access to Dior style and products. About fifteen years ago, when Dior greatly expanded their shops and sales to markets all over the world they learned that not everyone the world over knew who and what they were and naturally wanted their products. They found out that they had to advertise, just like American designers do, to create desire for their designs.

My mother was absolutely impeccable. She was a redhead, She was 5’4″ tall and weighed 117 pounds her entire adult life. She was beautiful and glamorous. Her hair was as elegant as the rest of her – waist length, cut straight across the bottom, swingy and a lovely color. She wore it in a ponytail with a black velvet ribbon or in an expertly rolled chignon. People stopped her on the street to tell her she had beautiful hair until the day she died. It made her look young and suited her perfectly. She wisely understood that cutting her hair would have made her look older. Little girls always offered to brush her hair and she often allowed them to do so. It was perfect hair – texture, condition, color, length. She took very good care of her hair too. And she always did it herself.  She could make a perfect chignon. Maybe because she had those 24K gold hairpins from Christian Dior!

I am fortunate to have a couple of her navy blue Christian Dior suits and other items left. Interestingly the designs of the suits are sill beautiful ~ another example of intrinsic style and wonderful workmanship!  Elegance that will never go out of style. Still, truly, True True Dior. I actually came across a partially used old bottle of Dior nail polish in that color the other day while going through boxes in our house. I took it outside in the sun and took a good look at it. It is still a beautiful deep red. So I checked it out. It was the first red lip and nail color Dior made and it has always been their number one best seller! It is still available in Europe. there it is, once again, an example of intrinsic style!I thought my mother had good taste and was very stylish when I was a little girl. Finding out that her favorite color was such a longtime favorite from Dior supports that

I plan to photograph all these items soon as I am allowed to lift ad use a camera again. I have been slowed down on this endeavor due to breaking the bones in my wrist and arm last week,

 

 

An Amazing New Suburban Shoe Shopping Opportunity ~ DSW ~ A Designer Shoe Warehouse Has Opened in Lynnwood, Washington

Friday, September 16th, 2011

A few days ago a new DSW  store opened near my house! I currently live north of Seattle Washington in a suburb called Lynnwood. It is near a mall called Alderwood Shopping Mall which features a Nordstrom and a Macy’s. There is a Nordstrom Rack just outside the mall on a side street. Across the street is a large Barnes and Noble Store with a Starbuck’s Cafe in it. Next to the Barns and Noble in a gigantic Ulta beauty supply and makeup store and a beauty salon. All of these shopping establishments feature copious amounts of free parking in gigantic lots which surround the businesses. Free parking is important. It is conducive to shopping and browsing: going out to lunch, having your hair done, meeting your friends in a leisurely manner. Without free parking you have to worry about running up a huge parking fee or getting a parking ticket. With that in the back of your mind it is hard to hang out and look for ways to spend money! Retailers know this. Of course!

About a year ago large several businesses around us closed down. One was a huge Linens and Things Store. That space was directly across the street from the Nordstrom Rack. The Rack, as people around here call it, is famous for its discounted designer shoes. Only problem is they are always trashed by the time they make it to The Rack! I have never bought a pair of shoes at The Rack because they are always scratched and damaged beyond recognition and that is not a bargain to me! I want my new shoes to be in good condition and my vintage shoes to be in beautiful shape! I take very good care of my shoes. Damaged shoes and clothes are not a bargain in my opinion.

Well, I was in the Alderwood Mall and a woman admired the shoes I was wearing. She asked where I got them. They were Alligator shoes from the 1940’s that I bought about 20 years ago in NYC. After I told her that story she asked if I had been to the new DSW. I said no. She advised me to check it out immediately, so, accordingly, I stopped by on my way home.

The Immense DSW in Lynnwood WA

Check it out! It is huge. And they carry all the name brands that Macy’s and Nordstrom’s carry in the suburban stores. The only difference is that they do not carry only two or three styles of each and one or two colors. They carry every color and every style offered by any given line and they carry it in every size. And they are all in stock right there today, now. The inventory is huge and vast and amazing. The shoes are neatly packed in their boxes under the displays. Everything is well lit and well organized. It is genius, actually. The staff is very nice and available.  It is semi self serve. You walk around, find the shoes you like and pull out the box to try them on. This is great as you do not have to wait for help. but the help is there if you want or need it.

Prices are great. They are discounted way be;ow Macy’s and Nordstrom’s in every case. The percentage of discount differs from shoe to shoe but it is really substantial – due to DSW’s massive buying power I am sure! For example a pair of Nine West shoes I had just seen at Nordstrom for $79 was $59 – the same shoe in the same color. Also available in 4 more colors that Nordstrom didn’t offer!

I had tried to try it on at Nordstrom, but they didn’t have my size in stock. They had called 4 of their stores in the area and looked on the computer. No Nordstrom stores in the state had it. I had paid for it to be shipped to me from another state in my size. Four days later I received an email and a call from the Nordstrom store telling me they could not get it! Even though they had said they could and had made me pay for it already. This has happened to me twice now and I am very tired of it! Nordstrom doesn’t carry enough stock. They won’t transfer items into the store for you to pick up. (They used to do this. No more!) They insist that you pay for them first, promising you it is available. You go home, wait for it, then four days later receive a call and an email saying your order has been cancelled and the item is not available any longer. They pretend it was so popular it is all sold out. The actuality is that they had not ordered enough of it and it is nowhere to be had. This means all the time you spent looking for the item, and coordinating it with your wardrobe was wasted. In the two cases in which this happened to me I also had to return the other items I had shopped for and bought to go with it. This takes up a huge amount of time and is extremely frustrating! It is terrible service. It is no wonder customer’s are fed up!

I am! I am finished with shopping at Nordstrom forever! I find the customer service dreadful. Just today, however, only a week after the above experience, I went back because I needed an item from the cosmetics department. I bought several things. When I got home I emptied the bag to look at my purchase and something major – the blush I had gone there to buy – was missing! The absent minded saleslady had not put it in the bag! This means that I will have to return to the store to get it! She was waiting on several people at once! I called the store, got them to put one aside with my name on it. They apologized. The problem is, I am missing the blush, I cannot do my makeup until I go back and I have to make another trip to the **** store to get this straightened out! This will eat up a big chunk of my time! I do not like it! It is amateur! I do not have time for it!I am busy. I have a lot of other things to do.

Back to DSW. Theoretically, I can drive up to it, park, enter the store, stroll down the aisle until I find the shoes I want, quickly help myself to my size, check out and pay and drive away. I think it is brilliant! I love the immense selection and style availability. They tell me it will be growing every day! We shall see!

The store is vast. It is divided into logical sections. Boots in the center, 3,ooo styles of women’s boots to select from! High heels in two long rows, then flats, then sandals. Sports shoes in another few rows. Handbags in another area. Then a huge wall of tights and stockings. Zillions more styles, colors and sizes than Nordtroms or Macy’s offer.

The great thing is that once you have figured out how to shop there you can get the thing you came in for very efficiently and get out of the store. This is good. I will be using the place.

They have a great selection of vegan handbags from many good designers. Same with shoes. Many people will be really happy about that! I have seen only one or two options elsewhere in the Seattle area.

The only thing I didn’t see there was the very high end shoes carried downtown and in Bellevue in the designer boutique sections of Nordstrom. This would be names such as Prada, Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, etc.I suspect that Nordstorms has exclusives for these lines in this area of the country.

DSW does carry Marc by Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Jiimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren, Via Spiga, Cole Haan, Frye, Joan and David, Matisse, Steve Madden, Franco Sarto, Ann Klein, Softt, Dansko, Seychelles, Ellen Tracy, Bandelino, and a zillions other very nice brands. I will check out what they carry and report on that more extensively in the near future. I did not have enough time to do a comprehensive study of the brands they carry. It looked, at my initial quick glance, like they carry full lines of bridge and better quality shoes and moderately priced shoes. The quality level is very high. The merchandise is current styles, not old out of date styles. The styles, size ranges and color selection are really extensive. So extensive that it will take you time to find what you want when you go there to buy! Be prepared to have a lot to choose from! You will be able to find options you like and want! I saw several I really liked. I will have to go back when I have a bit more time!

I think this new store is going to be very successful and very exciting. I think it will kick Nordtrom and The Rack and Macy’s where they need it!

I, for one, am going to enjoy driving over there, parking free, getting a coffee at Starbucks, and wandering the aisles till I find just the right pair of boots I need for a particular outfit! With 3,000 pairs to choose from in my size I am sure I can find several that will be acceptable!

I am sure The Lady Violette Shoe Collection and The Lady Violette Handbag Collection will acquire a few contemporary additions where they are needed from the DSW!

Hand Painted Red Clogs ~ circa 1970 From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Red shoes go with many things. If they don’t match they often provide a nice accent. They cheer you up for some reason. Christian Louboutin has put red soles on the bottom of many of his shoes for years. The red sole has become his trademark. That red sole, with all the other colors in his designs works, no matter what women are wearing with his shoes. And they love it. They love it because it is cheerful red and because it gives them a status jolt to be seen, coming and going, with that bit of red on the bottom of their shoes.

Alas I do not own a pair of Louboutins.  They haven’t come to me yet. They probably will some day, but the time has not been right yet. If anyone wants to send me a pair, my European shoe size is 38 medium width and I would love to have a some! It is possible that somebody out there has some and doesn’t like wearing them and would like to pass them on to someone who would!

Meanwhile, I will tell you about my Danish country shoes. My mother was 100% Danish. The Danes traditionally love red shoes, and clogs, or wooden shoes, as some people call them. They also love to paint things to make them pretty around the house. This is one of the traditional Scandinavian Feminine Arts.

Red Leather Clogs Hand Painted with Scandiavian Designs by My Mother

Red Leather Uppers on Traditional Wooden Clogs Handpainted with Scandinavian Motifs by My Mother

My mother painted everything with traditional Danish and Swedish motifs and it was very charming. We had small tables, dressers, bedroom furniture, stools, chairs, lamps, vases, baskets, and of course, shoes, painted in traditional Scandinavian patterns. Here is a pair of bright red leather clogs that my mother decorated. I have a navy blue pair of this type as well. She also painted this little lidded picnic basket which can be used to carry lunch for one person or is small enough to use as a casual purse.

Red Clogs & Small Handmade Wooden Picnic Basket Hand Painted With Traditional Danish Motifs ~ Can Be Used as a Lunch Basket or as a Small Casual Purse

We had clogs lined up in a row on the porch to put on when we went out in the yard and garden. We were supposed to jump out of them to come into the house in our socks so we would not get the wooden floors and rugs dirty. Since we had worn clogs in this way from the time we started to walk we had no trouble walking or running in them at all. I wear them at home this way to this day because they are so convenient and easy to use. I love the fact that you can just slip them off and jump into them when you are ready to go outside again ~ with no tying or buckling or time required! They are very good for your feet too. And they are so durable they never wear out. I have a black pair too. They have tiny blue forget~me~not flowers painted all over them. It is fun to have your shoes personalized in this way too. We would get a pair and choose what flower to have her paint on them for us and she would decorate our shoes however we liked. I will do a post about clogs sometime soon and show photos of all the ones we have. I am showing this pair, now, as part of my red shoes collection.

I have red dress shoes, casual dress flats, clogs, boots, and casual sports shoes in my red shoes collection. I also have several pairs of red shoes made specifically for ballroom dancing  so they have soft suede soles, and a pair of amazing thigh high red real patent leather boots that were made as part of a very glamorous theater costume for a production of The Merry Widow. I have a sweet pair of traditional Chinese flower embroidered silk slippers which were very inexpensive and are easily available in Chinatown stores everywhere. I like them because they are so colorful and folkloric. In contrast  I have a pair of specially made red suede Flamenco dance shoes which are beautiful and exceptionally sturdy as they must be to with stand the rigors of flamenco dancing. It is a good thing that I am getting them out and going through them now to blog about them!

I will finally figure out exactly what I have, how many pairs, etc. My faithful sheep mascots below are helping me! They will see to it that I finish this project! They are really determined! Plus, they like experimenting and playing with all this vintage stuff.

The Sewing Sheep Showing the Picnic Basket, or Purse, Being Used as a Sewing and Knitting Baslet

My little sewing sheep mascots, the measuring sheep, and his mother, the knitting sheep, are quick to point out that this little picnic basket also makes a nice small portable sewing basket! They are demonstrating that they have no aversion to being put inside it along with a little sewing project and coming along to the local sewing store to pick out buttons or ribbon or going to a friends house for a session of knitting visit! Air can get into the basket through the slats so they can breathe if they are inside. They came up with this idea. They said the basket looked very versatile to them and could probably also be used as a sewing basket! Sheep are very smart! The small sheep has a tape measure inside him. You pull on his tail to extend it, then push on his tummy, to roll it up inside. His mother is filled with sand so she stands up securely. Her tail is a long black grosgrain ribbon to which I have tied my embroidery scissors so they don’t get carried off to some far corner of the house! She is addicted to knitting. She uses toothpicks for needles and makes mufflers for other small animals. The toothpicks are the same size as # 1 or #2 sock needles. I did a small piece of sample knitting with a sock yarn I was trying out, then slipped it off my sock needles and onto her toothpick needles to help her get started. She has been knitting ever since! I have her make all my gauge swatches of sock yarn and she just loves helping out this way!

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Basket Purse from The Lady Violette Handbag Collection

Vintage Needlepoint Bangle Bracelets & Evening Purses ~ Circa 1950 ~ From The Lady Violette Jewelry Collection

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Needlepoint Bracelets ~ Circa 1950s

I never know what interesting and unusual treasure I will find when strolling through thrift and antique shops! Last summer I saw a woman working in a shop who was wearing a needlepoint bangle bracelet. I thought it was really lovely so I asked her about it. She had gotten it in France at a flea market. It was not for sale. But I wanted one now! So, I kept my eyes open, and, after a year of looking, I now have this little collection of my own!

Round Needlepoint Evening Purse ~ Circa 1950s

From what I can tell they are made in France or Belgium – like the vintage evening purses that feature similar needlepoint depictions of flowers and birds. They make an attractive vintage accent on the close-fitting sleeve of a wool dress or sweater, and can be worn over a glove 50’s style for a pretty look. I like wearing one that way while carrying one of my small needlepoint purses to create a refined and ladylike vintage 50s look. It is an easy way to do something charming and unique to your look that you don’t see everyone else wearing! I found these in places like church and hospital charity thrift chops and a senior citizens rummage sale. They were priced very reasonably for what thy are! Which just goes to show you how charming you can look on a low budget if you are clever and willing to look for things in the correct places. Supporting these shops also does good for the community. I bought the round purse for $5! And the narrow bracelet was $4. The wider ones which are hinged and open in the middle were a splurge at $12 a piece! Real treasures in my opinion! And so distinctive!

The Lady Violette Shoe Collection ~ Documentation and Photography In Progress & a Sampling of What Lies Ahead

Friday, August 12th, 2011

A Taste for High Style Shoes! Banana Yellow Alligator Embossed Leather Stiletto Pumps Designed by Stuart Weitzman photographed & styled by Fredric Lehrman & Violette de Courcy

I have been collecting vintage and other interesting artistic shoes for a long time. Suddenly this summer many people became interested in my shoe collection. I had displayed bits of it in the past ~ like 20 pieces by a particular designer as an example ~ but never the entire collection. In fact I do not even know how many total pairs I have! I have been collecting for years, have moved a couple of times, have many carefully packed up in archival wrappings and boxes and have lost count of the number I have accumulated. I have an interesting array with fine examples from many classic designers.

I know I have over 1,000 pairs. Honestly, they don’t take up that much room when they are packed away. Unpacked and stacked about to be sorted out and photographed is another matter! There have been shoes everywhere this summer for over a month! I am wishing I were not living and working in the same space, but that isn’t an option!

Examples From Over a Thousand Pairs of Vintage Shoes Comprising The Lady Violette Shoe Collection Now Being Photographed and Documented

So, the time in my shoe collecting has finally come, to photograph them all, post many of them on my blog with descriptions and as much information as can be found about them and the designers and craftsmen who made them. Documenting a collection of this size is a daunting job! I know because I have now begun!

I was contacted a little over a month ago by an institution interested in using about 300 pairs of my vintage shoes and 50 of my vintage handbags for a project. This required unpacking and choosing many examples from the collection, then photographing them, first in a rather quick way, so that choices of which ones to use could be made, then photographing them more professionally. It turned out to be a really big job!  One that took over my entire living and working space for weeks! As well as the majority of my time. Actually, it turned out being a complete nightmare! After a month of planning and emailing and co-ordinating the requesting party postponed their project indefinitely for what they termed “internal reasons.”  This was inconvenient, but not all bad. Because the documentation and sorting process had been jump started and having gotten so far into it there were only two choices: continue or abandon the project I had finally undertaken partway through.

Of course I decided to continue it on my own. I had learned through this process that the only way I can really do anything of this sort with it in the future, or even share it through my blog online, is to document the entire collection thoroughly and properly so that other interested people can see what I have. It will obviously be much easier for me to do so if I already have the entire collection photographed and inventoried. Then I will be able to send people directly to my blog to access my shoes and bags in whatever way I have chosen to display them and I won’t be in the kind of frenzy that had ensued dealing with the party above.

Fortunately I also have a friend, Fredric Lehrman, who is willing to help with some of the photography, but I had to move on this while he was available to assist. Thus we have been overwhelmingly busy with this for the last few weeks. So much so that it has eaten heavily into my blogging time which I feel badly about!

Yesterday we finished up with three solid weeks of day in and day out shoe photography. Unfortunately we were only able to scratch the surface of documenting the entire collection so far. We are photographing my vintage handbag collection as well for the same purpose. It is only about a third the size of the shoe collection, but is still substantial. We switched back and forth between shoes and purses to prevent boredom. My house become a photo studio with photo equipment and piles of shoes and purses absolutely everywhere! It is an interesting but challenging undertaking!

Yesterday I sent the photographer home with his pro studio’s worth of lights, seamless papers, rolls, cameras, tripods, ladders and other equipment which had taken over my living room, dining room and kitchen for weeks!  I am on the road to putting away about 300 pairs of shoes and cleaning up some. Then regrouping and beginning to post and write about the now photographed items in the collection. Wow! This is intense!

A Pair of Banana Yellow Alligator Embossed Leather Stiletto Pumps Designed by Stuart Weitzman

I must express much thanks to Fredric Lehrman for his patience and days and days of work bringing photographic equipment to my house and setting it up and taking thousands of pictures. All for his love of shoes! Amazing! It was fun for me to work with a professional photographer, get his input, and to be honest, get help with a project of this magnitude! Sometimes we experimented together with wild ideas like photographing fruit with shoes and got spectacular results which I will post for you to see! I think we were both tired and hungry when we came up with that one, but it was well worth the deviation from our main course! Something we both realized we would not have been allowed to experiment with had we been under the strict direction of the previously mentioned project photo editor! Thank you Fredric! For doing this and for being creative and open minded. I got tired and hungry but I had a good time!

I know a lot of collectors of all kinds of things and I know that most of them have not done anything like this with their collections. This part is the work! Not the fun! The fun is hunting down the stuff, finding something truly amazing and acquiring it. I also enjoy restoring and refurbishing things if need be and, finally, wearing it if the shoe fits!

Just doing this portion of the project we have learned a lot! Every pair of shoes is different. Some are very photogenic, some are downright unphotogenic and some fall in the middle. Often a shoe that is very attractive in person is hard to capture in any attractive way through a photograph. Each had to be accessed individually and experimented with. Some had to be reshot the next day. I decided to stop shooting for now and sort out what we’ve done, write about some of them for a while, see what I am getting into and what changes might need to be made. This is one of those learn as you do experiences! Life seems to be full of those!

My goals are different than other shoe photography I often see. I want to show the styles of the shoes, but I also want to show the character, to photograph them as art objects, sculptures when applicable, capture their moods and sometimes show how they have been loved and worn, or saved carefully, or enjoyed through use. Many of the shoes in my collection are worn ~ have been used. They are, after all, often used shoes, mostly vintage shoes, and most often not brand new ones. They are almost always old. some have never been worn and were meticulously saved, while some have been restored for use and given new lives. All in all they are now in fabulous condition considering their age. It is work but it is also a real pleasure to get them all out and analyze them like this again.

I’ve never looked at this collection en mass before. I acquired them bit by bit, over about 2 and a half decades and put them away as I did so. This is the first time I will have gone through all of them! It is an amazing experience which I hope to share to some extent with those who read my blog. Interestingly, I realized recently that this was a possibility that did not exist when I began to rescue, collect, restore and save the shoes! If it had I would have been working on this gradually all along instead of saving up the work for such a giant blitz! I feel bad that I have to do it all at once since it is such a huge job, but I feel good that at last there is such a thing as the internet now to share it on!

More Pairs of Vintage Shoes Just Waiting Their Turn to be Photographed for The Lady Violette Shoe Collection Blog Posts ~ Photo by Violette ce Courcy

Originally I collected shoes only in my own size ( that is 7.5 Med.) that I could also wear. I had to limit myself somehow as I do not have endless storage! Sometimes I would find a fabulous design in a shoe from, say, the 1940’s or 50’s and I would have to resole it or almost completely redo the uppers to rescue the fabulous design for myself to wear. I want to show how I have done this and discuss it so that other people can see how it is done and hopefully save some fabulous old shoes for themselves if they find them. (Or, if they don’t want them, send them on to me to add to this collection.)  Some of my most beautiful shoes now looked quite terrible when I first discovered them.

This collection is about shoes as wearable and enjoyable art. It is about good and spectacular design – some examples are originally very expensive, some not so, but all are special in my personal opinion as examples of interesting shoes. It is a unique collection. Through this experience I have learned that there are other large shoe collections in the world, but not another that includes this exact combination of particular shoes! Everyone with a serious shoe collection has something very different from that of the last serious shoe collector or the next. It is a fascinating subject. I began, for instance, to collect shoes I could actually wear and would eliminate shoes that were not my size or were uncomfortable. I have found that there are men who have accumulated large collections of women’s shoes with different criterion. There are some of these whose collections are spectacular to look at but essentially unwearable. What would they know? After all they cannot possibly wear them to try them out!  As collectors we come at our collecting from our individual desires and perspectives. Collecting beautifully designed and constructed shoes is all about desire.

My collection, The Lady Violette Shoe Collection, is meant to be enjoyed for its beauty and practical utilitarian shoe design as well. Some shoes are colorful and ornate. Some are simple and unique.  Many are extraordinarily elegant. In exploring this documentation process we learned that many books and calenders and photo exhibits of shoes are done in brilliant colors to show garishly bright and ornately decorated shoes against white backgrounds. Such shoes are showiest and easiest to photograph. Brightly colored shoes however, do not always accurately document the actual shoes real people found most elegant or most wearable during certain fashion or historical time periods. In contrast to what is often chosen to photo document and publish in the the majority of illustrated shoe collections the majority of shoes actually made, used and enjoyed as real functional shoes have almost always been black as the first choice and brown as the second. The reasons for this are, of course, that the black shoes almost always make the foot and leg look its best, go best with most clothing, are easily the most wearable and practical and are actually often the most flattering and attractive. Black and brown leathers are most common and most popular as well. Historically brown shoes followed black in terms of numbers produced and in popularity.

Black Suede Classic Beauties From Stuart Weitzman

The Lady Violette Shoe Collection just naturally evolved for this very reason with the greatest numbers of black shoes, followed by brown shoes in the second greatest number, then eased into all kinds of other pretty and interesting dramatic colors. I love them all! But many of the black ones remain the most supremely elegant, flattering and exotic. And the brown ones are often the most luxuriant in alligator, snakeskin,cork, furs and other rare natural materials. Thus I want to feature the blacks and browns for their exquisite design features and extraordinarily wearability as well as all the other shoes in the dramatic colorations and combinations I have found. I am willing to experiment to find ways to present the black and brown shoes properly in interesting photos rather than omit them in favor of only brightly colored ones. That said, I hope to be able to give all the colors including black and brown equal exposure.

Documenting The Lady Violette Shoe Collection and choosing which shoes to photograph, and deciding how to style and present them myself looks like it will turn out to be the best way to present and share it with other people. Doing it myself and therefore being in control of the process I can experiment or take off in new directions without having to be restricted by other people’s formats, deadlines, or budgets limiting me! One example I discovered was that few if any other photographers utilized the designer’s labels or signatures on the inside lining of the shoes! The signatures are often beautiful and not only credit and designate the designer of the shoe, but can help identify the time in a designer’s career the shoe was created, or what store it was made for, or whether or not it was a collaboration between a clothing and a shoe designer for a particular collection. All of this detail and information is of great interest to fashion and shoe historians as well as regular people who are just interested in shoes. We spent half a day photographing several designer shoe labels as an experiment and the results are really interesting. Now we are going to try to do it on every pair.

Almost everyone seems to be interested in shoes! During the last month I have mentioned my shoe collection and what I am doing documenting it now to my girl friends, my grocer, my gardener, the couple who own a local wine and chocolate shop, my hat designer friend (who is asking me to document her hats next!), even my son’s friends, and everyone is interested in seeing the shoes. They all sigh and pause for a moment, then say, “Oh, you must show me, I love shoes!” Who would have known? Making my collection accessible to other people will be interesting and fun I am sure! All kinds of people I would not have expected to be intrigued by shoes will undoubtedly come forward and tell me they, too, love shoes as the works of art they are!

Photo credits Fredric Lehrman with styling by Violette de Courcy unless otherwise noted.

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

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

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

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

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

Embroidered Evening Handbag #1 ~ Circa 1930

 

 

 

Embroidered Evening Handbag #2 ~ India Circa 1930

 

 

 

 

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

Embroidered India Evening Handbag #3 ~ Circa 1930

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

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

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

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

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

Shoes Trimmed with Buttons as Shoe Clips

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

Details ~ Handbag, Belt & Shawl

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

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

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

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

Carry On In High Style! Vintage Basket Purses & Contemporary Woven Basket Totes Make Inspiring Colorful & Lightweight Spring & Summer Handbags!

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

2001 Vintage Cole Haan Cheery Cherry Straw Tote

Day 1: Come sort with me. By getting all my spring and summer clothes and accessories out and putting warm weather looks together I’m trying to inspire better weather to come to Seattle where it has been colder than it is in Moscow, Russia almost every day over the last 4 weeks! This is the coldest spring on record in Seattle! I’ve been going through my closet for a couple of days trying to prepare for warmer weather. I can, at least, add spring accessories to warm clothes to start with! A scarf or colorful bag will cheer me up, but I won’t freeze to death as I will if I wear a breezy dress or mini skirt. One problem with being fashionably thin, for me at least, is that I am always cold unless it is quite warm out. I love the fashion freedom warm of weather when I can wear anything I like and still be comfortable! Now I am just dreaming about that!

I adore this cheerful market tote by Cole Haan with the cherry cluster on the front. It has a big squares pink and red designer gingham lined interior with leather compartments that can be used for a cell phone and sunglasses, zippered pockets and a strong reinforced black leather bottom as well as the black leather rim and strong leather handles that won’t break! Leather laces tie the top closed for security. It looks like a breezy casual basket, but it is actually a marketing sized tote handbag that is very sturdy and well made! It’s big enough to shop with and fill up with small purchases. Stores do not give out plastic or paper bags where I live. A city ordinance was passed which requires you to bring your own bag. I’ll carry a shopping tote and put a wrapping scarf inside in case I end up with something to carry that is too big for my tote. I have been using the traditional Korean scarf wrapping method lately. I will post information about it soon. You make a carrying bag out of a big scarf. It is both convenient and attractive.

I have had this Cherry bag and used it every summer for 10 years! I bought it new from a Cole Haan shop. Is it contemporary or vintage now? Or at that awkward in between point? That is a good question! It was new 10 years ago. I have taken good care of it. It looks vintage. It is getting older. It’s a classic and I will not ever give it up! I’m going to keep this one.

Here’s how my mind works: I love straw, I love gingham, I love  everything with cherries! I love to eat them, I love maraschino cherries in cocktails, I love cherry blossoms! Come to think of it this bag might be cute worn with a breezy romantic cherry blossom pink dress. I sometimes like to wear red and pink together, so I’m going to try it. And the black leather is a good touch as it makes this go with black clothing or accessories. The 10 year old Cole Haan Cheery Cherry Straw Tote is definitely a keeper! And the last big important question I ask myself is: If I were rich and could buy anything I wanted would I keep this bag or get rid of it and get something else? The answer is, I’d keep it! I love it! I never get anything in the first place unless I really want it!

Vintage Cole Haan ~ Straw & Leather Wildflower Tote

Next Day: I am going to be sure I’ll be ready to dash out if and when the sun appears. Unfortunately it is windy and freezing again today. It’s too awful to go out so I’ve been sorting out and photographing my collection of vintage purses and decided I should do my contemporary ones as well. How to arrange your stuff so you can find it when dressing in a hurry is always a challenge and one has to develop her own methods.I’m organizing them in logical to me groupings. One such is summer basket style handbags, totes and purses.

Recently strolling through a really grungy thrift store of all places I spied this Cole Haan Basket Purse in the back of the store hanging from a nail on the wall. Other shoppers were standing right in front of it looking at several bags on the rungs below it. I tried to act nonchalant and not look at this one, not even look up, hoping and praying that it would not catch their eye. They were discussing the pros and cons of buying up a trio of old dirty Coach bags to attempt clean up and sell on eBay for a profit. I patiently waited pretending to look at old curtains hanging nearby. And I listened. None of them had ever sold anything on eBay, but they had heard you could sell Coach on there and make a lot of money. The bags under consideration were oil stained and terrible looking. And overpriced at $34.99 and up each! Finally, after fifteen minutes, they decided to take the Coach bags, they put them in their already overflowing cart, and headed off to the checkout counter. The coast was clear and I grabbed my prize!

A brand new, never used, perfect, in mint condition, gorgeous, precious, leather, straw and cloth, wildflower embroidered  Cole Haan Basket Tote handbag! It has a leather base and bottom, straw walls, a leafy green linen interior lining with leather compartments inside, a strong leather drawstring with which to draw the top securely closed and tied, and the prettiest embroidered wildflower garden dancing around the sides! The sturdy leather bottom, interior and handles are a beautiful saddle brown summer neutral color. The multi colored wildflowers will compliment almost every solid colored summer outfit! There was however, one possible problem. There was no price tag on the bag! I went up to the front counter. I asked the price. The cashier didn’t know. She called the manager. He was busy. I waited and waited. He finally appeared. The cashier showed him the bag and asked him, “How much?” He opened it, looked inside, turned it over and over, checked out the bottom, pulled the drawstrings shut, tied them and untied them and tied them again. I waited very quietly and patiently. Finally, he said, “How does $14.99 sound?” I said, “OK.” trying to keep low key. Then he turned to the salesgirl and said, “Give it to her for $12.99 since she had to wait so long!” I said “Oh, thank you, that is nice of you. I appreciate it.” I was happy! he also gave me a 20% discount coupon to use on my next purchase! The moral of this story is: sometimes it pays to ask!

Ann Taylor Straw & Leather Beach Tote with Mother of Pearl Button, Lined in Floral Print Cotton with Matching Sarong in Mini Drawstring Bag! Adorable!

Day 3: Because I knit I stash my unused yarn in my summer tote baskets during cold weather. Why not? It is a good way to sort and store yarn and make double use of closet space. But making this shift means I have to figure out an alternative place to store the yarn when I start using the bags again. Challenging! The one good thing about the seasonal shifting process is finding everything you own again, revisiting it, reevaluating it, deciding to keep it or not, and finally figuring out new ways to wear it! I love the last part! It’s like shopping in my own closet. And I don’t have to spend any money doing it! I feel so rewarded when I come up with new ways to wear something I already have.

The next thing to come out the back of my closet is this straw and leather beach tote from Ann Taylor. It is lined in a black, red and white floral print cotton and came with a matching sarong of the same fabric in it’s own little drawstring bag! It is adorable! The big scarf can be wrapped and tied scarf style, as a sarong skirt, or as a sarong dress. Or – for an elegant resort evening look –  it can be folded in half as a triangle and worn as a shawl over your swimsuit and a long black skirt! Versatile! Theoretically you should be able to throw in a black swimsuit, a black jersey skirt, a pair of sandals, your cosmetic pouch, a bottle of sunscreen, and a hairbrush and have everything you need for a weekend trip to the Bahamas. Or, at the very least, a glamourous day at the beach. Better remember a big straw hat to keep the sun off! And a pair of sunglasses. Everything fits in this bag because it is huge. Throw everything in and button the basket closed with the attractive real mother of pearl button that fastens with a leather loop! I’m dreaming. Today it is so cold and windy out that I am completely bundled up in several thick layers of knits.

I bought this Ann Taylor Giant Beach Tote with it’s matching sarong at the Ann Taylor store in the mall at the end of summer sale a couple of years ago. I’d had my eye on it and I swooped down on it the minute it was marked down. It was 30% off. There were two. I got one!  Like most women I do love purses and handbags. I don’t have a favorite type. I enjoy variety. It keeps things different and exciting! I have a mix of vintage, contemporary, old and new, artsy and designer, inexpensive and, well, you know, expensive. But that is relative… I am very selective as far as quality is concerned. Every bag that makes it into my collection is well made and well designed. There has to be something very unique and special about it. I have to love it visually, find it comfortable to carry and practical to use. These are my general guidelines. Within these guidelines is a lot of room for me to exercise my personal taste!

Liz Claiborne Palm Tree Tote

Macy's Special

A Macy's Special ~ Generic Tote Basket Purse

Day 4: I found these last August during the sales at the local mall. I love end of summer sales! I don’t really look out for them, but I tend to wait for them to happen and somehow, instinctively, wonder into the store at the moment they are happening. I was lucky to find both of these bags at Macy’s for 50% off. The one on the left, by Liz Claiborne, is natural straw painted with palm trees and pineapples. It has wooden handles and leather trim, The inside is lined in a tropical leaf printed fabric. It comes with a handy little matching zippered  pouch to be used as a small purse or cosmetic case. The burnt orange basket purse with round bamboo handles, is also from Macy’s end of summer sale. It is a generic brand with no designer name or label. They had them in five colors and they were only $12.99 on sale! It is lined in solid red cotton. I added the scarf for extra flair. I remember now that it was very hot out and I had gone to the mall to be in some air conditioning for a while and escape the heat. We do not have air conditioning in our house. Consequently it is way too cold nine months out of the year and way too hot when summer finally hits for 3 months out of the year! C’est la vie in Seattle!

Vintage 1950's Cylindrical Basket Purse

Flowered Lid and Side View

Day 5: I can dream of warm sunny days… I am well into my week of wishful thinking! But it is still like the middle of winter here! Today there has been freezing wind, rain, icy sleet, and hail. It is only 1:30 PM and it is way too cold and blustery to go out for a leisurely stroll. They have been putting sandwich boards out on the streets to advertise summer markets opening outdoors in June! Last night we went out to a restaurant in pelting rain and the owner asked the waiter to go out and bring in the sandwich board promoting their specials because it was getting wet. Before he could get out to rescue it the wind had picked up the heavy placard and whirled it into the street where it had crashed into a heap on the pavement and broken. March is, notoriously described as coming “in like a lion and out like a lamb, ” but we are already into May! And the lion is still rumbling and prowling, raging, howling and mad!  It is so cold and wet that anything nice you might wear is blown to pieces and ruined! New and vintage fur coats get drenched by rain. Felt and fur hats are ruined the same way. Umbrellas are blown inside out and destroyed. Designer shoes and boots are damaged by the inevitable mud this frenzied climate produces. This weather is interesting and dramatic in its way but it is not conducive toward dressing up in lovely romantic outfits with delicate clothes and accessories made of precious materials! Silk flowers and feathers and lace do not hold up under such duress! If I dress up in them neither do I! Out of necessity we have to bundle up here. This afternoon I am wearing several layers inside the heated house just to stay warm enough to function! Cold drafts are blowing through the house. And it’s May! I want sunshine! I know it will eventually come, so I am continuing my preparations… I’m having fun in the sun in a way just preparing for it’s eventual arrival!

Now we are getting to the really great finds! My colorful true vintage basket purses. First, the 1950’s cylindrical basket purse above, which stands 10″ tall  and is 8.5″ wide not counting the handle. I paid $6.99 for this bag! Getting a small dog into it would be no problem but I think he would chew himself out and that would be a problem because he would ruin the purse! There is no way that is going to happen! It is in perfect shape. It is lined in hot pink cotton and has an inner pocket. The outrageous 3D hand embroidered straw flowers and leaves are shiny straw each made up of three graduated tones of each color. Black beads that look like watermelon seeds form the centers of each flower. This is one funky bag! I think somebody got it a few decades ago while on vacation. When she got it back to Seattle, in weather like this, she forgot she had it and it got lost in the back of the cupboard. So she never wore it! Another problem with things like this bag in Seattle is that the light here is cool, everything is tinged with a cool grayness which makes bright colors seem jarring to the eye. When I am in California or Mexico I instantly notice the warmth of the sunlight and the fact that bright colors look enticing and appealing in warm light. People can wear tropical colors in that kind of light more easily than they can in grey cool light. Brights are more appealing and easier to use in a warm sunny environment.

This cylindrical basket purse has no labels or country of origin tags. It looks like a tourist souvenir from some tropical resort in the 1950’s that somebody like Lucille Ball brought home with her. Luckily she took good care of it! I plan to carry it to a big summer picnic we attend every year and wear a pastel halter dress and espadrilles with it. And a great big brimmed straw hat tied with trailing long scarves in the colors of the flowers! I have three vintage chiffon scarves from the 60’s that will be perfect ~ a yellow, a coral and a blue.

Longaberger Handwoven Basket Purse, Signed by the Artist

Basket Purse From Hong Kong ~ The House of China

Day 6: Moving on! I found the miniature woven wood basket at a vintage flea market. I paid just $15 for it!  It has the name of the maker and the location on the back. When I got home I looked it up. The Longaberger Baskets are from Ohio and are handmade and highly collectable. Also very expensive – like Coach bags but way more unusual. I love it. It looks like a mini picnic basket to me. It is made of woven wood. I made the printed cloth liner for it with pockets inside. It is 10″ across x 6.5″ tall. The perfect size for a purse in my opinion. This one will be adorable with solid colored or flowery printed dresess that can co-exist with the printed lining which can also be removed or changed if it clashes too drastically.

Next is an adorable Asian style basket purse from Hong Kong ~ The House of China ~ is a vintage 1950’s bag. These were sold in Chinatown in San Francisco and in Seattle at the Shop of China and were well made attractive basket handbags ladies liked to wear with Asian inspired clothing. 9″ across x 6″ tall. I got this one at an retirement community rummage sale for $8! Isn’t the hardware great?

Golden Picnic Basket Purse with Silk Roses Decorated by Lady Violette de Courcy

The next basket purse is one I bought at a thrift store, but it didn’t look like this when I got it! It was a plain straw thing, with a plywood top and a gold buckle tab that looked weirdly fancy on plain wood. I removed the buckle tab and handles, spray painted the purse gold, made a yellow satin lining with a pocket, reattached the handles and tab, and decorated the flat wooden top with beautiful pink silk roses! I love the way it turned out! It looks like the most fru fru 50’s picnic basket imaginable, only it is a nice small purse ~ 6″ tall x 10 ” wide, plus the handles. The handles are encased in plastic tubing which is available through craft shops. You just insert a ribbon, straw, cloth, leather or paper inside so it shows through the clear plastic tube, then attach it to your bag. This makes sturdy strong handles that do not break. I had a few flimsy straw handles on basket purses give out on me so I always look for extra strong handles now or reinforce them myself. It is worth doing this because your straw bag will last years if you reenforce and strengthen the handles it comes with or add completely new ones that are of better materials. The ones to avoid or fix before you use the bag are woven straw. They are notoriously flimsy! Most straw bags and totes are made quickly for inexpensive exports or to sell to tourists. They are often really cute, but not well made, redoing the handles and adding a cloth lining will make them much stronger and lengthen their lives. If I buy or make something this charming I want to get use out of it! I also, admittedly, am sentimental about my accessories and clothes. If I love something I want to keep it, use it, have it around and enjoy it for a long time! That usually means years. So I take really good care of my stuff. I guess you could say I take the term investment clothing seriously. Even if it is a vintage purse I got for a bargain! That just makes me appreciate it even more! I put pink roses on the toes of a pair of 1950’s gold snakeskin stiletto pumps to match this purse. When I find them I’ll post them under shoes of the week photographed along with this little bag. It is a perfect combination!

Flower Basket Handbag from April Cornell 2004

Glazed Straw Flower Purse from April Cornell 2004

Day 7: Last but not least. here are two handbag size small straw basket purses bought at April Cornell on sale when they closed their shop in downtown Seattle in 2004. I miss that store! I liked the pretty printed rayon dresses and the flowery housewares they carried there. And the children’s clothes. Everything was extremely pretty and feminine, very well made, and the style and sizing was reliable. You could take a dress in your size right off the peg and buy it without trying it on and it would always fit the same way and look absolutely great. They had the most beautiful original floral prints. I miss them!

Good thing I still have several pieces. I guess, since they are no longer available, and were very charming and collectable, they are now vintage, even though they only closed in 2004. Generally vintage needs to be older than that but as April Cornell started out looking like it was made in 1920 when it was new, an exception can be made in their case! I do not have rigid definitions of vintage. I think the word can mean anything old, or of a particular era from the Victorian to the 1980’s. Even the 90’s or 2000’s in certain cases like April Cornell. To me it simply needs to be of a bygone era, look old, no longer be available, be very unusual and unique or a combination of these things. I have many vintage items that are really old. There is no question about a dress from 1930. It is definitely vintage. Or a pair of Victorian shoes. Again, definitely vintage. Things post 1980 have to be considered on a one by one basis! I know this is a touchy subject with some people. Definitions remain flexible and should! True vintage or newer, but vintage inspired, straw bags  are fun alternatives to heavy leather purses and give off a delightfully feminine and colorful artsy bohemian vibe well suited to summer weather when it finally arrives!

Straw basket purses were popular for casual wear during the summer and while on vacations during the 1930’s – 50’s. They are light weight and airy looking. They can be purchased at street stands while traveling or in department stores during the spring and summer seasons. You can often find cute old fashioned ones in vintage shops as I have demonstrated here. Contemporary designers, like Cole Haan, Ann Taylor, Kate Spade and Liz Claiborne, make better quality ones designed to last with more durable traditional handbag construction and leather bases and handles. Asian import shops often carry inexpensive new versions, and world wide markets often offer them. Baskets, like that other favorite accessory of mine, scarves, are an historically favorite international accessory that have been made and used by people of all cultures all over the world. Wherever baskets are traditionally made a basket with handles can be found and used as a market tote, luggage, a handbag, a purse or picnic basket!

I want Brie and French bread and a glass of wine now! And I want to carry it down to the park and eat it on the grass! But, alas, it is raining cats and dogs out! Today I will have to have my picnic in the kitchen, but I can spread out my checkered gingham tablecloth and enjoy looking at a basket of fruit on the dining table! And get my picnic basket out and ready to pack up on the first nice day! Hopefully it will be bright and sunny tomorrow! And, hopefully, those little pink and white daisies that I like will have popped up in the grass in spite of the fact that the state of Washington has banned planting them!

Why am I living in a city where the sun hardly ever shines and beautiful little flowers growing in the grass are banned? Not because it is my final choice! But, I am here now, and like the sun and the daisies, nothing can hold back beauty and the force of nature that it is. Somehow, like the hearty wildflower that comes back in the grass year after year, it survives and pops up to cheer us in the most unlikely times and places. When I see beauty , in any form, perhaps a sunny moment, wildflowers blooming in cracks in a sidewalk, and quirky individual artistic beauty expressed by a person of any age or style in unexpected places I am pleased and inspired to continue living and creating and carrying on. Beauty is important. It gives inspiration, joy and reason to life! So, whatever happens we must carry on!

How to Tie and Wear a Scarf on a Purse or Bag from Lady Violette! You Can Style and “Pursonalize” Your Spring and Summer Bags and Baskets with Bright Scarves Tied to Decorate the Rings or Handles!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Plain Basket Purse Pretty But Boring!

Scarf Tied Basket! For a Summery "Pursonal" Effect!

An attractive bag can be made even prettier with the addition of a silky colorful scarf tied to the handle. This one is a chiffon square folded in half in a triangle, then the triangle point folded into the center, then folded in half again to make a long skinny rectangle. The folded scarf is then looped through the handle or ring of your basket, handbag or purse and tied into one soft knot or a floppy bow for an easy to do, ultra feminine scarf tie decorating your bag and making it very “pursonal.” I call it “pursonalized!”

I have used 18″ square scarves on these two bags, but any shape will work. You can tie an oblong scarf into a bow for a slightly different look. A larger square can be folded the same way to start and made into a bigger bow as well.

This is a cute casual look for a beach basket, or a dressy look on a leather bag. You can get a lot of variety out of a single bag by using different scarves for decoration. Now that I have started doing it I never want to use the two bags I’ve used for this demonstration without a scarf again! They are so much more fun with the extra color and softness of the scarf addition! I have even seen this done on luggage at the airport to mark a suitcase and distinguish it from similar ones in the baggage claim. Don’t use your best scarves for that purpose though! They are likely to receive rough treatment! A bandana or inexpensive cotton scarf will work on luggage. The point is to make it look unique so you can find your suitcase in a crowd. I recommend as colorful a scarf as possible tied to the handle of your suitcase or travel bag. Your goal is to “pursonalize” your luggage. And have fun!

I like to make fall and winter bags, like the purple leather one below, look more summery by tying on a bright contemporary scarf or a flowered vintage scarf. It cheers me up and gives me more variety and mileage out of my bags. Some purses or baskets I have are open on the top and I tie a scarf on both handles as a way to hold them together and keep the bag closed for added security. It is often handy to have that scarf along for unexpected reasons too! Like needing to tie your hair back in a ponytail or getting caught in a rainstorm and needing a head covering. Look at all the style variations I have for the bag below! It is almost like having four different purses! When I am busy or rushed I often find it easier to change the scarf I’ve tied onto my purse for a new look than to switch out the contents to an entirely different bag. Try doing this! I “Pursonally” guarantee it’s fun!

Next week I will explain how to wrap the handle of a designer purse with a scarf like they are doing in Paris! You can do it on regular purses and make them look like designer purses too! It’s a beautiful technique and it protects the handles on your bag as well! And it’s one more pretty way to wear a scarf on a purse to “Pursonalize” it!

You Can Wear the Plain Purple Purse with Gold Hardware!

or You Can Tie a Silk Chiffon Square into a Soft Feminine Bow Tied Scarf !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or Try the Purple Purse "Pursonalized" with A Darling Vintage Floral Scarf!

or Go For a Contemporary Look with a Geometric Print Ellen Tracy Scarf!

Lady Violette’s Vintage Purse of the Week is a Darling Golden Picnic Basket Topped with Pink Silk Roses & Lined in Yellow Satin That You Can Make Yourself!

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Lady Violette's Darling Golden Picnic Basket Basket Purse Topped With Pink Silk Roses Lined in Yellow Satin!

Spring is hopefully going to come! So I’m getting ready! I”ve been sorting out my purses making the change from winter to spring/summer appropriate bags.

I’ve emptied out my entire closet and the bags are all spread out. I’ve quite a witty assortment! And I’ve never really looked at them all at once before. A friend told me there is a blog site called The Purse Forum and I should register. It’s a place where handbag enthusiasts can show off their bags and share their collections with other purse fanatics. So I went over there to take a look. It is interesting but there is no section for my type of vintage purses! They focus on designer name brands rather than artsy interesting and unusual pieces such as the ones I collect and sometimes make myself. I do have some of those, but I do not decide to collect a bag just because it is produced by a certain design house. I choose to acquire and use bags that I like. Period! Often they are from unknown artists or obscure origins and I like that.

I did register on The Purse Forum and will return to check it out further, but it focuses on a different area of bag collecting than I do. So, I have decided to photograph and post some of my personal favorites from my own collection on my own blog so that people who like these sorts of bags can see them. The great thing about some of these is that they are gorgeous and they are affordable. Sometimes you can even make one yourself. The purses I show will give you lots of good ideas for collecting or embellishing or making unique artistic bags. You will see that it is not necessary to spend a fortune to acquire a great collection of fun bags.

This one is a little straw and wood picnic basket purse probably made in the 1960’s. It was natural colored straw and plywood when I acquired it for $2.98 at a thrift store. I carefully removed the gold faux leather buckle tab and the plastic tube handles which are screwed on. Then I spray painted the bag gold! The inside was rough and not very attractive, so I made a simple drawstring bag out of some left over yellow satin lining fabric and a yellow ribbon and put it inside the basket as an interior lining. I reattached the handles and buckle tab and, as a finishing touch, glued four pink silk roses with buds and green leaves on the lid! I already had the artificial roses. That’s all there is to it! And the total cost was less than $15. Basket purses such as I used are easy to find at Japanese dime stores and often show up at thrift shops. I think it is one of the cutest bags ever! I love the fact that it is easy to make yourself! It’s absolutely perfect for spring and summer! And I get lots of compliments whenever I carry it!

Vintage Violet Clutch Purse – a Good First Knitting & Felting Project!

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Vintage Violet Clutch Purse - Knitted,Felted, and Decorated with Vintage Buttons

This is a pretty little clutch purse, I hand knitted, felted and decorated with a few unique vintage buttons! It is very easy to make! I recommend it as a first knitting & felting project. I’ll be leading a group of knitting friends through make this purse in March. It requires only one ball Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn. It’s a good way to use and enjoy vintage buttons you’ve collected.

The original pattern is by Leigh Radford,  It is called “The  Clutch You’ll Never Give Up” and is from the book “One Skein” available from Amazon.

The finished size is 10″ W x 6″ H. I’m making another in un-dyed natural yarn with mother-of-pearl buttons and documenting the process in photos as I go. I hope to post these for people to follow as they make the purse as it will help to understand the directions. The background is a poncho I knit and the bead necklace is also my design.

Of course I love all these shades of violet, lilac, lavender and rose! They are so feminine and uplifting! Lady Violette’s signiture colors! There are many shades of violet flowers in nature. I often see African Violets in this shade of violet. Did you know that bees love pinks and purples and are most attracted to flowers in these colors? I plant a lot of flowers in these shades in my garden to attract them. Butterflies love them too!

There is a knitting website called Ravelry, where you can see more renditions of this pattern as interpreted by other knitters. Just go there, type in the pattern name, search, and take a look. It is amazing to see the variety of looks people have made with this same pattern! You will get many ideas for colors and yarns you can use. The yarn I used is the same color and type used originally by the author. It comes in many colors. I suggest a visit to Leigh Radford’s site to check out her beautiful work and read her inspiring advice on artistic thinking and creative recycling! In the days of yore women worked on needlework together exchanging ideas and passing along skills. This is one of the best ways to learn knitting and sewing techniques. I learned this way from childhood – from my grand mother, mother, aunts, and grown-up friends. One more example of The Feminine Arts! The needlework skills are patiently and lovingly passed down from generation to generation. Leigh Radford calls her pattern “The Clutch You’ll never Give Up” and I recommend making it for several reasons: First, you can easily personalize it as I did using my signature color and vintage buttons and it is quick and easy to make. Second, if you learn to knit and sew through making projects that can be completed successfully without frustration, so that you learn to enjoy the process of making something, you will build technical needlework skills that you will never give up, too! Thus this is a great project for beginning level knitters. Thirdly, there are many uses for this little purse – it can be a clutch, or a makeup bag, or a needlework tool bag, or an art supply bag! I am so thrilled by it that I am making a second one that will look entirely different. I have also decided to line this bag because I want a very finished look. The pattern does not call for that but it can be done easily….A great little pattern and clutch purse which is an inspiration to set you off experimenting and creating your own unique accessories.