Monday, January 4, 2010

Vintage Rules and Bonnie Cashin



I bought a vintage fashion book a month or so ago...It has Fashion Rules. Vintage Fashion Rules. Wear this but not that.I read about fashion, vintage and contemporary, all the time but I rarely follow any rules. I look at myself as a canvas...and my whole life is one big art project...

Elegance by Dariaux has kept my interest ....obsessively so....because it was written in 1964 and man, Do I remember the Rules!

City ensemble.
Country ensemble.
Day dress.
Afternoon dress.
Dinner dress.
Ball gown.
Matchy matchy.
Hat.
Gloves.
Handbag.
Stockings.



Let me give you an example of the terror of dressing with elegance...

"GLOVES" "Even women who never wear a hat should always wear gloves whenever they go out. Gloves are one of the most unobtrusive accessories when you are wearing them, but their absence is glaringly apparent when you have left them at home! You should train your daughter to wear gloves as soon as she is old enough to walk."
p.99.



this is from a Vogue '68 summer issue (I also have that white bowler hat on etsy too!)



And of course we can all remember the uproar Mrs. O caused when wearing a sleeveless dress........I hope you notice how much it is like that red dress from 1968!



the rule was : "A matching coat and dress that is called a "cocktail ensemble" in Paris, but in reality is often far too dressy for such an occassion, although perfect for theater openings and very elegant black-tie dinner parties." p.123
and "In order to attain the height of discreet elegance, which is the summum of the art of dressing, a woman must be either particularly gifted if she has not passed all her life in that atmosphere, or else she must give a great deal of thought to the question. And don't think for a moment that you will automatically reach this perfection by paying an enormous amount of money to some famous couturier! The truth is that the contrary is more often true, because a successful designer is obliged to seek striking effects by inventing a spectactular silhouette or unusual color harmonies." p.56.

The big Up In Arms controversy for Mrs. O was that her clothes were not elegant, were too casual, too eye-catchy and rather flip about the role of First Lady.

Dariaux lists the most famous of the Parisian couturiers and states the speciality of each one. She believed in the early 60s that there were few designers worth paying any attention to if they were not European.
She does allow that some American designers are worthy of the dollars of an elegantly dressed woman. The very first American woman on her list is Bonnie Cashin.
"Bonnie Cashin, who creates extremely chic and original sportswear."
p.54.

I adore all Bonnie Cashin!
She was born in 1915 in Oakland, California. Her father, Carl, wore coveralls that later inspired her to design the first woman's jumpsuit. Her mother, Eunice, was a dressmaker and major influence on her life.

Bonnie designed simple clothes and used leather in imaginative ways.
She often said "Chic is where you find it."

She designed quirky touches for Coach in the early 60s...things we take for granted now were her ideas: Big hardware on purses like brass toggles used to close handbags and also coats. She also used hardware to decorate gloves. The story goes that she was inspired by the ones that latched her convertible's top.

Right now on etsy I have a Bonnie Cashin jacket that is a classic Bonnie in many ways. Superior wool cloth is soft, warm and sturdy. It is edged with a tiny strip of butter-soft leather.
The shape of the jacket is deceptively simple. It appears to be just a few a squares and rectangles sewn together...but her talent shines in the chic cut of the fabric. It molds to the body in a most attractive manner rather than hanging like a bag.


If you love Bonnie Cashin as much as me, you can spend some inspirational time at this website, The Bonnie Cashin Foundation, and this one also, at UCLA.






Bonnie in a Sears ad in the 70s.
Well, I hope the only rules you follow with fashion, vintage and otherwise, is to wear what is flattering to you, and to wear what makes you happy.

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