December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

From one Vixen to another, Happy New Year! I'm wishing us all a very fashionable 2011.

December 18, 2010

Here Today, Sold Tomorrow

We're redesigning our website and because we sell unique items of vintage clothing, one question's arisen that has become quite a debate - whether or not to display items that are currently being purchased. We have always displayed these items in the past, but I cannot count the number of desperate customers who've contacted us asking "Is it available?". Occasionally the next question is "Can you ask the buyer to sell it to me? I'll pay double!" Or triple, or something similarly hopeful.

The unfortunate thing is, we couldn't justifiably broker a deal between our customer and this wishful thinker. And we can commiserate. I have been the wishful thinker myself, spying an exquisite rarity at a nice price just minutes too late on any number of occasions.

From the seller's perspective, it might seem nice to sell items at double and triple the listed prices, but I like to think our modest pricing is a primary reason why we have so many loyal customers. Though it's also why we get so many "is it available" emails. We aim to offer the best vintage clothing at the most accessible prices, and when many people would like a single item, it shows we've done that part of our job pretty well.

The fortunate thing is, we can always change our policy. As we have planned this redesign, I made a list of the pros and cons regarding holds. And the best analogy I could envision was the brick-and-mortar storefront. If a shopper picks out a certain special dress and takes it to the dressing room, it's essentially invisible from all other shoppers. Once it's in the bag and out the door, it remains invisible through its return period. While it was a proud thing to display prize pieces enviably marked "on hold" until their return periods ended, we just don't want to ruffle the fashionable feathers of those who'd missed out.

I do want to note that our new design, absent of all those "on hold" markers, may lead you to believe the item you see today might still be available tomorrow. Sometimes that works out. Many times it doesn't. In the end, it can certainly be said that the best time to buy that special find is when you see it.

December 02, 2010

Fashion Advice From An Old Handkerchief

Vintage Vixen found this cheeky vintage handkerchief chock full of do's and don'ts for a range of improvable figures. Let's take some fashion advice from an era before the phrase "politically correct" had ever been uttered.

First up, Miss Diminutive. Now that's not so bad (I'm saving the worst for later). A petite gal really could use high heels, though I'm not certain I would make sure all my hats point skyward.

And here's Miss Arrow Slim. She doesn't really translate into a flawed figure today; quite the opposite if you're using the red carpet as your ideal. Surely Hollywood would be red-lighted by this hanky, as "clinging fabrics and decollete" are clearly listed as "don'ts"!

Ah, Miss King Size. Now it's getting a little mean. Though we think the "do" column should substitute a Great Dane for better proportion. But poor Miss King Size is disallowed short skirts and cute bags. For shame!

And last but not least, Miss Jumbo. No kidding. She's relegated to dull fabrics and quiet patterns. No tight dresses or even pants for her! Even this Vixen's pouting for our Miss Jumbo. I think she looks quite the picture in her "don't" profile, bold print and all.

This handkerchief will be posted for sale in a future update. Email for details!

November 24, 2010

Perqs of a New York Socialite ca. 1964

Today's New York social scene is no different than the past, with perpetual photography and designers clamoring to dress the media darlings. But in 1964 a unique kind of socialite emerged.

She was very much like her flesh-and-blood counterpart - practically identical. Strange men dressed her, though she never complained. And unlike her comrades, she didn't have to watch her figure.

This line-up of vintage mannequins debuted at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1964, breathed into plastic life by a team of fashion-forward artists. Every one was modeled after New York's "high-born, wealthy jet-setters" of the day.

The creation began with Henry Callahan, then display director for Saks Fifth Avenue's shop windows. Society painter Piero Aversa sketched their "snappy, young, alive" countenances and sculptor Mary Brosnan created the figures.

So who's who behind the glass? The 1964 models included Lorna Goodman (wife of a Bergdorf-Goodman executive), Women's Wear Daily fashion columnist Carol Bjorkman, and Oleg Cassini himself.

Said Lorna's husband Edwin: "It's a little uncanny to say goodby to your wife in the morning, and then see her standing in all the windows when you get to work". Lorna's appearance was so strikingly young that Bergdorf's used her only for the "Miss Bergdorf" line of youthful contemporary designs.

The idea of creating mannequins from famous faces was not new in the 60s. In the 1940s they were sometimes modeled after movie stars, though fashion editors Emmy Ives and Carmel Snow were captured in molded profile during this period. Well-known models of the day likewise were cast in plastic in the 1960s. Even Audrey Hepburn's likeness appeared window-dressed for "My Fair Lady" in 1964.

Despite the variety of faces, these mannequins were all built alike - 34-22-35. And at the time, fashion demanded a natural shoulder, jutting hips and "super-chic bosom" of "exactly 9 inches from the shoulder blade". Socialites (then and now) would have a difficult time keeping those proportions!

Ads shown are from D.G. Williams Inc, a Seventh Avenue supplier of mannequins and displays. References include Display World Magazine 1964 and 1965.

View the Vintage Vixen selection of vintage Oleg Cassini, Saks, and Bergdorf labels. Also over 700 vintage Audrey Hepburn styles.