January 31, 2011

When A Pillbox Is More Than A Pillbox

I've always associated the pillbox hat with Jackie Kennedy, as so many of us do. There's nothing quite so iconic from the 1960s as this classic millinery design. An article recently caught my eye regarding the pink pillbox Mrs. Kennedy wore on the day of the President's assassination.

In summary, that hat is lost. And no one who might have it is willing to talk about it.

So next time you spot a vintage pillbox hat, if it's pink, remember this post. It could be a nation's missing piece of history.

January 17, 2011

Monsieur Dior, Mon Ami!

Of all the beautiful designs created by Christian Dior, the most accessible to the vintage clothing collector are his delectable hats. Millinery (or hat-making) was a thriving industry when Dior was in his prime, from his New Look break-out in 1947 to his early death only ten years later. Here's a sampling of Dior hats from past & present inventory at VintageVixen.com:

Most of these images speak for themselves, but the scrap at center is particularly intriguing. It's a 1964 shipping label from Christian Dior's New York location on Avenue of the Americas. Just imagine the contents of that marvelous box!

For your own much-anticipated shipments, check out our current selection of authentic vintage Dior.

January 03, 2011

Eye Candy: Kay Windsor

Most seasoned vintage clothing collectors don't equate Kay Windsor with eye candy, but one has to look past many pastel polyester dresses meant for the blue-haired set in order to find the glamorous looks Kay Windsor was once known for. Scroll on for a trio of beauties from a 1950s in-store promotion of Kay Windsor frocks:

These wonderful photos sent me digging into Kay Windsor's background, and an interesting one it is. The company Kay Windsor Frocks, Inc began in 1939 by now 97-year-old Carl Shapiro and his father. It was a Boston company specializing in "a nationally-advertised line of medium-priced dresses and suit-dresses for women and girls of all ages and sizes".

Shapiro's father was a Polish immigrant and pattern maker, and the two began a challenging marketing campaign - to elevate the dowdy cotton house dress to a charming, chic status. Their dresses were accessible in price (from $8.95 to 14.95) as well as stylish and comfortable. The Shapiros were shrewd businessmen. By 1959 the business had 22 factories throughout New England, all manufacturing primarily cotton day dresses, and Kay Windsor was a national success story.

The slogan most often seen in a Kay Windsor dress is "The Look You Love", though earlier collections focused on secretary themes. "Private Secretary" and "Secretary of the Month" are labels occasionally found from the 1940s and 50s. Because the dresses were moderately-priced and every stitch cost, the labels themselves were sewn only along the top and are often quite frayed to the sides from washings.

Like so many ready-to-wear companies, Kay Windsor designs followed fashion reliably but its chic image faded as the years passed. By the time Kay Windsor's last designs were made in 1982, those attracted to the label had aged along with it. Ironically, the final few years of the label produced mostly synthetic and dowdy designs, quite different than these glossy cotton-clad vixens from Kay Windsor's heyday.

Sources -

Lizzie Bramlett's post:

SEC Digest:

Betrayal: The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff By Andrew Kirtzman