June 10, 2011

Art Imitates Life

Check out this very cool blog! It's a fashion-focused array of altogether charming illustrations, each modeled after an actual vintage garment. I don't know this artist but I've gotta say I like her.

Such a creative way to bring vintage clothes to life!

June 08, 2011

How To Look Like A Model Circa 1955

This vintage article is an insider's look at the glamorous world of modeling, circa mid-1950s. It's an interesting glimpse back at the training and preparation models underwent at the time, written for the young lady aspiring to be a model - or just look like one. This article was reprinted verbatim from the original. -- A.A.

It's In The Bag

A young, attractive girl walks gracefully along Main Street, Small City, U.S.A. In New York a similar scene takes place along many of the famous streets and avenues. Hundreds of miles apart though these girls might be, they have something in common - a distinguishing trademark that links them together.

That trademark is the huge bag each carries, the symbol of the model, whether she's a professional in one of the fashion capitals of the country or an amateur, modeling in a school or department store fashion show. The bag can be either a hatbox or an oversized tote bag - it's what's inside that really counts. What a model carries in her bag is just as important to her as the contents of a doctor's satchel are to him. Because her work is so often unpredictable, she must be prepared to meet any emergency.

Models' photos displayed by
Lucile Clayton, 1946.

If modeling is new to you and you're going to appear in a style show for your school, 4-H group or local department store, perhaps this list of what to include in your model-bag will help. It was passed on by some of Powers' most successful girls.

Girls In The Windows
Ormond Gigli, 1960.


What to include in your

  • half slip
  • strapless bra
  • dress shields
  • extra hose (seamless)
  • black opera pumps
  • clean, short white
    gloves (fabric and string)
  • strand of pearls
  • pearl choker
  • two pairs of earrings
    (plain pearl and simple gold)
  • clean comb, spray
  • scarf to protect

Any Powers' model knows that having the right things with you is not all you need do. You must appear at the show so immaculately groomed that no time is lost while you make last minute repairs. Powers' girls use a "personal grooming
check list" to prepare themselves at home. The ten good grooming essentials are:

  • bath
  • deodorant
  • hair clean, set,
  • legs and underarms
  • nails freshly shaped,
  • fresh panties, bra,
  • neat girdle or pantie
  • clean dress shields,
    halter type
  • newly laundered
  • clean stockings - no

When there's a check mark after each item on this list and your model-bag is packed,
you're ready to leave for the show, confident that you're your most attractive self.

Models ca. 1958

It's Written All Over Your

Backstage at last and time to "Make-Down", Mr. Powers' way of saying "look natural". Heavy, obvious make-up is out of place and a sure sign of an amateur. Make-Down means keeping cosmetics to a minimum. You highlight your fresh complexion, making yourself more attractive but not detracting from the clothes you will show.

Learning the essentials at the Mayfair School in New York.

Rules for Applying "Make-Down"
  1. Dot forehead, nose,cheeks, chin and under chin with foundation that matches
    your skin coloring. Use light strokes, starting at the base of neck, and blend
    upward and outward with finger tips of both hands until it is an invisible film. Dot rouge lightly on high part of cheekbone. Blend until it looks like your own natural

  2. Apply powder liberally all over your face except eyelid area; then brush powder from brows and lashes.

  3. If you are going to be under spotlights, you'll want to accentuate your eyes. Eye shadow should be applied from the center of lower lids outward, as close to lashes as possible. Blend upwards and outwards twoard brows until the color is invisible and only a SHADOW remains.

  4. Apply cake mascara to lashes with a moist -never wet- brush. Too much water makes the
    eyelashes stick together and gives a beaded, artificial look. Use light strokes in applying mascara, then wait until lashes are completely dry and brush them gently to remove any excess mascara.

  5. Use light, feathery strokes of an eyebrow pencil in a color that matches your brow to trim arch line.

  6. Always apply lipstick with a brush. Follow the natural line all the way out to the corners.
    Most of these make-up applications are appropriate only when you're in a show. There is absolutely no need for more make-up than a light dusting of powder and well-applied lipstick off stage.

    Make-Down means a completely natural look, a look that every top-notch model has. The end result of what you do with cosmetics is no secret; it's written all over your face!

You're On... So:

First, check your posture. Chin up, head back, chest up, shoulders relaxed and down. If your spine is straight there's no need to hold your shoulders "up" or "back".
Keep your tummy up and in, your tail tucked under and your knees easy. Never lock them back; that throws your body out of line.

Then you make your entrance. Put your best foot forward, whether it's right or left, and assume the basic foot position. Your face and front foot are toward the audience. Place your back foot just behind the front foot, pointing
in a 45-degree angle. Keep your body at a 45-degree
angle too to give yourself that slim, tall look. Give your audience a big smile.

Jacques Fath models

Walk with confidence and ease - shoulders relaxed, head up, arms swing and hips still. All
motion in a graceful walk comes from the hip joint down. Keep your knees easy, relaxed and slightly bent. People want to see what you're modeling, so don't rush through your motions. Without dragging, walk slowly enough that everybody will get an opportunity to look at the clothes you're wearing. And always listen to the commentator; she's the one who'll give you your cues to enter and leave the stage.

To turn in graceful circles, start from a basic foot position or from a walk. Toe out in the direction you want to turn.
The rhythm is: toe out; step around; pull your front foot in. Always finish your turn in the basic foot position. You'll have less trouble standing, walking and turning if you imagine that there's a bowl of soup balanced on your head. You'll find yourself trying not to spill a single drop, and in the process you will develop the smooth, graceful, lovely carriage of a model.

Beautiful models and beautiful diamonds are not unlike. Both evolve by perfecting each and every facet so that the whole product or being will shine with brilliance. By giving all the phases of modeling the attention they deserve,
you'll polish every facet of the diamond - and the diamond is, of course, you!

At the Dior show in Paris.

Dior and his models.

Prepared in cooperation with John Robert Powers School, New York.
Distributed by McCall's Patterns' Educational Department, 230 Park Ave,
New York 17, New York.
Transcribed by April Ainsworth

Quick, Harriet (1997). Catwalking: A History of the Fashion Model.
London: Octopus Publishing Group Limited. Buy This Book

What A Difference A Decade Makes

A street party of Pierre Cardin designs, circa 1967.

For someone new to vintage clothing, the variety of styles available is rather staggering. You might lean toward spare, modernist lines and focus on 1960s clothes. Perhaps you've seen enough of fashion history to know Pierre Cardin's influence on this era, and now futurist dresses are on the top of your "get" list. But not every Cardin design looks like the space age gang above, which might be a surprise to the new collector.

In almost every case, a designer's most famous period is not the only period in which he created. Usually that designer first had to climb the ranks of the fashion industry, dutifully adapting the current mode into his own work, while simultaneously glimpsing and then crafting the style of the future. Cardin worked for Paquin, Schiaparelli, and Dior before opening his own house in 1950.

A mannequin takes direction from Cardin before a Paris presentation, 1958.

It's very similar to visual artists who develop their technique and talent within the parameters of today, while envisioning a new trend they'll unveil as their career unfolds. They begin to press the envelope as they gain notoriety, trending toward their ultimate goals and/or discovering new paths along the way. In the photograph above, Cardin was called a master of his art, but was still creating bouffant party dresses he's no longer known for.

A robe du soir from Cardin's 1958 collection.

For some designers, the journey has a twist. They strive to create a certain look, hoping it will strike a common chord as the new look, but then a commissioned design or a whimsical departure from their usual collections will become its own success. Cardin was described as a master in 1958, yet one of his most iconic designs didn't arrive until years later - the Mondrian-inspired color block dress. Thus the designer is marked for history as "the one who created that dress", despite other noteworthy efforts.

It's worth noting, too, that Cardin created his own twist by unveiling the first ready-to-wear collection by a couture house in 1959, just one year after these black & white photographs were taken. The Chambre Syndicale, in charge of Paris couture, was shocked, but Cardin was moving directly into the future, whether the Chambre liked it or not.

Pierre Cardin mini dresses, 1968.

And of course we cannot forget societal influence. The Mod, mad world of the 1960s demanded space age clothes for a new age. Cardin was at the top of his game at this moment in fashion history, and his clothes were strikingly different than in years past to reflect the new, young, now feeling.

And again, as the 1970s began, Cardin monopolized on fashion in a new way - licensed products from watches to towels and even frying pans. What a difference a decade makes!

For those collecting Cardin, check out our website for Pierre Cardin finds for both men & women.

"Le Prix Realites de la Haute Couture." Realites, April 1958, 55-62.

Buxbaum, Gerda, ed. Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century. New York: Prestel.
Martin, Richard (1997). The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia. US: Visible Ink Press.