Monday, August 7, 2017

Metro Retro Vintage Finds a New Home

After more than two decades of selling vintage jewelry and fashion online, I decided to open an independent Metro Retro Vintage website.  Or rather, re-open the site after all of these years, since so much has changed since the early "wild west" days of the Internet.

I plan to continue selling on Etsy and even on occasion, on eBay, however, it is freeing to have a central location for all of the jewelry, clothing, and accessories to call "home".   Won't you stop by and let me know what you think?

It is still a work in progress, but like all good homes, I'll continue to build it one virtual brick at a time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Artistry of the Japanese Kimono

A series of antique kimonos and traditional Japanese garb were on exhibit from September of last year through January 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s, “Kimono: A Modern History”.

Included among the many clothing displays, were items from Western and contemporary designers who drew their inspiration from Japanese culture, as well as examples of Western influence on Japanese fashion.

Here are some featured displays from the exhibit.

(L) “The Rice Bowl Dress” by Carolyn Schnurer, from her Flight to Japan collection, 1952.  Emphasize is placed on a reversed Kimono neckline, and a pleated skirt inspired by Japanese oilcloth parasols.
(R) Persimmon colored shirt with spiraling sleeves by Issey Miyake, 1991.

(L) Meisen Kimono with geometric pattern, circa 1920, reflects Dutch De Stijl influence.
(R) Unlined Meisen Summer Kimono, 2nd half of the 20th century, features gold and silver design with “cracked ice” pattern.

(L) Woman’s Evening Coat by Jean-Charles Worth, 1910-1920, features a coral silk velvet evening or opera coat with cascading folds falling in an asymmetric Kimono-like style.
(R) Japanese Women cloaked in American and Japanese flags, circa 1900.

Kimono-shaped Coverlet (Yogi) with Lobster & Crest, Meiji period, mid-19th century, features Tsutsugaki textile of resist-dyed cotton, with lobster motif as a symbol of longevity.

(L) Edo (1615-1868) and Meiji (1868-1912) period Obi textiles.
(R) Portable smoking set of pipe and case, Edo period; Lacquer hair pin with flowers, Meiji period.

Child’s winter Kimono with Mickey Mouse motif, Showa Period, mid-20th century, reflects imported popular cultural references in twentieth-century Japan.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dressing for the Dearly Departed

A large salon decked with mourning garments, jewelry, and accoutrements of the 19th century filled the exhibit hall featuring “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The entrance to the exhibit features a painted weeping willow, which represents mourning.

In an interesting juxtaposition of “mourning as fashion”, the exhibit explores the custom during the 1800’s and early 1900’s of elaborate funerary dress governed by the strict grieving etiquette of the upper class, primarily in England and the United States.

(L) American or European tail coat of black wool broadcloth circa 1830, and child’s silk mourning dress of black silk crepe circa 1830; (R) American mourning wear of black silk crepe, taffeta, and straw circa 1845.

Although social conventions of the time required black clothing as acceptable mourning wear, many of the fashions on display were far from somber, exhibiting fanciful beadwork, fine lace, lush velvets, brocades, and other elaborate accessories worn by the well to do -- including hats trimmed with large ornamental feathers or an entire perched bird, finely embroidered gloves and silk fans, and black lacy parasols with fringed tassels.

Charlotte Duclos Mourning Dress, 1910-12 (left-center).  Black silk chiffon, charmeuse and tulle, trimmed in jet and glass beads.  A close-up reveals its fine embroidered beadwork.

(L) American wedding ensemble of half-mourning, 1868.  Gray silk wool and black silk faille, worn by Amelia Gray Carey in West Virginia, in honor of fallen soldiers during the Civil War. (R) James McCreery & Company half-mourning dress circa 1894-96. Purple wool twill, with purple, black and white velvet, silk satin and faille, and gold metallic thread.

Among the royals, there were several opulent ball gowns of “half-mourning” – including a pale mauve silk tulle evening gown by couturier Henrique Favre.  Layered with shimmery metallic sequins and deeply scooped d├ęcolletage, the court dress was worn by Queen Alexandra in 1902, a year after Queen Victoria’s death.

Opulent purple and lavender dresses of half-mourning worn at court.  The lavender gown was worn by Queen Alexandra, a year after Queen Victoria’s death.

In a small side room, several examples of memento mori jewelry were on display including a heavy necklace of black Whitby jet chain links suspended with carved pendants, small lockets which held a strand of hair or colorfully painted miniature of a departed loved one, enameled rings engraved with a weeping willow, tomb stone, or other symbols of grief, and other sentimental keepsakes that could be worn or carried.

(L) Gold mourning locket with pearls and plaited hair; (C) Jet and gold link necklace with cameo and seed pearls; (R) Hairwork bracelet with portrait of Lady Susan Murray, 1826.

The exhibit only runs through February 1, 2015, however, if you’re unable to visit, the museum is digitizing several outfits from the collection and making them available for online viewing.

If you’re in town and want to see how Victorians once “lived”, check out this interesting exhibit.