Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments hosts a lovely giveaway with really beautiful things to win.
All she asks for is writing a post about my 10 personal vintage inspirations. Where do I draw my inspiration for vintage clothing or living from.
So, dear Joanna, this is my list (and in case you wonder: I have none of the accounts asked to comment on your posts, so I can’t write into the comment form, but be sure, I love reading your blog!)
I love flipping through magazines of the time. Not especially fashion magazines, what I love is to capture the feeling of a certain period, so I love to read good old gossip or an article on education or budgeting as well.
(clockwise from top left: Formes et Couleurs 1944, Almanach du Foyer 1924, Der Silberstreifen 1948, Die Frau 1956, Life international 1961, Paris Match 1963, Marie Claire 1941, Ciné-Miroir 1938+1939)
First of all, I love, I adore Bette Davis, don’t ask why. It’s like falling in love with someone, I can’t give you a reason. So she is a constant inspiration for me. But I love films from the 1920ies to 1960ies in general and watch them whenever I happen to catch one on television. Besides this and a growing DVD collection, Youtube is my best friend, happily so many films are free to watch today.
3 books on fashion history
Though they often use materials I can’t afford and are made with a level of perfection I will never manage to achieve, I love looking at preserved designer’s dresses from earlier decades. It doesn’t make me want to recreate the actual dresses, but they give me inspiration, on what to draw attention to, on what to concentrate, how to treat a special cut or fabric. And of course, it is a glamorous world I have never been part of, it’s simply lovely to see.
(clockwise from top left: Fashion. Eine Modegeschichte vom 18. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert, Kyoto Costume Institute (pub.), Köln 2006; O. Saillard and A. Zazzo: Paris Haute Couture: Paris 2012; C. Fiell and E. Dirix: La mode des Années 1930 en images, Paris 2012; Kleider machen Leute, Bürgerliche Moden des 19. Jahrhunderts, Rheinisches Industriemuseum (pub., exhibition catalogue); H. Worsley: Très tendance. La mode de 1900 à nos jours, Potsdam 2011; J. Stockar: Zürich. Mode durch die Jahrhunderte, Zürich 1974; T. Tolkien: Schick & Schrill. Klassiker der Designermode, Hamburg 2002; Anziehungspunkt. 125 Jahre Deutsches Textilmuseum (exhibition Catalogue), Krefeld 2005; E. Thiel: Geschichte des Kostüms. Die europäische Mode von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin 2004; Hommage aux donateurs. Modes françaises du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours; Ville de Paris Musée de la mode et du costume (pub., exhibition catalogue), Paris 1980; L. Johnston: Nineteenth-century fashion in detail, London 2009)
4 actual originals
Here again, as with the magazines: These don’t need to be actual garments. A beautiful embroidery on a handkerchief bought at a flea market, a pair of gloves with a lovely detail, a brooch, an embroidered box, everything that somehow catches the spirit of a certain epoche or makes this very object something special and unique (though of course it often isn’t, but please, let me stay in this world of make-believe).
(My vanity table: 1950ies vanity set with rococo-scenes printed on silk in its original box, handkerchiefs from 50ies to 70ies, 30ies lace collar, 30ies silk-covered box with embroidery, 40ies tin can, 50ies glove box, art deco-brooch, 30ies (?maybe earlier) spectacle case, 70ies make-up neccessaire)
Knowing the cut and shapes that were fashionable in a certain decade, I love reading books that were written some decades ago. Mostly, the description of garments is not very detailed, but, knowing when a book was first published, I love to “dress” the charakters in my imagination, make them fit into their time, have them wear something scandalous or rather old fashioned. So I draw the inspiration from a book, but imagine the actual design myself.
This seems to be kind of a trend at the moment. Last week I even found a Mid-Century-Ad-Calendar for 2014. But knowing how shiny and glamorous, sometimes really ridiculous advertising is today, one can easily imagine that this didn’t change much the last 100 years. And still I love being seduced by those full-bodied promises and imagine what I would have chosen to buy.
(same as in 1)
I would like to include three types of postcards in here: First, antique ones. A lovely source not only for images. I love reading words of love or of friendship that have been written decades ago.
The second type are reproduction postcards. They are cheap, easy to find and show lovely images of whatever period you want.
And last, museum postcards, showing certain dresses, details or fabrics of the museum’s collection. As with the reprinted cards, they are comparably cheap, easy to store and give you the possibility to have a closer look at rare originals without buying loads of books or ruining yourself buying antique dresses in great numbers (ha, as if I could afford that, really, who could?).
(some antique postcards I own)
Most of the decades of the first half of the 20th century are connected to a special kind of music or dancing. Thinking of the 20ies, many people tend to think of dancing flappers, same applies to the 50ies, where images of whirling petticoats on the dancefloor begin to come to one’s mind. At the same time, music can make us feel as if we were in another place, can make us forget our environment. I have a modern record player in the living room but, more beloved than this, a 1950ies gramophone right next to my sewing machine. I love listening to my 78RPM-records while sewing something historical on my 1948 Singer machine and the images that come to my mind at those times may form the basement of a future project of mine.
(from fore- to background: Early 20th century pin-cushion table, 1950ies Thorens gramophone , 1948 Singer Featherweight on a mid-century Gritzner with table, my current sewing-project, mid-century sewing-table, 1960ies desk lamp)
Same as with postcards, photos are easy to find on flea markets and the like and are comparably cheap, especially when they are in a bad condition. But stains or a tear don’t ruin the photo, as long as I can see what is pictured, it is fine to me. And additionally, I love to see that those things had a live much more than finding them in mint condition.
(clockwise from top left: 1930ies photo album, mid-century photos, early 20th century photos, 1960ies photos of my relatives)
10 my job
Being an art historian with special qualification in the history of textiles, I come in contact with antique costume and fabrics quite often. There is little more inspiring than touching a hand-sewn 18th-century robe, standing speechless in front of a 16th century embroidery, looking at a silk-brocade through a magnifying glass, catching a glimpse at the inside of a mid-century tailor-made jacket. Discovering technical finesses a tailor used 200 years ago is so special. Examining how a garment or a decoration was actually constructed gives me so many ideas on how to make my own historical or vintage garments.
I admit this is quite difficult to do when working in another kind of business. 20th century clothing can be found in some charity and antique shops. For earlier pieces try to find an antique shop who is specialized in clothing or see if a local auction house will have a textiles auction soon, sometimes they offer to see the objects some days previous to the auction. Visit museums, if you really want to research something ask if you will be allowed to see a certain object in detail, some museums (for example the V&A, but I am sure the MET and many more do have, too) have study collections for those purposes.
(detail of an early 20th century women’s blouse, Gemeindemuseum Krauchthal)
So, I would divide two main areas of inspiration for myself. First, the actual object: it gives you hints on techniques, on the impression of special materials and embellishments, actual visual starting points to create a dress, an outfit, a style. And second: catching the spirit, be it through music, through a film, long gone news or a trip to the mountains 80 years ago, captured in photos. A note on a postcard or the rusty coffee advertisement on the inside of a tin. I love to be surrounded by those things, love to dive into this feeling, imagine what I would do actually living in this certain period.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?