Monday, 10 December 2012

Magnificent Obsession

Who saw the fabulous article in the Melbourne "Age" newspaper "Good Weekend" liftout on Saturday? (8-12-12) Entitled "Magnificent Obsession, it profiled five Melbourne men and women who are passionate about vintage fashion.

I just love this knitted dress with it's patterned yoke
and waist. The skirt is knitted in 8 panels. I'm going to make
it for next winter,  and I'm going on a diet to wear it.
 Candice De Ville is obsessed with the 30s and 40s glamour era and the Golden Years of Hollywood. She describes being an unusual teenager, seen by her peers as "the weird kid who wore dead people's clothes".
She has rooms full of vintage gowns and says when she first brings them home, she puts them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer for 6 months to kill any bugs. I thought, that's a great idea, if you've got a big freezer. Half a dozen pairs of gloves and a tub of ice-cream will just about fill mine.

Nicole Jenkins runs Melbourne vintage  shop Circa Vintage. She describes herself as "a forensic seamstress". "I like to look at old clothes and uncover the layers. They tell you so much about the women who wore them and the lives they led". I've just checked out her blog, which looks great. And how nostalgic am I reading about the "House of Merivale and Mr John", the first fashion house in Melbourne, and the highlight of many of my trips to Melbourne as a teenager in the 70s.

Other fashionistas featured included fashion-parade director and compere, Christopher Horne, who scored hundred of pieces dating from the 1880's from an individual seller.

I just did a Google image search for 1920s
beaded flapper dresses. Drool!! Who can choose?
Also, Inger Sheil, whose passion is 1920s beaded dresses. She doesn't mind buying "glorious ruins", items in need of much TLC and repair. This made me remember my late aunt, who had 2 beaded dresses from the 20s which she offered to donate to the National Gallery of Victoria back in the 1980s. I so wish I had got to see those dresses before she passed them on. In the end, the gallery said they didn't have the space for them in their collection at the premises in St Kilda road, so she sold them to a private dealer. In those days I had no money, alas. I wish I'd got an inheritance!    

Emma Peel is a DJ on Melbourne's PBS-FM, among other venues, and her era is very specific, 1968-1971. She loves dresses with big bell sleeves...well, who doesn't? And as she says, the benefit of following her era is that "polyester lives on and on...The only thing you don't want to do is get near an open flame."

Janis Joplin eat your heart out.

So, I'm not alone after all. Reading about the prices that items sell for was a bit scary though. I suppose wherever there is a demand, the prices will go up and up.

I think I identify with Nicole Jenkins the most when she talks about getting to know the women of the past from studying their clothes. This is one of the things I love most about vintage clothing. Just studying how the garments were made can tell you so much about women and their lifestyle. It's a bit of escapism, akin to watching a movie or reading a book. There's also something I love about nurturing something that's precious, and caring for it tenderly, but not locking it away in a sterile museum environment, instead wearing it and giving life to it. I would not want to wear just vintage all the time, but a vintage theme with wonderful items worn with a modern twist is fabulous, I think.

"Magnificent Obsession", by Lee Tulloch; "Good Weekend" magazine liftout; The Age; Saturday 8th December, 2012.

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