This is a book I bought myself for Christmas. It covers fashion history from the 18th century to the 20th century, with glossy photographs of the collection held by the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan. The book has been out for a while, but oh my, if you don’t own it yet, go out and buy it immediately! So much inspiration for any swing fashionista, the kind of clothes that are so beautiful it makes my chest ache. The Poiret, the Schiaparelli, the Chanel, oh god the Vionnet! The Vionnet, people! Now I want desperately to visit the Kyoto Costume Institute. A holiday to Japan anyone?
Seriously folks, this book is sheer fashion heaven. It is definitely now one of the favourites in my collection. You can buy it here on Amazon. Enjoy!
So I was procrastinating a few days ago, browsing vintage dresses on eBay with no intention of buying (no seriously, I went on a November shopping spree, so no more this year!). And I got to thinking about the photographs of vintage clothing for sale online. What a resource! When somebody sells a vintage dress online, they photograph the dress from all angles, with closeups of details and embellishments – they show more detail in those photos than most costume museum archives! It’s an amazing historic record. Plus, so many of these dresses are one of a kind, or at least, the last of their kind.
But the photos are online only as long as the item is for sale, and given that it’s changing hands to a new owner, it may never be seen again! Once the listing is deleted, that photographic record is lost to us! Sitting there, I had a terrible panic that we were losing a valuable resource, oh my word! And proceeded to nab as many photos of the 1920-1940s dresses listed as I could. So yeah, an hour later…
Anyway, what do you think? I’ve always liked to post the lovely vintage things I see on eBay and Etsy, here on SwingFashionista. That way, even if none of us get to buy them, we can still enjoy the pictures, get inspired by the style, and maybe even use them as a reference for making our own. And well after the original listing is gone and the item has headed on to its new owner. But now I feel like I’m on a mission!
What are your thoughts? Want to join my mission? Do you have that same photo-saving habit I do? Do you have a folder on your desktop, filled with photos of pretty things from the glorious internet? So why not start your own blog? Or send them to me and I’ll always post any gathered photos of original 1920s – 1950s fashions here on SwingFashionista. Drop a comment if you have a thought!
Oh yeah, and to satisfy, here are some of those photos 😉
If you’re in New York before the middle of August, you absolutely MUST go see the “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan. Here is a preview of the exhibit that focuses on archetypes of American fashion, including “Gibson Girls” and “Screen Sirens”.
Jesse Franklin Turner gold lamÃ© dress, 1933
Etta Hentz Grecian style evening gown, 1944
Charles James silk and metallic gown, 1936
Nellie Harrington sweater and pleated skirt, 1928
Silk and rhinestone evening gown, c. 1909-11
“American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 5, 2010 – August 15, 2010.
All images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Collection.