Friday, October 26, 2012

FASHION...Everything New is Old - ALWAYS!

Ceci in her 1940 garb

Our lovely intern Ceci Cholst was inspired by  the process our well-known (and anonymous!) fashion designer clients go through, leafing through our vintage inventory in search of inspiration for their next collections! 

great shoulder detail
Below, Ceci, in her own words, talks about the experience of helping the clients as well as picking out some of her personal favorite prints and dress details in the process. She calls her piece "One Dress, Many  Directions"

Recently, Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing welcomed two very different fashion designers (whom we shall call “A” and “B”) in search of renting some Fall 2013 inspiration. As a current intern and aspiring fashion designer, yours truly was very excited to guide these big-name designers through our massive vintage collection and watch the birth of next season’s trends happen before her very eyes! Even better was finding out that the new fall trends stem from my favorite era: the 1930s! Both wacky and serious, the 1930s offers simple, flattering silhouettes that are easy to manufacture with a wide range of clever prints and design details that would make any designer’s imagination run wild.

Ceci's dress find!
“A” came in seeking monochromatic, faded floral prints with a touch of whimsy to match the brand aesthetic. I had the distinct pleasure of helping A’s team comb through our 20s, 30s, and 40s dresses. While searching the 1930s dress rack, I happened on a beautiful salmon pink dress with a wilting daisy print. It had pintucks along the bust, typical of the mid-30s, and faux pockets trimmed with little bows. It was innocent but not saccharine, beautiful with a dash of melancholy. I found yet a few more dresses with a similar print (one wonders if it was a mini trend—a topic for another post, perhaps?), and also showed them to A.

close-up detail of shoulder
Fabulous collar and cuff details..AND  buttons!
These dresses were unlike anything A had pulled: most of the prints A’s team chose were quirky white flowers on a crowded field. The daisy dresses literally made A stop short and reconsider their previous selections. In the end, A did not take the pink dress but chose to rent instead a mint green daisy print shirtwaist dress with matching daisy buttons. I can’t help but speculate that  this dress will help A’s design team go in a totally different direction and transform their collection, or the team might edit it out once the samples return and realizes the print doesn’t fit, no matter how much they love it. Either way, it was interesting to witness the moment a designer challenges their initial vision and comes away considering totally different alternatives!

love the buttoned yoke
A few days later, “B” came in, seeking classic 1930s and 1940s dresses and suits for inspiration (think more Hollywood glamour, less Art Deco) ranging from muted pastels, browns, and blacks to rich jewel tones as part of the color story. Together, we pulled some fantastic florals, amazing deep purple suits, and even a sheer 1920s black floral chiffon gown. This designer was more color-oriented than A and also more specific in their period references, but even within those narrower parameters, it was still too difficult to choose among the hundreds of elegantly tailored dresses HUVC boasts!

Knowing that my pink daisy dress actually fit in B’s color story, I eagerly brought it out again. The dress immediately won B over: B explained that the design team preferred floral prints that were distinctly “American”: rounded flowers and lots of empty space. Ultimately B picked other pieces for an initial presentation to the team, but felt the pink dress I offered was a strong contender and wanted to come back for it later.
a wow collar!
great  30's collar and crepe combo
Where A wanted 1930s quirk, B wanted 1930s cool. It was an eye-opening experience to see how, despite one decade’s very divergent design impulses, the same dress appealed to disparate tastes. This little pink dress, more than anything, tells the story of the fall 2013 girl.