Pharrell Williams in Vintage Vivienne Westwood Hat at the Grammys

Pharrell’s hat at last night’s Grammys got lots of laughs in a parody Twitter account that went viral. But few knew that the hat was designed by Vivienne Westwood in 1982, and has become an iconic piece of fashion history.56th GRAMMY Awards - Red Carpet

The hat was originally made for Westwood’s “Nostalgia of Mud” collection from 1982/ 1983, also called the “Buffalo” collection, and was sold at Westwood and McLaren’s store, World’s End. The hat itself has several names — including the “Buffalo Hat” and the “Mountain Hat.” According to Westwood, Pharrell purchased the hat himself a few years ago from World’s End, where it is still sold, for £95.

The hat famously appeared in Malcolm McLaren and the World’s Famous Supreme Team’s  music video for their 1982 early hip-hop classic “Buffalo Girls.” The traditional American popular song, written in 1844 and called “Buffalo Gals,” was originally performed by blackface minstrel singer John “Cool White” Hodges. McLaren’s version was sampled on Neneh Cherry’s 1988 hit, “Buffalo Stance.”

You can watch the music video here:

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Vintage at the Golden Globes – Go Brits!

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Emma Thompson in vintage Lanvin and her daughter Gaia in vintage Laura Ashley.

Fans of vintage know that across the pond, vintage is hotter than ever, on trend for both its green attributes (Europe is far more concerned about our environment than the US is) as much as for its timeless style. So we’re not surprised that our beloved Brits were flaunting vintage at the Golden Globes. Kudos to Sally and Emma…and how awesome that Emma’s 14-year-old daughter Gaia wore vintage, too!

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The amazing Sally Hawkins in vintage Dior.

Highlighting two vintage looks that have gotten a lot of attention, below, I’d like to offer my quick opinions. I think Zooey Deschanel’s vintage look has trapped her…she doesn’t look “cute” anymore, just stale. And although Joanna Newsom has already landed on all the worst-dressed lists for her frilly, vintage-inspired (is it true vintage?) frock, I thought the dress was a huge risk…that worked!…and she was glowing. Cheers, to taking chances and being different!

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Joanna Newsom and Andy Samberg.

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Zooey Deschanel in (not vintage but may as well have been) Oscar de la Renta.

Posted in "vintage is green", best dressed, Golden Globes, Golden Globes Best Dressed, Uncategorized, vintage chanel, vintage clothing, vintage dior, Vintage Golden Globes, vintage valentino, worst dressed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vintage at the Emmy Awards

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Anna Chlumsky in vintage Versace

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Elizabeth Moss in Andrew Gn

With the intense competition amongst designers to dress celebrities for award events, it’s not surprising that the stars, who are given dresses worth thousands of dollars, are wearing vintage gowns far less often than they used to. But with so much buzz about “green” clothing, why aren’t more celebrities taking a stance and wearing vintage, like Anna Chlumsky (who looked glamorous, edgy and unique) did last night? We think it has something to do with the Emmy Awards in particular, which let’s face it, is not the most sophisticated gathering. Regardless, we love that so many celebrities chose vintage jewelry, and many chose vintage “looks,” like Elizabeth Moss, stunning in her Andrew Gn dress.

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Back To School

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The subway entrance to Bloomies.

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My mom in one of her designer outfits made from Jerry Brown fabrics, circa 1977.

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Pat Field on 8th Street.

My favorite time of year has always been Fall: the crisp, dry air, the bittersweet goodbye to summer, and the promise of wooly knits, leather boots, cashmere and my favorite Fall accessory, big chunky scarves. And yes, the leaves are pretty and all that, but there’s no place better to spend the season than New York City, which is where I grew up. Catching glimpses of fashionable women who got a jump on Fall fashions was always exciting and shaped my thoughts about what I was going to purchase for “back to school.” But there was no bigger influence on me than the August issue of Seventeen Magazine, which I pored over, deciding which items were absolutely necessary (a fair isle sweater?) to purchase in order to transform last year’s wardrobe.

My mom would always take me to Bloomingdales, or as we, insiders, called it, “Bloomies.” We would take the subway in from Queens and exit the 59th Street 6 station directly into the basement, which gave me the impression that we had a private entrance to the famed department store. The weather was still warm, so getting hit with the cool air and generic scent of 1000 different perfumes (that somehow always smelled, and still smells, exactly the same) was always a thrill. We’d pass Forty Carrots, the ground breaking frozen yogurt and health food restaurant that has now moved to the 7th floor, take the escalator up to the main floor, where no matter the time of day there was extreme cacophony, and finally, end up at the Young East Sider (Y.E.S.)  department, which catered to juniors and because of its name, made me feel like a real “Manhattanite.”

I was never disappointed with the selection. Although it felt odd to be trying on sweaters in late August, I loved that I’d be prepared when the weather got cooler. After our haul, we’d go back down to Forty Carrots and I’d enjoy my newest obsession, strawberry frozen yogurt smothered in fresh strawberries. Leaving the store with my iconic “Big Brown Bag” in hand made me feel richer than a queen.

Depending on the era, we’d also go to Olaf (late 70s), the clog store, or Capezio (early 80s) for new white lace-up dance shoes that I destroyed quickly (and had to replace frequently) by wearing them out on the street. The final stop was always Jerry Brown fabrics on 57th Street. My mom made all her own clothes because she coveted the trendy designer styles, but didn’t like the quality or the high prices.  The musty-wool smell of the store is etched in my memory, and it’s one of those New York institutions that I miss dearly. Although I’d get bored waiting for her to choose her fabrics for the season, and go off into a corner to read my book, I always enjoyed seeing Jerry and Lou, and was proud that they treated my mom like a celebrity.

ImageIn high school, I did my Fall shopping with friends, mom’s credit card in hand, but we still went to Bloomies (with a detour to Fiorucci, which was across the street.)  But the summer before my freshman year at NYU stands out, as I went to the Village alone (my high school friends had all left for college in Boston) to check out the dorm I’d be living in, Weinstein, and explore the shops that would shape my wardrobe for years to come: Antique Boutique, Patricia Field, Flip, Capezio, Reminiscence, Canal Jean Company, Trash and Vaudeville, Urban Outfitters (the first NY store, on 8th Street) and all the thrift shops in the East Village that I came to adore. I remember exactly what I bought that summer of 1983: black suede (my friends called them “punky”) ankle boots, an oversized purple angora sweater, an army surplus bag and an antique volume of Shakespeare’s works ($35, a huge impulse buy for me.) I still have the book, but alas, not the clothes.

Posted in "vintage is green", 1970s, 1980s, antique boutique, back to school, big brown bag, bloomies, bloomingdales, canal jean company, capezio, east village, fall fashions, fiorucci, flip, forty carrots, jerry brown, jerry brown fabrics, nyu, olaf clogs, patricia field, penelope casas, reminiscence, seventeen magazine, summer 1983, Thrift Shops, trash and vaudeville, Uncategorized, urban outfitters, vintage clothing, weinstein dorm, young east sider | 1 Comment

Who Wore Vintage to the Met’s “Punk: Chaos to Couture” Opening Gala?

I look forward to seeing the Met’s “Punk” exhibit, but the excess at the gala seemed positively distasteful. It didn’t help that Beyoncé was the chair of the event. I don’t know what was worse…the celebs that were completely oblivious to the historic aspect of the exhibit and wore couture gowns and Cartier jewels or the ones that tried to “dress punk.” Regardless, the Olsen twins didn’t disappoint, wearing vintage (Mary-Kate in Chanel, Ashley in Dior) in a slightly defiant gesture. Amanda Seyfried looked gorgeous in vintage Givenchy. Ann Hathaway sported a vintage (well, 1992) Valentino gown and Lily Collins threw a vintage Moschino leather jacket over her dress.
PS-If I were invited this is what I would have worn: TRASH COUTURE GOWN

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Posted in "vintage is green", amanda seyfried, event, fashion, met gala, olsen twins, punk, red carpet, vintage chanel, vintage clothing, vintage dior | Leave a comment

Best and Worst Dressed at the Oscars

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Sally Field, ageless AND age-appropriate in Valentino.

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Halle Berry, risk-taking perfection in Versace.

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Nicole Kidman shows the younger generation how to do glamour right in her Balenciaga gown.

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Jennifer Aniston couldn’t go wrong in this stunning red Valentino gown. This is what I would wear at the Oscars: something glamorous and appropriate yet comfortable and simple, so she gets my best-dressed award.

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Charlize, you’re just hot, and you’d look great in anything, but this Christian Dior gown was a fabulous choice.

Disappointingly, no major celebrities wore vintage at the Oscars Sunday night; it must be too seductive having designers like Valentino and Oscar de la Renta offering you free couture gowns. In lieu of my annual “Vintage at the Oscars” post, here are my picks for best and worst dressed:

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Kristen Stewart was a hot mess, and so was her ill-fitting Reem Acra gown.

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An attempt at glamour gone terribly wrong: Catherine Zeta-Jones in Zuhair Murad.

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The color, the wrinkles…and don’t even get me started on the darts on this Prada dress that made Anne Hathaway’s nipples look like they were going to attack someone. Worst-dressed!

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Jennifer Garner’s Gucci gown did nothing for her body: her boobs were non-existent and her stomach stuck out.

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Sunrise Coigney looked inappropriate and just plain bad in this Zero + Maria Cornejo dress.

Posted in "vintage is green", 2013, academy awards, best dressed, oscars, vintage clothing, vintage oscars, worst dressed | Leave a comment

Sophie of Saks

“A woman and her waistline should never be separated.” – Sophie Gimbel

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The Parsons Show, featuring a portrait of Sophie to the left.

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Sophie and Adam Gimbel

“Sophie of Saks” (Sophie Gimbel) was the head designer for the Salon Moderne for forty years. An incredibly talented designer and astute businesswoman, many thought of her as the quintessential American designer, but today many are unaware of her popularity. Always an admirer of her designs, I was happy to hear that the Parsons School of Design and Saks Fifth Avenue have collaborated on an excellent show featuring her dresses.1101470915_400

Sophie was born in Houston and her design aesthetic was purely and proudly American. She was hired by Adam Gimbel, the owner of Saks, in 1929, married him in 1931 and stayed on as head designer there for forty years. Although she enjoyed using exotic materials like Indian sari fabric, she was a bit of a workaholic (churning out over 500 designs per year) and ironically didn’t travel much. But she had such good instincts and was so successful that Time Magazine featured her on their cover in 1947. She is also credited with the invention of “culottes.”

I owned a Sophie of Saks many years ago, a stunning green strapless gown from the 1950s worthy of being in this show. At the time I knew little about her designs, but I knew the workmanship was exquisite and the fabric incredibly luxurious. I don’t regret selling it, but I do hope the customer who bought it is appreciative of what they have.

For more information and to see many of her designs online, see http://fashion.parsons.edu/sophie/

Posted in "vintage is green", adam gimbel, elisa casas, parsons school of design, saks fifth avenue, sophie gimbel, sophie of saks, vintage clothing | Leave a comment