Rita de Acosta Lydig; "as Fantastic as any Character in Romantic Literature. "
Portrait of Rita de Acosta Lydig by Giovanni Boldini, 1911 (full image next to sources) After her abrupt death in 1929, Rita’s sister, Mercedes, arranged for her wardrobe, much of it anyway, to be donated to the Brooklyn Museum, where it would eventually become what we think of today as the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute.
The Tragic Life (and INCREDIBLE wardrobe) of Heather Firbank
Heather Firbank at 20, photo by Lallie Charles, circa 1908, London. “In the event of my death, I request that these envelopes (4) containing letters may be unopened and burnt by my Brother, Arthur Ronald Firbank.” – Heather FirbankThe letters survived, in all their “their blushingly private contents,” and became part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London’s costume collection, “forming the nucleus of the museum’s world-renowned collection of 20th-century dress.” Photo of Heathe
William Dorsey Swann: America's First Drag Queen
A late 19th Century photograph of a 'Drag' with the Caption: CAKE WALK. There are no known photographs of William Dorsey Swann. But these images need to be seen.William Dorsey Swann was arrested in Washington, DC in September of 1882, charged with petty larceny for stealing “party necessities like plates and silverware.” He had been hosting parties, dances, secret events mostly.
No, You're Not Crazy; Apparel Sizing Makes Zero Sense
From a sized piece of clothing, measurements can be extrapolated, but, unfortunately, the numbers used in women’s apparel today are not actually measurements, even when they sound as though they might be. If you measured the waistband or hips of a pair of size 27 jeans, there is almost a zero percent chance that the measurement is related, in any way, to the size. Surely, you might think, it would be more cost effective, never mind more logical, for standards to exist in sizing, based on measurements that any brand could easily follow.
Insider Tips: The Correct Way to Write an Era
If you write about vintage fashion in any capacity - be it blogger, hobbyist, historian or seller - you should want to use every weapon in your arsenal to make your content (what you’re writing or selling) accessible. This means being searchable in the ol’ Google or on that vintage fashion marketplace. It means writing your blogs, or creating descriptions of the clothes you sell, as accurately as possible. You have to keep in mind that while you might know what you’re talking about or trying to sell, the people you want to reach don’t.
Our Team: Rachel Elspeth Gross, Director of Fashion History
Photos of the Countess Castiglione by Pierre-Louis Pierson. Photos of me by Mika Fowler. All of my apparel/support garments, and most of my accessories were made by me. (2019)Hello Everyone, I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Rachel Elspeth Gross, I’m really happy to share that I’ve accepted the position of Director of Fashion Conservatory’s Fashion History Department.
The Magic Land of Ubilam: An Interview with Robin Brazy
Malibu, California postcard, 1970sHere at Fashion Conservatory, we can’t resist it when fashion and music collide. So, when we got the chance to have a chat with the amazing creator and designer of the original Rock & Roll Concert Tour Jackets from back in the 1970s, we couldn’t pass it up! But before we get into it, a little background...In the mid-1970s, Robin Brazy (aka Robin Voigt/Robin B. Caldwell) was a single mom with a background in fashion design living along the beach in Malibu, California.
The Dressmaker Chase: Bertha Lucas
Euclid Avenue c.1890, looking toward Public Square. Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society.One of the best things about researching vintage fashion is that every once in a while, when a label or designer is shrouded in mystery, it gives me a chance to slip on my gumshoes and follow some clues. The fashion world is full of stories - large and small - but there’s nothing quite like digging a little deeper into the story of a dressmaker that didn’t really make a big splash in the fashion pond.
Harford Frocks AdvertisementIn the world of fashion, good ideas travel fast, and when ready-to-wear fashion and bored housewives combined with businesses willing to adapt their selling styles, it became a recipe for success. Fashion Frocks (and its division Harford Frocks) was one of the companies in the early decades of the twentieth century who springboarded off the idea of using women who buy a product to sell the same product to other women of their acquaintance.
Nelly Don's Unexpected Legacy
A Nelly Don Dress ShopWhen Ellen “Nell” Quinlan - the woman behind the creations of the Handy Dandy Apron and subsequent Nelly Don fashion empire - married Paul Frances Donnelly in June of 1906 in Parsons, Kansas, the young couple had no idea what kind of drama awaited them. But let me just say...it was definitely the kind of drama you’d scoff about as “simply too much to be believed” if you had watched it on TV!Nell Donnelly ReedWe’ll start out with Nell, who had the archetypally famous rags-to-riches sort of life.