Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brava, Anna and Meera!

      All kinds of good things have happened for us at the Vintage Tulsa Show; we've had a lot of laughs, learned a lot, and met lots of interesting people, vendors and customers alike.  Two very special girls came to our booth last spring.... 
      I had just finished showing a piece of jewelry when Nola called my name.  I turned to see two young ladies impeccably dressed and  perfect 1940's style!  I'm sure my jaw dropped! 
      Since we had so many vintage items for them to see, they had come into our booth to browse.  Their names?  Anna and Meera.  They are sisters.  They are unique,,,,

     Their great love, their passion, is the look of the '40's and they have honed it to perfection.  Blessed with striking dark hair and eyes, they have practiced the 40's makeup until it looks totally natural on them.  They have read and studied, shopped and hunted until they have found so many actual pieces of that era's clothing and accessories they can put together a total look.  They detail their look perfectly...even down to seamed hose!
      They are also comfortable in the styles of the 30's and 50's...I suspect they could perfect any decade they delved into!  The nicest part is that they enjoy doing this because they love it and are totally unspoiled by all the attention they get.  (By the way, their mother is equally charming, and enjoys their outfits almost as much as they do!)
       It became something to look forward to at each see what their latest finds were.  Our surprise at the June show was to see them modeling two dresses they had gotten from us! 

      Early last fall I had one of my better ideas.  I had a large group of vintage pieces that I needed to photograph and somehow, after seeing the great looks the girls could give the vintage clothing, my mannequins had lost all their appeal.   I called their mother Karen and asked if she thought the girls would enjoy wearing some of the dresses.  I needed to get pictures of some of the great 50's formals I had and it just seemed that they would show better if worn.  It was "yesses" all round and we were on our way!
      The Tulsa Historical Society has beautiful grounds; they are very accomodating in allowing people to use their gardens for photos.  We arrived with armloads of clothes and accessories, ready for action.   I don't know who had more fun...the girls deciding who would wear what and how to accessorize, or me, just enjoying!
      They each have an inate sense of how to wear a dress...the poses were always natural, never contrived.  Some of the shots that I added when I listed each item in our eCrater store were "fun" can almost hear a giggle in the picture!

     They are in their mid-teens, are home-schooled, diligent with both their studies and the amount of reading and research they do on their interests.  I've found that they ask questions and sincerely want to know about everything...whether it's vintage fashion or current events.  It is so refreshing to find young people who have a sense of inner balance, a sense of who they are, and remain unspoiled
     They don't try to be trendy...they simply set their own trends.  They don't worry about the latest fashions...they make their own!   They are still simply two sisters who enjoy being themselves.

     A couple of weeks ago Karen let me know that there was going to be a story on the girls in the Tulsa World.  Jason Ashley Wright would interview and write it...great!..the perfect person!  This past week it appeared in the Tuesday edition of the paper:  (If that doesn't work, go to the Tulsa World online and look in the February 22nd edition for the Scene section).   Jason created a delightful article and the girls were glamorous as always.
       It's going to be so interesting watching them grow...there is certainly a special future in store for them.  For the time being, I suspect they have smiled and giggled a bit over their great story, cut out copies for their scrapbooks, and gone back to planning the details of their next outfits.
      For those of us who love them and enjoy watching them blossom, we'll share the article and say "Brava! Anna and Meera!  Go for it!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Ballad of the Beaded Bodice

      Don't you love Antiques Roadshow?  We dream along with the people who want to know if a piece found in the attic or at an estate sale turns out to be a treasure.  Sometimes finding out what something was used for or the history of the item is the most fascinating part.  So it was with the beaded bodice.
     A fellow was sent to our booth at the Vintage Tulsa Show by a mutual friend; he had something he thought might appeal to a vintage clothing nut.  Well....

     When he took the piece out of a plastic folder he handled it most carefully; he said it had come from an older lady whose grandfather was a clothing manufacturer in Brooklyn in the late 1800's.  She had kept this piece in a drawer for years until he had purchased it recently.  He said it was called a beaded bodice and dated from around the 1890's, said that it was worn either as a weskit or under a blouse.  That wasn't making a lot of sense....


     The lower part of the piece was done in white silk, buttoning down the front, elastic at the waist.  The top was done totally in glass beads with a colored motif on the front and back.  Ribbon was laced through the top edges, tying in the front and at the shoulders.  Beading was even used to attach the top to the silk midriff.  His asking price was a bit steep, but Nola kept nodding her head at me over his shoulder so we finally came to terms.

     My main concern was the motifs.  Being a native Oklahoman I equated the motifs with Native American designs and simply couldn't put the idea together!  You can imagine what my husband's reaction was when I showed him what I had bought at VTS...instead of what we had sold!
     When Nola and I talked some more, we decided to "try the piece out" on some experts whom she knows in Arkansas.  The first person to see it took one look and said "late 1800's" although he, and others, didn't have a clue as to what it was.   We agreed that the style of the bodice and the 1890's styles didn't seem to mesh..this was the era of the Gibson Girl, the pouter pidgeon look as it were. 

     We couldn't visualize it being worn as a weskit; since the typical woman of the era was extremely modest, we couldn't see it being worn underneath as a "see-through" item.  It seemed to be styled to be worn over the corset of the era...and that took us into the realm of "maybe!"

     Maybe this piece was worn by a saloon or dance hall girl!  Maybe this piece might even have been made for (oh, my gosh!) one of the seductive types in a (!!) bordello!  That gave rise to a whole new train of thought!  That might even explain the colors and style of the motif beadwork, an influence from the old West?  No answers, but the story was definitely becoming more exciting!
     At the next VTS show they offered an appraisal fair.  This piece stumped every one of their experts; no one could give us anything definitive although they loved trying to figure it out!

     The happy ending for this lovely unknown came at the same show.  We had it displayed in our booth; a delightful woman fell in love with it.  It is now in her care and keeping and we're thrilled it's in the hands of someone we know will cherish it.  Someday...maybe we'll find the right person who can give us the right story.  In the meantime we still like our theory.
     Now that's provenance!