You may have noticed that a few new (and very awesome!) photos appeared on our site recently - these are the results of our photoshoot with Perry Jonsson Photo and a crack team who really made my rambled thoughts come to life. Having worked in a bank as an HR Manager for the 2 1/2 years proceeding starting up Carnivàle, I didn't exactly have much exposure (ba dum tish) to photoshoots, not exactly the norm in the exciting and fascinating world of HR... But I was in good hands with a great team comprising of Perry on photography, Amy on make-up, Drew on lighting and fabulous models Elizabeth and Jack. Elizabeth even did her own vintage hairstyling.
The brief I'd given to the team was to capture the romanticism of vintage - we took liberties with the styling to bring in a little contemporary edge by mixing up eras. My original thoughts were based on the feeling in this 90s commercial which has stuck with me since childhood, yes I am very old and clearly more than a little sappy too! As I like to give everyone a good challenge, I wanted an outside shoot in the dark and in January, which in Scotland would be lovely for my poor models. They all rallied to the challenge and we were blessed with a very mild January night, although I'm sure Elizabeth didn't feel this when dressed in a 60s summer mini dress!
For me the main reason I wanted to use the theme of romanticism for the images in that lovely floaty froufrou pink dress under the castle is twofold, firstly my love of the historic city of Edinburgh is obvious, this city oozes history from every corner and has been my home for 17 years. What more iconic image of the city is there than Edinburgh castle? Deeper than that however, I think part of the reason many people are drawn to vintage clothing (well vintage and antique anything actually), as well as the quality and environmental benefits of re-using, is that we romanticize a link to the past. We wonder who wore these garments, how they felt in them and what they meant to them. If there's one thing I have learnt in dealing vintage clothing, it's that we attach a lot of meaning and memories to clothing. I can't tell you the number of times I have been chosen to buy items from people, because they know I will cherish them in the same way they have for so many years. They seem to know I'm a safe custodian of the dress their mum made for them and which they have kept safe for so long. I promise to find that dress a good new home where it will be cherished by the owner. Fast fashion this is not; few people buy vintage clothing without some idea as to the history of the garment, and it has a little bit more respect over high street clothing because of that history.
One of the best examples I can give of others feeling the same way is a long remembered instagram post where the new owner on receiving vintage wedding shoes from the 1940s with the date and significance written on the soles, commented "This is what I live for". I actually originally mistakenly wrote souls there rather than soles; that really was a Freudian slip - there's something very soulful about vintage clothing.
I thought I would start off this year (and this blog) with a recap of the new galleries which opened summer 2016 at the National Museum of Scotland on Chamber Street, not all that far away from our shop. For the first time since I lived in Melbourne, Australia, it was wonderful to be able to see in person and locally a beautifully curated museum show on fashion history. I was rather spoilt in Melbourne that V&A shows such as Hollywood Costumes appeared regularly as well as features such as on the work of Edward Steichen (perhaps most famous for the photo of Gloria Swanson with lace over her face) which also showed a huge variety of 1920s & 1930s clothing. It is wonderful to see Edinburgh catching up with a focus on the history of clothing. Something I feel which has not had the attention it deserves; after all, clothing both reflects and influences the social mores and social change of its time. Do you think of the 1960s without thinking of the mini-skirt? Or how about WWII rationing and Dior's 1947 New Look response to it after the end of the war? Clothing is very much woven into our social history.
It is therefore with much anticipation that I had been awaiting the opening of these new galleries and I'm pleased to say I was not disappointed. The galleries cover a wide range of history from 18th century court dresses such as the one below right up to the current day and use of innovative new materials.
What do you think of these amazing novelty print blouse and headscarf by Bianca Mosca for Jacqmar? They look so contemporary don't they? But they actually date from 1942 and depict wartime slogans in Britain, printed on rayon which was one of the first man-made fibres, designed as a substitute for silk and made from cellulose derived from wood pulp.
But my favourite pieces?
Well I will revert to type and those are the glamorous couture pieces of the late 1940s into the 1950s - heavily influenced by Dior's New Look of 1947.
On the left is 1950s silk dress by Ceil Chapman and on the right a 1948 silk satin and sequin gown by Jacques Fath.
Chapman was an American fashion designer based in New York who dressed Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Despite these credentials, her dresses were mass produced and are therefore still relatively accessible for vintage fans (for a price!)
Fath was a French fashion designer, who along with Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, was credited with the resurgence of haute couture following WWII. Unfortunately, Fath's fashion house closed in 1957 following his early death in 1954 from leukaemia and is generally less well known these days which is really criminal!
To have such dresses so readily accessible to view and admire is such a treat and I would urge you to visit the galleries and support the work of the museum. I've focused on the older pieces but which were your favourites?