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Spotlight: Native American Jewelry

A common thread in the vintage community is that we’re drawn to the garments because they tell a story: the silhouette, fabric, print, and embellishments are indicative of how people lived before us. Vintage clothing tells us about the ebb and flow of culture and politics, and how people desired to express themselves.

In the same vein, much of the vintage community is drawn to Native American jewelry. The pieces are hand-crafted by Native American artists for the purpose of adornment, ceremony, display, and trade. Historically, different Native American tribes used adornment as a mode of communication; while each tribe has an individual aesthetic, they have begun to borrow motifs from one another throughout the years.

The jewelry is crafted from natural materials such as gemstones, metal, bones, teeth, hide, and so on. Zuni fetish necklaces are hand-carved with the belief that the talismans have special power. For instance, an eagle fetish represents both integrity and divinity; a turtle is the oldest symbol of Mother Earth and inspires longevity; buffalo encourage bountiful game.

 

The Navajo squash blossom necklace is perhaps the most sought-after piece of Native American jewelry. The most common structure features a crescent-shaped pendant made of turquoise, but the general structure of the squash blossom necklace has evolved into grander and more adorned versions. Our example of a Navajo squash blossom necklace features large, natural turquoise pendants set in cast sterling silver and has bear claw accents.

   

All of this, though, is just scratching the surface. There’s a wealth of information out there about the history of Native American jewelry--a topic certainly worth spending some time reading about!

Here you will find a list of Zuni fetish talismans and their symbolic meaning: http://www.zunifetishesdirect.com/about.htm

Sporty Chic

We could spend days and days poring over this season's couture collections: what's not to love?! Fortunately for us, we've been lucky enough to have some jaw-dropping couture pieces of our own in the boutique. When I was scanning our racks of gowns, I got to thinking about the fantasy inspired by all of this incredible vintage fashion. As a fairly normal L.A. girl, it's not often I get the opportunity to wear formal gowns (let alone couture), well, ever. Combined with the sporty-chic trend that's been gaining momentum over the last few seasons (Nike Air Max's with Dior, anyone?), I wanted to know more about how mainstream women's sportswear came to be.

Thank goodness for the patron saint of vintage, Doris Raymond! I expressed my interest in sportswear to her one afternoon, and lo and behold, she led me to an awesome collection from American designers such as Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin (most commonly known for revolutionizing Coach's handbag designs in the 1960s). Ask and you shall receive!

 

 

 

Born as a reaction to French couture grandeur in the 1930s (and which lasted through the 1970s), American designers shifted gears toward accessible, thoughtful, and practical outfits made of simple materials. In a way, this movement in fashion was an act of freedom for women: constricting undergarments were no longer necessary, and the notion of wrapping oneself up into intricate frocks was not as important. Women wanted clothing that was beautifully made and easy to wear; and, actually, some of the designs are so timeless that they continue to be reproduced (or reinterpreted) today. 

 
 

 

As I was perusing Doris' collection of sportswear (i.e, American ready-to-wear), I realized how contemporary most of the pieces look. It's proof that these designers truly had modern vision. To find out more about the evolution of sportswear in fashion, read Richard Martin's fascinating article for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:  https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/amsp/hd_amsp.htm

A Brief History of the Independence of Self Expression Through Fashion
 Don't get us wrong: the 4th of July is definitely all about pool parties, BBQs, and hanging with the family. Going through our inventory for some fun Independence Day-related pieces, though, got us thinking about the value of the freedom of self-expression through clothing, and how it has evolved over the last 50+ years.
 
(American Flag Dress)
 
Fashion is one of the most crucial elements of our culture: it's a reflection of the social climate and an indicator of economic and political conditions. More often than not, fashion is associated purely with materialistic values: the truth of the matter is that fashion is the purest forms of self-expression we have!
 
The 1960s and 1970s were an especially transformative era for fashion. As we're well aware, hemlines were on the rise, necklines were on the decline, and women were taking ownership of their bodies--and their identity--through clothing. 
 
 
Rudi Gernreich's "monokini" was made famous in the 1960s for blatantly flaunting a woman's breasts for the first time in mainstream fashion. While many were shocked and outraged, the designer's creation added fuel to the fire of non-conformist, progressive expression. Fashion is anti-establishment while simultaneously upholding, altering, and tweaking comfortable social mores.
 
The 1970s and 80s also saw the popularization of political and patriotic clothing. Polyester novelty prints featuring peace signs, convention signage, and faces of politicians themselves became an effective way to show one's support of--or opposition to--a cause.
 
 
One of our favorite pieces of political memorabilia is the 1970s "Jane Fonda for President" t-shirt. The actress' controversial protest against the Vietnam War resonated across the globe during a volatile time in history and is still fodder for debate today (and, it simply made for a great t-shirt!).
 
Finally, classic Americana fashion has been one of the most steadfast and consistent elements of our sartorial landscape. Cowboys are perhaps the most identifiable American cultural icon, and their clothing is often the most inherently patriotic: for example, red, white, and blue suede jackets! To boot, Americana motifs have made an impression on the world of mainstream fashion with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Tory Burch upholding and reinventing American style every season. 
 
~Swimsuit Season~
It's officially summer and it sure feels like it here in Los Angeles! We hope everyone is getting to enjoy some healthy sun and maybe even make it to the beach or poolside? In the midst of  bathing suit season we can't help but reflect on the ever transitioning history of the modern swimsuit over time. Our collection is a strong representation of so many cute styles from the last century with a wide range of unique of prints, fabrics and cuts; here are just a few! 
 
Accessorizing for Summer!
During these warm and humid summer months, probably the last thing on your mind when it comes to accessorizing is scarves. These silky and vibrant accoutrements, however, have a long history dating all the way back to Egypt's Queen Nefertiti in 1350 B.C.! In the thousands of years since, scarves have evolved and rotated between function and fashion. 
 
 
From signifying military distinction in 230 B.C. China, to functioning quite literally as a sweat cloth in ancient Rome, to being popularized by Queen Victoria in 1837, the scarves have a long history full of cultural significance. Important too, is the material from which scarves are made. Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have brought cashmere scarves back from India, and Hermes popularized the decorative silk scarf in the 1800s. 
 
 
As with much of fashion history, the colors, prints, and technique of scarves have consistently reflected the current economy and general cultural mood. During the 1940s, scarves were muted and functional; in the 1960s and 70s, the prints and colors were vibrant, psychedelic, and cheerful.
 
 
 
Today, the silk scarf has become a staple in the closet. Silk scarves can be used to brighten up a cardigan sweater or tie around the neck. During the summer, we love tie bright scarves around sun hats and even use as coverups by the pool! The beauty in the silk scarf is that not only can it be a beautiful work of art--there is endless use during every season! 
 
For an interesting and thorough timeline on the scarf, visit: http://www.scarves.net/blog/the-history-of-scarves-a-timeline/
 
Now that you know a little bit more about the history of it, we suggest grabbing your favorite summer scarf, throwing it over a fab swimsuit, and lounging by the pool! Soak up the sun in style!!
LA Frock Stars Throw Back: Paper Dresses!
What began as a marketing gimmick popularized by Scott Paper Company in the 1960s has become one of the more collectible items from fashion history. Intended to promote disposable cellulose fabric, paper clothing with mod prints and even Warhol-esque patterns (such as the iconic Cambell’s Soup print) flooded US stores. Joseph Magnin department stores featured “News Stand” boutiques to sell the dresses at just about $8 a pop.
 
 
The paper dresses ushered in a new era of DIY-fashion. Just as the public was getting used to the idea of a rising hem, these dresses allowed women to cut the dresses to their preferred length. If you use your imagination and consider the popular designers of the era--Pierre Cardin and Courreges, for instance--women could even create their own mod peekaboo circular cutouts in the dress! Hallmark’s “Flower Fantasy” party dress came with two yards of yarn that could be used as a belt or a bow around the neck; it even had helpful hints for decorative ideas.
 
  
While the dresses didn’t survive as a viable garment, the impact they made on fashion history is still felt today! The same material used in the 1960s has now been modified and applied to garments such as hospital gowns, scrubs, and coveralls: where fashion and function meet!
 
 
China: Through Doris' Looking Glass

Perhaps the most exciting fashion event of the year that bridges the gap between the art world, fashion world, and entertainment world, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Gala. With more than 60 years' worth of exhibitions featuring whimsical themes ranging from Le Belle Époque (1982) to Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy (2008), we all wait in eager anticipation of the upcoming year’s fundraising event.

This year’s theme is China: Through the Looking Glass. Highlighting China’s lasting influence on Western fashion, the exhibition features gowns from designers such as John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as the fine art and artifacts that inspired these memorable collections.
 
 
 

 

At The Way We Wore, everything we do is influenced by the art and culture of decades past. Doris’ extensive--and exquisite!--collection of ethnic textiles, garments, and findings is unparalleled. This year’s Met Gala theme inspired us to review the gorgeous items we have featuring Chinese embroidery, motif, and influence.

Originally, Chinese embroidery motifs symbolized status beginning with the Shang Dynasty in 1766 B.C. Once limited to the dynasty’s elite, embroidery evolved into a practice used by most women. Technique and motif varied, including nature and religious figures. By the Song Dynasty, between 960-1127, embroidery techniques began to combine calligraphy and painting.

There are four major styles of traditional embroidery:

Su Embroidery, which comes from Suzhou and whose motifs reflect tranquility and elegance; Shu Embroidery, influenced by the geographic environment of Sichuan and features a refined style; Xiang Embroidery, influenced by painting and comes from Hunan; and Yue Embroidery which features motifs such as floral brocade and is from the Guangzhou and Chaozhou regions.
 
 
 
In addition to garments featuring a gorgeous variety of embroidery techniques, we have wonderful pieces such as 1920s evening bags, enamel hair combs, and even 1980s hair accessories all paying homage to the wonderful influence of Chinese culture.
 
 
 
Moschino Capsule Collection - Up Close! Part Two!

Perhaps one of the most incredible elements of Moschino's work is how visceral and sometimes interactive the garments can be! For example, the "I Don't Give A Chic" blazer is a highlight--it's like wearing a beautifully tailored page straight from Moschino's sketchbook.

  

I Don't Give A Chic Blazer
 
Venice Dress with Jacket
  
 
The Eyes Dress
 
The Eyes Blazer
 
Stripes and Flowers Bustle
 
 
One of our favorite pieces is the "Millennium" dress. We all remember the Y2K frenzy: conspiracy theories about the world ending, angst and anxiety, and the general excitement of a new millennium. Moschino addressed all of the in one dress, compiling a full check-box list of emotions and providing you with a velcro tick box to move around the dress--depending, of course, on how you feel about the year 2000!
 
 
 
Millennium Dress
 
This Is Not A Moschino Jacket
 
Peace Sign Dress
 
 
Moshcino's work is driven by bold embroidery and tactile appliqués that make both the person wearing the garment and whoever else is around it feel like they are a part of the overall message. 
 
Moschino Capsule Collection Up Close - Part One!
We are all sad to have Season 2 of LA Frock Stars come to an end, but what a finale last week’s episode was! Since his debut collection for Moschino in Fall 2014, Jeremy Scott’s post at the iconic Italian fashion house’s helm has been nothing short of fabulous. Jeremy has been a longtime friend of TWWW, so we were so excited to share with him Doris’ expansive collection of iconic Moschino pieces from the 1980s and 1990s. Moschino is known for effortlessly merging pop iconography with sharp, strong tailoring. The garments speak for themselves--literally and figuratively! Likewise, Jeremy’s eponymous label is known for its contemporary kitsch. We think Moschino and Jeremy Scott are truly a match made in sartorial heaven! Here's just a bit of Moschino history collected by Doris!
 
 
Hand Painted Vest
 
Bullseye Ensemble
 
Lampshade Bustier
 
Lichtenstein-esque Ensamble
 
Life Saver Jacket
 
Life Saver Blouse
 
Life Saver Dress
 
Maid In Italy Dress

Raffia Dress with Flowers
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