Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vintage Books: Passing

Seems to be a theme on this blog this week, classic traditional media that incorporates race and class. Today's post highlights the classic book Passing by Nella Larsen written during the Harlem Renaissance.  The story is based off of two childhood friends who reunite in adulthood but one is passing for white while the other fair skinned as well, lives her life as a Black woman. The themes of race within a major city, Chicago as well as underline homosexual context make this story a true must read. Larsen was a well received writer who fell on hard times and  died in obscurity. If you love Passing, you'll enjoy Quicksand as well. So if you are traveling or laying poolside, dive into this classic and poignant story of not only Black literature but American literature. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vintage in Films: Imitation of Life

Like most Vintage collectors, we have a love for nostalgia and today's nostalgic moment happens to be the film "Imitation of Life" starring Lana Turner, Juanita Moore and a epic gospel solo by Mahalia Jackson.

There are two versions, one in 1934 and the other in 1959. For this post  we are highlighting the 1959 version which garnered Academy Award nominations for Juanita  Moore and Sarah Kohner who play the tragic mother and daughter. The first time I saw this this emotional film I was around ten. Some of the themes of class, race and specifically passing were slightly foreign to me. As a kid we were still learning about racism and class was foreign but the idea of passing was unheard of. Growing up in Brooklyn  in the 1980s and 1990s you knew you were African American and that's that, my brown skin can tell no lies.

Since it was based in the late 1950s right in the midst of the Civil Right movement and race heavy theme is far from sugar coated. Sarah Jane, played by Czech and Mexican actress Susan Kohner, who also received an Oscar nomination is so gun-ho for passing for white, she disowns her mother Annie , played by Moore leading to Annie dying from a broken heart and in the gut wrenching final scene, Sarah Jane breaks down at her mother's casket and begs for forgiveness, albeit to late.

The film is considered to be a classic in American cinematography  and is noted as being one of the most authentic films of its time dealing with the themes of  race, single motherhood, passing as well as class. If you're looking for a good film to ponder about current issues and of course checking out the stellar wardrobe of Lana Turner, look no further than Imitation of Life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Let's Talk Kenneth Jay Lane

Ever a fan of statement jewelry, I've enjoyed  the Kenneth Jay Lane since using it on a fashion shoot in 2002.  KJL for short, has been around since 1963 and has and is a favorite of socialites and celebrities. His pieces are bold with inspiration from as early as the  Byzantine Empire to French Provincial. Many of his earlier works from 1963-1980  are collected by major vintage collectors. Many KJL pieces are forms of inspiration from your favorite fast fashion brands as well. Take a look at these vintage pieces and get to know and start collecting Kenneth Jay Lane.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Reading is Fundamental

Collecting and selling vintage also means constantly educating yourself. I like to think of this position as one of a curator and a historian. The best vintage sellers don't just tell you how pretty a piece is, they have to know the decade or even better the year give or take that a piece is from. A great vintage dealer can call out an icon of that era, Marilyn, Jackie, Diana and you'll know you are wearing a little piece of history.

I recently picked up Icons Of Vintage Fashion: Definitive Designer Classics at Auction 1900-1990 an amazing encyclopedia of iconic pieces of fashion sold at auction to museums as well as personal collectors.  There are over one thousand pieces photographed in the book showcasing, a historical timeline of silhouettes and fabrics. There are original from such designers as Dior, Givenchy and Schiaperlli with thier actual namesakes. A combination of ready to wear and couture as well as high end accessories by Chanel and Hermes, this comprehensive vintage auction bible is excellent for designers, students and geeks like myself.  If you want to understand the historical as well as commercial value of high end vintage and also learn about form and shapes from decade to decade, this book is excellent.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Women Crush Wednesday the Supermodel Edition

The year is 1990 and this Revlon ad was featured in every  major fashion magazine. This stunning image of Iman, Beverly Johnson and Louise Vyent showed that  there are beautiful Black women from Africa, Europe and the US. In this present era where there is a slippery slope of defining Black beauty and sometimes a blatant mockery of it, this twenty four year-old ad was ahead of its time.