Well, you've already seen what I wore Friday at Los Angeles Fashion Week but what did I do? The highlight of my day (aside from prosecco and macaroons with Dream Sequins at Bottega Louie) was '110 Years of Fashion at 9th Street' at the CMC. Designer, Sue Wong, Katherine Brandes, creative director of BBDakota, Doris Raymond of The Way We Wore and Sally Lohan, the West Coast director of WGSN all spoke on a vintage fashion panel moderated by Alison Nieder of Apparel News.
The panel centred around an exhibition in which designers had teamed with bloggers to present a curated collection of looks from each decade over the past 110 years (pictured above)
The panel itself was certainly educational. As a vintage seller on Etsy I have become aware of a certain contention amongst members of the community there regarding what really constitutes 'vintage' especially since Etsy has a 20 year rule, meaning 1990 is officially vintage this year. Each panelist gave their own interpretation on the definition of vintage. Doris Raymond, who I think most will agree is one the worlds leading authorities on vintage, stated she believed vintage means an item that is a generation or older. Of course this leads to a small debate regarding what defines a generation. Personally I believe this to be somewhere between 18-25 years. Etsy's definition falls right within this. Sally Lohan agreed with Doris Raymond and additionally added that something vintage is also defined by a certain quality and craftmanship, something we look for from our previous generations.
Katherine Brandes stated the known definition of vintage to 'officially' be the 80's and older however, she also noted that the 90's were a definitive current trend in the vintage circuit and that again it was down to quality and that personally she viewed the definition of vintage more as a fine wine, and that a high end designer piece that maybe 5 years old and not current, to her would be considered vintage. Whilst I understand this interpretation I would have a hard time agreeing.
Sue Wong clearly see's vintage as something very magical, she has a creative, poetic approach to how to define vintage, stating vintage is defined by something "old with soul, informed by quality" she added that the very best of a generation becomes iconic, a classic.
Each panelist was asked what their favourite period of fashion has been over the past 110 years, most favoured the 20's-30's. Sue Wong finds the liberation of this period exciting in terms, of intellectualism and sexuality and enjoys the reflection of that in the fashions (the shorter hemlines and so forth) Doris Raymond specifically (and I mean specific) favors the period betwen 1929 and 1932 for their bias cut skirts and dresses. Sally Lohan agreed with this period noting how Poiret changed the shape and silhouette of fashion additionally she noted the 60's for many of the same reasons, the liberation, the experimentation and the abstract shapes. Katherine Brandes was the one panelist to differ in that she enjoys the sihouette of the late forties, where there was more shape and structure noting Dior's New Look from 1947.
Doris Raymond and Sally Lohan went on to discuss how WGSN and The Way We Wore work together. Doris has (as well as the vintage boutique already containing 7-8000 pieces) a vintage library containing over a million pieces! Doris works as an inspiration for designers and trend makers such as WGSN. The library is by appointment only and designers will call a year in advance with buzzwords, personalities etc and Doris will pull pieces for the designers to pore over and draw inspiration from. Sally Lohan pointed out that at WGSN they also work with Doris and will visit two years ahead of a season, so they're currently working on trend forecasts for Fall/Winter 2011/12. They are also currently working on a vintage database and expanding the vintage side of their company.
Each panelist went on to discuss how vintage is reflected in current trends, Sally Lohan pointing us in the direction of florals and romantic prints, Katherine Brandes noting the lingerie and boudoir inspired fashions and Sue Wong stated perfectly that if something is beautiful today it will be beautiful in 10 years.
Sue Wong and Doris Raymond both had advice for what a vintage collector should look for. Sue suggests looking for detail, beadwork and so forth that can be adapted. Doris Raymond offered practical and inspirational advice. Turn the garment inside out, look at the construction, the quality of the fabrics, but none of that matters if the piece is unique or really speaks to you.
After the panel we moved over to the reception and perused the collections as discussed above. My favourites were the 1910 ensemble by the lovely ladies at Mondette and BCBG MaxAzria and the Eighties ensemble by Voom by Joy Han and So Super Sam. Both put together beautiful looks but also staged a visually enticing and decade appropriate set.
The cocktail reception was a lovely event held in quite the decadent room covered with beautiful vintage photographs and illustrations. Below are the obligatory 'party' pics as we enjoyed the spread.
Detail in Lilliam's Dress
Myself and Deanne of Dream Sequins
By Kelsi Smith