About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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Words I like:

"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)

 

 

“I said "Somebody should do something about that." Then I realized I am somebody.”

 Lily Tomlin

 

 

 

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Entries in Biba (7)

Thursday
Sep192013

Dressing for world peace: the U.N. challenge

You can tell the weather is getting cooler; I take outfit shots more frequently. There are a whopping three in this one post. In the summer, it is usually sweltering in my apartment, too hot to fuss about taking photos. The days have been gorgeous, cool air and lots of sunshine (sorry, people in not-sunny places).

When I saw that Spy Girl's 52-Pick-Me-Up challenge was 'United Nations' (wear items from different countries), I couldn't not participate. About a third of my clothes and accessories were purchased in India. Here's my India/Guatemala/Ethiopia/Pakistan/Kenya submission. How's that for diversity?

Vintage hat purchased from Frocktasia. Fab India printed cotton shirt purchased in India. Anokhi printed cotton vest, thrifted, Goodwill. Mayan Connections embroidered patchwork skirt, made in Guatemala, purchased at the Washington DC Green Festival. Vintage Pakistani embroidered velvet bag, purchased, eBay. Tights, thrifted, Goodwill. Embroidered and beaded scarf from Ethiopia, thrifted. Non-leather boots purchased on sale. Necklace and beaded bracelets, gifts brought back from Kenya.

I also have tons of thrifted clothes to show.

I love a striped menswear-looking shirt and I've been on a mission to acquire more vests.

1970s 'Catch Can' striped blouse, thrifted, Goodwill. Hand-crocheted vest, thrifted, Goodwill. Gap jeans, I recall getting these on sale ($7) at The Gap about 7 years ago. 1980S Fiorucci belt, thrifted, Goodwill. Indian brass necklace, Etsy. 1970S applique vinyl bag, Etsy. Boring black shoes, thrifted, Goodwill (worn to determine if they're comfortable enough to be worth painting). Mission accomplished.

This pattern has been in my collection for decades, but I don't yet possess the skills needed to alter it to fit. But, I've always wanted a 30's-inspired jacket with a large pointed collar and a nipped in waist.

1970s does 1930s knit top, no label, thrifted, Goodwill. Fedora from vintage/consignment shop Raspberry Beret. Michael Kors trousers purchased new 12 or so years ago Filene's Basement. 1940s or 50s metal bead necklace I've owned forever. Fabric flower from a hat. Bangles purchased in India. The thrift store gods again looked favorably upon me and I found one a few months back. 

Can't recall where this straw hat came from. 1970s does 1930s velvet and vinyl bag, purchased at the Rock and Roll Yard Sale. The chevron top stitching and insets in the pockets and sleeves are pretty cool. I most certainly don't have the 'dolly bird' shape of Biba's models, but I was reminded of this outfit from one of the Biba catalogues.

My wardrobe is so geared for fall weather: jackets, boots, tights, scarves, vests. Anyone else feel more inspired by cooler weather?

I drafted this post while sitting in a cafe earlier this evening and the guys at the table behind me were having a passionate conversation about meteorology, spewing out phrases like 'aerosol particles,' 'refractory material,' and 'invigorating convection.' I love Cambridge.

Tuesday
Jul162013

Highlights from Hippie Chic

Here is a wee tour of the Hippie Chic exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This Facebook album (you don’t need to have a Facebook account to see it) has many more photos of the show. I didn't photograph every mannequin—so there will be some surprises if you do see the show or read the exhibition catalogue.

The exhibition shows designer fashion inspired by the street style created by hippies, and touches on the different elements that went into hippie style: Trippy Hippie, Fantasy Hippie, Craft Hippie, Ethnic Hippie, and Retro Hippie. The phenomenal wigs by Jason Allen, a hair and make-up artist for the Boston Lyric Opera and Boston Ballet, are critical to each look since hair was as way out as clothing in this period.

All fashion is in the collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, unless I’ve stated otherwise. Props and accessories provided by a number of lenders (including me). If you do share these images, please link back to my Facebook page or my blog.

The info on each piece comes from the exhibition catalogue, which is available for purchase here. I can't recommend it enough. It not only contains images of many of the pieces in the exhibit, but there are supplementary photos that place each example in context.

Trippy Hippie

In the center of the gallery, on round platforms covered with shag carpeting in acid colors, the Trippy Hippies lead you into the exhibition. In case the colors and styles of these psychedelic clothes weren’t mind-altering enough, a couple of the platforms actually rotate.

One first encounters Patti Boyd’s doppelganger in a Cosmic Couture dress by Barry and Yosha Finch for The Chariot, about 1970. After the design collective The Fool disbanded, Barry Finch and Yosha Leeger moved to Los Angeles where they opened a boutique called The Chariot selling handmade clothing and furnishing fabrics. They eventually shifted to providing the “Cosmic Couture” label to upscale department stores. This dress is perfection with its vaguely medieval style, celestial theme and rainbow sleeves in cotton velvet.

A peak at the lining of the sleeves of the Cosmic Couture dress.

Alkasura jacket with stippled cat and flower print, c. 1970. The mannequin wears my faceted rose-tinted glasses (the ones in the header image of my blog and blog's Facebook page), which I’ve had since 1968.

On the left, the Noel Redding (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) mannequin wears a Granny Takes a Trip jacket in fabric by Morris & Co. designed by John Pearse in about 1967. On the right, a Granny Takes a Trip velvet suit from the early 1970s.

Lauren told me that these jackets and the trousers were so small, they wouldn’t fit contemporary male mannequins, which are 6 ft. 5 in. tall and buff. So it was necessary to take the mannequins to the Museum carpentry shop to be cut down to shorten them. It was also necessary to have the chest, shoulder blades, pubic area and buttocks sawed off, leaving an effect, as Lauren says, "like Swiss cheese" which "caused the carpenters to be scarred for life."

Fantasy Hippie

As a hippie, you could be a Renaissance troubadour, a homesteader on the American prairie, a medieval princess, or any other persona pulled from history or fairy tales.

The ‘three graces’ in the center wear some of the most beautiful dresses in the show. From left, designed by Lee Bender for Bust Stop, circa 1970. Silk crepe dress designed by Ossie Clark with fabric designed by Celia Birtwell,, early 1970s. The exhibition catalogue notes that the center dress by Giorgio di Sant’Angelo was likely inspired by Sandro Botticellie’s early Renaissance work, Allegory of Spring (La Primavera). Dress from 1972 by the fantasy-frock master, Bill Gibbs, in a sea-shell print.

Betsy Johnson’s 1968 Tara dress inspired by 'Gone with the Wind'.

Craft Hippie

Much of hippie fashion was about DIY and designers followed suit by using a variety of construction and decorative echniques.

You can’t have a hippie show without tie-dye. This Halston pantsuit in silk velvet from 1969 is a luxe version.

Star-embellished boots (made by Gohill, retailed by Granny Takes a Trip, 1969) accompany a Holly Harp tie-dyed dress with an embroidered suede belt. The mannequin is seeing stars in 1970s sunglasses.

Ethnic Hippie

The hippie penchant for travel and the romanticizing of cultures that seemed to offer a "purer" way of life was reflected in the use of textiles from these cultures.

Left to right: John Bates hooded djellabah (barely visible) Geoffrey Beane dress, Thea Porter coat made from an Iraqi textile with fur added to cuffs and collar (1969), Thea Porter dress, Zandra Rhodes dress, fringed and beaded suede East West Musical Instruments Company jacket (loan from FIDM Museum).

The mannequins have been raiding my wardrobe again. This one wears a stamped leather hair slide I bought in the early 1970s, when my hair was this long.

Thea Porter chiffon dress with Central Asian suzani bodice (about 1970). Velvet Pakistani bag with gold braid on loan to the exhibition from my collection.

Retro Hippie

Unlike the romance of fairy tales and costume from earlier periods of history, the ‘Retro Hippie’ mined the recent past—the 1920s-40s. Recalling free spirits such as bootleggers, flappers and Hollywood villains and vamps, these fashions have a more glamorous vibe.

Ossie Clark certainly knew how to make feminine, flattering dresses with his use of bias cut fabric (black and white one with fabric by Celia Birtwell).

An art deco-print jumpsuit designed by Barbara Hulanicki for Biba in the early 1970s. The mannequin holds one of Biba’s mail-order catalogs.

See more photos of the fashion in the exhbition on my blog Facebook page.

Wednesday
Nov212012

Biba and the Pre-Raphaelites

The title of this post sounds the like name of a band that I’d very much like to see.

As mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve seen two wonderful exhibitions lately and heartily recommend both.

The first was "Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery." While not a huge exhibition, it has enough fashion, drawings and other works to make it quite a tasty little morsel of a show. All the fashions are delightful and enhanced by the personal stories of the original owners.

When I had my hot little hands on all six Biba catalogues recently (here and here), I was amazed that some of the designs looked like they would actually be flattering on a range of figure types (not just the typical narrow-shouldered, flat-chested and slim-hipped 'dolly'). And I still believe so after seeing the clothes.

Classic look that I’d wear in a heartbeat.I want all of these dresses. My photos came out terrible, so I'll only subject you to one more. I recommend visiting Miss Peelpants and Penny Dreadful’s blog posts on the show for great images.

My major discovery at the exhibition is that I already own something illustrated by Barbara Hulanicki. Barbara provided the cover illustrations for these Le-Roy patterns from 1963 and 1964. I own Le-Roy 3156 (the one on the righ), which I purchased from a stall at Camden Lock in London about 15 years ago. I should have noticed the stylistic similarities with the ‘ghoul’ girls in the Biba catalogue.

It makes sense that those of us who love late 1960s and early 70s fashion, graphics and design would love Pre-Raphaelite art. Like hippies of the late 1960s, the Pre-Raphaelites revered nature, longed for simple times long past and rebelled against the constraints of society. Plus their works of art include all that long flowing hair, an abundance of luxurious textiles, and exquisitely rendered non-Western and medieval decoration.

A. and I saw the exhibition "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde" at the Tate Britain and we were both blown away. I have seen many of the works in the show before, but I never tire of them and each time get completely drawn in. 

Some gems from the show that I don’t recall having seen before:

John Everett Millais, Ferdinand Lured by Ariel, 1859, Private CollectionDante Gabriel Rossetti, Monna Vanna, 1866, Tate Britain. William Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1869, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but I'll probably be having Indian food, and giving thanks for that!

Tuesday
Jul102012

Exhibitions to see, things to unpack

To follow up on the Biba theme of the last two posts, I found out that the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in the U.K. will be hosting the exhibition, “Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki” running from 22 September 2012 to 14 April 2013.

I also can’t wait to see the Tate Britain’s exhibition, “Pre-Raphaelites – Victorian Avant-Garde,” opening on 12 September this year and the new, renovated William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, opening in August. 

Until then I have a lot of unpacking to do.

I just moved 54 boxes and assorted small pieces of furniture out of storage and back into my apartment. Packed away for 5 years, it is like thrift-store shopping -- where everything is a treasure -- as I open each box. Most of the boxes contain art and design books, but there is a good amount of other stuff to be re-discovered.

What is in this antique medical-supply trunk?

Fabric! 1950s fabric, Arts & Crafts reproduction fabric purchased at Liberty & Co., and hand-loomed raw silk -- and that's just the top layer. This is going to be fun.

Have you re-discovered anything lately?

Thursday
Jul052012

More Biba

Here are more pics from the original Biba catalogues that I had the pleasure of seeing recently.

Wonderful puffy sleeves with tight, buttoned cuffs.

Fashionable ghouls

Fabulous Cossack coat and shirt, middle right.

It’s hard to see but the trousers on the right have a horizontal stripe pattern.

Normally, prices in London charity shops are prohibitively expensive. A couple weeks ago I went to TRAID in Camden Town to make a donation, not even expecting to find anything to buy. And, lo and behold, there was a sale -- all clothing was priced at £2.

In addition to a couple dresses, I picked up a 1970s knit fabric in a horizontal stripe. Actually, someone had sewn it into a caftan of sorts, but had hacked at the neckline so that it was all uneven. I scooped it up (£1) with the idea that I wanted to make a pair of trousers (like the pair in the 6th image above and like Vix’s recent Biba find).

Wednesday
Jul042012

Serendipitous Biba

My last weekend in London, my boyfriend A. needed to pop round to a friend’s house. His friend lives with his parents and we had a brief visit with A’s friend’s mum, J. We were talking about hoarding tendencies and I asked her if she had any magazines from the ‘60s or ‘70s. She said ‘no,’ but she had saved all of her Biba catalogues. I could barely contain my excitement!

She pulled them out and I thumbed through them all, and asked A. to snap pic with his camera-phone.

 

 

J. said that the Biba shop was unlike any shop at its time. She would meet her friends there, they would try on clothes and then lounge around chatting in the clothes. It was more like a social scene than a proper clothes shop. A dress cost a week’s salary for her.

Can’t not love a fashion photo with a big dog! I love the Juliet sleeves on dress on the right, haven’t seen many that are actually above the elbow like this one.

More favorite elements – contrasting color and cuffs and square buttons on the dress on the right.

Wouldn't it be great if these designs were made today—they would be flattering on any shape. 

Again, the long waistcoat with v-shaped neckline would be flattering on those of us who are not tall and willowy.

Love the harem pants on the left. The gored skirt and loose, bell-sleeved jacket on the right is such a classic design!

I want this jacket. I have a thing for dog-eared collars and lots of buttons.

Obviously I like dark jumpers and spectator shoes

We called these “elephant pants.”

A, D, E, F (can’t see the letters, but the 3 on the left in the bottom row), are my favorites and I will one day make them.

I know that the Biba label has been re-launched by House of Fraser. I saw the in-store collection a few weeks ago and have to say that there was nothing I was drooling over, like I do with the original designs.

The owner of the catalogues, J., was a dead-ringer for Julie Driscoll in her youth (her husband even had her sign an autograph as Julie so he could get a discount in a shop). So, for her graciousness at letting me pore over her treasured Biba catalogues, I am including two groovy videos of Julie Driscoll.

Check out the dance moves at 3:20 (when there’s a better glimpse of her clothing).

I LOVE her vaguely medieval ensemble here! It includes some of my favorite fashion details – a lace-up bodice, a big Indian pendant, embroidery, a pouch hanging from a belt (yeah, I do that); and harem pants.

Do you own any original Biba? Which design above is your favorite? I will be posting more Biba catalogue photos tomorrow.

Saturday
Dec312011

Wallis meets Biba

At one of the Saturday vintage markets in Spitalfields, London, I spotted a printed jacket with a Wallis label that I swear I had seen last year when I was in London.

It had that Art Deco geometric-type print reminiscent of Biba. I loved the big notched collar, the slightly puffed shoulders, the nipped in waist and the soft tie belt. In a fine wool, the jacket is warm with a nice drape. I got it home and did a bit of research and found that I wasn’t far off thinking that a fabric used by Wallis would be similar to one used by Biba as they shared fabric suppliers.

I got even more excited when I found a print advertisement from the September 1973 issue of Vogue UK on Smashingbird for this exact jacket. It is shown with matching wide-leg trousers.

1970's Wallis wool jacket, market in Spitalfields, London, £20

Unfortunately, I’m not tall and willowy, so it doesn’t have the wrap effect shown in the photo, but the self-tie belt makes it look like I have a waist. The print has purple flowers and triangles made up of multi-colored stripes on a light gray grid. It will probably be very versatile as I can wear it with skirts or trousers in any number of hues. Now I’ll have to find a short necklace with a huge bauble like the one in the ad!