Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vintage Leopard Print EVERYTHING (1940, Fashion Magazines)

Good morning, folks!

Well, I'm here with good news-- Matthew hauled off and got us iPhone 5s's yesterday! I BELONG TO THE FUTURE. This is the first smartphone I've ever owned and wow, is it a humdinger. One, I don't think I understood that iPhones had different models until yesterday afternoon; two, apparently, this is like the BMW of modern phones. Ecstatic is the word, I believe! And you know why? Now I can take high quality photos of the many, many vintage magazines that pass over my desk on their way to and from the Nashville Public Library's extensive bound periodicals collection (also, I can Instagram my own face off...why is it so appealing to photodocument my life? Why?)! And of weird things I see out on my vintage junking jaunts! Whole new ball game at She Was a Bird. People get ready! :)

I still have to learn how to manage the glare off some of the less matte of magazine pages, but I took a crack at the September and October issues of Harper's Bazaar, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but spots? SPOTS, EVERYWHERE. Let's talk leopards in the wartime US fashion world:

Like many forties' magazines, Harper's Bazaar is for the most part a black and white print publication, but when they do their color inserts-- watch out! The glamour might just knock you off your feet. In the two panels above and below, fashion models demonstrate how you wear a snazzy spotted fur accent with style and grace. I think too many people are reminded of Peg Bundy or mad, bad, and dangerous to know late nineties' clothes (ugh, gross, puke) when they hear the word "leopard print". This shows you how you can wear clothes that are dramatic without losing an ounce of class. Check out the woman above with her not-quite-the-same-print belt and enormous jeweled brooch. While there are plenty of advertisements that are very unmistakably 1940's (huge, spectator type hats, super victory rolls, wedge heels-- all the stuff we like!!), it's funny how the majority of the actual HB fashion spreads, under the watchful eye of fashion editor Diana Vreeland, are still as fresh as paint. Can you see the ensemble above with a knee-length hemline and different hair in this month's Harper's Bazaar? I think you could! See how the woman below has a full-leopard lining to her eye-poppingly scarlet coat. I want that and that padded, lacquered gossip bench like WHOA.

Here, a Dolores-del-Rio-looking beauty in a toque-type hat, collar, and matching envelope clutch. PS, if that is an envelope clutch, it would be a manila one-- think of all the stuff you could fit vertically in that sucker! A whole paperback book. The menu from your favorite restaurant. The script to a movie you were considering appearing in. I wonder if the collar, with its sweet bow, is the detachable kind that suddenly makes it look like your whole ensemble was made to order instead of "put together this morning." Gorgeous!

I lo-o-o-o-ove this. I initially thought it was a dressing gown/robe (I have one from the sixties' that essentially looks like this coat without the hood) but then realized it was outdoor weight for wearing whenever, wherever, out in public. I wish the waist was belted with a wide belt,and I would wear the hood down, but other than that, I wish someone would wrap this up and send it as a gift to me from the year 1940. One of the sidebars caught my eye when I was getting towards the back of the Sept. issue. It reads:
Wherever you live you can purchase merchandise advertised in this issue. The fine stores listed on the last page of this issue carry advertised articles which you may want to buy.
Heck yes! I flipped to the last page where there's a train-schedule like listing of cities and stores...then those cities and stores each have a letter corresponding to featured items in the issue. If you're looking for the Pattullo Modes dress Joan Crawford so beautifully models on page 31, for example, the closest a 1940 Nashville girl could get to the real deal is a boutique called Halle on Main in Memphis, Tennessee. Need the "kerchief of the moment" on page 113? The John Gerber Co in that city should be able to help. Isn't that wild to think about? If you could inquire about the price, you might even be able to mail order them to you (imagine, for a moment, shopping in the pre-internet, pre-a-Target-in-every-city world...can you?).

Another Pattullo original, though not modeled by my beloved Joanie...I almost wish the buttons were just gold or plain with all that print everywhere, but if you give me that hat and bag, I'll tell you what, I won't be complaining about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. I found a little information on Pattullo and Jo Copeland, the designer behind these pretty silhouettes, at the Vintage Fashion Guild label resource page. Since discovering this wealth of information on the web about vintage clothing labels, I have to admit that I check their page a lot after making some good scores at the flea market or Goodwill. The more you know what to look for, the more you'll see it!

This is prettier, I think...I like the round, big-as-a-bus handbag and the scarf collar secured by a large pin/clasp. Plus her makeup has that procelain doll look I'm always going for in my eyeliner/lipstick selections, no joke.  I have to master the art of pinning/rolling my hair like this, I have been such a lazybones this week with a single braid and out the door.

In a movie star section in the October issue, Joan Bennett was the only starlet I recognized, and doesn't she look chic in the print-of-the-moment leopard on her jacket and matching muff? I just recently saw her in a pretty decent noir called The Woman on the Beach, costarring a lanky, handsome Robert Ryan. Thank you, Warner Instant Archive. It was directed by Jean Renoir-- Joan Bennett appeared again and again in these semi-B picture, not exactly A list features, but with some of the greatest directors of the twentieth century (see the pair of movies she made under Metropolis director Fritz Lang with Edward G Robinson, Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window; she is often THE WOMAN in the titles, apparently!). Lucky duck. And she's pretty as a picture to boot, with that strange, sultry voice.

GIVE ME LIBERTY...AND GIVE ME THIS LEOPARD CAPE. I've been trying to impose a "use it or lose it" stricture on my dang coat closet (which, as I mentioned to dinner guests last night, actually has no room for strangers coats; it's so full of my own coats!), which has occasioned the wearing of two fur collar coats in technicolor red and blue, respectively, and a full on seventies' cape this week-- who knows what I'll pull out of there next week in the name of getting to keep my favorite (though little worn) pieces! I wish this cape was among them. See how the length accents her teeny-tiny waist.

Last but not least, let this be me! How about the shape of the hat, the veil, the brooch, the architecturally draped bodice, and whatever she's carrying in her lap (coat? muff? purse?). I don't think it is her, but this model reminds me of Gail Patrick, the girl-who's-not-Irene-Dunne in My Favorite Wife. Sleek as a racehorse! I want emanate the kind of style and effortless class this kind of a forties' look gives off in waves.


What do you think? Are you a fan of animal prints, or do you leave well enough alone with solids? I want to start treating these as a neutral you can pair a bright, solid color with (jewel tone, maybe) and get this wardrobe party started! What have you seen that set your stylespiration feelers humming lately? Do you have any old magazine favorites that deserve a modern day reassessment? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll be back tomorrow for Photo Friday. Have a great Thursday, and I'll see you then! Take care.


  1. I'll add you on Instagram! Isn't new technology exciting? We got iPhones a year or so ago after retiring our sweet flip phones. I personally love leopard print as long as it's not from the actual leopard. I guess I should say that for all animal prints.

  2. Yes, please!! I am a huge fan of leopard everything. I currently own multiple leopard shirts, a cardigan, skirt, tights (!!!), and multiple scarves. My work wardrobe is mostly pink, black, gray...and leopard. Still haven't found the right leopard coat, though.



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