April 16, 2012

Vintage elle

Didn't I tell you I went to Amsterdam last week to pick up a couple of vintage magazines which I had bought at a Dutch auction site?

Well, these were the magazines I went there for:

The collection specials for winter 1952/1953 and winter 1957.

I also came home with these: the winter collection specials for 1962 and 1963,

And the spring collection special for 1971. Two of these, the seller gave to me purely because she liked my enthousiasm.

And I'm not just showing you the covers, at the risk of making anyone jealous. I'll show you what's inside the first and oldest one now (warning, this makes for a very picture-heavy post).

Obviously, there are several pages of normal magazine stuff: a letter from the editor, a small article and a segment with letters from readers on these pages (there's even a short story at the back), oh and adds, of course.

Then, it's on to serious fashion news: ever since the introduction of the New Look in 1947, hemlines were a major issue in women's fashion and Dior especially announced the new fashionable length each season. A length measured from ground to hem. In this spread, it is shown, with three models wearing Dior dresses, how women of different height should deviate slightly from this dictat to achieve the desired fashionable effect. And if I understand the text correctly, Elle didn't make this up, Dior wanted it so.

Then, there's an overview of interesting new things for the coming season. Collar shapes and fabrics and colour combinations.

The big feature is all about coats.

Neat suits and overcoats in various styles.

Many showing new collar shapes...

Aren't they lovely?

Of course, there's fashion advice. Elle explains how to match the season's key looks from the big designers to one's size and personality (I'm not sure whether 'small' and 'large' in this case is about height or about dress size. Judging from the drawings, I'd say it's height because the 'large' ladies on the right page don't look the slightest bit less skinny than the ones on the left)

And there are winter dresses.

Lovely things in flannel and tweed. I'd wear most of these in winter 2012/2013 (so, 60 years later), given the chance...

Then, there's this spread on dresses for dancing.

And the fashion oracle of Elle leaves it's readers with a line-up of the 28 new fashion details in approves of. Collars and ornaments in specific, sometimes unexpected places mostly.

There are many things to love about this magazine. First of all, it's great to see looks, I admire in fashion history books or museum guides, 'in situ' like this. Photographed and edited by contemporaries and embedded with the information and knowledge of the time. Also, a lot of 1950's fashion pictures I know look extremely poised and serious. Although Elle's are by no means frivolous, there is more fun and movement to them. And then there's the fashion itself. Original dresses by Dior, Christian Dior himself and by Fath and Patou and Gres and Heim...


  1. Fascinating! I especially love the spread on dancing.

    Although, I admit I am very glad that my hemlines are not being dictated to me by the Great Design Authority...

    That shawl-collar coat is really impressive! :)

  2. Wow, just lovely! I feel so inspired to do my own new-vintage piece!