Photo shoot gallery!

After weeks of planning, hoarding and stressing, the very first Carla and Carla photo shoot is now public! I was a little nervous at first, having only photographed a mannequin in clothes for the shop. I had a very good idea of what I wanted and I just shot everything and editing would be my best friend.

 

Lovely ladies Sammy and Emma were the glamazons of the day and were so great and open to work with. Mimi Kamara did the most fantastic makeup for the shoot, she is indeed an artist. For this look I wanted the girls to have a super smokey eye in muted jewel tones, a strong brow, flawless skin and a slightly bee stung lip in a deep berry or blood red. A lot of makeup!

 

Emma looking every bit a living doll!

Friendly chatter filled the air as the girls got gorgeous and my team finished the prep work. Lovely Emery was on hand to steam the backdrop and put out any potential fires! My living room was turned into a photo studio filled with hot lights in the August heat! for Fall and Winter looks no less!

 

Whats not to love?

The look for the shoot I was going for was a sort of modern Biba girl. A heavy nod to 1930′s glamorous silhouettes done with a 1970′s aesthetic. A little dangerous, a bit darker palette, a little sleazy. Definitely a girl who likes to be noticed and who loves to wear fun, adventurous clothes. Lots of texture, layers and great fabric treatments. All of the accessories were from my own collection.

Lovely lovely Sammy in a beaded velvet bolero jacket from the 1920's

Oh and remember that flapper jacket from a few posts ago? Well, here she is in all of her ‘gin-soaked’ glory! All finished and ready to be turned loose on the town!

 

A very cool two-piece maxi skirt and flutter-sleeve blouse in black and silver lurex, a staple in any disco queens wardrobe. This was one of the main inspiration pieces for the photo shoot.

Lovely Emma in a lurex two-piece skirt and blouse.

 

Sammy looking every bit the 1930′s screen siren in a 1970′s jersey keyhole maxi halter dress. Wowzers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexy siren!

 

I absolutely love this shot! It captures the attitude so perfectly!

These items are for sale in my Etsy shop, please stop by and say hello!

More photos to come!

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Fear and Failure.

 

Early this spring I went to a monster estate sale of a a very fashionable woman who kept every garment she ever wore and then some. Gorgeous silk printed jumpsuits, leather bell bottoms, mod mini dresses, acres of garments! I came away with a lighter wallet and a huge buzz. Perhaps it was the lighting or my excitement of the score but when I started my post sale ritual of soaking, washing and detailed inspection of my haul I discovered the kiss of death for any vinatge clothing lover, damage from long term smoking. The gorgeous 1960′s Malcolm Starr metallic brocade suit I was so proud of was pretty much beyond all repair. This suit had not been worn in decades and the sleeves and bottom of the dress and jacket were darkened from smoke. I brought the suit to a dry cleaner in my neighborhood who looked at me like I was nuts, I wanted to take the risk! The suit came back just as gross. I HAD to admit defeat as much as it killed me. The fabric was even too damaged to re-use. I did however manage to salvage the buttons. That suit taught me a valuable lesson about inspecting garments before I get them home, getting them into proper lighting and really looking at it with a truly objective eye.

 

The second suit I picked up at the same sale was a pale pale pink quilted sheath dress and bolero jacket trimmed in fur. It was covered in a fine waxy yellow film. I took it to a different but equally cranky dry cleaners. No success. This garment came back un-waxy but still stained to the point of ombre. I must have soaked that thing in oxi-clean 4 times! I have had great success in the past with Oxi-clean and it just wasn’t cutting it. I was getting the point of no return and totally losing all patience with anything suit related. I was resigned to never buy another. Failure again! Only as a last resort I soaked in a very mild bleach solution, I had nothing to lose.

I have always been a little intimidated by bleach and always used it for disinfecting or just for white cotton anythings. My mother always warned me about how powerful bleach can be and to use it with caution.

Much to my surprise it worked! The solution removed the dark staining and did not damage the fabric or fade the beautiful peachy pink. I used about 1 quarter cup in a bathtub filled up almost 1/3 of the way. Soaking time about 10 minutes, rinsed very well, hung in the fresh air to dry.

Another item that totally failed was a saffron silk chiffon tent dress with a full Egyptian style beaded collar. No tag or label, but a really sweet 1960s piece. Quite possibly a chic party look the owner had made while she was pregnant. The silk chiffon literally disintegrated when I washed it in cool water. I had every intention of restoring it with new fabric and hand rolled hems, but the chances of finding exactly the right color silk yada yada yada… The collar was the real stunner of the piece and now stands alone.

 

 

 

 

 

I am still searching for my perfect dream-come-true dry cleaners! Any suggestions for a Brooklyn girl? Preferably skilled AND polite!

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My Closet.

Some of my new/old favorites. Not for sale, don’t ask. I have collected and worn vintage clothing and accessories since 1983, Here are some new pieces and some old favorites from my closet.

Classic Betsey Johnson Hobble dress with peplum and lace up corset front.

I got this recently on eBay, it was a little pricey but well worth it. This dress reminds me of the first Betsey piece I ever owned. My mother took me to Bloomingdale’s in 1982 for Christmas. She wanted to buy me a Betsey Johnson and she let me pick out anything I wanted. Betsey was THE ‘it’ girl and was enjoying great success. I chose a vest/skort combination in the same pattern but in turquoise flannel. I knew at the time we couldn’t afford it and it broke my heart to say yes, but she insisted and I wanted it!

I have no idea where the money came from, and she would never tell me.

I adore mixing patterns and both of these pieces were thrifted, I think I paid 4 bucks for the skirt but the Guy Laroche silk blouse was a bit more…

 

Ah Josie Cotton! 

I loved her look and her 1960′s girl group sound with an edge. I have been on the hunt for this very skirt since I saw her in the 80′s teen flick, ‘Valley Girl’ I found it at Reminiscence on 23rd street of all places. Oilcloth snap mini with race car scene. This skirt is magical.

My newest lovely, a psychedelic maxi from Olive’s Very Vintage in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Kinda Peter Max-y. I can’t wait for Summer on the porch on the Delaware, all I need is a halter…still on the lookout…

My late aunt’s fringe jacket from the 1960′s. I think she backpacked across the entire state of California in it. I love the patina, and all the filth that comes with it. The glue in my Alice Cooper all access pass gave up and disintegrated, you can still see the residue. The fringe is like fettuccine and heavy! All lovingly handmade.

 

A mix and match of Accessories.

My late mother’s Hattie Carnegie necklace, which I adore but almost never wear.

Some very cool 1920′s dangle earrings, I am unsure of what the stones are… maybe Malachite?

A chunky turquoise and silver ring I paid too much for but love anyway.

Some very chic oversized 1970′s French sunglasses I found in a really cool antique shoppe in upstate N.Y. for 10 bucks.

Buffalo Horn choker, again I paid way too much for it.

One of my fave turquoise pieces, a Zuni cross my mother gave me for High School graduation. Inlaid mother of pearl, onyx, and coral. Very delicate.

 

AH! My electric blue raffia 1940′s peep toe platforms, need I say more!

I still need to work on getting a pair of red shoes into my wardrobe, preferably vintage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dilemma of the Vintage Homemade Dress

An amazing home-made couture mesh dress.

What is it about the vintage home-sewn dress that turns people off?

Growing up in the 70′s in a cash strapped New York City, home-sewn clothes and hand-me-downs were the staple. More than 50 percent of my childhood wardrobe was home-sewn and not always well. My grandmother took stabs at knitting but always looked like she had been drinking, and probably was…

If garments were made for me, I considered it a great honor. Even at a young age I understood that construction was difficult and required skill. I remember a lovely pair of pants made by my Puerto Rican babysitter, pale pink and burgundy chevron-striped bell-bottoms. Sigh. I loved those pants.

I started to care more about my bizarre wardrobe when designer jeans in a label conscious society became the rage. I did not last long on that ship, I let it sail away without me.

What did I care? I was just going to get it dirty anyway!

Somewhere in the sea of crappy home-sewn garments made from polyester double-knit, the custom made dress has lost it’s luster. In my shopping travels I am uncovering many of these gems. In my mind each dress has a story. I find charm and love in the home sewn dress. Some are indeed couture pieces. Having a seamstress or an advanced sewer in the family is not as common today, but ask your Aunties! Chances are they know someone who is or was an expert.

I long to see the home sewn dress elevated and give her a little more street cred. My wedding gown was proudly home sewn by a friend of the family who is a skilled seamstress.

Detail of the bottom section and bow-work.

Detail of the bottom section and bow-work.

Take a look at this beauty for example. All completely hand sewn. Mid 1960′s Mod, most likely influenced by the Youthquake designers. The previous owner must have been quite a head turner! White open weave mesh dress lined in white silk organza. So simply constructed. Masses of white organza bows along the bottom. This dress is to die for. An amazing imagination.

The dress was a little sad when I got her, very dusty and crazy hanger burn on the shoulders. NEVER store delicate garments like this on wood or plastic hangers, padded hangers if you must. Storing them flat in a proper acid free box will add years to it’s life. It took a little work, hand cleaning and a little patience and all without a huge dry cleaning bill (which would have been would have been over $50!) I did this all at home.

A simple cool water wash in the bathtub. Generic Woolite works just fine and is way cheaper. I added a scoop of dissolved Oxy-Clean to a half-full bathtub.

Let it soak, no rubbing or wringing. You can add a dash (1 tbspn)of white vinegar in one of the rinses to neutralize the soap. Rinse well. Let dry.

After the dress was completely dry it was put on a dress form inside out to assess the damage to the silk organza. Whole sections had completely come apart from being stored on the hanger. I matched the color of the fabric and hand-sewed patches of organza to the trouble spots. The outermost fabric gave me a little freedom to hide the stitches! All of the bows were removed, pressed and re-tied.

Isn’t she lovely!

 

Available for sale in my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

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Restoring a 1920s Beaded Velvet Jacket

I found this jaw dropping 1920′s beaded velvet jacket in a vintage store in Brooklyn, and honey she was a mess. A hot mess. Still, I could not pass up the opportunity to give her a little love. Whenever I find things from the 1920′s it’s always in totally random places; The Salvation army, the boonies, Queens… who knows.

It’s a rare day when they are in pristine museum quality condition, most of the time minor restoration can be done by anyone with a little patience, a few tools and basic sewing skills (ie, threading a needle, tying off, and of course, stitching).

Essential supplies and tools for this project.

Step one: Sourcing replacement beads.

I brought the jacket with me in to source the beads in order to match the color and size correctly. If bringing the garment isn’t possible, take a bead sample with you, taped to an index card. If you use a picture to match size it may not work due to lighting differences, etc. And yes, there about 58 different kinds of “clear”.

Tinsel Trading is a super fun place and stock all kinds of vintage findings, beads and other cool stuff.

I went to York Beads on 37th

street, they are helpful and have a great selection. Here’s the linky: York Beads

Carefully remove damaged strings, but save what you can!

Step two: Removing all the bad stuff.

The previous owner of the jacket also wanted to restore it, but possessed neither skill nor patience. I used a seam ripper to cut the thread and then collected the beads. Save all the beads in a small dish, one with a cover helps.

Step three: Filling in the replacement beads.

I was lucky with this particular pattern. The oversize leaf patterns were repeated over the whole jacket so I could easily compare scale. Use 100% cotton thread when ever possible and beading needles are pain to thread but a must! A little beeswax (or even a little lip balm) will keep the thread from making unwanted knots. I like to use double strand thread for the laying out the sections, which is also called the memory thread, and a single strand for anchoring each bead in (couching stitches). Count the beads onto the beading needle from a similar section. If you didn’t put down as many as you needed to, don’t worry you can always add a bead to two later to fill in any bare patches.

Step four: Anchoring each bead.

Tack the memory thread down with couching stitches between the beads. Time consuming work, but it will come out great!

Once you have laid out your line (it’s easier to start with a line or straight section to get the hang of it) tie off with a small knot on the reverse side of the fabric. Switch to single thread and make a small stitch between each bead, anchoring down the double strand thread like this:

If you don’t like the way something looks, take it out. For angles and curves it may take a few goes but you’ll get there! Restoring a garment that was otherwise a rag destined for the garbage or a production of ‘Grey Gardens’ can be wonderfully satisfying.  Photos of the completed project to come.

A section I have finished.

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Cute little Micro-mini from the 1960s

Why can't I buy these new? My husband loves this dress.

 

Found this amazing little number at an estate sale.  It’s quite small and would look great with a pair of black knee-highs!

From the 1960s.  No label but awesome!

I love the color blocking and the seaming, it makes me think of ‘space waitresses’.

Here’s a little read on the history of the miniskirt

Don’t ya Love her madly

Don’t ya love her ways

 

http://www.etsy.com/listing/95281919/navy-and-wine-patterned-micro-mini-dress

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Hello world!

Well with the expert help of my dear friend, Chris, I have my blog finally up!  Stay tuned as I figure how to operate WordPress and get things moving!

 

Carla

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