do names like Adrian, Helen Rose, Irene, Jean Louis and Travilla start
your blood pumping faster? Well you better sit down, because have I got
the book for you! It's California Couture by Maureen Reilly, published by Schiffer in 2000. It was another birthday present to myself (the best kind) and I love it.
California Couture is written primarily for
vintage clothing collectors and fashion designers, so it's full of all kinds of fascinating
details you might not find in more mainstream coffee table books
about vintage fashion. It is bursting with vintage ads, photos of
clothing design details, film stills, original sketches, and so much
more. (Personally I'm less enthusiastic about many museum exhibit fashion books that show
clothes only on mannequins. I want to see the original styling and
presentation, i.e., context.) The text here is well-organized and well-written, goes into
great depth, and includes interviews with designers and even original
models like Peggy Moffitt.
I was familiar with the famous Hollywood designers included here, I
was less aware of some of the California-based designers (many of whom
got their start in Hollywood) and companies featured here, like Rudi
Gernreich (huge chaper on him), James Galanos, and the Lilli Ann company
(which has a fascinating history). I could spend a week reading all
250 glossy pages and ogling the many hundreds of photos. And I probably
one thing I don't love about the book is that Reilly has chosen an
assortment of vintage collectors and shop owners to model some of these
original fashions, and the results look amateurish when
juxtaposed against original images. But I'm more of a stickler than
most. It also includes price ranges for collectors, but I assume
those would be out of date by now.
You can blow up the index by clicking on the pic below. You can find more images from California Couture here. You can also find used copies of this book at excellent prices you-know-where.
Do you have a favorite vintage fashion book you'd recommend to others, maybe one that has influenced your personal style or sewing choices? Do tell!
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!