Thursday, January 14, 2010

rescuing garments and the history of clothes

lately i've been stumbling upon a lot of amazing artists i would like to share with you, but have been overwhelmed with where to begin! but let's get things rolling with something that triggered a lot of thoughts in my head last night. yesterday lisa had posted a picture of a dress on tumblr and all i could read was "50s Fireworks silk dress rescued from an abandoned by plundered." rescued from an abandoned by plundered? clearly my interest was piqued, by the lack of logic at the ending of the sentence, but also because whoever who refers to a dress as "rescued" seemed like my kind of person, and so i clicked on the link.

what i found was a description of a beautiful scene:
I love this dress. I found it many years ago at an abandoned house. It has been washed. This house was so amazing. There were brassieres and dresses and photographs and even a dark room and tin types. There were christmas cards - one with 3 dollars in it - and unspent bonds. Walkie talkies and tinsel and letters from the WWII and photographs of dogs - The Rementer Pointer. Oh, I miss, I miss the days of abandoned housing. With a little Søren, well, I just haven't.

This little number belonged to Flossy Rementer. I haven't updated this site in ages so I hesitate to post this, but will... on the front page are 2 photographs of Flossie. She was beautiful.

dumbstruck! how magnificent; not only is it a pretty dress, but the person selling it tells you this wonderful story to go along with it. it reeks of nostalgia and affection, and the kind of story you wouldn't forget if you are the one who buys this dress. knowing that this dress could have so easily been lost forever, eaten by moths in an abandoned house somewhere in the world, but instead here it is! on your body. and you're adding to the story with whatever you do with the dress! if you wear it out dancing, if you spill cheap wine on it, if you give it to someone else one day. you even know the name of the woman who wore it, and most likely purchased it. isn't that amazing?

just today i was thrifting and looking at old fur coats, and loved seeing "florence" embroidered on the inside of a big bulky grey fur coat. wondered how tall florence was, if she was still alive, if she wore this coat often or simply on special occassions. where had she been in it? what had she done? what did she look like? if only there was a picture forgotten in one of the pockets... usually, i cannot afford to purchase dresses or hats or things i find that have accompanying pictures of the former owners; this normally happens at high end antique stores or vintage fairs. on top of that, the chances that the item will fit is a whole other can of worms!

the one thing that surprised me with this story and with this rescued dress is the price: $42. a more than reasonable price for a 1950s day dress, especially one in great condition this comes back to a point i have struggled with since beginning to price my things on etsy. i often feel like i am selling more than a simple garment; i am selling you the history that goes along with the dress.

the first dress i sold on etsy, i had purchased at a vintage clothing fair, had only worn once or twice because it was far too small for me and i simply did not want to admit it until i busted a seam. it ended up being resold on ebay for an astronomical markup ($325, and i had sold it to her for $60), and i was quite crushed about it. i told myself i was selling vintage clothes because i had too many of them, and there was no sense in having things that didn't fit me stagnating and taking up space in my closet. it wasn't so much that this person made so much more money off of what had once been my dress, it was a number of things. i always try to price my things reasonably because i do not adhere to or like the idea that you have to have money to be stylish and have nice clothing. yet here this person was, re-selling a dress she had purchased from a girl who in her wildest dreams would not and could not spend $325 on a piece of clothing.

these ideas bring me a to a question i've asked myself time and time again: how do we value vintage? in my eyes, this rescued fireworks dress is worth far more than the $42 dollars being asked for. because we know it used to belong to flossie, because it has been cared for, because we know it so easily could be lost forever. because it almost feels more like a historical artifact that a piece of clothing that could be discarded. but! that is me. (and i am someone who can't even afford to spend $42 on a dress, let alone more.) i'm also the kind of person who would rather sell dresses for the same prices i've paid for them or a bit more, and most likely why i'm still poor. i wander into vintage clothing stores and gasp at their overpriced tags, and walk away from vintage clothing fairs empty handed because i'm simply not willing to shell out the cash for their goods that are far too similar to the ones i find in thrift stores for a few dollars, not hundreds.

not very surprising, the woman selling this dress, margaux, is a very interesting artist who does more than simply scour abandoned houses and sell the vintage dresses she finds in them. in her other etsy store, the black spot books, she sells jewelry, books and art that simply put, drips with creativity and histories. i'd seen images of her "library" necklaces before, and was not surprised to find that i want nearly everything in her store. here are some of my favourites:

The Fall and The Gathering of The Leaves III

some of marguerite's books

a necklace made with parts of an old gun! genius.

1950s autumnal plaid cotton day dress

so, without further ado, so and visit all the links i just provided you with! i think you would all enjoy checking out her stores as much as i did.


MrJeffery said...

love the stories behind the clothes here.

Andi B. Goode said...

Oh, darn, I could've sworn that I wrote out a really long comment to this. I don't remember what I said, now.
-Andi x

Birdie! said...

That black dress is gorgeous! I found you through a link roundup and I love how you treasure and value the story behind the outfits. I have that same affinity for the humanity that produced and raised the vintage items I own...

tamerajane said...

how have i never seen your blog! i love the way you write and think.

i have some vintage dresses i found after a fire, piled on the street - took them home and lovingly washed the soot out - i could never sell them!! tiny orphans!

julia aka garconniere said...

birdie: that's so nice! i'm glad you stumbled into my little corner of the internet. did you find any other articles along the way? i'd love to read other people's thoughts.

verhext: thanks, it's kind of a new project and i hope to have a snazzy new layout and more regular content soon.

the dresses that survived a fire sound magnificent! sometimes i feel like the stories behind the garments make them more beautiful than they could ever be if they were simply brand new, you know? i would love to see what they look like.

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