Monday, August 30, 2010

Have I Ever Told You How Much I Freaking Love Thrifting?

Thrifting is a funny thing. I know a lot of people, my husband included, who just don't have the knack for it. They walk into a thrift store or a flea market and are immediately overwhelmed, wishing usually that they could just go and crawl back under the bed covers. But any true thrifter knows the thrill of the hunt. You are like one of those truffel swine, using your eyes as a nose to sniff out that fabulous find. And when you do, what a thrill it is! I had just this thrill when I found this royal blue silk dirndl a few weeks ago.

What first drew me in was the color. A shimmery, almost decadent blue. When I touched the cloth I realized it was silk (raw silk, which is personally my favorite.) The dirndl dress is in such great condition though, that it wasn't until closer inspection that I realized how old it is.
The dirndl dress is completely (and very skillfully) handmade, but this is not necessarily unusual for a dirndl of quality. But the buttons are pressed glass with rhinestone, the white cotton lining has a retro print. This, my friends, is an amazingly well-preserved vintage silk dirndl from somewhere between the late 40s to the early 60s.
Like all the trachten clothing I sell in my shop, what I love is the versatility of this dress. Sure, you could add an apron and be the belle of the ball at Oktoberfest (though it's not a Balkonettdirndl a la The Sound of Music....) but the dress is still very wearable even if you live nowhere near the alps. Simply gorgeous and prime vintage at its best. To take a closer look please do click here.
*I'd Rather Be Thrifting poster available at AshleyD

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shop Update: Skirts Galore

I've been wearing a lot of skirts these days. I love how easy it is to change the entire look by mixing and matching different tops and shoes. I suppose this is one of the reasons why I've been posting so many skirts in my shop these days. Here is a sampling of what is currently (or will soon be) on sale, trachten and otherwise.

Vintage Wool Orange Roses Trachten Skirt With White Lace And Black Velvet
Vintage 1950s Navy Skirt With Colorful Patchwork Pattern
Vintage 1970s White Peasant Skirt With Red Mum Embroidery
Vintage 1960s Beige Trachten Skirt With Edelweiss and White Lace
Vintage 1970s Navy Pleated Skirt With Pattern Of Mod White Squares
Vintage Black and Purple Roses Trachten Skirt With Black Lace

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Melodies: Flamenco Fever

I read somewhere once that the opera singer Cecilia Bartoli's first ambition was to be a flamenco dancer. At some point her mother reminded her that she was Italian and not Spanish which is why she decided to finally go into opera. I might have that same conversation with my daughter Mia someday. She's only three and a half, but she loves flamenco music. If I need a few minutes peace all I have to do is put the two following videos on YouTube and she is instantly enchanted. Come to think of it, if she does decide she wants to be a Flamenco dancer (or guitarist for that matter) I'll just encourage her. She may be half German and half Mutt-American, but who's to say she can't be the best damn Flamenco dancer in the world? ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ghost of Vintage Past

I posed for photos in this dress but the timer was set wrong and the first photo came out as you see above. I love that the background is so in focus but I'm such a blur, like the ghost of vintage past, haunting thrift stores and flea markets across the nation. By the way, the dress is super adorable, with rhinestones on the back of the belt even. Unfortunately it is also a tiny bit too small for me so I will be posting it soon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Vintage But Still Fabulous

Anyone who has taken a peek at my shop probably figured out that I also sell handmade jewelry alongside my vintage clothing. Most of my jewelry is either made of vintage Bakelite or these little vintage celluloid animals.
These celluloid animals hail from the 1930s and 1940s and were all made in Japan (most of them are stamped with JAPAN somewhere on the animal's body.) They were the kind women bought from gumball machines and arcades and then collected to wear on charm bracelets. One of my absolute favorite necklaces is one I made with a little celluloid lion. The necklace was on sale in my shop for all of two hours before I realized I just couldn't part with it.
Imagine my surprise when I realized today that I have a soul sister (or brother?) in the jewelry design world. Haoshi Design is based in Taiwan, their name meaning "good things" in Chinese. They make jewelry of everyday objects like light bulbs and clothes pins, but what I really love, of course, is their animal series.
The pieces are a lot simpler in design than mine and a lot more expensive (though still reasonable.) Oh yeah, and of course they are not made of vintage materials. They are still bad-ass though. Someday when I'm a little more flush with dough I'll definitely buy a necklace, maybe this little elephant up above.
I also love the piano piece they play on their website as well as the overall design and photographs they present there. Click here to go and take a look.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nobody Loves Me

I've been running my vintage clothing shop Curious Knopf for five months now and Schaufenster Art & Vintage for around two years, but even after all this time I'm still surprised sometimes about what sells and what does not. Sometimes I've posted something that I thought was nice but not all that super amazing only to have it sell right away. Other times I've posted something that I find wonderful, something I feel sure will be snatched up right away only to have it sit around for months. This vintage 1950s dress is just one of these items.
When I first found it I was really excited (but also sad that it's not my size....) The dress is made of the softest cotton and has the greatest print: orange and white stripes with colorful Aztec tiki-like gods along the orange stripes and little black Aztec-like stars on the white stripes. I was sure it would have a new owner pretty quickly. But it's been in my shop now for several months and not only has it not been sold, it also has had over 300 views and not a single heart.
The dress does have a few minor flaws. The handle to the zipper is broken (though the zipper itself is in perfect working order.) One of the buttons was replaced and is of a slightly different style. But still, it's white and the same size and no one would probably even notice the difference unless they were specifically looking for it....What can I say? Nobody seems to love this dress. Except for me. Maybe it's a sign that I should work harder at finally being a size 10 again so the lovely little old dress can hang proudly in my closet!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lions, Leopards and Giraffes, Oh My!

I'm definitely too old to be digging any of this 80s revival business that has been going on for far too long now. High waisted jeans were making every woman look fat no matter what her size in 1986 already and only about three percent of the population could ever actually get away with wearing cut off jeans short shorts. People, why are you doing this to yourselves? Still, there was something about the funky color and wacky animal print that inspired me to pose (or even offer for sale) in this tres 80s animal print drape dress for my shop. Today, on a whim, I decided to do a search on etsy for vintage animal print clothing.

My first thought was "Geez. There's a lot of really ugly vintage clothes for sale on etsy!" But then again nothing lands you quicker in 80s land than animal print (other than perhaps the tag "oversized" or "unflattering and butt ugly"...) and, as I already said, I just can't get with this trend. Still, I did find a few pieces I liked for their wackiness and jungle madness alone. Here's a peek.

Vintage Big Cats Bob Mackie Blouse. There is something so deliciously Vegas about this blouse that I just couldn't resist. Available here at the Miami based (not Vegas!) shop, Lady of Fatima.
Ok, I don't think I could pull this one off and something is wrong about that little kitty cat's face. Maybe they pumped him full of valium for the photo shoot? Still, it actually looks kind of cool with the black and would definitely get the wearer noticed. Available here at On The Prowl.
This vintage 1970s leopard print dress I actually like a lot and could imagine wearing, though I don't usually look very good in Maxi dresses. Oh yeah, and it's not my size. Sigh...Available here at 13 Bees.
Dear 1970s, Thank you so much for making blouses printed with giraffes and zany block prints. I'm so glad you're the decade I was born in instead of the stupid old 80s. Love ya babe! ;) Available here at Queen of the Angels.
Ok, so there are few women in the world who could get away with wearing this vintage 1960s leopard print cat suit, but if you are one of them then hot damn, go for it girl! Available here at Fab Gabs.
So this is more of a domestic animal print but look how awesome it is with the little pooches and ribbons. Most definitely best in show! Available here at Plaid Pony.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shop Update: My Secret Garden

So summer is winding down and we are heading slowly into fall, but in my mind I seem to be in spring fever. This is partly because we didn't really have spring this year in Berlin, more like a long, especially cruel winter that one day turned into summer and then REALLY turned into summer in the form of a series of vicious heat waves. Sigh. Back when I lived in California I never imagined I would spend this much time talking about the weather....

Anyway, on a more cheerful note, take a look at some of the lovely floral prints I have recently added to my shop:

Vintage 1960s Mistress Mary Quite Contrary Black and Floral Dress

Vintage 1970s White Peasant Skirt With Red Mum Embroidery

Vintage 1960s or 1970s Orange Roses Trachten Skirt, a wool blend with gorgeous lace trim and black velvet detailing

Vintage 1970s Sheer White Dress, with black and white floral pattern and embroidery

Vintage 1960s Colorful Floral Jacket Blouse

Happy spring everyone, uh, I mean enjoy these final weeks of summer. ;)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Collected Little Bits of Vintage Fun

I love to sometimes waste a bit of time doing google image searches for vintage ads and photographs. When I find one I like, I often save it, planning to maybe use it for a blog entry somewhere down the road. Many of them I never use but also never erase because I like them so much.
This lovely mod lass was used to make the banner of my shop for a while, though I recently changed it again. Who knows? Maybe she'll make an appearance again sometime down the road when I change my banner yet again on a whim...
This photograph completely reminds me of my Arizona childhood. I would say the area is somewhere around Phoenix except that there is a Saguaro in the background whereas the desert there is basically just scrub brush. And tumble weeds, of course. They really do roll just like in the old Westerns.
This photograph is just one of many thousands which is actually in the public domain, i.e. everyone is welcome to do whatever they want with it. Not so with the other shots, though as a disclaimer, I do not own any of these images (now someone else can steal them to post of their blog! ;) )
Some of the old Life shots can be a little bit cheesey-ly over the top (or just seen too many times so they feel like a cliche) but I like this one a lot.

I've had these shots of Sophia Loren on my computer for a long time. She's so beautiful and sensual with a few drops of slutty brat mixed in. My alter ego, perhaps? Either way, simply divine.
While Sophia Loren I am not, this lady here just might be my vintage soul mate. Time to get out there and take some more photographs. :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chaos Ensues

Sometimes I'm not sure being a hobby photographer is actually any good for the branding business side of running my vintage shop, Curious Knopf. Most of my favorite vintage clothing shops on etsy have a simple, neutral background, usually gray or maybe white. I guess the closest I got to this kind of a feel were the original photographs I took in my stairwell. I liked them because the light was so beautiful and the gray color on the wall so warm.

But views were generally pretty low, though I don't really know why. Perhaps because all the photos were close-ups, something that can not really be changed since I work primarily with a macro lens.

I recently took some photographs in a parking lot across the street from my apartment which has this funky green wall with peeling paint. Above the green is a tacky mural of what looks like the Golden Gate Bridge, though it is probably a bridge in Istanbul that looks similar (which would make sense since this is Kreuzberg, Turkey's third largest city...)

But people kept on walking by from the Gewerbehof in the back, and although they didn't say anything, I still found it distracting and therefore not much fun. Though I had the benefit of natural light, I don't think I'll be taking photographs there again.

I've also taken lots of photographs in several of the crumbling old graveyards in my neighborhood (though, come to think of it, the last photograph is actually the outer wall of an art deco public toilet on Chamisso Platz.)

Although I like these photographs they do take a bit more "Aufwand" since I have to carry the clothing to said graveyards and said art deco public toilets...

A large majority of my photographs (both modeled and on the dress form) I've been taking between the doors of one of our front rooms, the one that serves as a library/dining room/office, better known as "the Grafen Zimmer" after my husband's particular heritage.

Not a bad background really, but a bit tricky sometimes with the placement and most definitely with the lighting.

My newest love is the light green wall of our bedroom.

Lovely color and with the added benefit that I can use one of the walls near a window.

And then, there are also the handmade jewelry photographs, most of which are definitely in the spirit of Schaufenster.

Yes, I definitely spend a lot of time on my photographs (come to think of it, quite a few of my posts here on this blog have been about them), albeit in a rather impractical way. Then again, I'm a bit of a chaotic creature myself so I guess this fits. Perhaps chaos does ensue, but chaos indeed does also rule. What can you do in the end other than just be yourself? ;)