Soho Mode (pictured above)
You can still order frocks via Soho Mode’s Etsy shop, but all of the off-the-rack frocks are available from the new website. Either way, check it out for the most adorable ‘50s-style tea dresses in gorgeous floral fabrics.
Here, I’ve trawled over 100 pages in my Etsy Favourites folder to bring you my top 12 shops that specialise in fashion from the ’50s and ’60s.
1. Wear it Again
An excellent resource for the most exquisite ‘50s party frocks in organzas, chiffons, satins, tulles and taffetas. Keep an eye out for classic Alfred Shaheen frocks.
An impeccable collection of vintage dresses, with an impressive line-up of the prettiest ‘50s full-skirted frocks I’ve seen.
3. Dear Golden
This Michegan-based Etsy shop specialises in superbly-preserved frocks from the 20th century. Keep an eye out for magnificent ‘50s party and evening gowns.
4. Travern 7
A small but perfectly formed collection of unusual mid-century day and evening dresses, as well as suits and ensembles.
5. Hollie Point
A fantastic Etsy shop boasting an impressive range of day and evening dresses from the ‘50s and ‘60s, as well as an immaculately curated collection of jewellery and accessories. I love the floral enamel floral broches.
6. Swanee Grace
This New York-based shops stocks a great line-up of day dresses from the ‘50s and ‘60s, as well as separates and accessories.
7. Quirk Vintage Clothing
Based in LA, this Etsy shop specialises in mid-century day dresses, with a scattering of evening gowns, bridal, tops, sweaters, hats and coats for good measure. I spotted a Christian Dior ’50s dress here.
8. Capricious Traveller
A great collection of mostly day frocks from the twentieth century, with some interesting jewellery pieces as well.
9. Nod to Mod Vintage
This shop stocks a large range of frocks spanning the twentieth century, with some really fabulous pieces from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
One of the few really fab vintage shops on Etsy to sort by size, which is kinda important as a lot of vintage frocks are very tiny indeed.
11. My Favorite Vintage
An excellent shop for vintage shoes, as well as some rather incredible mid-century evening wear.
12. Simplicity is Bliss
Lots of fabulous ‘50s day frocks here, but I’ve also spotted some really lovely black cocktail numbers as well.
Etsy is an excellent source for original mid-century decor and furniture, but it’s sometimes hard to know where to find the good stuff. I’ve gone through hundreds of Etsy vintage shops and collated my top 10:
This Canadian shop stocks mid-century furniture, textiles, and decor, including a good range of Danish wooden objects and German ceramics.
This Seattle-based shop sells an extensive range of mid-century and Scandinavian homewares, textiles and furniture, boasting pieces by Cathrineholme, Arabia of Finland and Royal Copenhagen.
Based in Amsterdam, this shop offers a large collection of vintage home décor including an impressive range of West German vases. I’ve also spotted some rather sweet Abraham Palatnik figurines as well as pieces by Royal Copenhagen.
Pillowsophi specialises in Scandinavian ceramics, English stoneware, vintage brass and French glass. Look out for pieces by Denby, Royal Copenhagen, Soholm Stentoj and Arabia.
8. Pardon My Vintage
A good selection of ceramics and enamelware including Cathrineholm, Iittala and Arabia of Finland.
9. Monki Vintage
This Portland-based shop stocks an excellent collection of Scandinavian modern, industrial and vintage home décor. Look out for charming Jacob Jensen teak viking figures and Scandinavian wooden toy blocks.
10. Brooklyn Retro
Based in Brooklyn, this shop specialises in mint condition vintage typewriters in a range of gorgeous sorbet colours, as well as a rather unusual selection of bric-a-brac.
Australia loves Georg Jensen. In fact, we’re so enamoured by the Danish jewellery and homewares company, we’re the biggest market outside of Scandinavia. And evidently, Georg Jensen likes Australia, as they kicked off the tour of their heritage sterling silver “Ambassador Collection” at Sydney’s designer furniture store Corporate Culture, and invited me along for an exclusive presentation with their head of silver, Anne Mette Müller-Krogstrup (below, left).
I was already a Georg Jensen fan, and had visited the basement museum at the flagship store in Copenhagen a few years ago. Even so, I’m more familiar with the modern collections and their distinctive mercurial quality and organic shapes. I’ve collected a few pieces over the years, including my beloved Arne Jacobsen steel cutlery set as well as a few bowls and dishes.
But the Ambassador Collection was really something else. The carefully selected pieces not only provided an instant ‘snapshot’ of the brand’s history, it also beautifully illustrated the emergence of modern design in the 20th century – and how Scandinavian design, in particular, made a significant contribution on a global scale.
But this was no standard exhibition – the magic began when we were invited to don a pair of white cotton gloves. As Anne Mette gave us the potted history of Georg Jensen, she passed around the very first piece he made over 100 years ago: a highly detailed Art Nouveau silver necklace. I held it in my (gloved) hands (below, right) and the design nerd in me silently OMGeeed. The necklace was followed by the exquisite Magnolia collection (circa 1905, above), which features organic forms and highly stylised buds and leaves. I couldn’t help but be transported back to Glasgow and the work of another early proponent of the Art Nouveau movement, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Japonism was evidently a major influence for both of these designers in the early years of the twentieth century.
I was equally fascinated by the highly decorative Grape collection in 1918, which was clearly influenced by the British Arts & Crafts movement (William Morris et al). Harald Neilsen’s stunning Pyramid Collection (circa 1927, below), also caught my eye. The geometric forms were apparently inspired by the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb, and make it an outstanding example of Art Deco at its finest.
The time, talent and craftmanship that goes into each piece is evident throughout the collection. The finely hammered Champagne bowl (below) designed by Georg Jensen in 1926 is testament to this, and absolutely mind-blowing.You can actually see and appreciate each strike of the hammer against the steel, which became a hallmark of Jensen’s style.
One of Georg Jensen’s head silversmiths was also on hand to demonstrate some of the techniques he has finely honed over many years. He had an impressive line-up of tools, one of which – a rather dainty hammer with a fine wooden handle – he handed me for inspection. I turned it over in my hand and had a bit of an air-whack, when he mentioned that it had once belonged to Georg Jensen himself. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that sent my inner geek into another silent round of OMG.
Perhaps the most impressive piece that resonated was Henning Koppel’s Fish Dish 1026, which not only marked a turning point in design, it contributed to the success of mid-century Danish design, which became an international sensation.
Moving from table to table was like moving through the history of 20th century design, and it was enhanced by dramatic draped and twisted black fabric backdrops created by stylist Steve Cordony. To complete the scene, magnificent floral arrangements by Sydney’s premier florist Grandiflora added bursts of vibrant colour and greenery to the gleaming array of sterling silver. It was all thoroughly, and rather splendidly, modern.
FYI, in case you’ve ever wondered, the correct pronunciation is Gayor Yensen. (Definitely NOT Yorge Jensen, which I’ve heard more than a few times.) But apparently they’re quite happy if we just call him George. Just pronounce the ‘J’ in ‘Jenson’ with a Scandi ‘Y’.
Pieces from the Georg Jensen archive are available by special order.
Georg Jensen Sydney flagship store 60 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000 Tel. +61 2 9221 7419
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.30am-6pm Saturday 10am-5pm Sunday 11am-4pm
p.s. thought you might like to see these photos of the George Jensen smithy, circa 1920, below, and 1918, bottom:
It’s ‘ A Week of Modern‘ on Wee Birdy – have a look at the other posts so far this week.
It’s a total travesty that I’ve never featured the Eames House Bird as a “birdy pick of the week” before. I always thought it was a bit obvious, so I steered well clear. But since it’s “A Week of Modern” on Wee Birdy, I really can’t ignore this iconic little fellow any more.
The original black wooden bird was actually an Appalachian artefact (circa 1910) that Charles and Ray Eames picked up on their travels. It stood on the floor of their acclaimed Pacific Palisades house for over fifty years.
I love the way that their beloved collection of objects from different cultures and eras worked seamlessly to create this timeless yet very modern look. They clearly adored this bird because he pops up time and again in the Eames’s photos – and is used as a prop in many shoots of their iconic chairs.
In co-operation with the Eames family, Swiss designer furniture company Vitra has used 3-D scans of the original bird to create the solid alder wood reproduction. It’s made in Germany and you can get it from Nest in the UK (for £103.33) and from Space Furniture in Australia. It’s also available on DWR.
I haven’t done a themed week in a while so I was inspired to run “A week of Modern” on Wee Birdy to celebrate the Sydney launch of Australian Modern magazine.
The timing of the mag, by Chris Osborne Publishing, couldn’t be better. There has never been so much interest in the mid-20th century modernist movement, thanks in part to the popularity of Mad Men which has inevitably influenced fashion and design in recent years.
For instance, Louis Vuitton’s unashamedly feminine Spring Summer 2012 collection featured mid-century silhouettes in a spectrum of ‘50s milkbar hues, Peter Pan collars and exaggerated broderie anglaise. Meanwhile, Christian Dior revisted the glory days of their mid-century New Look with full skirts, cinched-in waists, and a reworking of their iconic bar jacket.
And back to those Mad Men, I know I’m not the only one coveting Don and Megan’s Manhattan apartment featuring an amazing sunken lounge in the latest series (five).
Australian Modern is a welcome addition to the niche magazine market, as it shines a new light on 20th century Australian design and architecture. Apart from its sister publication, Brisbane Modern, the only other magazine catering for mid-century modern enthusiasts was US-based Atomic Ranch.
In the launch issue, Australian Modern delves beyond the obvious and well-known names in Australian design and art history, with features on artist Ludwik Dutkiewicz’s oil paintings, Clement Meadmore’s chairs and Peter Travis’ ceramics.
It also does a fine job in covering mid-century architecture around Australia, from the brutalist Henty house in Launceston to ‘60s suburban modern homes in the Brisbane suburb of Aspley.
Other entertaining stories include a fascinating look at the prevalence of Googie in Australia (oh, how I’d love to go on a Googie-scouting roadtrip) and the impact of mid-century French fashion on the local Australian industry, which rather interestingly reveals just how fashion-forward and innovative David Jones once was, collaborating with the likes of Christian Dior in bringing the New Look to our shores. Perhaps some valid lessons which could be learnt today?