Saturday, June 16, 2007

I found a treasure recently in my travels along the vintage highway. I've always been interested in the history of the British Boutique Movement, although I haven't always understood the attraction to all of the greats like Ossie Clark and the moss crepe fabric textiles that Celia Birtwell designed, the fashions by Biba and of course Mary Quant. What I did understand was the stylings of Lee Bender of Bus Stop. As much as I don't buy vintage items just for their labels it's always nice to find a "holy grail" item once in a while.

A vintage friend, Margaret (Artizania) gave me a heads up on a Bus Stop suit that was for sale and I grabbed it as fast as I could. The workmanship on the suit is superb and a bit different from the normal stylings of Lee Bender but it still says "superior fashion" to me. So without further ado here are the photos of my holy grail item, a Vintage 1970s Bus Stop Lee Bender Posh Plaid Suit!

Of course being a vintage clothing entrepreneur I buy vintage items all the time without regard to my personal size so this beauty is ready to find a new home with someone else who will cherish it and wear it in good health. So don't forget to check out this wonderful piece of wearable history along with many other items we have in store for you at Born Too Late Vintage, the style you were meant to wear!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This is the final week of our trip into the Greenwich Village Boutiques. I've had the good fortune to also find in my travels a wonderful cream color gown length hand crocheted dress from the boutique of Fred Leighton.

Although I don't know the personal story behind this gown I've been able to gather from my research on the internet and from a friend named Scott that the clothes that the shop carried in Mr. Leighton's shop in the village were not designed by or for him but were created anonymously in Mexico and imported by him for a US market interested in "ethnic" clothing.

Fred Leighton started out in Chicago back in the early 'twenties; his original interest was in Native American crafts and he ran Fred Leighton's Indian Trading Post on Michigan Avenue before moving to Manhattan in the midthirties. There, he opened Fred Leighton Imports, which specialized in Mexican goods (which continued to be the case through the early seventies) which would have been the time that this particular gown was sold. The McDougal Street store didn't open until the midsixties, and by 1972 the shop, while continuing to carry some Mexican imports, began to specialize in imports from many other countries.

Fred Leighton himself passed away in the mid 1970s (although the exact date is not available to me), the shop was purchased and within a few years began carrying only antique jewelry, which is what the store is known for today.

Along with much of the information above, my friend Scott also provided this information as well: "There was a 1965 mention from the New York Times which refers to the popularity of dresses much like the one I am featuring today: "New York women have been buying up the tucked cotton and lace Mexican wedding dresses--which sell in shops like Fred Leighton's and the Phoenix Pan American--and wearing them for their own special flair. Maria Tallchief, the ballerina, wrapped a sash around her white one for the opening of "Don Quixote" last May. A chic middle-aged woman at Lincoln Center wore hers loosely with a simple strand of diamonds, while a young girl tied black ribbons to her braided hair to match her black dress...."

While I have chosen to feature this crocheted gown in it's simplicity there are many ways to make it your own as the article above states better than I ever could. And now for the pictures of this lovely gown.

This gown is in excellent condition having stood the test of time beautifully and is exclusively offered at Born Too Late Vintage at Specialists Auction.

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, United States
We are the owners of Mod Mary's Vintage on Etsy.