Bobbins: Veils

I've always been fascinated with vintage hats with veils and the glamorous mysterious effect they have. . Certainly there are many religious origins to the veil, think Catholic Nuns and Muslim Burqas. There is also the wedding ritual where brides wear veils ( like the gorgeous one above) to represent their virginity, a tradition that still carries on with meaning or not. There is also the somewhat old fashioned use of black veils at funerals worn by widows and those in high mourning. But where does that leave us in the fashion world where wearing a veil is a choice not a societal standard?

Let's have a look:

In Victorian and Edwardian times, large veiled hats were popular to keep sun off of the face and dust out of your eyes while riding in an automobile. Practical and pragmatic.

Bette Davis in the 1940's. Veils are worn by glamorous women. They define a lady's space and separate them from the common woman.

In the 1950's a lady never went out without a hat and her gloves.

Veils attached to fancy cocktail hats were an option for formal occasions.

Another image from the 1950's when wearing fashion veils peaked.

Sophisticated, mysterious, refined, and very lady like.

Modern times. Veils make a come back for a glamorous night out. Drew Barrymore is stunning in her birdcage veil at the Grey Gardens premiere.

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Retro Looks In The Modern World: Yinka Shonibare MBE

Fashion stylists and designers aren't the only ones that borrow from the past. Artists do as well. For this edition of Retro Looks in the Modern World, I am featuring an artist that does it very well, Yinka Shonibare MBE. I went to his exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum yesterday and was very intrigued and delighted by the installations, videos, and photographs by this British-Nigerian conceptual artist.

Leisure Lady with Ocelots by artist Yinka Shonibare
The installations feature headless mannequins that are clothed in colorful Dutch wax print fabric in elaborate costumes from either the Victorian era or the Pre-French Revolution era. Dutch wax fabric is typically known as a West African fabric but is actually made in Dutch and English factories for the West African market and inspired by the traditional Indonesian batik technique. While the gorgeous prints suggest an African identity, they are strongly connected and reliant on the Europeans. Showing these European costumes from the time of colonization in these fabric connect the viewer to the complex connection between cultures on a racial, economic, political, and sexual level. I was left with the feeling that the idea of modern globalization is not all that modern. We are in effect all connected and dependent in one way or another and always have been.
Yinka Shonibare: Scramble for Africa
Yinka Shonibare MBE: How to Blow Up Two Heads at Once (Ladies)

If you are in Brooklyn, run don't walk to see this exhibit! It closes September 20th.

Photos via

Swimwear By Decade- 1900's

For the summer my Fashionabale History segment will be about bathing suits and swimwear by decade. The early 1900's, Victorian/Edwardian, is going to start off the season. Seaside vacations became very popular in the early 1900's. Typical swimwear was often burdensome and heavy for our standards but for the time it must have felt light and alluring. Wool dresses were the norm worn with black tights, lace up booties, and puffy caps. Imagine swimming in that! But as you can see in the delightful photos below, the girls seem to be having fun.

Love the stripes!

This one above is atypical. She is showing a lot of skin. Notice the strange beach accessories....victorian boots and muff! Don't leave home without them. She is lovely though.

Ready to dive! This is adorable but a bit fussy for the beach.

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