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February 13, 2015 - Comments Off on Fashion History: 5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Lace

Fashion History: 5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Lace

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There's a lot more to lace than its ability to add a feminine flair to any outfit it graces. Looking back, the fabric has hand a place in most fashion trends through the ages—from the overwhelming lace ruffles Queen Elizabeth would don in the 16th century to the "Below The Knee" dresses flappers so often turned to. For the custom evening and bridal gowns Nicole has created, she favors the exquisite laces made on traditional Leavers looms in France. But there's equally a place for modern-day stretch lace, and we also love the subtle sophistication and function it brings to our Evelyn Dress.

With so many delicate designs and patterns, it's hard to imagine the making-of being anything short of painstaking (and to call it "involved" would be an understatement). So, in our effort to bring everyone closer to the clothing they love, we're digging into a few highlights in the history of process of this elegant textile. Read on and learn.

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Lace History Tidbits

In the 17th century, lace was even used to decorate door knobs. Years later, "his and hers" lace collars would become all the rage. Today, the textile plays a much more strategic role in fashion—one that can put a design over-the-top or impress with its subtlety, depending on how it's incorporated. There's a lot to take in when it comes to the history of the fabric, but here are five things you probably didn't know before reading this.

  • Tatting (a specific type of lace making) was inspired by the intricate knotting of sailors—used for both functionality on the ships and as mementos for long-distance loved ones.  (Side note: Nicole's Great-Grandmother from Greece was an excellent tatter)
  • Lace helped people survive Ireland's Potato Famine. Once food became scarce, the women of Ireland created schools to teach crocheting and lace-making. The founders of the schools even assisted their students in selling their creations—helping them survive a time when money and food was hard to come by.

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September 8, 2014 - Comments Off on How a One-Armed General Gave Us the Raglan Sleeve

How a One-Armed General Gave Us the Raglan Sleeve

Edie_romperRaglan sleeve variation on our Edie Romper

Before I jump into the slightly gruesome (yes—I mean gruesome) history that resulted in the ever-popular raglan sleeve, let's break down what the style actually is, for those of you not familiar. You've likely seen raglan sleeves in sports and other athletic wear, used for their comfortable, movement-friendly fit. But they also play a stylish role in everyday attire. The main distinguishing characteristic is the angular (vs. round) armhole shape, meaning the sleeve itself is one piece that goes all the way up to the neckline. Take a look at this baseball jersey for a great example. The entire red section is the raglan sleeve:

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Baseball jersey raglan sleeve - Photo: Sam/Flickr

Our very own Edie Romper has a feminine take on the raglan sleeve—just with added gathers, and a shorter sleeve length compared to the more commonly seen baseball raglans. Now that you know what you're looking at, let's get into the history.

It all dates back to a guy named FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, a British Army officer in the early 19th century. Among many less memorable battles, Somerset fought in Napoleon's last big battle (called the Waterloo Campaign) and received injuries to his right arm that led to amputation. Considering what medicinal methods must have been at that time in history, it's remarkable that he lived through the trauma to share what was to be the general's major gift to fashion—now, that's one sentence I never thought I'd pen. (Fun fact: According to Wikipedia lore, immediately after having the arm removed, he asked for the ring his wife gave him before they took the appendage away.)  Despite his disability, Somerset continued to see success as he resumed his position in Paris as secretary to the British Embassy. He was eventually named Baron Raglan (of the village Raglan in south east Wales, UK) in October of 1852, shortly after receiving the title "Master-General of the Ordnance." Sounds important, though I have not the slightest clue what that job description would include.

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August 4, 2014 - Comments Off on What to Wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island

What to Wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island

voon_michelleVintage style mavens Michelle Coursey & Voon Chew on the dance floor - photo by Paul Stein

When it comes to themed summer happenings, the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island is one of my favorites. It takes place over two glorious weekends, with the final 2014 dates coming up August 16-17th. Conceived by the dapper bandleader Michael Arenella, the event is a dreamy escape back in time: 1920's garb, antique gramophones, a vintage motorcar exhibition, pie contests, properly themed cocktail, and—of course—lots of dancing. (You can see the complete "Run of Show" here.) Once you get past the excitement of what the Lawn Party actually is, don’t let the anxiety of coming up with an outfit weigh you down. There is no specific dress code, but everyone is encouraged to channel elegant vintage-inspired attire to contribute to the overall spirit. Here are a few tips for dressing for the occasion, but make sure to buy your tickets first.

miu_miuMiuccia Prada + Catherine Martin costumes for Baz Luhrman's Gatsby

The Dress
The 1920s style brings about visions of fringed shifts and beaded extravagancies. This is the event to pull out your finest and wear it well. For inspiration, the gorgeous costumes created by Miuccia Prada and Catherine Martin for Bahz Luhrman's Gatsby take the cake, and we absolutely love the campaign for Campari starring the lovely actress Eva Green. Try scouring vintage and thrift shops for aged beauties from the era. Or if you're feeling more daytime summery, lightweight feminine cotton dresses can also fit the bill. For previous lawn parties we've worked with clients to revamp their vintage finds: dresses in silk + cotton gingham as well as a pretty floral print.

nicole_lenzen_jazz-ageNicole Lenzen handmade lace & silk headband paired with a vintage dress - photo by Sarah Joj Tester

Mind Your Head
The headpiece played a role as an extension of a hairstyle in the '20s. What that means: Feel free to keep your 'do simple—a few waves and finger curls should do the trick—and compliment it with a flapper-style headband that was popular towards the end of the decade. If you are one of those DIY-inclined ladies, try using a plain headband or scarf and adding your own adornments to match your outfit. Or if you prefer a hat or fascinator, NYC milliner Gretchen Fenston has gorgeous jazz age-inspired creations. Otherwise a floppy woven hat is perfect for a hot summer's day full of drinking and dancing.

jazz_age_feetDancing in Air - photo by istolethetv

Dancing Shoes
This is a given. Whether you decide to go for a more modern look and pair your favorite pair of lace-ups with your get-up or an era-appropriate pair of crescent-tipped heels, make sure you won't end up nursing blisters halfway through the festivities. If it's a pair of '20s inspired shoes you're hunting for, look for a pair that features an ankle or t-strap (great for dancing!); low, chunky heels; or an oxford for a menswear inspired look. Finding a local pair might be the quickest, but Modcloth has a great selection of era-inspired shoes, as well as Remix and American Duchess for quality vintage repro.

gretchen_fenston_Milliner Gretchen Fenston in her own creation - photo by Voon Chew

Feminine Accessories, Bold Lips
A string of pearls can go a long way. Toss a few around your neck or on your wrists for a feminine touch that won't take away from the rest of your outfit. Bonus: Playing up the nude colors of your accessories allows for a bold, red lip—which is always the best way to cap the perfect outfit. Read more

July 8, 2014 - Comments Off on Meet the Eva Collection: Feminine, Tailored Dresses and Separates with Vintage-Inspired Details

Meet the Eva Collection: Feminine, Tailored Dresses and Separates with Vintage-Inspired Details

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Feminine details, vintage-inspired charm, and an all-over elegant silhouette is a given with the new Eva Collection. As always, the styles focus on keeping you put-together, no matter what the day throws your way. Whether you've got a bike ride commute followed up with an important client meeting or an impromptu happy hour get-together, we've got a pleated neckline, peplum or pocket (and much, much more) to keep you looking lovely no matter how hard you work.

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Today's office dress code may be leaning a little on the casual side, but women still deserve to look and feel great during the day while stepping it up style-wise. Finding that perfect place between power suit and sundress, the Eva Collection is redefining modern work wear by introducing an elegant, feminine style that'll keep you feeling empowered.

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But don't just take our word for it. We showed off the collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week and Lindy Focus XII. Keep your eyes out for our versatile new styles being worn the way they're meant to be worn—on the move.

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December 23, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Bubble Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Bubble Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection takes us through an amazing story of elegant, contemporary, feminine silhouettes conveyed by dresses inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing.

After the Elena dress and the Mariposa dress, we now introduce the original design that inspired the entire Candy Collection: the Bubble Dress. Drawing from the playful airiness of bubble gum, the dress silhouette is feminine, flattering and fun.

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The quintessential Candy dress

As the first dress design that led to the entire Candy Collection, the Bubble dress draws inspiration from bubble gum and candy that will transport you into a whimsical world of fun and play. From the candy ribbon folds of the belt to the lightness of the skirt, the sweet Bubble Dress is perfectly delicious.

This playful hourglass silhouette has a sleeveless bodice and flattering boat neckline. The bubble hem provides just the right amount of fullness while the sheen of the silk accentuates the natural movement of the skirt. Read more

December 14, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Mariposa Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Mariposa Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection takes us through an amazing story of elegant contemporary, feminine silhouettes conveyed by dresses inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing.

After presenting the Elena, we move to another breathtaking model, the Mariposa dress from the sweet Candy collection. Its flowy skirt and shiny jewel tones will sweep you off your feet.

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Photographs by Ned & Aya

The perfect cocktail dress

First made by the designer for herself to wear to a gala event, the Mariposa dress features a pretty draped bodice, a flirty flared skirt and a tropical beaded and embroidered waistband that make a perfect festive dress and a great alternative to the little black dress.

Nicole Lenzen attended a theater opening followed by a cocktail evening organized by a director from the swing dance scene. Clover green silk charmeuse leftover from an unconventional wedding dress made by Lenzen and the colorful intensity of the tropics inspired the sumptuous Mariposa dress. Catching the light and dance movements in a perfect fashion, the dress drew attention so successfully that the dress eventually became one of the key designs in the new Candy collection. Read more

December 4, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Elena Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Elena Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection tells an amazing story of elegant, contemporary, feminine silhouettes inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing. Nicole Lenzen’s designs flatter the female body whilst providing comfort and modern style. Each dress features unique details, which we will share with you in the coming weeks based on the designer’s creative input.

We start with the Elena dress. Inspired by a real-life vintage dress transported and transformed into a twenty-first century fashion silhouette, it truly represents the reconstruction of an era.

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Photographs by Ned & Aya

The true story of a vintage dress

Well-known dancer Evita Arce who specializes in the Lindy Hop style and is famous for her high-flying aerials and dynamic movement reached out to Nicole Lenzen to design costumes for her dance company’s performances in New York City and abroad. Lenzen was strongly inspired by vintage dresses that Evita wore at shows and competitions, many originally worn by NYC swing dance icon Elena Iannucci, co-owner of Dance Manhattan. “Elena had a beautiful collection of vintage dresses and accessories that she handed over to Evita when she retired from dancing professionally” said Nicole Lenzen. But unfortunately the dresses were not tailored for dancing. “One of Evita’s favorite dresses – a 1940’s navy floral print which had been torn and patched up on multiple occasions – did not survive a New Year’s crowd-surfing performance!” she added with a laugh. So although the vintage dress was no longer functional, it provided great inspiration for the Elena dress. Read more

January 5, 2010 - Comments Off on Jill – Reclaimed Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Jill – Reclaimed Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Jill was able to obtain both of her husband's grandmother's wedding dresses to use in new creations for herself. The dress from her husband's grandmother's first marriage at the turn of the 20th century we used in Jill's wedding dress; the dress from the second marriage circa 1940s we decided to use for Jill's rehearsal dinner dress.

I cleaned and restored the lace, and we did a serious of dyeing experiments before deciding on a pretty mauve shade that complemented Jill's complexion.

Very few alterations were necessary on the dress (which goes to show how tiny Jill is!) She had a black slip dress that worked perfectly under the lace dress, and we added a black velvet ribbon as a contrast at the empire waist. In addition to the beautiful dress, Jill had also obtained a bolero jacket, which we dyed the same colour.