Modern Designers with Vintage Appeal
The history lover need not be confined to finding elegant pieces for one's wardrobe at vintage clothing shops or
estate sales. By shopping wisely, one can always find garments by modern designers
who borrow elements from past trends. Below are a few of our favorite designers whose fashions
express a historical flair.
Ann Ferriday's signature lace-trimmed tops, skirts and dresses are ultra-feminine and romantic.
She uses laces, ribbons, drop v-neck cuts, and the right amount of spandex in her creations to complement the female
form, and her designs have been affectionately referred to as "date" wear. Her designs are sold nationwide
at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and other fine retail shops.
Chris and April Cornell met in Montreal in the late 1960s. Both were self-declared "flower children."
April was an artist and Chris was a budding entrepreneur. The two enjoyed selling things at flea
markets and began to travel to the Far East to find beautiful, unusual items to market. They
especially loved India, and enjoyed the wonderful patterns on fabric they saw abroad.
Today, their line of home decorating items and clothing is characterized by colorful,
romantic silk-screened prints with an artistic flair. They previously owned retail stores throughtout
the United States, but closed their doors in 2006 (there are a few stores remaining in Canada).
Whether you know J. Peterman as a catalog company or as a quirky character on the now syndicated
"Seinfeld" sitcom, the real John Peterman founded his Kentucky-based company around vintage-style
clothing. The story goes that after enough people had literally stopped him on the streets of
New York to ask where he got the classic horseman's duster he was wearing, he decided to start a
company to make it available to others. At the height of its success, the J. Peterman company was
selling an extensive line of vintage-styled reproduction clothing (at not-so-vintage prices), including
an exquisite "Titanic" reproduction dress. (Think Kate Winslet when she meets Leonardo DiCaprio
at the top of the staircase.) In 1999, the company filed for bankruptcy, but it is now back up and running, although
with a much smaller selection of items. The company that once offered reproduction benches from the
R.M.S. Titanic now seems to have its footing back as a stable more down-to-earth catalog
company. Their catalog with their distinctive clothing sketches and dramatic, somewhat
unbelievable stories, still makes for a fun read.
Jessica McClintock arrived in San Francisco, California in 1969 with little intention of
becoming a fashion designer. She was a young widow with a son and planned to become a teacher.
But fashion seemed to be in her blood. Her grandmother had been an accomplished seamstress, and soon, McClintock
began designing and making dresses. Before long, she founded a small company called Gunne Sax and throughout
the 1970s and 1980s, her company became synonymous with romantic style. McClintock used beautiful laces and
fabrics and designed her clothing line after Victorian dresses and fashions. The name of her clothing
line soon became Jessica McClintock and what began as a modest company has turned into an
internationally-recognized incorporation. McClintock has even expanded her line of clothing to
accessories, perfume and home decorating items. The line of clothing today tends to follow
a more modern edge, but it still retains a sense of romanticism. Recently, McClintock launched a "New Victorian" line featuring
lush fabrics, laces and heirloom styling. Look for vintage Gunne Sax
blouses and dresses for some truly Victorian-inspired clothing.
Below are several of our favorite Jessica McClintock designs.
Jill Stuart's vintage-inspired, ultra-feminine clothes make girls of all ages yearn for prom, or for a supporting role in an Audrey Hepburn movie.
The three collections a year (fall/winter, spring/summer, and resort) include blouses and skirts, some dressmaker-tailored suiting and even a bit of denim,
but Stuart really concentrates on (and excels at) dress design. With references to 1930s gauzy ball gowns, Victorian mores, and even a Gothic attitude,
the dresses incorporate lacy appliques and cutouts, ribbon trimming and intricate beaded details; in particular, Stuart favors pink, printed
chiffons, fitted tops and full, layered, petticoat-like skirts. Below are several of our favorite Jill Stuart designs.
Did you know that Audrey Hepburn had a role in the development of Laura Ashley as a fashion icon? In
1953, when Hepburn starred alongside Gregory Peck in "Roman Holiday," she wore a scarf around her head
that became an instant fashion trend. At this same time, a young English couple named Laura and
Bernard Ashley were also producing headscarves in their small Pimlico apartment. As the trend grew,
so their scarves became popular with stores and the couple began their company, Laura Ashley.
The couple produced printed fabric which they used for their scarves, as well as table mats
and accessories. Inspired by prints they saw at the Victoria and Albert Museum, they wanted to
reproduce the pretty floral fabrics. They used these fabrics in home decorating, women's apparel,
children's clothing and more. Today, the company is a multi-faceted entity which spans the globe.
However, although Laura Ashley has remained traditional and classic, her styles have strayed somewhat
from her vintage-styled, romantic roots.
Designer Nanette Lepore's collection reflects the true gypsy spirit she cultivated as a
child traveling with her family. These bohemian influences are apparent in her use of strong,
vibrant prints and lush colors that are juxtaposed with delicate fabrics and flirty silhouettes.
We especially love Lepore's feminine creations that feature generous embellishments of lace and ribbon.
At the age of nine, Nanette created her first couture look when she draped a bedspread around a
neighborhood friend, clasped a beaded choker around her neck, and painted sunflowers on the girl's face.
Posing her friend in the front yard behind a hand-lettered sign proudly bearing the name "Lepore,"
Nanette had begun to follow her dream of fashion stardom.
Encouraged by her parents, she often stayed awake late at night stitching up new designs.
After graduating from Youngstown University, Lepore completed a design degree at the Fashion
Institute of Technology and married artist Robert Savage. He urged Lepore to strike out on
her own and together they set up shop. Years of hard work followed, and Lepore opened her first
boutique in New York's NoLita district, which quickly led to additional boutiques in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Las Vegas.
In Spring 2004, she launched her premier women's fragrance.
Today, her collection attracts celebrity devotees like Jessica Simpson, Paris and Nicky Hilton,
Drew Barrymore, Uma Thurman, Hilary Duff, and dozens more. Television and film stylists
feature Lepore's pieces regularly, such as on Jennifer Garner in "13 Going on 30"
and Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde 2."
Below are several of our favorite Nanette Lepore designs.
Designer Inga Nataya Bogomolny was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan but moved to the United States as a teenager. Her line of romantic apparel is often inspired by Victorian and Edwardian designs; the dresses in her collection are made of pretty chiffons and laces but with just a hint of bohemian flair. In actuality, like April Cornell, she borrows elements from various cultures, blending such unique styles as modern Indian clothing, which are often layered in lovely lace and embroidery. her dresses, tops and skits are somewhat hard to find though, and are carried at specialty boutiques and shops. Below are several of our favorite Nataya designs.
Robert Rodriguez launched his fashion label in 2003.
Growing up, Rodriguez's mother gave him a book on Christian Dior, which
he studied meticulously. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York,
where he was recognized for his beautiful and unique designs and received the prestigious Critics Award for Best Designer of the Year.
After completing his education, Rodriguez worked for Christian Dior under the guidance of Marc Bohen and Geri Gerald.
He experienced the world of beauty, desirability, exclusivity and superb craftsmanship while at Christian Dior,
and it was his experiences there that afforded him the luxury to launch his own brand. In October 2003, Rodriguez
and his business partner Nicola Guarna created Robert Rodriguez: a sophisticated, feminine, contemporary collection for style-conscience women of all ages.
The Robert Rodriguez collection incorporates the principles of haute couture, focusing on fashion, quality and fit. His
love for fashion, excellent artistry with the styling of garments and his commitment to elegant dressmaking brought him great recognition.
The Robert Rodriguez collection has gained quick attention from celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Angela Bassett,
Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey.
Below are several
of our favorite Robert Rodriguez designs.