Wednesday, April 28, 2010

michigan--land of riches

Yesterday afternoon Andy and I went to the amazing Michigan--Land of Riches exhibition at the former location of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I fell in love with the Deco exterior of the museum when I moved here, but since it had closed in 1994, I had never been inside. When the museum shut down, the exhibits were already in a state of decay. But now artist and curator Paul Amenta, along with students from Kendall College of Art and Design and other local schools, have re-opened and re-energized the old museum.

Many of the exhibits were left as they were, with paint peeling and display lettering missing. They have a ghostly, poignant quality.

I could have spent all day looking at the stacks and stacks of taxidermied animals. In fact, I might have to go back again to do just that.

Artists added to the extant displays, or created their own "exhibits," that were often hilariously funny, and sometimes made thoughtful statements.

A lot of what we saw was just whimsical, enchanting, fun.

I particularly liked the way the artists made interesting use of the old spaces in the museum, creating rooms and vignettes full of atmosphere.

The experience for me--someone totally new to the museum--was strange and wonderful enough. There's a whole other level of nostalgia for Andy and other Grand Rapids natives who grew up visiting the museum many times as children. Andy was alternately tickled and a little freaked out by the experience. (We both found the heavy emphasis the museum seemed to have had on women's anatomy and baby-making a wee bit odd.)

If you're in Grand Rapids or nearby, I highly recommend you visit the exhibition. It's like nothing I've ever seen before, and it's only going to run through mid-May. After that, what will happen to the old Public Museum is up in the air, but I really hope a way will be found to keep the space open to the public somehow.

Oh, and of course I wore vintage to the museum! This 1960s floral print dress.

Afterwards, Andy and I enjoyed our first Outdoor Beer of the season on the Meanwhile's back patio beer garden.



Monday, April 26, 2010

vintage prom

Although I'm way past my prom days, I still thought it would be fun to do a post about vintage prom dresses. And I was hoping to start things off with a photo of me in my prom dress (circa 1987). Unfortunately, I could not find the photo. I didn't wear a vintage dress to prom, although I had started thrifting and wearing vintage at this point. My dress was, however, vintage-inspired. It was a pretty amazing black satin floor-length sheath, with a fishtail hem, and I wore it with long gloves and rhinestone jewelry. Very Hollywood movie star! The effect, however, was pretty much ruined by my giant hair.

Since I don't have a photo of me and my dress (and my cute prom date!), here's a photo from the same time period of me and the hair (and our cute college counselor! Who is obviously quite rightly puzzled by the hair).

The rhinestone earrings? I wore those to prom!

Anyway, if I were 18 and attending prom today, I would want to go wearing one of the many amazing and well-priced vintage dresses you can find on Etsy! And naturally, these vintage party and cocktail dresses work just as well for more grown-up affairs. I put together an Etsy Treasury of 16 of my favorites. Click the photo to see a larger view of the treasury (links to each seller's dress below the photos), or click this link to go directly to the Treasury itself, which includes clickable links to all the dresses.

And here's a little selection of prom/cocktail party-worthy dresses from the shop.

vintage prom dresses 1

vintage prom dresses 2

And hey, if you have a chance, check out this week's prom themed Etsy Voter, and if you're so inclined, put a vote in for my 1950s Lilac Smoke Lace Party Dress, which was nominated--my first time ever in an Etsy Voter!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I know it's kind of a big preview--hopefully not too big. Andy painted the photo backdrop white last weekend (so no more annoying wrinkles in the backdrop fabric, hurrah!), and maybe I got a little carried away with the photos.

Enjoy the results of my crazed productivity: there are lots of great things for spring and summer here! In fact, I'm getting a bit of a picnicky, gin & tonics-on-the-lawn vibe from some of it. Although those days won't be here in chilly springtime Michigan for a little while yet.

1950s blue brushstrokes pintucked bodice dress.

Cityscape top with GIGANTIC cowl neck.

Deadstock bohemian striped dress with sparkly Lurex thread.

White allover-pintuck blouse, by Bill Atkinson Glen of Michigan.

Butterfly print crepe 1940s sundress.

1950s full, pleated plaid skirt.

1960s triangles print harlequin shift dress, by Bill Atkinson Glen of Michigan.

Bud Berma bullfighters shirt.

Crazy 1970s Americana photographic disco shirt.

Lemon lime plaid dress, by Carol Brent.

Red patchwork tie-waist blouse, by White Stag.

1960s golden-green flower print brocade cocktail dress.

1960s red and white polka-dot skirt, by Junior House.

Brown gingham and stripe maxi dress with bell cuffs.

Blue floral cotton blouse, by Lady Manhattan.

Pink gingham scarf neck blouse and skirt.

Whale print top.

Mod coffee and cream scooter dress, by David Crystal.

Floral print scarf neck blouse, by the Wedgwood Collection Majestic

1930s or 1940s floral print rayon and faille dress.

Pink and green embroidered top with satin ribbon drawstring tie at waist.

1960s green and tan print dress with scarf neck, by Glen of Michigan.

Butterflies, dragonflies, leaves, and plain old bugs, on this sleeveless blouse by Tuxedo.

Blue gingham shirtwaist dress, by Kenny Classics.

Lemon, lime and orange plaid oxford, by Jeanie.

Mod 1960s kelly green and white linen dress, by Peck & Peck Haberdasher.

Satin Bellini rose blouse, by Hollyvogue.

Flower-embroidered sleeveless dress, by Mary Douglass.

Black nylon and rayon satin full slip, by Wonder Maid St. Louis.

1960s blouson bodice dress with orange and olive poppy print.

Calico floral blouse with giant round collar and button-on scarf ties at neck.

1940s or early 1950s white pique and lace dress, by Raemar Juniors.

New with tags Jantzen umbrellas and sunshine sleeveless top.

Cocktail dress with ivory shirred bodice, sheer sleeves, and a bow at waist, by Ann Barry Jr.



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