If you could have just eight vintage fashion items, what would they be?
I decided to start Desert Island Vintage thinking of the BBC’s famous Desert Island Discs, the show that has, since 1942, been asking guests to choose the eight records they would most want to have with them on a desert island.
Does one take vintage to a desert island? I can certainly imagine feeling the sand between my toes in 1940s beach sandals—but that isn't the point. The point is to winnow down a love of vintage fashion to just eight pieces. Whether the guest would put her choices in a museum, give them away, sell them, or wear them—that's her choice. I am interested in the what and why of my guest's choices, but I don’t care if they're practical or fanciful, something she owns already, or something she could never imagine getting her hands on.
My very first castaway—as Desert Island Discs likes to call its guests—is Lizzie Bramlett. Lizzie is the fresh, history-loving writer of The Vintage Traveler blog. Her viewpoint has been honed from collecting, wearing, and selling vintage clothing since the 1970s, and from a 28-year career of teaching history to pre-teens. Lizzie has unique perspectives and interests in the world of vintage fashion. I wouldn’t expect her to choose a Dior or a Chanel among her eight…that just doesn't seem like her.
In her blog, Lizzie fascinates us with vintage sporting wear, vintage novelty prints, obscure fashion history, reviews of fashion films and books, and many other interesting, often overlooked subjects. She writes an excellent bi-weekly roundup of fashion history news from around the web. There is always a vicarious thrill in peeking over Lizzie’s shoulder on her shopping expeditions, museum visits, and travels, all of which she describes and photographs with discernment, erudition, and wit.
Here is Lizzie's Desert Island Vintage collection, and why each piece is part of it.
"How does one choose eight must-have items for her vintage collection? In my case, I started with the long list I already have of vintage items I need for my sportswear collection. After much agonizing I was able to come up with the eight vintage items I most covet.
1. "1890s sports sweater. Victorian sweaters for women are the rarest of the rare in the sportswear category, so of course I want one.
2. "1910 Outdoors suit from Abercrombie and Fitch, made from striped wool blanketing. A & F was THE place for sportspeople, and I need this so much.
3. "1920s Sonia Delaunay Bathing ensemble. I hope it isn't cheating to want the entire ensemble: bathing suit, robe, tote, parasol. For a very short time artist Sonia Delaunay had a shop in Paris that sold mainly sportswear and accessories made from fabrics she designed.
4. "1934 Jean Patou skating suit. Actually, I'm not picky. I'll take any Jean Patou sports attire.
5. "1940s Claire McCardell Pop-Over dress. For a dress that was mass-produced, examples are surprisingly scarce.
6. "1960s Ski ensemble from Hermes. This particular set was in the wardrobe of Ann Bonfoey Taylor, a sportswoman after my own heart.
7. "1965 Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian-inspired dress. Because it's not always about sportswear with me, and the intersection of art and fashion is completely fascinating.
8. "And to put it all in, a custom-made Louis Vuitton trunk with shelves and cocktail bar."