Saturday, August 23, 2014

Recreating A Fashion Look - 1942

There is a certain art to bringing back to life an outfit that I've seen portrayed in a vintage magazine.  I feel like I am learning a lesson in history, art, form, discovery, connections…the list goes on.

A couple months ago, I was wandering the lockers of ebay and I came across an auction for a butterfly skirt.  This skirt looked very familiar, then a rather large wave of epiphany hit me, this is the same skirt pattern from the butterfly image by Louis Dahl-Wolf.  The image below was originally printed in a 1942 Harper's Bazaar fashion spread in very rare color form.  You could buy the skirt from B.Altman.

Thie skirt that was worn in this iconic image was way before its time.  The sweeping nature of what was to become the 1950's circle (full) skirt look.  But, it is not just the skirt, it is the whole impression that just lingers and is one of those fashion images that leaves an imprint.  The composition is perfection and so is the lighting, not to mention the beauty of the model (Bijou Barrington), it's like all forces of nature were aligned to bring this image together in color.

So, when the auction ended for the version of the skirt I am wearing above,  I fell off my chair when I won it for $18.  I did have to have the side button holes fixed but well worth the investment.  It is a cold rayon skirt and still very vivid in print.  I also bought a yellow linen kind of short sleeve cardigan that I believe went with this skirt.  But, that is for another day.

Then, my quest began, to find accessories to match this creation that would be similar to the vintage fashion image.   Isn't it crazy that this image is from 1942??

I really did want to recreate closer to the exact image but my skirt isn't full enough for the effect.  So, I opted to photograph near a rounded arch doorway in a Spanish influenced entranceway.

The interesting vibe I really like about the jewelry in the 1942 fashion image is the metallic nature.  I think we so often think of Bakelite and rhinestones but there was also a big movement of warm earth tone metals.  Some of these bracelets and earrings carry with them a great mid-century modern overlay.

Outfit Details:

Earrings:  I found by looking for "pearl and metal" and came across these wonderful  Hogan Bolas screw back earrings from Etsy shop Classic Mid-Century.

Bracelets: Various sources keeping to the theme of the 1942 photograph.

Butterfly Clips:  Even better in person and appear to be made from feathers.  Olgadesigns

Blouse:  Made by me, vintage pattern Simplicity 2127.  I actually bought this pattern as a size 30 bust and it's still crazy big.  I think if I ever made it again I would certainly bring it in.  Pattern went together pretty easy and I made this pattern because there was nothing similar out there for what I was looking for.

Skirt: Ebay 1942 cold rayon with butterfly motif.

Shoes:  Gave me blisters:)  Really need to break them in but they were free with Amazon rewards points:)


  1. What a buy! I'm speechless!!
    I would never have guessed the image was from 1942, it looks surprisingly timeless. You've done such a great job at recreating the look. I think I need to invest in some old magazines :)

  2. Oh goodness, where to begin?! I LOVE it! The skirt, the top you MADE (holy-moley, that's dedication) the accessories (butterflies!!) I just used two exclamation points (!!) I never do that...that's how incredible this outfit is(I'm sure Strunk and White would understand, I mean come on).

    You have an excellent memory for images, and being able to put it together...just breathtaking. Those earrings are really interesting too-I can't place what they remind me of, some sculpture methinks.

  3. Super duper fun! I love when you do this! I know its takes a great deal of commitment to create the looks and you recreate them beautifully!! xox

  4. I love the concept of recreating a vintage image and think you have done a great job of this butterfly inspired one.

  5. I am astounded that the photo is from that early, there's something quite 1980's about it with the hair and jewellery. I love your recreation of the look! Fantastic x

  6. you have such talent!!!! i've loved that skirt for so long and what you did was amazing!

  7. I love the way you aspire to recreate whole looks from a photo. It's so much fun to see the results of, and I imagine a lot of fun to do! That is an amazing image and you've done a great job.

  8. This is such a great recreation, you have done such a good job. It must have been fun tracking down these pieces and gradually seeing the look come together.

  9. Great find! I love seeing iconic images recreated and totally agree that it is an art form all it's own. I think the treasure hunt for all the right pieces is just as fun as posing for that final picture. :)

  10. I love this! You did such a beautiful job .. the butterflies are so sweet. Really butterflies are the only flying bugs that don't make me jump .. lol.


  11. I am so amazed at how perfectly you've recreated this look. You really did a marvelous job! That skirt is all kinds of beautiful, and I love that you managed to find, or create, all of these great pieces to go along with it. Not to mention what a great buy it was, you lucky thing.

  12. Thank you everyone:) It was a labor of love but very much worth it in the end:)

  13. Great work! Such a fun combination.

  14. Wow! What a delightful rendition of such an iconic image Joanna! That skirt really is so lovely ~ I can't believe you managed to find one, and at such a great price. Simply fabulous! ♡

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  15. Stupendously, completely beautiful recreation, dear Joanna. Your attention to detail would put many a professional stylist to shame (or at least give them something to aspire to). I have always adored this image - so ahead of its time in many ways - and equally (if not more so!) love that you put so much thought and skill into recreating the butterfly filled image it depicts. Seriously amazing work!!!

    ♥ Jessica

  16. This is a great recreation of this look, Joanna! And I am also wowed that this fashion image is from 1942! I does look perfectly 50s. They were so avant garde!

  17. This is so great!! I love it when vintage pieces and original images come together. I have seen that image and just as you say, I've always been amazed that it's from the early 1940s! You did wonderful job with the styling!

  18. Your look is a great recreation of this iconic pattern! Bravo!

  19. Absolutely wonderful! I love your attention to detail! And I love when you find vintage images of items.


  20. Amazingly lovely! The colors are gorgeous.