Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Irene - A Suited Adventure

Part of my "Well-Suited" series....

The fabulous Irene!

What's not to love about a well-tailored classic vintage suit?

I've been wanting to do a blog post on Irene (Lentz) (Gibbons) for sometime.  

There is a kind of a nitche within the historical world of post-WW2 fashion..... a sub-world of fantastic California couture...shall we say a breath of Atlantis?  I'd like to explore this topic of California fashions more in future posts.   There are fashion magazines such as The California Stylist and The Californian which were dedicated to California style and showcased California designers and fashion.  Good luck trying to locate some of these magazines as they do not come up for sale often and can be quite pricey;)  

Can you imagine how California would be the place to be after all the hardships of WW2?    It's an interesting sub-genere with edgy designs, colorful prints, and sunshine enfused fashionable visions.

thought it was fateful that I should discuss this designer now that I am fortunate to own one of her fabulous suits.  Her ready-to-wear garments are very difficult to come by and do not come up for sale very often, very much on par with Adrian. This one was very reasonably priced because it also had a couple of small holes and a tiny bleach stain that is barely noticable.  I think even with these small issues it was a good investment.

As with Lilli Ann, you can feel that this suit is very well designed.  Now that I am a total novice sewer, I appreciate even more the art of contour and form in making garnments.  What may look simple may really have required a lot of thought to make.  

  Irene was also known for her geometric designs in her suits.   She also played around with buttons as a design influence in her suits, interesting results.   

I can unquestionably see what all the fuss is about with Irene.  The tailoring is stunning and the little details very much ad to the magic of the garment.   This is what I love so much about vintage is the quality and workmanship.   The silhouette of this suit is form-fitting and it is almost like I stepped back in time and had a dream visit to the Irene studio.

This particular suit label indicates it is from the Halle Brothers  Irene shop.   Check out the link, this website delves into old department shops.  I encourage you all to revel in the history.

Adrian and Irene were both designers who designed for the Hollywood movies.  Adrian left MGM in 1941 to begin his own studio.  In 1950, Irene left MGM to open her own studio.  While at MGM,  she created gowns for Ginger Rogers, Hedy Lamarr, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombarde, Marlene Dietrich, etc.  She had a famed boutique inside Bullocks Wilshire catering to exclusive clientel.  She was the first designer with her own butique in a department store.  If any of you readers are in the L.A. area, from what I understand,  her boutique framework still remains.     It is quite sad in that she ended her life at the age of 62.  I'm not sure why she ended her life but her legacy still remains, which I'm sure she'd be pleased with.

A New Collection For Fall 2013 With Vintage Flair

In my search quest of looking for Irene suits, I came across Greg LaVoi's new collection for Fall 2013 adeptly titled Irene.   Greg is a costume designer for "The Closer" and you can also see some original Irene's on Kyra Sedwick in the show.   This new fall collection uses some of Irene's original patterns.  Isn't this great to bring vintage back to the modern world?  I'm very much looking forward to following this collection. How fabulous to hear about wools milled in the USA in this collection!  I'm not sure what the price points are yet but if they are in the right price range, I'm certainly adding a suit to my list.  It's nice to see a recent designer embracing the vintage tailoring and details in women's suits.  This collection certainly savors the elemental forces of the late 40s to mid 50's.  

You can find all the information at for the new "Irene" collection.  Please go check it out.

The photographs were taken on a very sunny day so some of them do have a little of the "washed out" look but mark my words, the suit and outfit both have lovely colored hues.

Outfit Details:
Suit: Vintage early 50s Irene ebay
Brooch: Eisenberg ebay
Earrings: Eisenberg ebay
Scarf:  Local vintage shop
Necklace 50's multi-colored blue beads
Hat: Hattie Carnegie (Miss Carnegie) blue velvet with rhinestone accents
Umbrella:  NOS ebay 50's (came in a lot auction with three other umbrella's, woo hoo!)
Shoes: Etsy classic "baby doll" 50's pumps, a wardobe staple for the 50's vintage suit look.
Vintage Gloves-ebay

Buttons as a decorative accessory.  This is intriguing to look at buttons as a fashion statement and not totally as a function.  We don't see this too often nowadays.   This suit has key fashion button elements.  The button design is well thought out and ads to the form of the suit.  

I believe this Irene suit to be from the early 50's.

Excuse my off center necklace.  I quickly grabbed the only Irene ad I had access too to replicate a reference pose.   I'd also like to try taking more pictures of this marvolous suit again in the future.  I wasn't that happy with the lighting.

The only Irene ad that I had handy.  I know I've seen other images of her suits as I have looked through vintage Bazaar and Vogue magazines but I didn't flag them.  As I uncover more images of her suits, I will be sure to share them.  This image is from a The California Stylist Magazine.

This umbrella is what we all seek in vintage charm, the allure of character that can't be found in a "today's" department shop.   This umbrella is why I love vintage.  There is a harmonous edge to it.   Am I over-analyzing an umbrella? Maybe...maybe not:)   It was never used and still had the tag attached to it when I received it.  Yes, you could say that I love to hord vintage umbrellas.  I'm sure there are others out there that do too.  Please identify yourself.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the awesomeness of the vintage umbrella.  Feel free to check it out.

Flashes of Eisenberg rhinestones:

The lining of this suit has a charming color of pink in crepe.  Just lovely!

An additional Irene Ad:

Irene Ad: Source My Vintage Vogue.


  1. I love your suit! The color suits you so well! I love the button details and the way hoy wou styled it! I always love it that you include ads of the designer or specific garment.

  2. I am seriously going ga-ga over your hat right now!!!! It is so gorgeous!

  3. Absolutely stunning! I am so envious of your beautiful suit collection, I truly believe it is one of the best investments that you can make in your life - especially if it is a vintage suit ;)

    1. Thank you, I'd have to agree that is it a great investment to have something that you can really wear and relish in is a great plus.

  4. A stunning suit. You look fantastic too! I really like the pink lining. Little details like that always make me smile. :)

  5. What a gorgeous suit! Things I particularly love are the details - the nipped-in waist, the brooch, the gloves *sigh* I'd love the lot!

  6. AMAZING suit! So flattering and beautiful. Can't imagine any designers creating such wonders these days!

  7. Not going to lie, I am deeply green with envy right now. I've had the pleasure of seeing Adrians (and trying one on... I had to!), but I've never seen an Irene piece irl... let alone own one! Wowowowow! And it fits you to a tee! Lucky, lucky lady <3

    xo Sara

    1. I'd love to hear your "Adrian" stories. I'd love to try on one of his suits. Maybe one day:)

  8. Breath-takingly beautiful ensemble! A warm, dark blue like this looks so completely gorgeous with your skin and hair colouring. Ahhh, the sophistication and perfect styling at work here has me swooning and yearning even more for addition vintage suits in my wardrobe! :)

    I love that you're keen on 1940s Californian culture. Being a west coast (up the ocean a tad, in B.C.) gal myself, I've long been drawn to the laidback, understatedly awesome aesthetic of one of the closest states to my own dear province.

    Again, I just have to say how fantastically lovely you look, dear Joanna!

    ♥ Jessica

  9. WOW! Everything about this outfit is perfect. But that suit is to die for... I have always wanted one like that. You look amazing x

  10. Love love love everything about this outfit! It's so fabulous on you!

  11. Oh thank you lovely ladies for all the fabulous comments, they mean a lot:)))

  12. The details on the jacked are just - amazing! And you wear it sooo well because you are so tiny in the waist ;-)


    1. Looks are deceiving:) This suit makes it seem like my waist is 3 inches smaller than it is lol.

  13. You look FAB-U-LOUS! Love all the little details (like the pink lining!) and that black and white photo of you looks just like the ad!

  14. Thank you very much for stopping by and following my blog Joanna! It means very much to me, I adore your blog and your passion for suits, especially! Stop by anytime and say hi!

    P.S. And I look forward to your posts on vintage footwear as well!

    Catherine from Comrade Von Pussycat


  15. You are so elegant in that wonderful suit! I love the blue velvet hat too!

  16. A new favorite for me! That jacket detailing is just breathtaking and you accented it beautifully with the gloves, rhinestones, and that fantastic hat!

  17. I do so love your recreations of original ads. You always pay such close attention to all the details.

    Love this whole ensemble on you.