Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time traveling in vintage style

Readers of this blog are aware I am fascinated to know about the original owners of my vintage clothing finds. I am interested in the wearable history of clothing in all aspects, so when I read a preview copy of The Time-Traveling Fashionista, by Bianca Turetsky, I was enchanted by the premise of the book's heroine visiting another era by trying on a vintage dress, and her transformation through experiencing this history.

The book is targeted at the tween set. Louise Lambert, the 12-year old heroine, is experiencing some pangs about not fitting in at her suburban Connecticut school, including being torn by her love of vintage fashion and not wanting to be teased for being different. Students at her school (and even her own mother) believe that vintage clothing equals old, possibly ratty clothing.

Then comes an invitation to the Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, run by two magical ladies–a bit like aunts, a bit like sorceresses–who assist Louise in actually inhabiting the life of another woman by trying on a beautiful pink gown from ca. 1911. Or is it all a dream?

Louise finds herself among the likes of the Astors on a splendid ocean liner...which she eventually becomes aware is the Titanic. Before she realizes that she is quite possibly doomed, Louise experiences some of Edwardian society's charms and peculiarities, and has a chance to talk with Lucy Duff-Gordon, Lucille, one of her favorite designers. (Louise has remarkably sophisticated taste in vintage clothing!) The detailed descriptions of the styles of the time are quite good and accurate, and the gorgeous illustrations by Sandra Suy are so much fun to come upon throughout the book.

I love the fantasy of time travel, and of inhabiting different lives and roles, so perfectly suited to vintage clothing. Kudos to the author for peppering the story with inspiring style icons, along with just enough information about their lives and work. Even with some artistic license, there is plenty of solid vintage clothing detail...enough to bring new young enthusiasts into the fold, and warm the hearts of those of us long in the business. The book would have been one of my favorites at a young age. It is heartening to have support and encouragement for one's interest in vintage fashion, and by extension, for just being oneself. I love that vintage clothing makes Louise special, and that she finds out for herself just how good her life is.

"Vintage is a way of wearing history, a means by which we can turn the past into the present, even the future. Through us old fashion lives again." -Hilary Alexander, fashion director, The Daily Telegraph, quoted in The Time-Traveling Fashionista.

Please note: A copy of The Time-Traveling Fashionista was given to me to review if I wished, with no quid pro quo expected.

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