Monday, August 29, 2011

Dream Girls: Girl Groups of the Sixties

Every week, the Vintage Fashion Guild has a fashion parade, where trade members show off their finds suited to the week's theme. I'm part of the committee that comes up with these themes, and last week's was one of my favorites. This is what I wrote for the VFG parade, Dream Girls.
Starting with Please Mr. Postman the big 1961 Motown crossover hit by The Marvelettes, girl groups ruled in the 1960s.

The Ronettes, Martha and The Vandellas, The Shirelles, The Cookies, The Velvelettes, The Shangri-Las, and of course The Supremes, brought coordinated images and harmonies to pop music.

Speaking of the The Supremes, veteran music critic Susan Whitall said of seeing the group on the Ed Sullivan Show, “they were just such beautiful girls in these beautiful gowns, singing the music that I was listening to all week on the radio.” They were among the first black musicians to appear on that influential show.

Ranging in style from elaborate evening gowns to tight leather pants, each 60s girl group had an image to uphold, always coordinating...and usually with big hair and thick eyeliner.

Martha and the Vandellas

The Ronettes

The Marvelettes

The Shangri-las

The Supremes

Some of my fellow VFGers’ choices for getting the girl group look...see all the choices in the VFG forums.

60s beaded gold lamé dress from Poppy's Vintage Clothing, 60s rhinestone and bead dangling earrings from The Spectrum, 60s checkerboard beaded & sequined top from Mags Rags, 60s gold lamé cape and pants set from Viva Vintage Clothing, 60s black chiffon and sequined party dress from Poppy's Vintage Clothing, 60s ice blue sheath with dangling beads from Mags Rags.

And the best inspiration, the groups themselves

Read more about the real dream girls at

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Interesting people, and future vintage 7

Recently I've had the opportunity to talk, either in person or through email, with a couple of very interesting and creative women. They both design and make fashion, but with very different approaches and styles. Still, they've been sitting on the same bench in my thoughts.

One is Ronnie Ryno, the force behind Glamarita. Her creations very often involve the use of vintage neckties, and she strongly believe in reusing vintage materials in general. Ronnie has opened Glamarita within walking distance from my home, and I love the fun, creative, non-conformist, recycled and fabulous items in her shop, as I have loved her work online. (For more on Ronnie and Glamarita, visit

The other is Anastasia La Fey, who lives across the world from me, in Australia. I have come to know of Anastasia through her interest in vintage clothing. She is the designer and creator of exquisite and intricate, origami-inspired fashions. For more on Anastasia's work, visit her anastasialafey blog.

Very different styles of creation, but both women clearly have concepts that drive their work, as well as a flare for the theatrical. Both women specifically told me that they sew all their fashions, which absolutely boggles my mind. I would be honored to wear either one of these women's creations.

My recommendation? Find creators of future vintage wherever they may be—in your neighborhood or across the planet—and support them.

Search my blog for the 6 previous future vintage posts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Famine relief

It is back-to-school shopping time here in the northern hemisphere, and as I started pulling out fall vintage items, I realized just how unfair a world it can be. There are far too many hungry people even in a wealthy country like the US, but the photos and statistics from the famine in Somalia—especially its effect on children—are gut wrenching. Every child should have enough to eat. Every child should be able to go to school.

Right now, a portion of the proceeds from my eBay sales are going to help WFP USA.

The World Food Program USA ( builds support in the United States for the World Food Program and other hunger relief operations. WFP has launched a major emergency operation to save lives in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.

Please visit the denisebrain eBay shop to see what's listed right now, and find some great vintage items while helping famine relief. Or donate directly at The World Food Program USA website.

A few choices:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Future vintage 6: Fall 2011 runways

I consider runway fashion to be in the (no pun...) running for future vintage, and here are some of my favorites from fall 2011 runways.

It goes without saying that Donna Karan has been creating some beautiful clothing. This fall is not terribly different from last fall, but I do think her work keeps solidifying her as a descendent of Bonnie Cashin, with wearable, beautiful, timeless design, and a woman's appreciation of wearing her clothes being top priorities.

Miuccia Prada at Miu Miu has created a collection that should be dear to most vintage fashion followers, inspired by WWII-era Paris. The outsized bird prints harken to the swallow returning to its home, a potent war-era symbol.

I love the over-sized clutch bags, and this 40s-style lily of the valley print, boldened as it is in size, and on a coat.

I never stop appreciating the creativity, cut, and handsome beauty of Gaultier's collections. This extravagantly-peplumed suit would simply be my favorite least until his next collection.

At Rodarte, Kate and Laura Mulleavy dipped into multiple visions of the American prairie, from gorgeously cut neo-Victorian coats and dresses, to flowing 70s-inspired prairie print long gowns, to a sparkling red reference to Dorothy's ruby slippers.

All the images are from, where I go to wend my way through each collection. Do you do this, and if so, do you have favorites this fall? I watch to see what the future of vintage holds, along with what vintage clothing has done to inspire modern designers, yet I'm often—but not always—most interested in what looks most vintage. If you're a vintage fashion follower, do you notice modern runway fashion? Does it appeal to you especially if it appears vintage-inspired?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A model? Me??

Not long ago I received the great honor of being Lulu's Pick for Best Vintage Model.

It's hard for me to think of myself as a model...I'm not supremely young and supremely thin, and I'm not beautiful, any more than anyone else. I started my vintage business showing the items on myself partly to distinguish myself from other sellers (I don't think there were other sellers showing their items on people at the time I started), and partly to say if I can do this, so can you.

I kept hearing people say that vintage was fine for others, but they couldn't do it themselves as much as they'd like to. I thought if a more-or-less average person could be seen wearing vintage clothing, it might help people consider. I love wearing vintage clothing, and I wanted to express that in my photos. I consider what I do a sort of act, but it's one I do sincerely.

I collect and study photos taken during my favorite time in fashion, ca. 1935-75, and I am inspired by the happy- healthy- interesting-looking women who modeled. Between their rare talents and the talents of great photographers, there is a world of inspiration.

I particularly like photos that have motion and/or tell a story. Richard Avedon and Louise Dahl-Wolfe took my favorite photos so far, and I'd have to say Suzy Parker is my favorite model, although there are so many great choices.

Carmen dell’Orefice, photo by Richard Avedon

Lauren Hutton, photo by Richard Avedon

Mary Jane Russell, photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Mary Sykes, photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Naomi Sims, photographer unknown

Suzy Parker, photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Suzy Parker and Robin Tattersall, photo by Richard Avedon

Recently, I bought several catalogues from the late 50s to early 60s and frankly, this is really more what I'm capable of trying to emulate...just don't ask for a suit for $6.97!

One of the best things I've ever seen written about my modeling was “she seems to invite everyone else in for the fun, instead of trying to be cooler than her buyers.” Another: “One can easily put herself in place of Denisebrain and imagine stepping out on the town.”

Exactly what I hope for.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm off to see the wizard! Care to join me?

My July theme is up!

{click on image to view...and sound up!}