Today sees the launch of a new series of blogs from some of my fellow friends and colleagues within the vintage business. The topic of conversation is “My favourite vintage era“.
Today we have Louise from Catwalk Creative Vintage sharing with us why she loves the late 60s/early 70s.
Hi Louise, Can you let our readers know a little more about you and what you do?
My name is Louise Sleigh and I’m the owner of Catwalk Creative Vintage, an exclusively online business based in South Manchester. My range includes predominantly ladies vintage and designer clothing, accessories, costume jewellery and a small range of retro homewares. I began selling online in 2003 and then went on to develop my own website in 2006.
Louise styling a photo shoot
I personally source all the merchandise, clean and refurbish it, photograph it then write about it. I’m editor of the vintage fashion blog, Catwalk Threads, and am an active member of the Vintage Fashion Guild and The Best In Vintage. You’d be right in thinking that “vintage” is my full-time career!
So, you are clearly very experienced in the world of vintage. Which is your favourite era and why?
As my business entails dealing with vintage clothing, it’s quite difficult choosing one era since every decade has something unique to offer. My personal collection includes everything from a late 1930s day dress to a Nicole Farhi dress from the 1980s.
Louise in the 1980s: she says she thought she would always have a flat top hairstyle….just showing how things change through the decades
However, I’d say that the mid 1960s to mid 1970s was a fascinating time for fashion, especially in Britain. New easy-care fabrics were being developed in bright and bold colours, which provided crease-resistant, permanently pleated material, with little or no ironing required and in perfect time for the sexual revolution! Women were rejecting the corseted waist and opting for a fresh, young outlook.
Is there a certain fashion piece or style that you have and love?
There was such a wide range of styles available during this time. Everything from the mini dress to luxurious flowing maxi gowns and streamlined, well cut trouser suits. I think this fashion era, especially the 1970s, is often overlooked. However, I love the versatility of styles around at this time. I have several pieces in my collection from this period including a classic black crepe dress by Jean Lanvin c. 1965. I love the sheer simplicity of the design, with interest in the form of the crystal buttons at the front. It’s a real collectors piece which I can pass onto my daughter once she’s old enough to appreciate it.
Truly stunning and I so want!
Then moving onto something completely different; a blue midi-dress with faux cape dating c. 1973. The lines of this dress are so flattering and I love the fabric patterned with large exotic flowers. It’s a really fun piece to wear. I’ve actually worn this to a night club and received lots of compliments. It makes a refreshing change from all the boring sleeveless cocktail dresses that I see everywhere. Dare to be different!
Dare to be different!
And what about homewares? Do you like interiors from this period too?
Like fashion, home interiors were changing radically at this time. I love British studio pottery or basically anything with a fun bold design. My favourite piece is my Aztec coffee set, given to me by my mum a few years ago. It’s by J&G Meakin Studios and was designed c. 1965/66. I’ve added some dinner plates to the collection but only have 3 so far. If anyone knows where I can get my hands on more, I’m all ears! Once I have all the plates, including side plates, I’ll definitely be using them. I love to entertain friends and family and these will look wonderful on the dining table. However, for now they are stored carefully in my kitchen display unit.
How would you describe the role of women from this era?
There were significant cultural and social changes during the 1960s/70s. Women’s roles changed forever with the availability of the contraceptive pill and life was never going to be the same again. Moral codes that had prevailed in previous decades began to break down and there were many changes in our legal system concerning everything from divorce to the legislations of abortions. Measures were also taken during this time to improve the position of women, so I think it must have been an incredible time to be around as a young person.
However, these radical changes in society must have been quite confusing too. Women certainly had more choice and freedom but then had to learn to balance family life with a career- has this much changed I wonder? I guess if you could find a man in the sixties, who was willing to do his share of household chores, then you’d be laughing. It probably took men quite a bit longer to catch up to this new way of thinking! Some are still catching up!
And finally, is there something we could learn today from those in the late 60s/early 70s?
Society went through a lot of change, but despite this, I think generally there was still much more respect to be found. By that I mean respect for the police, for teachers and the elderly- to name but three. It’s a difficult one to answer really but if there was one value I would bring back, it would be probably be that one.
Thanks Louise, it’s great to hear about this time as so often us vintage folk focus on the 1950s. For me, what I love about the late 60s was the great optimism for the future. Yes, we had more freedom with new jobs, better education and healthcare but we also had space travel….people probably felt they could achieve absolutely anything! Biba brought us fast fashion at affordable prices for the first time, meaning that young women could experiment with the new fabrics and colours you spoke of. Habitat was showing us that we could experiment with our homes too. And with the package holidays booming, young people could escape their parents and Britain for the first time. It must have been so fun to be a teenager back then!